District, partners celebrate project aimed at cleaner Indian River Lagoon

PALM BAY, Fla., Feb. 8, 2016 — A new stormwater park in south Brevard County is being heralded for its benefits to the Indian River Lagoon. Today, St. Johns River Water Management District and its partners celebrated the near-completion of Wheeler Stormwater Park, a manmade oasis that captures pollutants from a 21,000-acre watershed before they can reach the lagoon.

“Treating large volumes of stormwater is one of the most effective ways to reduce pollutant loadings in the estuary,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Ann Shortelle. “As partners, we can accomplish more than we could as individual agencies to protect the Indian River Lagoon.”

Prior to the park’s construction, the Sottile Canal ran through the middle of the property, allowing untreated stormwater to flow directly into the north prong of the St. Sebastian River. Now, a series of settling ponds and a restored swamp slow flow rates so pollutants can be captured.

“Everyone here is committed to improving the long-term health of the lagoon,” said Governing Board Member Douglas Bournique. “This is a project that not only helps protect our receiving waterways but also provides future recreational opportunities. It’s a win-win for people and the environment.”