The Indian River Lagoon stretches 156 miles from the Ponce De Leon Inlet in Volusia County to Jupiter Inlet in Palm Beach County. It is an estuary, a body of water where freshwater from rivers and streams mix with the ocean saltwater. Seventy-two miles
of the lagoon lie in Brevard County and play a vital role in the community's livelihood.
Some of the lagoon's major contributions to Brevard County include the following:
- Providing a home to over 4,000 species of wildlife and plant life.
- Contributing 3.7 billion annually to the economy of the five county region
- Creating employment opportunities (15,000 jobs for Brevard residents)
- Supporting recreational areas such as boating, fishing and water sports ($1.3 billion in revenue)
- Providing grounds for shellfish harvesting
The St. Johns River is the longest river in Florida at 310 miles. It is one of the few rivers in the United States that flows north. This means that the marshy headwaters of the upper basin are located to the south where the approximately 1,000-square-mile
basin starts. The river stretches from Indian River County to Duval County in northeast Florida, where the river empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Indian River Lagoon and the St. Johns River are currently battling pollution that could potentially prevent the citizens of Brevard County from using it for those very activities that make it so valuable. Untreated stormwater runoff is now considered
the state's leading source of water pollution. Stormwater runoff, a form of non-point source pollution, is caused when rainfall runs over the land, picks up pollutants and deposits them into our waterways.
Imagine the path taken by a drop of rain from the time it hits the ground to when it reaches the our waterways. If the rain lands on an area that allows it to soak into the ground, pollutants are filtered out naturally by the soil and plants. However,
if the rain lands on impervious areas such as our homes, streets and parking lots, it washes the trash, dirt, leaves, chemicals, oils, residues of ground up metals and rubber, fertilizers and pesticides from these areas into the ditches and storm
drains and out to the waterways. The first inch of stormwater runoff carries 90% of the pollutants from our streets, homes, yards, industrial activities and constructions sites.
As part of the implementation of its growth management plan, local regulations were changed in 1978 to assure that all subdivisions and commercial sites developed within unincorporated Brevard County were required to treat stormwater runoff to reduce
pollutants reaching our waterways. However, much of Brevard was developed prior to this time and has little or no stormwater treatment facilities.
The stormwater utility was implemented in 1990 to provide a dedicated funding source for addressing existing stormwater pollution problems. The money is used to construct capital improvement retrofit projects such as retention ponds, baffle boxes, and
swales in older developments.