What Is the Indian River Lagoon?

Designated An Estuary of National Significance in 1990 by Congress through the Clean Water Act

Lagoon Health:

Our Economy:

The Problems Facing the Lagoon

Stormwater Runoff

Stormwater runs off to the Lagoon

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Pollution prevention is up to you!

Did you know that stormdrains and canals are NOT connected to treatment plants? In the Treasure Coast Region, the storm system flows directly into the Lagoon. Never use the canals or stormdrains as trash receptacles.

For information about recycling and disposal of hazardous wastes, please visit or contact the following county departments:

Brevard County Solid Waste Management, 321-633-2042
Indian River County Solid Waste Disposal District, 772-770-5112
Martin County Solid Waste Division, 772-288-5772
St. Lucie County Solid Waste, 772-462-1768
Volusia County Solid Waste Division, 386-257-6021

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Vehicles and Boats

One gallon of motor oil can contaminate one MILLION gallons of water!

For more information, visit the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's "Clean Marina Program" at: www.dep.state.fl.us/cleanmarina.

Septic System Leaching

There are about 36,864 septic systems in operation in Indian River County. 17,554 were installed prior to rule changes requiring a 24-inch separation from the water table, and at least a 50-foot setback from surface water.

900 septic systems are within the city limits on the barrier island alone; 83% of which are not in compliance with current septic standards for new construction. These may have a 6-inch or less separation from the water table and may be 25 feet or closer to the lagoon.

Septic systems are designed to catch solid waste and to slowly percolate liquid waste through the surrounding soil. Approximately 265 gallons of wastewater per day per household leaches into ground water, carrying nutrients from the food we eat, along with other chemicals (detergents and medications) that might have entered our septic system.

The variables that determine how much pollution enters our water table and eventually the lagoon are:

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You can help clean up the lagoon:

For more information, visit the Florida Department of Health's "Onsite Sewage Programs" at: www.myfloridaeh.com/ostds.

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Never dispose of medications by flushing them down the toilet or drain!

Dispose of unwanted medications as solid waste


Find medication disposal sites and events at: www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/categories/medications, or contact your county sheriff's office.

Nutrient Pollution

The Indian River Lagoon is experiencing nutrient pollution, caused by fertilizer and other nitrogen sources. Fertilizer is not a problem when it’s used properly. If we use too much or apply it at the wrong time, it can easily wash into storm drains and flow untreated into the canals, all of which lead to the Lagoon.

Just like in our yards, fertilizer in the Indian River Lagoon makes plants grow; but in water, extra fertilizer means too much algae. The algae cloud the water, stopping the sunlight from reaching the seagrass growing on the bottom. These seagrasses are the foundation of all life around the Lagoon, supporting fish, birds, manatees, sea turtles & dolphins.

For more information:
The Guide to Florida Friendly Landscaping: www.floridayards.org
Guide to Waterwise Landscaping: www.SJRWMD.com/waterconservation

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Smart Fertilizing

What to look for on your fertilizer label:

Fertilizer label


Florida Statute Chapter 428.1562, requires all commercial fertilizer to obtain the Limited Commercial Fertilizer Applicator's Certification which includes completion of Best Management Practices Course. Training information and the list of certified professionals by county is available at: http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/professionals/BMP_overview.htm.

The information provided on this website was produced by Judy Orcutt and the Indian River Lagoon Coalition. The information may be used and reprinted, with credit to the Indian River Lagoon Coalition. You may also download this same information as a four panel/quad-fold brochure, formatted for 8 1/2 x 14 inch (legal) size paper, by clicking here. In order to view the brochure you need to have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader program installed on your computer. For more information and to download the program, visit the Adobe website at www.adobe.com/products/reader.html.

The background image of the Indian River Lagoon is courtesy of John Massung of IndianRiverByAir.com.