Growing Problems Loom For Brevard County’s Indian River Lagoon

Thinking about the lagoon… A recent hydrologist’s report on artificial flushing has us thinking! It looks to our untrained minds like some of the flushing options will work. But what are the consequences of possible increased salinity or just increased water flow?

Here is access to the St John’s Water Mgmt. report:

Some cliff notes for those not interested in reading the report:
Computed flushing results for existing conditions were similar previous studies, showing that that the southern portion of the Mosquito Lagoon and the Banana River are poorly flushed at time scales of several months or more. The Titusville area of the IRL also remained poorly flushed in model simulations of existing conditions.

The most improved flushing rates and extent resulted from adding either a tidal inlet inlet or pumping station connection to the coastal ocean across narrow sections of the barrier island. A narrow tidal inlet or pumping station located in the south compartment of the Mosquito Lagoon produced complete flushing of the lagoon and north compartment of the IRL (Grid 1) within 70 days or less. A tidal inlet across the South Cocoa Beach barrier island also substantially improved flushing of the Banana River included in Grid 2. Opening the water locks at Port Canaveral also improved flushing but at a somewhat slower rate. This is attributed to the long conveyance channel between the Port entrance and the Banana River, which may dissipate tidal energy to a greater degree than a shorter inlet connection. Widening of Sebastian Inlet to about twice the width at the throat section did not noticeable improve either the rate or extent of flushing in the IRL.

According to a response from former County Commissioner and current Brevard Clerk of Court, Scott Ellis: “Cocoa Beach already did an unlawful tax increase last year and needs to stop crying for other people’s money. Municipal Sewer systems are paid for by the users, State and Federal money should not be used, and it is unfortunate the cities are asking for more money to cover what they have failed to do for a few decades. The $1.39 billion figure is a deliberately impossible number thrown out to cloud the situation. Compared to $1.39 billion no local taxation comes close, so does it mean just throw in the towel and surrender? Shockingly, of whatever is needed for take care of the alleged $1.39 billion of nitrogen there just may be some lower hanging fruit which may be accomplished with whatever funding and actions are done. I highly doubt the solution to the $1.39 billion is linear.”

Maybe if local government quit skimming their utility revenues they’d not be ‘freeing up’ operational funds by adding another penny tourist tax for their municipal backlogs.

Cocoa Beach Mayor Malik responded, “I prefer to listen to scientists over politicos, Tampa Bay and Chesapeake Bay are perfect case studies of how waterways can get cleaned up. . FYI, Cocoa Beach has invested over $30MM in sewer plant upgrades via Florida’s State Revolving Fund, over $3MM in relining of 50 year old clay sewer pipes. Both Ocean Beach Blvd and Minutemen improvements were storm water projects to reduce runoff to the waterways, muck dredging projects are ongoing. IRL council is putting together a long-term plan to cure this problem hopefully the politicians will support real science.”

So, is the answer to flush? For goodness sake it is what the wildlife seems to need right now. Incrementally introduce fresh seawater into the lagoon? Create an inlet? Open the locks? What we do agree on is that something needs to be done.

27 Comments Leave a comment

  1. EJ Hartigan April 20, 2018

    You have to do something! The rivers look like a septic tank. I was an avid fisherman and boater that spent weekends in the water or on the islands. Now I would not think about eating anything or let my family even wade or swim in these rivers. Its embarrassing.

  2. Deborah M Coe April 20, 2018

    Why cant a trial of opening the locks at Cape Canaveral at least be a band aid solution to at least diluting the lagoon somewhat until a bigger long term plan is in place? I don’t know all the logistics involved but tryi,g someting is better than doing nothing.

  3. Cb April 20, 2018

    I have been here 40 years and it just keeps getting worse. What happened you the increased tax money We voted on? Pet projects by politicians again . Let’s really put the cartoon before the horse and build build build to get more people here, then we will fix it . I don’t think so. My politicians were trusted , now not so much

    • Bo Platt April 20, 2018

      Cb – you should come to the monthly Save Our Indian River Lagoon Citizen Oversight Committee meetings – they’re held at 8:30 am on the the third Friday of each month at the Viera Government Center in the Florida Room. If you can’t attend, you can watch a recorded stream on the internet at You’ll see that the project plan is science-based and that the committee is focused on getting the best results at the lowest cost. There is built-in monitoring to ensure that the projects produce results – if they don’t perform as expected, then the committee has other projects they can fund instead. You’ll be surprised at how committed Commissioners Smith, Barfield, and Pritchett are to restoring the lagoon. There are others that, for political reasons, have chosen to put out half-truths and misinformation, and that certainly is unfortunate. Our most effective tool in restoring the lagoon is an informed public. You can also follow regular updated on Facebook at

