The Indian River Lagoon greatly enhances our quality of life, is important for our economy, and provides enjoyable recreational opportunities for those of us who live here as well as tourists.
Key findings of a 2008 study commissioned by the St. John Water Management District found the Lagoon’s overall economic benefit to our communities to be significant – the overall estimated annual value of the Lagoon is over $3.5 billion supporting approximately 15,000 jobs. Recreational activities generate nearly $1.4 billion in economic activity and about $629 million a year in resident income.
Our Lagoon is one of the most diverse estuaries in the nation. Stretching 156 miles through five counties along Florida’s East Coast – from Volusia County at the north on down through Martin County – the Lagoon plays a vital role for indigenous and migratory wildlife, plays a role in protecting against coastal erosion, and provides an important habitat for a variety of marine plants and animals.
Pressing Issues - Since estuaries are where fresh water mixes with salt water from the oceans, preserving this delicate balance is important and challenging. The most pressing issues facing our Lagoon include unusual and signification algae blooms, declines in sea grass, fish kills, and manatee, dolphin and pelican deaths. Recent algae blooms have had an adverse impact on Lagoon sea grasses contributing to the loss of more than 47,000 acres of sea grass since the spring of 2011. Sea grass coverage is a significant measure of the health of the Lagoon. It’s important that we understand the myriad of contributing factors and take steps to reverse this loss.
Supporting Funding for the National Estuary Program (NEP) - Rep. Posey has actively supported reauthorization and funding for the National Estuary Program (NEP), which was created to help maintain nationally significant estuaries like the Indian River Lagoon. He has joined in the bipartisan effort to secure $16.8 million for the NEP, which provides a base grant to each of the 28 national estuaries around the country. This funding goes to the St. Johns Water Management District to support research focused on improving the Lagoon’s health and providing seed funding for restoration projects and planning.
Supporting Funding for the Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Program - To better understand the cause of death for dolphins and manatees, Rep. Posey has supported efforts to restore funding for the Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance program which provides funds to match local contributions to address health issues related to marine mammals. These funds have helped address the increased level of stranded marine mammals along the Treasure Coast and Space Coast.
Getting Involved - In 1988 Congress established the last Saturday in September as National Estuaries Day so we can place a national focus on preserving and protecting our estuaries. We should consider the importance of our Indian River Lagoon and ways that we can protect and restore its health.
There are several ways that you can help keep our Lagoon healthy. First, you can consider ways to reduce runoff into the Lagoon from your own property. Second, look for opportunities to get engaged in restoration efforts like planting mangroves and sea grasses or participating in volunteer cleanup activities. You can find helpful tips on how to do this and take other important steps at www.sjrwmd.com.