Indian River Lagoon in Peril

The Indian River Lagoon is struggling, according to Florida master naturalist Barbara Bromberg.

Bromberg, a longtime volunteer at the Environmental Learning Center, spoke to members of the Democratic Women’s Club of Indian River County at the club’s January meeting. “Sadly, it’s a lagoon in peril,” she said.

The lagoon stretches 156 miles from Ponce de Leon Inlet in Volusia County to Jupiter Inlet in Palm Beach County, an area encompassing 40 percent of Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Ecosystems such as the lagoon’s are the “stewards of the environment,” Bromberg told the group. “You can’t see this amount of biodiversity anywhere else,” she said, noting there are more species of plants and animals in the lagoon than any other place in the nation. 

Bromberg said the lagoon is also essential to the state’s economy, calling it “an economic engine.” A 2007 study stated the economic value of the lagoon was $4 billion anually, she said.  A 2014 estimate sets that figure at $7.64 billion. For example, 90 percent of Florida’s game fish originate in the Indian River Lagoon.

The health of the lagoon is affected by pollutants, algae blooms and weather, she explained. True recovery may take decades.

Government alone can’t cure the lagoon, Bromberg emphasized. It takes the efforts of everyone. “Everyone must do their part,” she said. One of the biggest challenges is getting people to change. Don’t litter, reduce plastic use, pick up pet waste, plant native plants, maintain septic tanks and limit fertilizer use.

“We all need to decide if we want green lawns or blue waters,” she said.

The next luncheon meeting of the Democratic Women’s Club will be Feb. 9 at the Bent Pine Clubhouse.