In this section
Seagrass transplant experiment
The Indian River Lagoon Protection Initiative
To better understand the lagoon’s complex ecosystem, the possible causes for unexpected change and how to protect one of the most diverse estuaries in North America, the St. Johns River Water Management District launched an Indian River Lagoon Protection Initiative in spring 2013.
The Initiative is a multi-year program to protect and restore the water quality and ecological habitat of the Indian River Lagoon. The initial focus of the Initiative is an algal bloom investigation, a four-year program in which the District and outside experts will increase the scientific understanding of the lagoon system through monitoring, data collection, field and lab analysis and model development. The algal bloom investigation will work in parallel to and augment other Initiative programs within the lagoon, and will provide the understanding to develop projects that maximize the opportunities for lagoon recovery and sustained health. The algal bloom investigation represents a proposed investment of $3.7 million above the lagoon’s $400,000 to $500,000 annual science budget through 2017.
Initiative work will be conducted primarily within the northern lagoon system, which includes Mosquito Lagoon, northern Indian River Lagoon and Banana River Lagoon in Volusia and Brevard counties. Current work includes water quality monitoring, seagrass transplant experiments and studies of drift algae. In addition, the District is cost-sharing with other plankton and fish sampling programs undertaken by the University of Florida and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
In fiscal year 2013–2014 that began Oct. 1, 2013, the District has allocated $7.118 million to the Initiative. This financial commitment, in conjunction with additional dedicated funding in future years, will allow the District to develop enhanced insights into the complex biological interactions, while continuing to implement projects to improve the health of the lagoon.
The Initiative is also engaging external stakeholders to address the following program components:
- Complete a scientific investigation into the causes of large-scale algal blooms in the lagoon
- Partner with the National Estuary Program (NEP) and other stakeholder agencies to implement projects to improve the lagoon’s health
- Identify a sustainable plan to reduce nutrient loading to the lagoon and collaborate with stakeholders to implement the plan
- Create an action plan for appropriate agencies to implement to control algal blooms and lessen bloom impacts
- Promote efficient and effective communication with stakeholders
The final year to 18 months of the algal bloom investigation will be devoted to synthesizing data to help manage lagoon resources and identify projects to improve the health of the lagoon. Fundamental questions regarding the 2011 and 2012 blooms (identified in the Indian River Lagoon 2011 Superbloom Plan of Investigation) will be addressed.
Final products of the algal bloom investigation portion of the Initiative will include:
- Strategies for controlling algal bloom formation
- Strategies for enhancing a healthy, biologically diverse estuary
- Strategies for facilitating seagrass growth
- Feasibility of seagrass transplanting
- Feasibility of targeted removal of drift algae
- Descriptions of imbalances or weaknesses that induce bloom formation
- Recommendations for addressing human-caused imbalances related to nutrients and pollution sources
Updated on 11-5-2013