  4. cg April 20, 2018

    Step 1
    Building moratorium on new construction, remodel to existing footprint ok, until situation
    resolved, then reconsider

  5. Roger Buchholtz April 20, 2018

    While not a total solution by any means, opening the locks at Cape Canaveral during high tide periods and closing them at other times (except to allow transit of water craft) would introduce clean sea water into the lagoon and force it downstream to help clear the surrounding area of the lagoon and, also, the downstream portion of the lagoon. If left open it would flush the immediate area around the locks but do little to clean the downstream area of the lagoon. This partial solution would not have a significant, if any, cost.

  6. Export Guru April 20, 2018

    I suggested building windmills in each of the 5 parks in the city to pump water from the ocean into the lagoon, the reverse of the arrangement I saw in Lower Saxony that goes the other way to drain the land. They also used gates in the dikes to allow water out at low tide, closed at high tide, also to drain the land. The latter scheme is similar to what you see on the webpage but is less colorful than the windmill idea. I proposed tower mills or smock mills such as the Dutch build. These would be tourist attractions as well as practical, working mills. Build of steel and keep a miller on staff to operate them, stow the sails for storms, etc.

  7. J Payne April 20, 2018

    Nice job Alex. Its Jimbo know you heard restaurant closed took some time off but would like to help. Call me 321 313 0580

  8. Kb April 20, 2018

    Concur with Mr. Ellis assessment of local tax revenue not being allocated properly. No incumbents at election time.

    Flushing is an obvious solution. Leave the lock open….it’s a start and costs nothing extra. Flish from narrow points next….it’s pipe and gravity. Shut off a corresponding number of street lights to compensate for any new electric usage.

  9. Robert A. Williams April 20, 2018

    Open the locks and put in the pipes. We need our river to be a nice place to go again. Ask any one who has been here a long time and they will tell you of the old days when there were clams, oysters, and abundant fish in these rivers. This is the hatchery for all the off shore fish and many other creatures. Let the water flow as fast as possible ! Quit talking about it and do it. Quit spending millions of dollars putting sand back on the beach for a couple years and fix the rivers.

  10. Janet April 20, 2018

    I live on the shore of the Banana River North of Rt 520. When I purchased five years ago the water was a clear blue and I could see very tiny fish at the bottom. Now it is absolutely brown and I cannot even see the bottom at the very edge. I don’t know what the problem is or how it can be fixed but please, I hope the powers that be do something, anything to remedy the situation.

  11. DOMINIC SCAFETTA April 21, 2018

    Our elected officials and those who are robbing us of the tax money we approved to fix this problem MUST GO. I want a rebate of the money we already wasted, and we should demand it come from the salaries of the bureaucrats and politicians who duped us with their smooth talk. The river is worse than ever. Where did our money go?

    The answer to this issue is so obvious only politicians and bureaucrats would not understand how simple and easy this is to fix.

    STOP with the excuses and environmental scare tactic BS. Start by opening the locks. This hurts and costs NOTHING. Build the culverts as outlined above ASAP. Start with one and monitor the area around the culvert. In conjunction with the open locks we will see a very swift improvement. When it works, build one every few miles and solve this issue once and for all. Build the first one with the money we have already paid with the increased sales tax (funded by a rebate from the salaries of the people who wasted our money).

    There is no need or reason to project absolutely stupid cost projections ($1.4B !!!) other than to take the obvious solution off the table. What is the motivation? I’m actually not sure why anyone would want the river to be so disgusting, but generally if you follow the money you will find the answer. I fear that keeping this problem alive drives emotions that allow those in power to tax us to death and squander our money (or worse).

    Sorry for the tone, but this is really frustrating, with an easy, obvious, and workable solution. Now we need the RIGHT people to make it happen!

  12. BL April 21, 2018

    I agree that something needs to be done, and done soon! It should be a combination of restricting more growth that the infrastructure and our fragile environment cannot support, and doing things to correct the problems already created. If opening the locks (now!?) and putting in pipes can get this started, please do it. Elections may help us also by putting people into place that will support our efforts. Please make sure to toe.

