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  • CWC

February Newsletter

From left to right:  Angela Davis-Green (Economic Opportunities Council), John Carrol (Vero Beach City Councilmember), Linda Moore (Vice Mayor of Vero Beach), Keith Drewett (Clean Water Coalition), Ken Grudens (IR Land Trust), Jeff Pickering (IR Community Foundation), John Cotugno (Mayor of Vero Beach)

Community Collaboration Paves the Way for Cleaner Waterways in Vero Beach

Five organizations have combined their expertise and resources to promote environmental health and community prosperity, leading the charge to transition local homes from septic systems to the central sewer network. This January, the City of Vero Beach, Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County (CWC), Indian River Land Trust (IRLT), Indian River Community Foundation (IRCF), and the Economic Opportunities Council (EOC) successfully transitioned 10 homes to the City’s (STEP) sewer system. This effort responds to new state regulations aiming to protect the water quality of the Indian River Lagoon.

Recognizing the financial hurdles some residents face with the state-mandated septic-to-sewer conversions, these organizations have intervened to provide necessary funding. The CWC and EOC, in particular, are leading with technical expertise and project management. Keith Drewett, Vice President of CWC, highlighted the broader significance of this transition, stating, "Switching to sewer is not just an infrastructure change, it's a community commitment to environmental stewardship." The urgency of this initiative is amplified by the negative impact of septic systems on the Indian River Lagoon, which has endured nutrient pollution and algal blooms for years.

To expand this environmental effort, further funding has been secured to assist 25 more homeowners in the Atlantic Avenue area with their sewer system connections. The selection process is on a first-come, first-served basis, and nearby residents are urged to contact the Economic Opportunities Council at 772-562-4177 for more details.

This project not only meets the new state requirements but also serves as a scalable model for broader regional implementation, depending on funding availability. The Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County and its partners take pride in leading this crucial initiative. This septic-to-sewer conversion represents a significant step forward in the ongoing efforts to protect and restore the Indian River Lagoon, a valued natural asset of Vero Beach.

For additional information or media inquiries, please reach out to Keith Drewett, Vice President of the CWC, at


Join us for an engaging discussion with Jim Masterson, Ph.D., and Sue Flak, as we uncover the hidden truths of plastics’ life cycle and their impact on the on our oceans and estuaries including the Indian River Lagoon.  Plastic pollution threatens this vital estuary along Florida’s east coast, known for its biodiversity and marine life.

Jim Masterson, Ph.D., is an Assistant Research Professor, from FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, specializing in Aquaculture Innovation and Global Food Security. He teaches marine ecology, biodiversity, and aquaculture, with research centered on marine predator-prey dynamics and coastal ecosystem health.

Susan Flak is the Recycling Coordinator and Marketing Director for Indian River County. She manages the recycling program, aiming to increase recyclable materials from residents and businesses to meet and exceed county goals.

Plastic WRAP Recycling – WRAP materials are transformed from waste into

Composite decking, furniture and benches.

Microscopic bits of plastic in our waters is a huge challenge for Lagoon health.  Recycling plastics is important to begin to tackle the problem.  Most of us know about the triangular recycling emblem stamped into some plastic products, indicating that they can go into the blue bin.  But how about the plastic film products above? 

In 2019, Indian River County Solid Waste Disposal District (IRC SWDD) became one of nine counties in the Wrap Action Recycling Program (WRAP). The WRAP campaign builds public participation in plastic film recycling and reduces the amount of plastic film packaging in curbside recycling bins. Special receptacles for WRAP collection are located at all five County Customer Convenience Centers and at the Main County Landfill.

SWDD partnered with the Rotary Club of Vero Beach to initiate collection of film packaging at public schools and with Coastal Connections to collect and recycle plastic wrapping from many small businesses. The county averages a collection rate of about 3 to 5 tons per month.

Once collected, the material is trucked down to the St. Lucie County Materials Recovery Facility where it is baled and then purchased by a company called TREX, who makes a composite decking material used in walkways, benches and furniture.

Let’s all do our part and “Recycle Right”.

Upcoming Events


Join the Friends of St. Sebastian River at South Prong Preserve Volunteer Workdays!

Are you ready to roll up your sleeves for a good cause? The Friends of St. Sebastian River are welcoming all hands on deck for a series of Volunteer Workdays at the South Prong Preserve. This is your chance to contribute to the upkeep of a vital conservation area while gaining insight into the ecological importance of this County-owned gem.

Mark your calendars for the following dates:

  • February 24th

  • March 9th

  • March 22nd

Getting there is easy! Simply head west on SR 510 from US#1 for about 3 miles. You'll find the preserve on the north side at 7780 85th Street (Route 510), Vero Beach.

Don't miss this opportunity to make a difference and learn more about the natural treasures of our county. To secure your spot, sign up here.

Let's make an impact together!


Enhancing Our Waterways:A Call to Action for Small Landowners

In the heart of Indian River County, small farms, ranchettes, and country estates are all over. The Clean Water Coalition encourages sustainable practices that ensure the longevity and health of our natural resources. Some best management practices are:

  • Aquatic Plant Management: A thriving aquatic ecosystem begins with balanced plant life. By carefully managing aquatic plants, we ensure unobstructed waterways, providing a clean, natural flow that supports both water quality and wildlife.

  • Erosion Control: Our soil is the foundation of a productive farm and a vibrant ecosystem. Implementing erosion control measures safeguards this precious resource, preventing the loss of fertile topsoil and maintaining land stability, which is crucial for our crops and for the clarity of nearby water bodies.

  • Nutrient Management: The right balance of nutrients is key to both soil fertility and water purity. Thoughtful nutrient management not only boosts plant growth but also minimizes the runoff that can lead to water pollution. This practice ensures that our lands are fruitful and our waters are clear.

  • Wildlife Habitat Preservation: Our lands are home to diverse species whose well-being contributes to the health of our ecosystem. By preserving and creating habitats, we maintain biodiversity, supporting a balance that benefits every creature, including ourselves.

As stewards of this land, our actions create ripples that reach every corner of our community. By adopting these Best Management Practices, you're not just farming or residing on the land; you're shaping a legacy of environmental stewardship that will resonate for generations to come. Read more information here.


Support the Indian River Lagoon with Indian Riverkeeper's Rain Barrel Initiative

Embrace a sustainable lifestyle and support our local environment with the Indian Riverkeeper’s rain barrel initiative. These quality, heavy-duty rain barrels are offered at a special bulk discount, and your purchase directly supports programs aimed at protecting the health of the Indian River Lagoon. See more about the project here.

Rain barrels play a crucial role in water conservation and environmental protection. By collecting and storing rainwater, you can:

  • Reduce Water Bills: Use stored rainwater for gardening, cutting down on municipal water usage.

  • Support Plant Health: Rainwater is free from chlorine and minerals, promoting healthier plant growth.

  • Minimize Stormwater Runoff: Collecting rainwater helps prevent runoff, reducing soil erosion and pollutant entry into our waterways.

  • Conserve Resources: Lessen the demand on municipal systems during peak periods, conserving energy and reducing your carbon footprint.

All net proceeds from the event are reinvested into initiatives that promote the use of rain barrels and safeguard the Indian River Lagoon. For product specifics, delivery options, and any questions, please refer to this page.

Invest in a rain barrel today. It's a simple step you can take to make a significant impact on conserving water resources and protecting our precious lagoon. Visit our website for more information and to make your purchase.

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