ISSUES

The Indian River Lagoon, a natural wonder once called the “cradle of the ocean” is suffering from decades of misuse and neglect

Life in the Indian River Lagoon is under threat from discharges of polluted fresh water pouring through drainage systems along its length, nutrient loading resulting in harmful algae blooms, turbidity and sediment accumulation, and the loss of important ecosystem features such as seagrass meadows, oyster beds, and mangrove habitat.

During the massive releases of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee, the limpid blue waters of the Indian River Lagoon turned brown and putrid. Seagrass and oyster beds were decimated, and fish, bird, and invertebrate populations suffered.

Aerial photo of the Indian River Lagoon near Sewall’s Point and the St. Lucie Inlet. Dirty water from drainage canals emptying Lake Okeechobee and western agricultural lands can be seen inundating seagrass beds. At times the volume of water pouring out of the canals was so large the salinity at the Inlet was essentially zero. Photo by Jacqui Thurlow Lippisch.

Hundreds of Brown Pelicans died as a result of poor water quality in the Indian River Lagoon. Manatee and Dolphin populations were also affected. Photo by Rebecca Fatzinger.