Correspondence with Florida Department of Environmental Protection about Lagoon Projects

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IN OUR JULY 19, 2015 VERO COMMUNIQUE WE WROTE THAT in her July 6, 2015 “Mayfield Minute,” a report to her constituents, Representative Debbie Mayfield listed $ 36 million in spending for 18 Indian River Lagoon water cleanup efforts, as approved in Florida’s 2015-2016 state budget.

We also wrote that we would pick away at the exact nature of some of these projects that most affect us.

We reviewed the entire budget and there was no description of these projects, so we contacted the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.”  Here is our correspondence:

July 28 Email to Luke Strickland, FL Department of Environmental Protection

“Here are the two items I am exploring.

#1 DEP has funded the development and deployment of ORCA’s Kilroy systems
to collect pollution data on the Indian River Lagoon and our canals.
Having funded the development of these systems what does DEP plan to do
with the data?

# 2. There were a variety of programs to clean up the Lagoon that were
funded in the 2016 Florida budget. How do I find the description of these
programs, such as the Indian River County Oyster Map project.”

July 29 Email reply from Dee Ann Miller, FDEP Press Office:

“Mr. Hardy,

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) awarded two $2 million grant awards for increased sampling and water quality monitoring in the Indian River Lagoon and the St. Lucie Estuary. The grants were awarded to the Florida Atlantic University/ Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) and the Ocean Research and Conservation Association (ORCA) allowing both organizations to conduct water quality and condition monitoring throughout the region.

Through the efforts of Harbor Branch and ORCA we’ll gain a better understanding of water quality in the area – the variables impacting these systems and, hopefully, strengthen our ability to detect ecological issues before they take hold.

The Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and the Ocean Research and Conservation Association can provide you additional details on these projects.

The Indian River County Oyster Reef Project will allow Indian River County to construct a three dimensional “patch” reef approximately 100 feet east of the 45th Street ditch using clean concrete rubble. The “patch” reef will provide habitat for attached and encrusting invertebrates such as oysters, other invertebrates such as stone crabs, juvenile fish species and game fish species. In turn, the “patch” reef will act as an in-situ water treatment system to facilitate the removal of nitrogen (TN) and phosphorus (TP) from storm water discharged through the 45th Street ditch into the Indian River Lagoon.

Hope this helps. Let us know if you have any other questions.

Dee Ann Miller
DEP Press Office”

July 29 , 2015 Email Reply to Ms. Miller, FDEP Press Office

Dear Ms. Miller;

Yes, I do have a question.

Your say: “we’ll gain a better understanding of water quality in the area – the variables impacting these systems and, hopefully, strengthen our ability to detect ecological issues before they take hold.”

ORCA says all they do is provide a service – my making the data available. But ORCA does not decide what to do with it or how it is to be used, other than having their scientists making their best determination of where to position them (Kilroys) to obtain data (leapfrogging in canals); but they do not “act” on the data.

I guess my question is “we’ll gain better understanding of the water quality in the area,” but will DEP do with that data? Will DEP do something itself or perhaps provide further grants to an organization (s) who can do something about it?”

As yet, we have not heard back from Ms. Miller.

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