Pilot projects to reduce runoff, nutrients to Indian River Lagoon

PALATKA, Fla., Jan. 12, 2016 — The St. Johns River Water Management District’s Governing Board voted today to move forward with two pilot projects that benefit the Indian River Lagoon. Both projects will reduce freshwater flows and prevent thousands of pounds of nutrients from reaching the lagoon.

“These types of dispersed water projects are proven to provide great water quality and quantity benefits,” District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle said. “We are committed to helping improve the Indian River Lagoon and these projects allow us to make strides toward doing just that.”

“Water farming can potentially have a significant benefit to the health of the Indian River Lagoon,” said Governing Board Chairman John Miklos. “This is a plan that is fiscally responsible for the taxpayer because it is based on projects that perform and provide measurable results.”

“Innovative projects like this are what we need to help restore our water bodies,” said Governing Board Member Doug Bournique. “The Indian River Lagoon is an important place to focus efforts and funding, and I’m pleased to support this endeavor.”

Under the proposed plan, Fellsmere Joint Venture, LLC and Graves Brothers Co. will build water farms at two rural locations in Indian River County. Collectively, the projects are estimated to annually capture nearly 9,000 pounds of phosphorus, nearly 60,000 pounds of nitrogen and treat an average of 23 million gallons of water daily. While most nutrient removal projects range from $500 to $3,000 per pound of phosphorus, Fellsmere and Graves Brothers estimate a cost of $250 per pound and $370 per pound respectively, benefitting both tax payers and the environment.

The premise of these water farming projects is that the contracted property owners retain storm water that would otherwise flow to the Indian River Lagoon. A key component of the district’s proposed plan is the pay-forperformance model. The district will assist property owners with design and construction of the facility but once in operation owners will only be paid for proven nutrient reduction, not a set annual fee.

Once contracts are negotiated and approved, project design will occur this year with both water farms operating by 2018.