Water and Lagoon Committee
Our mission is to advocate for clean and sufficient potable water and healthy waterways by:
Educating ourselves and others
Supporting regulation and legislation that will have a positive impact
Working with other groups and agencies to achieve our objectives
If you are interested in knowing more or have a concern, please contact us and we will reach out to you as soon as we can.
Why We Fight
Issues and Concerns:
Septic to Sewer
The problem with Septics in Florida is that the water table is high and there is little separation between the drainfield and water table. Also, older tanks can deteriorate and leak allowing huge levels of nutrient pollution to enter the ground water and flow to the lagoon. This causes algae blooms which prevent light from reaching seagrass, causing their decline. Conversion of septic to sewer is very expensive, especially a gravity system, but must be done here in IRC and is a major objective of our Water & Lagoon Committee.
Contained in stormwater because excess can runoff the land. Fertilizer is a big concern. Made up of mostly Nitrogen and Phosphorus, both big polluters in our water, the County and its municipalities have a ban on application of fertilizer in the summer (from June 1 – Sept. 30) and a decent ordinance approved in 2014, which probably needs updating. Sadly, there has not been a lot of enforcement of the ordinance, but there has been some good attempts at education in which the IRNA has participated.
Graves Bros. Annexation
As our land use page says, annexations are not inherently bad. However, they must be controlled. The City of Sebastian is not dealing with the annexation of the Graves Bros. property in a good way. When you annex, you have the land owner over a barrel. You can get all sorts of concessions on density, green space, and more. Sebastian and the Graves Bros. barely had an annexation agreement last time they went against the will of the people to annex this property. Now it has returned and is twice the size. Sebastian needs to take more care than they did last time, or it could end in a similar fashion.
Weed control & herbicide use
Glyphosate (a component of Round Up) has been listed as a carcinogen. Use of Roundup or other herbicide (as directed) is not the problem. Some of our invasive plants can only easily be killed by such herbicides. The problem is the over-use of the poison by applicators and governments that want cheap weed control versus mechanical removal. It is a lot easier to spray canal walls than to remove the plant growth mechanically.
Where does Our Water Come From?
This is a great question answered in a short book by a former chair of IRNA’s Water & Lagoon Committee, Debby Ecker. The book is a little older, but it is highly recommended reading. Click here to access it.
The STEP System
The STEP stands for Septic Tank Effluent Pump System. The STEP System is an affordable hybrid sewer system available in the City of Vero Beach which includes a high grade septic tank and a pump. Sewage is conveyed by gravity to the tank through your building plumbing line. Liquid waste is pumped under pressure to the public sewer system. Solid waste remains in the STEP tank where it naturally degrades and is eventually pumped out.
Florida Friendly Landscaping
Grass/sod is killing Florida. We should not have nearly as much as we do here, people love their grassy lawn, the American dream, etc. It is really bad for Florida, and we should be landscaping with native plants and not imported sod. (Sod requires a TON of water, compared to native plants, and requires application of fertilizer and herbicides, both detrimental to our environment.) There are some really interesting and beautiful things you can do to your yard which will help the lagoon.
IRC Land Bond
.Development is consuming our open space and impacting our water, our wildlife, and our quality of life. Water quality problems have only been increasing as we build more and more. Preserving natural lands for future generations is a responsibility of every generation. For only $42.00 a year, less than $4 a month to the average residence, Indian River County can protect the lands that make our community desirable by supporting the $50m land acquisition bond. This will be on the November 8, 2022 ballot
Reuse water is a double edged sword. It sounds great to use the liquid byproduct of sewage treatment as irrigation water. However, because it is rich in Nitrogen (and other things, like some forever chemicals) the excess nitrogen and those other chemicals often ends up in the lagoon. It is a good solution for now, but may need to be re-addressed in the future. If you have reuse water at your house, you do not generally need to fertilize.
Low Impact Developme
Low impact development (LID) is an approach to land development that uses various land planning, design and construction practices to simultaneously conserve and protect natural resource systems while reducing infrastructure costs. We are big proponents of this and work with our Land Use Committee on it.
Stormwater is Not just rain water! It is the transport system of pollution to our lagoon. It can contain: gasoline, oil, brake dust, cigarette butts, trash, animal waste, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, soil, decaying plants and leaves. Stormwater management is essential to prevent flooding and reduce pollution. Excess rainwater or ‘stormwater runoff’ generally drains into a series of storm drains, depressions, swales, ditches, ponds, lakes, and canals. In Indian River County many of these waterways lead into three very large Relief Canals that discharge directly into the Indian River Lagoon.
Vero Beach Marina
The Vero Beach Marina needs to be modernized. Much of its infrastructure is ancient and failing. We are mostly concerned with environmental issues regarding the Marina project, especially with the proposed dredging. We encouraged the city to listen to the neighborhood's concerns and not expand the Marina more than it needs to be.
Where has all the Seagrass Gone? This is causing a huge problem for our marine life, especially for the manatee which feeds on sea grass. Advocating for preventing pollution that causes algal blooms is an IRNA mission. We made a video with a local folk singer about the problem here.
Water Supply and Hydrology
Hydrology is the branch of science concerned with the properties of the earth's water; especially its movement in relation to land. We have not had a hydrologic study in Indian River County since 1988. St. Johns River Water Management District is recently completed a modeling study, which we found lacking. We need to know the status of our aquifer is so we can better plan and prepare for future water supply. This will be a long term issue for us, and hopefully we'll have a solution before water becomes as scarce here as in other parts of the country.
Put simply, Sustainable growth is development that meets the needs of the present without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Water and Lagoon Related Organizations
St. John’s River Water Management District - https://www.sjrwmd.com
Marine Resources Council – https://savetheirl.org
Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County – www.CWCIRC.org
Environmental Learning Center – www.DiscoverELC.org
Friends of St. Sebastian River - http://www.fssr.org
Pelican Island Audubon Society – https://pelicanislandaudubon.org
Friends of the Everglades – https://www.everglades.org
St. John’s Riverkeeper – https://www.stjohnsriverkeeper.org
Indian River Land Trust – https://www.irlt.org
National Estuary Program – https://onelagoon.org
Vote Water - https://votewater.org
Florida Conservation Coalition – https://www.wearefcc.org
My Water Daily – https://mywaterdaily.com/
Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection – https://floridadep.gov
Coastal Conservation Association - https://ccaflorida.org
Water and Lagoon Committee:
Jean Catchpole, Co-chair
Buzz Herrmann, Co-chair
Francisco San Miguel
Dr. John Trefry