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May Water News

Yogi Berra. the famous Baseball Player and Hall of Famer is known for saying "When you get to the Fork in the Road - take it."  Well, with our current Coronavirus pandemic, we haven't reached the "Fork in the Road" yet.  

During these very difficult times, and as the gravity of the crisis becomes more difficult, water issues are still evident. Newspaper articles written before the "social distancing" reported almost daily of issues like algae blooms, bio-solids dumping, poor IR Lagoon water quality, leaking septic tanks, etc. Now, most of our economy and society as well have been disrupted.  The importance of water quality is still a major concern of the Clean Water Coalition of IRC.  We are still working on our issues, only from our phones and computers rather than in person.  Our core mission is still "water quality" for Indian River County.

The future is still promising and even during these extraordinary times, we all hope and pray that this will pass soon and we will all get back to working together.   

Stay safe my friends and please pay attention to the request for "social distancing".

Paul Fafeita

President, Clean Water Coalition of IRC


Update from the Marine Committee on Derelict and Abandoned Vessels

Officers from the City of Vero Beach Police Department, Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, are actively patrolling on the water. The CWC Marine Committee has been pleased by the renewed effort by all three agencies.  The Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Section led by Lt. Jim Hyde has been particularly effective and seven derelict or abandoned vessels have been tagged for removal.  In fact, Eric Charest, newly appointed IRC Natural Resources Manager, is in the process of having Purchase Orders issued for Contractors to begin removal.  The cost is anticipated to be funded by grants from FWCC that the County is seeking. This activity is important because a major risk for pollution arises from derelict, abandoned and neglected vessels. Most vessels contain large volumes of gasoline, diesel, engine oil, and hydraulic fluids as well as sewage holding tanks.  If these vessels sink, are grounded, or the interior spaces are open to the elements there is a potential for all these hazardous materials to be discharged directly into the lagoon. 


Stormwater Management and Treatment

When rain falls on natural lands, much of the water not absorbed by plants filters through the soil before reaching and replenishing Florida’s groundwater supply; some rainfall flows into surface waters - such as ditches, canals, lakes and ultimately the Indian River Lagoon.  About 90% of Florida's drinking water is supplied by groundwater. When stormwater falls on pavement, buildings and other impermeable surfaces, the rainfall runoff flows quickly into surface waters -  picking up trash, chemicals, silt and other pollutants in route.  Historically, storm sewer systems were designed solely to allow agricultural and developed lands to drain quickly and prevent flooding. Steady population growth in Florida has increased the extent of impermeable surfaces and fertilized lawns, increasing the pollution.  The historical drainage systems have efficiently transported excessive pollution to surface waters.  Now, our portion of the Indian River Lagoon has been designated as “impaired” by the Environmental Protection Agency under the federal Clean Water Act.  The impaired status mandates that cities and counties take actions to reduce pollution within their jurisdiction. Modern stormwater management systems are designed not only to prevent flooding, but also to treat surface water runoff by reducing pollutants to protect waterbodies, capture rainfall to replenish groundwater, and prevent damage to property, and wildlife habitat. Stormwater management systems come in a variety of shapes, sizes and forms, but there are two basic types:

  • Retention systems are designed to capture runoff and allow it to seep through the soil. Swales, a commonly used feature, resemble shallow ditches. The grassy slopes filter sediments as stormwater percolates into the ground.

  • Detention systems – or ponds – are designed to allow material to settle and absorb before the stormwater is gradually released. Shoreline vegetation around the detention system helps filter sediments from the runoff.

Growing plants with polluted water is an effective method of extracting the nitrogen and phosphorus pollution from stormwater.  Harvesting the plants removes the nitrogen and phosphorus from the system.  Indian River County is utilizing this technique at three of its stormwater treatment facilities, including the newest, Osprey Acres!



To improve the water quality of the Indian River Lagoon, the Clean Water Coalition, the Indian River Neighborhood Association and other environmental organizations were hoping to revive the creation of a Vero Beach Stormwater Utility.  The Utility would raise designated funds to build infrastructure to reduce pollution in stormwater running off of City properties. Action has been delayed because of financial difficulties facing our City from the coronavirus.


Charlie Pope, Membership Chairman of CWC welcomes the 700thpartner: Tim and Kathy Modesitt of State Farm Insurance.  The Modesitts have children that enjoy the water and they want it to be safe for their children’s activities.


Now that spring rains are appearing after a long draught, remember to follow fertilizer regulations. General Fertilizer Requirements

Fertilizer cannot be applied 

  • Between June 1 and September 30, 

    • To saturated soils, 

    • When a Flood/Tropical Storm/Hurricane Watch or Warning is in effect for any part of the County; 

    • or when rainfall greater than two inches in a 24 hour period is likely.

Fertilizer shall not be applied within ten feet of any wetland or water body or from the top of a seawall. Newly planted turf and/or landscape plants may be fertilized in this zone only between 30 and 90 days after planting and only if necessary. 

No phosphorous shall be used without the proper soil or plant tissue deficiency test. 

Until May 31, 2014, fertilizer with nitrogen shall contain at least 25% slow release nitrogen. Beginning June 1, 2014, fertilizer with nitrogen shall contain at least 50% slow release nitrogen. 

Packaged fertilizer must be applied in accordance with the requirements on the labels. 

Fertilizer shall not be applied before seeding or sodding a site or within the first 30 days.

Spreader deflector shields are required when fertilizing using rotary spreaders. 

Fertilizer shall not be applied, spilled, or otherwise deposited on any impervious surfaces. 

Fertilizer shall not go into stormwater drains, ditches, conveyances, or water bodies. 

Grass clippings, vegetative material or debris shall not go into stormwater drains, ditches, conveyances, water bodies, wetlands, sidewalks or roadways. 

Also remember that reuse or reclaimed water from sewage effluent is high in nutrients.  Fertilizer should not be applied in areas using reclaimed water.  Also, fertilizer (and reclaimed water) should NEVER be applied within 20 feet of any waterbody.


Robert Szucs studied geography, with a focus on GIS, the tools used to analyze and visualize geography data.  He began tinkering with making beautiful maps – something people might like to have hanging on their walls.  The results:  detailed maps of vein-like rivers and river basins.

Helps us to visualize how all waters eventually flow to our estuaries and ocean, carrying the waste of 328 million people

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