For Hometown News
Dolphins, pelicans and manatees are dying at record rates in the Indian River Lagoon.
The last two summers produced the largest, densest and most damaging algae blooms ever recorded in the lagoon. Bloom impacts included loss of 31,600 acres of seagrass, the tropical forest of the lagoon floor. As a result, commercial and recreational fisheries are suffering.
Scientists are still unsure what exactly triggered these changes, but nutrient pollution is certainly to blame for feeding the algae "superblooms." Nutrient pollution comes from activities and choices made by everyone in everyday life. Therefore, Brevard County residents can help the Indian River by reducing the daily footprint on water quality.
Minimizing the use of lawn fertilizer is the simplest way for most people to significantly reduce their contribution to nutrient pollution. Excess fertilizer is washed off lawns by irrigation and/or rain, especially quick release fertilizer. It washes into the nearest ditch or street, where it enters the stormwater system. From there, it flows to the nearest waterbody.
Many homeowners apply more fertilizer than the fertilizer label recommends and much more than their lawn needs. Local governments are adopting fertilizer ordinances to prevent excess use and water pollution.
The local University of Florida Brevard County Extension Service can help property owners determine how much and what kind of fertilizer a lawn needs by helping residents submit a soil test to the University of Florida. The test costs $7, plus shipping, and the Extension Service can assist with interpreting the soil test results.
Taking care of your car
Car care is another area that can make a significant difference on water quality.
Treat yourself to a commercial car wash, keep tires properly inflated and fix any fluid leaks promptly. Dirt and grime on vehicles, and the soap used to wash it off, is loaded with pollution.
Commercial car washes catch the dirty wash water and filter out the pollution.
Proper tire pressure means better gas mileage; and better gas mileage reduces air pollution.
Air pollution is responsible for about a third of the nutrient load to the Indian River Lagoon. Oils and fluids that leak from vehicles get washed off the pavement by rain and carried to the nearest waterbody.
Clean up leaks and spills with absorbent material like kitty litter and fix leaks promptly to minimize pollution.
There are many additional lawn care choices that protect water quality. Grass clippings contain nutrients that feed algae blooms, so control where grass clippings go. If the lawnmower side-casts grass clippings, make sure to mow in the direction that casts the clippings away from open water, ditches, paved surfaces and stormwater drains.
Reduce the amount of yard that is dedicated to plants that need irrigation and fertilizer to thrive. Instead, landscape with "Florida Friendly" plants that are easy to care for when planted in the right place.
Find out more about Florida Friendly Landscaping Principles at http://brevard.ifas.ufl.edu.
Buffer strips of native aquatic plants installed along waterfronts require no mowing or chemicals and filter out pollution.
It's up to you
Taking care of the Lagoon is up to everyone, and it begins at home.
For more ideas and information about how to reduce your daily footprint on water quality, visit LiveBlueFL.org, BrevStorm.org or Brevard.ifas.ufl.edu.
Reduce pollution now to help the Indian River forever.
Information was provided by the Brevard County Natural Resources Management Department.
For more information, call (321) 690-6843 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.