There is only one week left before election day! As of this morning, 141,809 people have cast their vote in Brevard county. In Satellite Beach alone, 2,954 out of approximately 8,600 registered voters (about 35%) have cast their ballots. While the presidential race is helping to engage voters, our local politics are just as, if not more, important. One of the big topics of discussion is the Save Our Indian River Lagoon ½ Cent Sales Tax Referendum. If you are still on the fence and need more information on this referendum, here is my take:
With the recent fish kills and algal blooms that have occurred this year, it has become imperative that we work on the health of the Lagoon. Efforts to obtain assistance from both state and federal governments have fallen short. Because of this, Brevard county has taken the initiative to create a plan to fix the Lagoon ourselves. It is composed of 3-parts: Remove, Reduce and Restore. The county is proposing this $302 million plan be funded by a ½ cent sales tax referendum that will last for ten years with all revenue to be placed in a Save Our Lagoon trust fund.
Photo Credit to Ben
THREE PART PLAN SUMMARY
Remove – Muck is mostly water filled with a very fine sediment made of decomposing organic matter. This is what feeds the algae that was responsible for the fish kill this year. The theory is that if we remove the muck, then the algae won’t have anything to “eat”, therefore preventing future algal blooms. To remove the “Muck”, the county will use hydraulic dredging that will suck up the muck using a high powered vacuum system. Each area will be sectioned off to contain any disruption of the sediment that may occur while removing the muck. It will then send the muck to a drying pond where it will slowly separate the sediment from the water. The water will then be sent back into that lagoon after it is treated with a flocculant.
Reduce – This is where we as residents have the most control. We need to reduce the amounts of nitrates and phosphates that get into the lagoon.
- Fertilizers – The individual can do this by using slow release fertilizers, making sure not to apply fertilizer before a rain or during the summer. Ensure that your grass clippings do not get blown into the road, instead blow them back into the yard. Move away from St Augustine grass to a Florida native plant friendly yard which removes the need for fertilizers.
- Septic Tanks – Malfunctioning septic tanks that are close (within 55 yards) to the lagoon release huge amounts of nutrients into the lagoon. The county is proposing to pay to have these tanks removed (approximately 15,000) in areas where the home or business can be attached to the city sewer system.
- Stormwater – The county will lower the stormwater loading by creating more “stormwater ditches”. This is the most cost effective way to treat stormwater. (read my write-up on the Desoto Stormwater Park Project)
Restore – This is the most important part, once we have finished removing the muck and tackling the stormwater loading. The plan is to bring back living shorelines such as sea grasses and oyster bars. The presentation states that 20 miles of shoreline oyster bars would filter the lagoon volume annually.
In order to make sure that the projects are on schedule, and on budget, there will be a 14 member citizen oversight committee, in which half of the members will be appointed by The League of Cities and the other half by the Board of County Commissioners. In addition, the oversight committee will stay in tune with the latest technology and research in order to identify other projects that may compliment the plan.
The STEAM Team will focus on an adaptive management of the plan, with emphasis on:
- Technology Entrepreneurs
- Real estate interests
- Tourism/Nature-based tourism
- Lagoon Advocacy
I hope that this information helps you with your decision on this particular ballot item. I feel that we need to come together as a community and take action to protect our assets and economy. Please feel free to contact me with any additional questions, and I will answer them to the best of my ability, or point you in the right direction to get the information you are looking for.
Here is a link to the actual presentation – http://www.brevardcounty.us/docs/default-source/natural-resources-documents/save-our-lagoon-project-plan-presentation.pdf?sfvrsn=2