DEP Partners With Brevard County to Reduce Pollutants Reaching Indian River Lagoon

Sept. 26, 2014

~ Partnership provides more than $850,000 to reduce pollutants in stormwater runoff ~

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has partnered with Brevard County to commit approximately $855,000 for a project designed to treat stormwater runoff near Fleming Grant Road in the city of Micco. The project includes the construction of a wet detention pond and a denitrification bioreactor on land owned by the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), as well as a public outreach program. The project is expected to reduce the nutrient pollutant contribution from the area by 72 percent for total phosphorous and 47 percent for total nitrogen.

“The Indian River Lagoon is one of our state’s most renowned natural resources,” said Tom Frick, director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “The energy and passion of lagoon advocates like Brevard County deserve the department’s support.”

“Brevard County is pleased to partner with both the FDEP and the SJRWMD to improve water quality in the North Prong of the Sebastian River and the downstream Indian River Lagoon,” said Virginia Barker, watershed program manager for Brevard County’s Natural Resources Management Office.

Water that flows off the land and into creeks, streams or rivers after a rain is referred to as stormwater runoff, and usually contains a number of pollutants including fertilizers, pesticides, oil and grease. Once this runoff reaches a water body, nutrient pollution such as excess nitrogen and phosphorous can contribute to abnormally rapid algal growth, leading to harmful algal blooms and other complications. Treatment or retention of stormwater runoff reduces the amount of pollutants the water contains. In this case, the Fleming Grant Road pond will reduce the pollutant load in stormwater runoff reaching the Indian River Lagoon.

Denitrification bioreactors are a simple technology that removes nitrogen from water by mixing an organic carbon source, such as wood chips or sawdust, without the presence of oxygen. Bacteria consume the organic carbon material and convert the nitrate from the water into harmless nitrogen gas, which is then released back into the atmosphere.

The wet detention pond and denitrification bioreactor system will treat stormwater from approximately 136 acres of dense residential areas located east and west of Fleming Grant Road that drain to roadside ditches upstream of the project site. There are no existing stormwater treatment systems in the project area. The project pond outflow may be used to further hydrate a restoration swamp funded by the Florida Department of Transportation on the same SJRWMD property.

The public outreach portion of the project begins at one of the county’s free “Movies in the Park” events, at which a public service announcement will discuss stormwater pollution causes and reduction strategies. A tabletop workshop at the event will allow representatives to discuss stormwater pollution with attendees and provide brochures, decals, soil test kits and other promotional items. A hands-on Oyster Mat Making Workshop will also be hosted to engage event attendees in conservation and stewardship actions and educate participants on the relationship between stormwater pollutants and marine life. The county will also host a Rain Barrel Education Workshop, and up to 30 participants will be provided with materials to construct their own rain barrels for home use.

More information on this and other Brevard County projects can be found here.

More information on the EPA grant program administered by DEP can be found here.

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