BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Starting Monday, there is a fertilizer ban in effect for Brevard County and will last through the rest of summer.
The ban is to help prevent more pollutants from entering the waterways.
Splashing around the Indian River Lagoon has not always been possible. Pollutants can threaten the health and safety of any breathing organism. This is just like the fish kill of 2016, when tens of thousands of fish, more than thirty species in all, floated to the top along a 50-mile stretch of the lagoon.
Experts said that decades of fertilizer runoff by an ever-growing population and an antiquated stormwater system fueled algae blooms that suffocated the sea life.
“You couldn’t see the bottom of the lagoon at all because it was so clogged with brown algae and very murky and mucky and you would probably see some dead fish floating up on the shore too,” said MJ Waters of the Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition.
Waters helped create projects with the county to remove excess nutrients.
“The plan is to fund projects that remove excess nitrogen, which basically is the problem – we have too much of that – and that’s what fertilizer has so much of and people don’t realize you can live 20 miles from the lagoon and the fertilizer in your lawn can end up degrading the quality of the water,” she said.
Environmentalists said during the summer rainy season, fertilizer from lawns washes into streets and drains, making its way to the Indian River Lagoon and other waterways.
Brandon Smith, an environmental specialist with Brevard County said they are fighting back by ramping up construction on a number of projects.
“One-hundred eighty-eight projects we have planned along with septic to sewer removals and upgrades will actually remove 1.3 million pounds of nitrogen from the lagoon annually,” Smith said.
But one year of work doesn’t instantly erase decades of pollution. Which is why the change starts at home with each resident doing their part to stop the cycle. The county is banning the use of fertilizer from June 1 to the end of September.
Signs are now posted in stores educating the public on the problem.
“We want to be able to enjoy the water whether it’s fishing, boating, skiing, whatever you want to do on the lagoon. We want everyone in the county to enjoy that. By doing our part to reduce these nutrients, we can hopefully get to that area,” Smith said.
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