Florida’s Indian River Lagoon is on life support

Americas Now

AN INDIAN RIVER LAGOON 1

There is a body of water in Florida that in the past was teeming with life and filled with oysters, crabs and an abundance of fish. But not any longer.  The dolphins that call it home are sick, the fish are disappearing and the sea grasses are all but gone.   And efforts by ecologists and others to save it aren’t working.

The Indian River Lagoon is a waterway that stretches along 30% of Florida’s east coast. The estuary is renowned for its bird and manatee population. But the overpopulation in the area around the lagoon is causing serious degradation. And this spring, an algae bloom known as a brown tide covered the entire northern end of the Indian River Lagoon.  

Correspondent John Zarrella travels to Indian River Lagoon to find out what is happening to this environmentally critical habitat. He talks to some of the people trying to salvage it.

Florida’s Indian River Lagoon is on life support

Florida’s Indian River Lagoon is on life support

There is a body of water in Florida that in the past was teeming with life and filled with oysters, crabs and an abundance of fish. But not any longer. The dolphins that call it home are sick, the fish are disappearing and the sea grasses are all but gone. And efforts by ecologists and others to save it aren’t working. The Indian River Lagoon is a waterway that stretches along 30% of Florida’s east coast. The estuary is renowned for its bird and manatee population. But the overpopulation in the area around the lagoon is causing serious degradation. And this spring, an algae bloom known as a brown tide covered the entire northern end of the Indian River Lagoon. Correspondent John Zarrella travels to Indian River Lagoon to find out what is happening to this environmentally critical habitat. He talks to some of the people trying to salvage it.

  • JayWilkins

    Why aren’t the Captains for Clean Water pushing for funding for the recommendations made by the University of Florida: the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) Indian River Lagoon-South (IRL-S) Project? “The IRL-S project is expected to provide significant water-quality improvement benefits to both the St. Lucie River and Estuary and Indian River Lagoon by reducing the load of nutrients, pesticides, and suspended materials from basin runoff.” Instead, Captains for Clean Water is spreading misinformation about buying US Sugar land south of Lake Okeechobee. Buying that land would do nothing to improve discharges into the St. Lucie. I wish they would concentrate on funding for the projects that will help improve the Indian River Lagoon.

    • Julie Williams

      Jay, I would suggest educating yourself! We don’t have another 50 years to finish these projects. We need solutions now. Too much fresh water is a rather large part of the problem. Add the nutrients to that and you have a toxic cocktail that is killing everything. Instead of making simple statements, be a part of the solution, not the problem..

      • Natalie C

        Well this is not an issue that will immediately be fixed. Yes it may take a couple of years, but not 50. The issue is all the septic tanks. Nitrogen from septic tanks promotes the growth of algae, suffocating the seagrass needed to sustain lagoon life

  • Daisy Eloise Applewhite

    This is heartbreaking. The over-developed area – those homes as well as businesses – have just about destroyed the Lagoon. In my opinion, homeowners, business owners and local city officials along the Lagoon in Stuart, Sewall’s Point, Hutchinson Island, should follow the example of sugar cane growers who have invested millions of dollars in protecting the environment over the years. Lagoon communities could restore the Lagoon. Certainly it would take time, but such an effort must start now. Fix your septic tanks! Ensure that the SFWMD and the Army Corps of Engineers have the funding to move fast to complete a treatment plant to capture and clean the water that enters the St. Lucie. The current and growing problem of the dying Lagoon is one whose solutions must not be delayed.

  • Molly Parker

    The lagoon situation needs immediate attention. There are nearly 300,000 septic tanks on the Indian River Lagoon. 10,000 of them are located in areas such as Hutchinson Island. The tanks are leeching into the waterways. They are releasing Nitrogen into the water which in turn promoted the growth of algae, which then suffocates the Seagrass needed to sustain lagoon life. We need to look into a solution for the leaky septic tanks along the waterways.

  • Rob Kanter

    Thankfully there are projects in place that are helping restore the Everglades to the state they naturally would be in.

  • Brandie Leggmont

    Most of this garbage comes from septic tank run offs! I live in the area and see it with my own two eyes! If septic tank run off was not dumping toxic waste into our Lagoons, thinks would be a lot closer to where it should be. This is an effort that will take years but we must do it for future generations so they can enjoy Florida for all it’s beauty.

    • Mark Thomsen

      DING DING DING! So true.

  • Rob Kanter

    a bunch of crooks if you ask me.

  • Mark Thomsen

    There are billions of dollars in projects going on throughout the state to preserve our water and environment – Lagoon included. Lots of these environmental groups are shady as all get out and don’t care about solutions.

  • Mark Thomsen

    Total scam. Thanks for posting this – great expose.

  • Bryce Greene

    You have to really be careful when reading about this and other topics re: Everglades, Lagoon. SO MUCH bad information out there, including a quite a few astroturf groups funded by a radical billionaire who claims he is an environmentalist (YET he is a huge polluter.). Lots of money currently being spent – lets finish those programs and if any land is purchased for water storage – should be North of Lake Okeechobee.

  • Andrew Dahley

    Interesting report. Lots of misinformation floating around the state coming from these radical environmental groups. We should consider the source and make sure current restoration plans are complete and reviewed.