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September 19, 2014
Event celebrates Eau Gallie River dredging project
The St. Johns River Water Management District (District), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), state and local elected officials and Indian River Lagoon protection advocates celebrated the Florida Legislature’s $10 million funding appropriation for the first phase of the Eau Gallie River muck dredging project with an event on Sept. 19 at Ballard Park in Melbourne.
The project calls for removing 625,000 cubic yards (about 41,000 dump truck loads) of muck from the bottom of the Eau Gallie River. 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.
“Our waterways are not just beautiful, but foundational to the health of Florida’s ecosystem and economy,” said Rep. Steve Crisafulli of Merritt Island. “It is an honor to advance policies and support funding to protect and preserve our environment.”
“The Florida Legislature’s appropriation for dredging in the Indian River Lagoon and the Eau Gallie River is an important step,” said Sen. Thad Altman of Melbourne. “Bringing the Indian River Lagoon back to how we want to see it — alive, productive and healthy — will take a multifaceted approach that includes everyone.”
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.
“Today’s celebration began as a true grassroots movement,” said John Miklos, chairman of the District’s Governing Board. “This dredging project exemplifies not only partnerships at all levels of government, but changes that can occur when people come together for the good of the Indian River Lagoon.”
“Advancing restoration efforts for the Indian River Lagoon watershed is a top priority of the department with hundreds of millions already invested in pollution control,” said Tom Frick, DEP’s director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “The department is proud to partner again with the St. Johns River Water Management District in this project that will be another step forward in tackling the critical water quality issues in the Indian River Lagoon and its tributaries.”
Permitting and design are expected to be completed in summer 2015. Construction of a dredge material management area — a location to deposit and dewater dredged materials — will take approximately one year and is expected to be completed by fall 2016. Dredging is scheduled to begin immediately after construction of the containment area and will be completed by the end of 2017.