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MRC Reports Improved Water Quality in the Indian River Lagoon; But More Needs to Be Done

Indian River Lagoon BEST.jpg
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Florida - Friday March 17, 2023: The Marine Resources Council (MRC) is reporting that the water quality in the Indian River Lagoon is showing some improvement.

"Generally, the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) is getting clearer, and water quality, as currently measured in the lagoon is improving. That’s progress and very good news." That's one of the conclusions in what the MRC is calling their first 'Indian River Lagoon (IRL) Coastal Community of East Central Florida Progress Report'.

“We’re making historic progress,” said interim MRC Executive Director Jim Moir in a release accompanying the report. However Moir also notes that seagrass, which is the foundation of the lagoon ecosystem, "is not recovering" and "we need to know why.”

The 150-mile-long lagoon has been designated one of 28 'Estuaries of National Significance" in the U.S. It covers nearly 40 percent of Florida's east coast. When its healthy the Lagoon supports one of the most diverse habitats in North America. However over the years a wide range of pollutants have flowed into the Lagoon from waterways, canals and stormwater, from across central Florida east of Orlando.

Water quality testing conducted by the state in the Lagoon currently only looks at five factors, however, hundreds of pollutants may be disallowing seagrass to recover.

“We need to know what is in our water and how it is getting there," said Muir, "and we need to slow the flow of water into the lagoon while we do it.”

The MRC is urging the state of Florida to broaden water quality testing in the Indian River Lagoon, and they're asking the county and municipal governments in east central Florida to convert to Low Impact Development (LID) practices in order to slow-the-flow into the Lagoon.

Slowing the flow includes major wastewater and stormwater infrastructure upgrades, and septic to sewer conversions. However it also can be as simple as installing rain barrels to catch rainfall from the roof of a structure, and channeling it into native rain gardens on site, along with other common sense practices explained in the report.

The Marine Resources Council was founded in 1990. It is a non-profit organization.