Message from Dr. Ann Shortelle

Celebrating progress on a District water quality project with many benefits

February 20, 2020

Crane Creek boat dock
The District’s Crane Creek project is focused on reducing the amount of nutrients flowing to the Indian River Lagoon and St. Johns River, as well as restoring freshwater flows to the St. Johns River.

Last week, the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Governing Board approved an interlocal agreement with Brevard County for a project that will offer a dual return: improving water quality in the Indian River Lagoon and returning cleansed flow to the St. Johns River.

The Crane Creek/M-1 Canal Flow Restoration Project is one more example of the District helping communities reduce their impacts on our waterways. We’re proud to partner with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Brevard County on this project which also supports Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order to improve water quality.

This District-led project will provide substantial water quality benefits to the Indian River Lagoon by capturing thousands of pounds of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediments annually before they can reach the lagoon, as well as result in additional water supply of billions of gallons of cleansed freshwater flowing back to the St. Johns River.

Already in 2020, we have met project milestones for completing hydraulic and hydrologic modeling, with project design underway. The M-1 Canal is a century-old man-made flood control feature that serves Melbourne, West Melbourne, Melbourne Village and portions of unincorporated Brevard County. The canal cuts through a natural coastal ridge drainage divide, diverting 5,300 acres of historic St. Johns River drainage basin into the Indian River Lagoon through Crane Creek. Stormwater baseflow will be restored to the St. Johns River by installing an operable weir near the natural drainage divide. This weir redirects baseflow in the canal so stormwater can be pumped to a stormwater treatment area, ensuring that nutrients and sediments are removed prior to the water’s return to the St. Johns River.

The Brevard County Save Our Indian River Lagoon Program contributed more than $2 million and DEP provided nearly $2.5 million, with the District funding the remainder of this beneficial project, at an estimated total cost of $10.5 million. District staff are managing design and construction, as well as operating and maintaining the system.

This investment will add to the positive impacts of other recent District-led projects benefitting water quality in the lagoon, including the Micco Water Management Area, a series of ponds and restored wetlands that remove pollutants from a 21,000-acre watershed before they reach the lagoon; the Canal-1 rediversion project that diverts stormwater away from Turkey Creek and the lagoon, sending flow instead to a retention area in the St. Johns River’s headwater and the Eau Gallie River dredging project, which removed more than 600,000 cubic yards of muck from the river and Elbow Creek.

We are grateful for the partnerships that are helping to restore and protect the water resources that make Florida such a beautiful place to live. Thank you to our partners and residents of the lagoon region for your support for this special waterway.

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