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The Indian River Lagoon Pollution Epidemic

The+Indian+River+Lagoon+has+visibly+green+water+near+the+land.
The Indian River Lagoon has visibly green water near the land.

The Indian River Lagoon has visibly green water near the land.

Photo Credit Shania Campbell

Photo Credit Shania Campbell

The Indian River Lagoon has visibly green water near the land.

Shania Campbell

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The Indian River Lagoon is a natural body of water that desperately needs to be protected. The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) is, sadly, known for its filthy and polluted water after it used to be a beautiful, natural habitat for thousands of animals.

There are multiple reasons for the lagoon being polluted. One of the main reasons is from run-off water containing fertilizer. The harmful fertilizer used on every lawn in Brevard County has caused thousands of plants and animals to die in the IRL. As roads, driveways, and parking lots get repaved, fertilizer runoffs reach the IRL much easier. The levels of phosphorus from fertilizers have grown nearly 75% from 2000 to 2016. The harmful chemicals not only kill fish, but algae thrive on the phosphorus and creates harmful algae blooms in the IRL.

Algae blooms release toxins into the water which kills fish and other sea creatures, disrupting the food web in the IRL. An algae bloom in 2016 killed more than 100,000 sea creatures including fish, oysters, crabs, and Brevard County’s beloved manatees. In 2016, baby oysters, which filter the water in the lagoon, died from the brown algae causing worry among researchers.

Another huge reason why the IRL looks so filthy is from muck blanketing the sea floor. There is enough muck to fill up an entire football field 3,000 feet high and it’s mostly because of sewage. In 2017, 3.1 million gallons of sewage spilled into the IRL as a result of a broken wastewater pipe. As the water level gets higher, leaks in the wastewater pipes release sewage into the water.

Human population growth is an issue against nature and animals worldwide because of the invading and polluting of natural habitats. Habitats are provided for thousands of plants and animal species including manatees and dolphins which are both loved by many Floridians. The IRL is a body of water vital for Brevard County because it supports 15,000 jobs and recreation for 11 million people each year. With too many people invading their natural habitats, animals and plants will have to stay under detailed watch and can possibly become endangered if not enough action is taken.

There are plenty of easy ways to help the Indian River Lagoon, including:

  • Be aware of your fertilizer usage and decrease it
  • Build a rain garden (a garden at a lower ground level to allow rainwater to come in and water the plants)
  • Build a rain barrel (a barrel with a net at the top to collect rain water and a faucet to pour the water into a watering can to water flowers)
  • Avoid sea grass beds (Sea grass is trying to grow back, so it’s best for people to avoid stepping on it or damaging it. They’re found in shallow water.)
  • Throw away trash (Any trash that you see can possibly end up in the IRL or other bodies of water)
  • Attend a workshop or volunteer at the IRL
  • Keep lawn clippings out of the street by using a blower

The issue with simply cleaning up the IRL is that it’s difficult to remove the filth and, unless the state finds a way to prevent it from happening again, there’s no guarantee that it will solve the problem. It’s a never ending process if nothing is done to prevent more emergency cleanups to save the plants and animals.

 

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