    • BL April 21, 2018

      Whoops, VOTE, not toe.

  13. GO April 21, 2018

    I agree with those who are now embarrassed to admit we live on the water here. I was an avid shallow water fisherman and now my boat sits idle behind my home, just above the brown water. We need to both introduce clean seawater and stop dumping “treated” sewage in a lagoon with no capability of flushing itself. The buck has been passed to today’s politicians by their greedy predecessors. NOW is the time to do something, we are killing the nursery of fish which will not recover without change.

  14. Apollo Corapi April 21, 2018

    I have lived in Cocoa Beach since 1980. It is by far now the worst that I have ever seen the lagoon. There used to be fish jumping, trout to be caught, shrimp and crabs to be snared at night. Now, NOTHING. Thank you politicians. You promise everything and deliver nothing. All that you are good for is to ask us for our vote. Once you have it, you do NOTHING. How many studies have to be made. They all come up with the same answers. Yet, they never get implemented. Get off your asses and do something for a change

    • Harold Hillcher April 30, 2018

      Hello Apollo,
      A friend sent me this information and I agree with what most of the people say, especially keeping the locks open at the cape. The problem is not the number of people living here in Brevard. When I first met you and and you offered me a job in Coca Beach both rivers were well on their way to being a problem because of stagnation caused by all sorts of things. The depletion of the clam beds, the stinking operation of the locks, and the lack of aeration (manatee zones) by boaters all contribute to the bottom up-welling and the foul stink associated with it.

      Most comments blame the politicians and seem to overlook and excuse ourselves. The true answer lies in not listening to the criminals who hijacked the environmental movement many decades ago. The profiteers tell a convincing lie and little by little, generation after generation, we have a nation of liberals who learned to wine about everything and have nothing in common with capitalist ideology or conservatism. Every good idea is brought to a standstill by groups who have power over us citizens and contribute nothing to the growth of the nation. The environment is to be conserved by the will and actions of those who pay taxes on it. Not those who only seek to use it as at tool to control us, make us pay for phony services, and destroy our freedoms. Kay & I have been living in the Florida Keys for the past three and a half years. I wish you well. We love you and it was refreshing to see your name and comments. Your friend, Harold

  15. Len f April 21, 2018

    it’s time for the Army Corps of Engineers to get in here and fix this problem Levy big fines against municipalities that pollute the river

  16. Kathi Kellar April 21, 2018

    STOP any increase in population density
    STOP the use of products shown to have adverse effects on wildlife
    STOP pollution from ships at the port
    START flushing the landlocked lagoon
    START fining polluters
    START identifying environmentally concerned, educated candidates for critical public positions

  17. Dave April 23, 2018

    Create a new inlet at Pineda now!!!! And i want a list of all the taxes collected and the allocations of that money.

  18. Bruce April 23, 2018

    So everyone knows right? That the real solution is not the flushing, but a total ban on yard fertilizers. Total ban. Not a fake rainy season restriction. Of course everyone wants the locks open and the new inlets because that way they can keep their pretty grass. Studies show a new inlet only helps the lagoon in the area around the inlet. However fertilizers are hitting the lagoon from all directions. Total ban and that means golf courses also. Actually I do not think many golfers care how their emerald grass affects the lagoon. Nor the home owners or home owner associations.
    At this point in the disaster I can go along with a total ban and some new culverts. —a little worried that the Port Canaveral water is not all that clean. It does not look clean. Plus a new inlet or culver means someone will lose their property through Eminent domain.
    Ban the fertilizers or you have a dead lagoon for the next …. well forever. So which candidate is going to turn down the money from the big box stores or the fertilizer companies? Or the real estate lawyers? Or lawn services, business? Or the cities who are using the tax money to fix sewer problems that they should have funded long before the lagoon failed. The muck? I don’t expect any city to pick up that cost.
    Long sad fight ahead. Long time of a dead green lagoon.

  19. Thm April 25, 2018

    You homeowners on the river are going to loose on resale. Sorry. No upper income person will pay high price for polluted water. Sorry. Hope u fix it soon.

  20. Thm April 25, 2018

    You homeowners on the river are going to loose on resale. Sorry. No upper income person will pay high price for polluted water. Hope u fix it soon.

