TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has awarded more than $550,000 in funding for living shoreline projects to help protect the health of the Indian River Lagoon.
Living shorelines are established by the creation of a natural marsh of planted native, fast-growing plants, such as alligator flag, pickerelweed, sand cordgrass and bog rush. This marsh provides shallow water habitat for marine animals, absorbs and reduces wave energy, captures sediment, improves water quality, reduces pollution through wetland filtration and decreases damaging effects of storms and floods.
"Investing in natural projects like these are important to our ongoing efforts to restore the Indian River Lagoon," said Trina Vielhauer, director of the Division of Water Restoration Assistance. "Combined with area stormwater improvements, sewer rehabilitation and low-impact design improvements, these living shoreline projects will help to significantly improve water-quality of the Indian River Lagoon system, a designated Estuary of National Significance."
Projects receiving funding include:
The city of Titusville was awarded a $60,000 grant to establish shoreline plantings at the city's existing St. Johns Basin and Royal Oak stormwater wet detention ponds. Vegetation provides an important buffer between upland landscapes and waterbodies by absorbing excess nutrients originating from fertilizers, pet waste and vegetative debris carried by stormwater runoff. The project also includes educational exhibits and future monitoring of the plantings.
Bethune-Cookman University was awarded a $494,694 grant to transform turfgrass dominated shorelines and retention ponds into living shorelines of native Florida plants known to better filter nutrients. The project includes educational exhibits and workshops to demonstrate the impacts and importance of reducing nonpoint source pollution along the Mosquito Lagoon, a northern sub-lagoon of the Indian River Lagoon system.
Funding for these living shoreline projects comes from the state's 319(h) nonpoint source pollution reduction grants. Nonpoint source pollution results from many widespread sources rather than a single, distinct origin, such as stormwater runoff from urban surface areas and agricultural operations, septic tanks and erosion.
Since 2004, DEP has awarded more than $51 million in 319(h) grants to local Florida governments, nonprofits and water management districts for more than 80 projects. Read more information on nonpoint source funding.
To further improve the lagoon’s water quality, the department is identifying additional wastewater and stormwater projects that reduce the amount of nutrients entering the lagoon and dredge projects that remove muck from the bottom of the lagoon, which also feeds algae blooms.