District, partners celebrate a cleaner Eau Gallie River

Eau Gallie event at Shortelle

St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle speaks today in Melbourne, celebrating removal of approximately 632,000 cubic yards of muck from the Eau Gallie River.

Eau Gallie event at Shortelle

St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle speaks today in Melbourne, celebrating removal of approximately 632,000 cubic yards of muck from the Eau Gallie River.

PALM BAY, Fla., May 13, 2019 — The St. Johns River Water Management District, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), state and local elected officials, and Indian River Lagoon protection advocates gathered today to celebrate the completion of a two-year-long muck dredging project in the Eau Gallie River aimed at improving water quality.

Attendees gathered at historic Ballard Park at the mouth of the Eau Gallie River to celebrate the removal of approximately 630,000 cubic yards of black muck from the waterway, which is a tributary of the Indian River Lagoon.

Muck is a mix of fine-grained sediments, sand, clay and organic matter in untreated stormwater runoff that drains to canals and storm drains connected to tributaries in the lagoon, including the Eau Gallie River. Muck can accumulate nutrients that contribute to algal blooms and create detrimental conditions for seagrasses and organisms vital to the lagoon’s aquatic food chain.

The removal of such a significant amount of muck translates to the reduction of approximately 1,200 tons of nitrogen and 260 tons of total phosphorous, nutrients that contribute to algal blooms in waterways.

“Securing the funding for this important project was a highlight of my time as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives,” said former State Rep. Steve Crisafulli. “With continued commitment from our legislative delegation, local communities, and agency partners, we can and we will save this all-important natural resource.”

“Collaboration is a critical component of water quality restoration. When stakeholders come together, we are able to do more for Florida’s environment now,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “DEP has been proud to partner with the St. Johns River Water Management District, other participating agencies and the local community on this project. This completed project is another great step forward in tackling the critical water quality issues in the Indian River Lagoon and its tributaries.”

“The Indian River Lagoon is a unique and precious resource that is vital to the health of our economy,” said State Sen. Debby Mayfield. “Along with my colleagues, I am committed to improving the health of the Indian River Lagoon with the right policies in place to support a comprehensive restoration plan with long-term funding sources. The completion of the Eau Gallie Muck Dredging Project marks another major step forward in restoring our treasured waterway.”

“Muck removal is the single most important action we can take to restore the Indian River Lagoon in our lifetime,” said State Rep. Thad Altman. “This project is the very example of what we need to be doing.”

“This project highlights the progress possible in improving conditions in the Indian River Lagoon when we all work together,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “We’re celebrating not only a cleaner waterway but the active community here which led a grass-roots effort to improve water quality. Our legislators listened and responded by appropriating $20 million in funding.”

Legislative funding for the project was disbursed through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The Florida Inland Navigation District and the city of Melbourne contributed $3.75 million and $50,000 respectively. Brevard County provided a location to store the dredged material.

The Florida Inland Navigation District is proud to be a partner with the district on a project that improves navigability and water quality in the Eau Gallie River,” said Florida Inland Navigation District Commissioner Jerry Sansom. “Our agency has a long history of supporting dredging projects throughout many tributaries along the Indian River Lagoon.”

Stakeholders in attendance included Eau Gallie River Environment is Threatened (EGRET) Project members, who have focused for several years on securing support and funding to improve the conditions of the Eau Gallie River and Indian River Lagoon.