  21. Rick April 25, 2018

    Cut the inlet on government property, north Patrick Air Force Base? Is that a possibility? The two Officer’s houses on the beach have been there forever. Knock them down, cut through the narrow strip of the barrier island. The lagoon is collapsing people.

  22. Michael Moehle April 29, 2018

    The primary problem with the Flushing solution is resistance from professional environmentalists. You see, all environmental restoration projects have one overarching requirement. This requirement is adhered to by all who make a living at environmentalism, and accordingly drives public policy/spending. It insures that solutions will not be cheap or quick and may never be achieved. The requirement, simply stated, is that: ‘Restoration must not alter the environment from that which was present when Columbus first arrived’. There were no natural inlets between Ponce Inlet and Sebastian Inlet in 1492. In 1492 the Indian River and the Mosquito Lagoon were not connected and Sebastian Inlet was not really an inlet except at high tide. Early attempts at dynamiting Sebastian Inlet open failed. Just ask old timers about the positive effect that the dredging of Sebastian Inlet had on the water quality of the Indian River lagoon inside the inlet. The dredging/creation of the Sebastian Inlet would not be allowed today for environmental reasons. You see altering the Lagoons salinity from what it was in 1492 is also objectionable, even if it does result in better water quality. Don’t expect to see many environmental “scientists” support this solution because it does not yield a “Pre-Colombian” result. It also does not require massive spending, regulation, and decades to see results.

    Are you listening Mayor Malik?

    Mike Moehle
    Cocoa Beach

  23. Florida Dave May 26, 2019

    I am a lagoon (it’s not a river!) waterfront homeowner in Cocoa Beach in a home my parents built during the early 1960’s space boom.
    Within the last 3 years, particularly, the lagoon quality has eroded significantly and rapidly due obviously to recent extended algae blooms due to lack of water flow along with the constant foraging of sea grass beds by our “beloved” manatee population for years that don’t belong here anyway (what do you think happens to the 200 lbs of sea grass a manatee consumes? It turns into SLUDGE!?). This has affected all local species of wild life, not just the fish. The Osprey are all but gone or have shifted their nests closer to the ocean because they can’t catch what they can’t see and at present
    (5/25/19) visibility is a good 2”. If you pay attention you will notice not to many other water bird species remain. The fish left, they left. As far as affecting other dominate species, the Great White Herons and Kingfishers are picking off our Anoles (lizards), frogs and other small creatures on land because they can’t find fish. And I sure miss the Rosiette Spoonbills. Environmental impacts are spreading quickly now. As an (x)avid fisherman here for many years it is down right depressing to take my kayak or boat out and leave my fishing pole at home in the corner of the porch collecting dust. Don’t even know which end to hold anymore anyway! If you do see the occasional porpoise I’m sure they’re just passing through to better hunting grounds. I’ve even heard of potential waterfront homebuyers not opting to settle here because of our dead waterway. When I look into the IRL in Rockledge
    or surrounding areas the water has been quite clear lately and a few fish are being caught, but the Banana Lagoon has no source for the fresh ocean water it craves like most other lagoons on the US east coast down to Brownsville have. It dead ends to the north and to the south there’s only the narrow area at Dragon Point to let clearer IRL water in. Not to mention the causeways (I call them damns) they built early on to further impede the water flow. Should have been pillard across. I’m no “environmental scientist” but I’ll bet even the powers that be flush their toilets when they get dirty. Doubt they scoop the bottom out with a spoon (dredging)?, drill a few wells around it and spend countless years and our tax $ analyzing it coming to no concrete conclusions. $33 million projected revenue from the sales tax increase for 2018 and they actually
    got $44 million!?‍♂️What happened to it?! Build an under A1A culvert in north Patrick AFB! It has already been proven to be a cost effective, viable, effective and most importantly quick solution by FIT and others to this idiotic situation. And It’s obviously the will of the people!! If this doesn’t happen soon sad to say I will never see
    any kind of rebound in my lifetime.
    FLUSH THE TOILET!! Got to go the herons are eating my lizards again!

  24. Steve July 18, 2021

    Good info from Dave. We are one of those recent relo’s from Orlando, now living on the Indian River south of 528. Tax increases always required to fix problems listed above…along with maybe converting Indian River Drive from Septic to Sewer. Plenty of neighbors we have spoken with seem willing to pay more for real fix. Politics and cynicism will need to stay out of it.
    We do have plans this year to plant 30-50 Red Mangrove along our shoreline )

Leave your comment