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The Eau Gallie River and Elbow Creek Restoration Dredging Project
Ballard Park sits next to the Eau Gallie River near the site of the planned dredging project.
Help is on the way for the Eau Gallie River.
Decades of stormwater runoff and erosion have deposited a thick layer of muck in the Eau Gallie River, a tributary of the Indian River Lagoon.
Muck is a mix of fine-grained sediments, sand, clay and organic matter (decaying leaves, grass and other plant material) contained in untreated stormwater runoff that drains to canals and storm drains connected to the Eau Gallie River. Muck deposits from stormwater runoff is a common problem throughout the lagoon.
- Contains nutrients — which feed algal blooms — which flux into the water column
- Contributes to turbid, cloudy water
- Clogs navigation channels and damages boat engines
- Makes recreating in and around the water unappealing and unpleasant
- Provides poor habitat for estuarine organisms. Many of the plants and animals that inhabit the Indian River Lagoon avoid muck sediments, thereby reducing ecosystem quality and recreational prospects.
The St. Johns River Water Management District is committed to improving the health of the lagoon and its tributaries. One method is to remove muck from the Eau Gallie River in the most efficient way possible — by launching a large-scale restoration dredging project.
The district and its partners (Florida Department of Environmental Protection [DEP], Florida Inland Navigation District [FIND], Brevard County and the city of Melbourne) are undertaking a restoration dredging project to remove between approximately 625,000 to 750,000 cubic yards of muck from the main stem of the 3.9-mile-long Eau Gallie River, as well as the southern branch of the river known as Elbow Creek.
The restoration dredging project has the backing of many stakeholders, particularly residents who live on the Eau Gallie River who formed a group called the Eau Gallie River Environment is Threatened (EGRET). EGRET is a coalition of concerned Melbourne residents who have actively pursued local, state and federal support for the responsible stewardship of the Eau Gallie River.
Funding partners include DEP, which is providing $20 million approved by the Legislature in 2014 and 2015; FIND, which contributed $900,000 to support project design and permitting and an additional $1.5 million to assist in funding construction of the Dredge Material Management Area (DMMA); and the city of Melbourne, which contributed $50,000 for the initial feasibility study.
Brevard County is providing the DMMA property, as well as a site to permanently place the dredged material. The DMMA is under construction and is expected to be completed by December 2016. Dredging is scheduled to begin immediately after construction of the DMMA and should be completed in early 2018.
Updated on 9-20-2016