The work done by local governments within the IRL watershed is integral on our pathway to a healthy lagoon. We commend our municipal partners for their commitment, hard work and dedication.
Volusia County Council Approves Volusia Forever Work Plan, Continues to Support Major Conservation Efforts
At the August 15, 2023, County Council meeting, board members approved the Volusia Forever Advisory Committee’s (VFAC) 2023/2024 work plan and goals. The newly appointed Committee unanimously approved the work plan in June.
Volusia Forever 2023/2024 Work Plan and Goals:
- Conduct at least two (2) property/application eligibility public meetings.
- Conduct at least two (2) property sorting public meetings and present the recommended ranking to the County Council for approval.
- Support the acquisition of conservation lands through implementation of the Small Lot Acquisition Program.
- Support the protection of the integrity and function of agricultural and natural systems through less than fee conservation and agricultural easements.
- Review the criteria utilized to define, and, where appropriate, use the reviewed information to pursue the expansion of the Volusia Conservation Corridor Florida Forever project area.
- Conduct an annual evaluation of the Primary Site Ranking Criteria and the Forests and Farmlands Site Ranking Criteria
Volusia Forever was initially approved by voters in 2000 and reauthorized in 2020 for another 20 years. Its mission is to finance the acquisition and improvement of environmentally sensitive lands, water resource protection, and outdoor recreation opportunities. The program will manage acquired lands in perpetuity. The VFAC is required to conduct an annual goal-setting session, which outlines the Committee’s work plan for the year.
There were many letters sent in support of this item and many citizens came to speak in support of protecting wildlife and water resources. Volusia County is such a unique, lush green beauty and the Council continues its’ stewardship, doing what is best for wetlands, wildlife, and the watershed.
Visit Volusia Forever for more information.
Indian River Avenue Force Main Infrastructure Project Begins in Titusville!
Map showing the new force main that upgrades sewer services in Titusville.
The Indian River Force Main Project, with a budget allocation of $9,528,453 from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program, is expected to reach completion by year’s end. The project upgrades almost 8,000 feet of existing sewer force main from the Osprey Water Reclamation Facility to South Street is a major infrastructure enhancement. This retrofit project not only protects the lagoon from potential hazards but will also enhance service to customers.
Much of the existing force main, situated on the east side of US-1, will be moved further from the Indian River Lagoon. The outdated, size-limited wastewater piping, constructed from cast iron, had corroded over time. In 2020, a rupture caused sewage to spill into nearby stormwater ponds and to the lagoon. Following that accident, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection set stipulations that lead us to this environmentally significant improvement.
To stay up to date on road closures and traffic patterns, visit City of Titusville website.
The Indian River County Lagoon Management Plan Moves Forward
Indian River County’s Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved the Draft Indian River County (IRC) Lagoon Management Plan (LMP) at the July 11, 2023, Board meeting. Shortly after, two public workshops were scheduled for August 10th and August 17th.
The IRC LMP addresses key factors impacting the health of the Indian River Lagoon through research and the implementation of restoration projects to improve resiliency in Indian River County communities and conditions in the Indian River Lagoon. The LMP is a living document that may be modified based on emerging factors and research.
Some key factors mirror the IRLNEP’s Vital Signs, such as Harmful Algal Blooms, Marinas and Boat Ramps, Hydrology (and Hydrodynamics), and Stormwater.
Figure: IRC Water Consumption by Source in 2021
The goals and objectives are broken into categories based on IRC departments, Coastal, Stormwater, Conservation Lands, Utilities, and Community Development. Each category lists recommended actions to improve current standards such as identifying opportunities for rainwater to recharge aquifers and reduce freshwater flows into the IRL; increasing the number of outflow pump facilities; establishing nurseries for future seagrass and mangrove plantings; and continuing to promote water conservation actions by water users throughout IRC.
If you’re reading this before the September 26, 2023, regularly scheduled BOCC meeting, there is still time to provide your input here. The Board of County Commissioners will vote on a first reading of the Draft IRC LMP and comments will be accepted at that regularly scheduled meeting, which will be held at the IRC BOCC, SW 20th Street beginning at 9:00AM.
St. Lucie County Considers Stormwater Pond Project at Ancient Oaks Preserve in Fort Pierce
St. Lucie County, together with consultants at South Florida Engineering and Consulting LLC (SFEC), are involved in the design and planned construction of a stormwater treatment pond on approximately 1.7 acres of County-owned property located in the southwest corner of Ancient Oaks Preserve in Fort Pierce, Florida. The area being considered for the pond is currently covered in weedy vegetation, invasive-exotic plants, and not of high conservation value.
Ancient Oak Preserve/Weldon B. Lewis Park is located along Oleander Ave. just north of Midway Road in Ft. Pierce. The area includes 13 acres of multi‐use fields with a playground as well as a 38‐acre natural preserve which includes a walking trail. The preserve is located adjacent to Merritt’s Ditch. The parcel currently drains via a small ditch central to the property and to a lesser extent to Merritt’s Ditch. Both features eventually drain stormwater runoff into Ten Mile Creek and then into the North Fork of the St. Lucie River.
As the County continues to work on developing water quality improvement projects, stormwater treatment ponds will play key roles in helping the County reach its goals for meeting State Basin Management Action Plan requirements. When completed, the Ancient Oaks project is estimated to reduce nitrogen inputs by 33% and phosphorus inputs by 62%.
Residents and stakeholders gave public comments in July and August. The first meeting included a discussion of project goals and objectives, possible alternatives, and provided a venue for public comment and input. The second meeting presented the recommended design and provided additional opportunities for public input.
Have you visited Ancient Oaks Preserve/Weldon B. Lewis Park? Check out the amenities here: St. Lucie County – Environmental Resources.
Old Palm City’s Ripple Stormwater ECOART Project is Near Completion
Stormwater, Art & Community… OH, MY! The Old Palm City Community Redevelopment Area’s (CRA) innovative stormwater treatment project is integrated with artistic and educational elements, alongside community engagement. You mean, beauty and creativity with our environmental assets? Yes, please!
This water quality project will be located on parcels along 28th Street and 29th Street in Old Palm City. The improvements encompass approximately 2.36 acres, including four (4) County owned parcels, within a drainage basin of almost 20 acres. In addition to improved flood routing, a trail system traversing through the sites utilizing dry or wet detention ponds, which provide water quality and flood attenuation improvements.
Martin County’s Board of County Commissioners and staff are proud of the collaboration that took place to bring this project to fruition. In 2021, the project design was partially funded by National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town grants, and developed through artist-led community engagement with neighborhood residents and design professionals. It even sounds artsy: “Ripple…As a drop of water becomes a river.”
Check out the YouTube video to learn more. Want to be a part of the community experience regarding this project? Check out the Ripple Project Sensory Tour.