Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;   president@SEVolusiaAudubon.org


January 2016 Prez Sez


Volusia County wants Edgewater, New Smyrna Beach and Oak Hill to help pay for a study to help stop the decline and increase the water quality of Mosquito Lagoon.  Of course, the County has already determined the cause of the problems. They have already assessed the blame on septic tanks and storm-water run-off.


County spokesperson for the project for News-Journal article on Saving the Lagoon on12/21/2015 is the Road and Bridge Director for Volusia County.  Really?  Roads and Bridges Director? She says the plan would spell out what kinds of improvements are needed to stormwater and septic tanks and other infrastructure to reduce pollution going into the lagoon.


Several questions come to mind:


(1) Since the County uses countywide taxes to pay off commercial ventures to come to specific places like  Daytona Beach or improve their facilities like the Speedway Corporation, with no financial benefit to the people in Edgewater, why not do the same for the mosquito lagoon project.


(2) If they know what the problem is, why do they need a study?


(3) How long would this study take?  What are the expected results in terms of finding funding to fix what might be found?


(4) The county has a reputation for paying for studies and letting the sit on a shelf.  What guarantee is there that this one won't have a similar fate?


(5) Who gets all all the money for these studies? Does the county staff have favorite "studiers".  


There were algal superblooms in 2011, 2012, and 2013, from two different species of algae, which had a devastating effect on underwater grasses and are presumed to have killed large numbers of pelicans, dolphins, manatees and fish.

 

The Indian River Lagoon 2011 consortium was formed to study the bloom.  It is comprised of 26 scientists from ten organizations including the Saint John’s River Water Management District.  They studied the superbloom in 2011 and concluded they could not explain the initiation and persistence of the superbloom and their study highlighted some key gaps in their understanding of the process.  So they built a five-year plan.


And what might have caused the superblooms in the two subsequent years?  They suggest that several factors may have been at play, including environmental as well as decades-long nutrient enrichment from lawns and septic systems.  Among the environmental factors, they cite the prolonged droughts which occurred prior to the superbloom events which increased the salinity of the lagoon and decreased water levels, and colder water temperatures during the winters of 2010 and 2011.

The St. Johns District, IRLNEP, federal and state agencies, local governments and educational institutions are individually and collectively working to find answers to the cause of the superbloom and to identify what, if anything, can be done in the future to limit or avoid a similar event.


Collectively, many agencies, federal and state are working in a five-year plan to understand the lagoon and the factors affecting the blooms therein.  As of September 2014, the last 18 months of the plan will be devoted to synthesizing data to help manage lagoon resources and identify projects to improve the health of the lagoon.


If you want more detail, check out the SJRWMD website.


So with all these scientists working on the project, do we need to spend another $378,000 on a project that may not be necessary or may not even terminate in useful results?


The surrounding cities may already have the power to take some steps in reducing stormwater flow into the lagoon.  They can probably even mandate that people living in an area covered by city sewer and within a specified distance from the lagoon be required to hook up to city sewer and abandon their septic tanks.   


We don't need another year or so long study process resulting in a plan that will sit on a shelf gathering dust.  But we do need the surrounding cities to do what is in their power to do now.


Florida’s population has topped 20 million, and a thousand more are arriving every day.


Governor Scott says he is proud of that and the jobs “he” has created.  He had better put the necessary resources into ensuring this population has the clean, clear water for sustenance, recreation and commerce well into he future.


Don