District, partners celebrate cleaner Crane Creek and Indian River Lagoon

Crane Creek as viewed from downtown Melbourne. A district restoration project will reduce the volume of nutrients entering the waterway and ultimately, the Indian River Lagoon.

Crane Creek as viewed from downtown Melbourne. A district restoration project will reduce the volume of nutrients entering the waterway and ultimately, the Indian River Lagoon.

PALATKA, Fla., Dec. 14, 2018 —  The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on Friday presented a $2.45 million check to the St. Johns River Water Management District toward a project to clean up Melbourne’s Crane Creek, a tributary of the Indian River Lagoon.

“This project will provide substantial water quality benefits to the Indian River Lagoon as well as result in additional water supply to the St. Johns River,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “Recognizing its environmental benefits, we are grateful to the Brevard County Save Our Indian River Lagoon Program for its contribution of more than $2 million and DEP’s contribution of nearly $2.5 million toward this beneficial project.”

The check presentation, held in Viera during a meeting of the Save Our Indian River Lagoon Citizen Oversight Committee, comes three days after the district’s Governing Board entered into an agreement in which the oversight committee will contribute more than $2 million toward the project.

“We are pleased to partner with the St. Johns River Water Management District and Brevard County to help complete this important restoration project,” said DEP’s Deputy Secretary for Ecosystems Restoration Drew Bartlett. “Restoring the Crane Creek watershed closer to its historic flows benefits both the St Johns River and the Indian River Lagoon, which will increase water supply potential and reduce nutrient and sediment levels.”

“Of all the ways to reduce pollution to the Indian River Lagoon, re-diversion projects are the most exciting,” said Virginia Barker, director of Brevard County Natural Resource Management Office. “They return freshwater flows to the St Johns River where they belong, reduce many types of pollution to the lagoon, and restore natural salinity regimes for fish and wildlife. But these projects are big, complicated and expensive, so it’s a rare treat when enough partners can unite to make these projects happen. This project would not be possible without the voter-approved Indian River Lagoon Trust Fund, contributions from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and project leadership by the St. Johns River Water Management District.”

Located in West Melbourne, Melbourne Village and portions of unincorporated Brevard County, the project will reduce the flow of nutrients and sediments to the lagoon by returning to the St. Johns River billions of gallons of freshwater flow each year. Major project components include an operable weir located near the natural coastal ridge, a stormwater pump station and a stormwater treatment area to ensure that nutrients and sediments are removed prior to the water’s return to the St. Johns River.

Total design, permitting and construction costs for the project are estimated to be $9.2 million.