Published on August 15th, 2013 | by NSB Observer0
Public Meeting Scheduled to Discuss Brown Tide
The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) will present an informational session regarding the Indian River Lagoon/Mosquito Lagoon on Wednesday, August 21, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Edgewater City Council Chambers located at 104 N. Riverside Drive. This informational session is free and open to the public. The main topic of conversation will be the microalgae bloom known as the “brown tide.”
William J. Tredik will provide an overview of the Indian River Lagoon and talk about the SJRWMD Indian River Lagoon Protection Initiative. Troy Rice, the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program Director, will discuss how various State agencies are responding to the brown tide. Ed Garland, the SJRWMD Public Communications Coordinator, will talk about a pilot program that the agency is undertaking to transplant sea grass in an effort to restore this vital component and improve the health of the Lagoon.
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 the Spring of 2011, an algal “superbloom” occurred in the portion of the system known as Banana River Lagoon and eventually spread into northern Indian River Lagoon and farther north into the Mosquito Lagoon. The immense bloom covered approximately 130,000 acres and led to a noticeable reduction in water quality.
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 losses of manatees and pelicans since July 2012 and bottlenose dolphins since January 1, 2013. Various State agencies are investigating the deaths.
Following years of positive trends — including the expansion of seagrass coverage — the Lagoon is at a turning point. The coming months could herald a slow recovery of this unique ecosystem or a continued decline. Scientists, biologists and other specialists are redoubling their efforts to determine strategies for improving the long-term health of this waterway.
The St. Johns River Water Management District, Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program and other federal, state and local agencies are individually and collectively working to find answers to the cause of the superbloom and to identify what, if anything, can be done in the future to limit or avoid a similar event. The various partners are investigating the possible causes of the blooms and developing strategies to reduce their magnitude, duration and frequency.