Recent History of the Decline ⋅ Fertilizer regulations are mandated by state law for all counties and municipalities located in the watershed of an impaired body of water. The Indian River Lagoon, which includes the Banana River Lagoon and the Mosquito Lagoon, was first recognized by the SWIM Program as a troubled water system in 1987. Fast forward 22 years, after mountains of investigative study, under the direction of new water quality programs, the IRL was once again verified nutrient impaired in May, 2009. This set in motion the need for fertilizer use regulations, an area wide plan designed to reduce the nutrient pollution of nitrogen and phosphate to the IRL. But, if this initial effort to control nutrient pollution doesn't produce the return of sea grass, the State will be forced to seek stronger remedies to reduce nutrient pollution.
"The Indian River Lagoon is a diverse, shallow-water estuary stretching across 40 percent of Florida’s east coast. Spanning 156 miles from Ponce de Leon Inlet in Volusia County to Jupiter Inlet in Palm Beach County, the lagoon is an important commercial and recreational fishery and economic resource to the state and region. The total estimated annual economic value of the lagoon is $3.7 billion, supporting 15,000 full and part-time jobs and providing recreational opportunities for 11 million people per year...
In spring 2011, an algal “superbloom” occurred in the portion of the system known as Banana River Lagoon andeventually spread into northern Indian River Lagoon and farther north into the Mosquito Lagoon (see map). The immense bloom covered approximately 130,000 acres and led to a noticeable reduction in water quality. Concurrently, a lesser bloom extended from just north of Melbourne south to the Vero Beach-Fort Pierce area (see map).
The magnitude of the seagrass loss is alarming because seagrass is:
Also in August 2012, a brown tide bloom began in the Mosquito Lagoon and moved into the northern Indian River Lagoon near Titusville. Compounding concerns are the mounting losses of manatees and pelicans since July 2012 and bottlenose dolphins since Jan. 1, 2013. State biologists are investigating the deaths of approximately 100 manatees, between 250–300 pelicans and 29 bottlenose dolphins to determine whether there is a link to the blooms or the loss of seagrass..." St. Johns River Water Management District
Walt Stieglitz, Chairmen Marine Resource Council
Joel Steward, a technical program manager with the St. Johns River Water Management District said controlling loads of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) entering from the watershed remains the “best bang for the buck” in terms of sustainable management of the lagoon. IRL Update - Spring/Summer 2013
Excessive nutrient loading to Florida’s surface and ground waters is one of the biggest water quality issues facing our state. It is far easier and much less expensive to minimize the amount of nutrients that get into our waters than it is to treat stormwater and other nonpoint sources of pollution to remove nutrients. A major source of nutrient loading is from fertilizers applied to urban landscaping. Florida Friendly Landscape Publication by DEP & UF