Here’s what we’re doing in Indian River County

Small patch of seagrass in a lake
Open water at the District’s Blue Cypress Conservation Area in Indian River County.

The work of the St. Johns River Water Management District is all about water. Our staff work each day on your behalf to protect water. This work is focused on four core missions: water supply, water quality, flood protection and natural systems enhancement and protection.

Indian River is just one of the 18 counties where we do our work. Following is an overview of some of the ways that your tax dollars benefit not only the residents and visitors to the county, but also its natural and water resources.

Have you seen construction projects in your community or wonder where your water comes from? Chances are, the District issued a permit through its regulatory programs. The Consumptive Use Permitting Program reviews requests for water use and determines the amount of water available to be withdrawn from groundwater or surface water for uses such as public supply utilities, agricultural operations, commercial uses and power generation. Environmental Resource Permits authorize new construction in a way to prevent harm to water resources (such as causing adverse flooding), manage surface water and protect water quality, wetlands and other surface waters.

Water supply planning and our regulatory and water conservation programs are examples of how we apply our water supply core mission each day.

Strategies to protect and restore water quality include a commitment to comprehensive monitoring to guide impairment determinations, manage restoration projects and evaluate effectiveness.

District staff take a number of water quality readings
District staff take a number of water quality readings as part of their routine work, shown here in Indian River County along the Indian River Lagoon.

Flood protection comes in many forms, such as water storage in natural wetlands and your neighborhood stormwater pond or flood control structures built in strategic locations.

flood control structures
The S-96 gate at Fellsmere Recreation Area is one of the flood control structures within Indian River County.

Natural systems benefit from lands the District has purchased for conservation and restoration. These lands are open for free for your enjoyment. On lands not owned by the District, natural systems benefit from effective permitting, water quality improvement projects, minimum flows and levels and cost-share projects.

Prescribed fire helps maintain fire-dependent public lands.

Public lands help protect Florida’s endangered plants and animals.

Minimum flows and levels balance people’s and nature’s needs. MFLs in your county are:

  • Blue Cypress Lake

Learn more about MFLs.

elevated boardwalk
An elevated boardwalk meanders through the Fort Drum Marsh Conservation Area.

The District constructs large, regional projects that often benefit multiple counties and benefit more than one of the District’s core missions. Some of the projects in your county include:

  • Upper St. Johns River Basin Project — The District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) embarked on an ambitious, long-term flood control project in 1977 to revitalize the upper basin. Extending from the headwaters of the St. Johns River in Indian River and Brevard counties to the confluence of the St. Johns and Econlockhatchee rivers in Seminole County, the project reclaimed drained marshlands by creating reservoirs and replumbing canals that had been diked and drained in the early 1900s for agriculture. The goals of this award-winning project are numerous: to improve water quality, reduce freshwater discharges to the Indian River Lagoon, provide for water supply, and restore or enhance wetland habitat. The project is now in long-term maintenance.
  • Fellsmere Water Management Area — The District restored 10,000 acres of wetlands and open water at the headwaters of the St. Johns River. Formerly pasture and crop lands, the property has been transformed into wetlands that will become the primary source of irrigation water supply for the remaining agricultural lands owned by Sun-Ag Inc. Benefits include restoring agricultural land to wetlands, reducing the annual amount of phosphorus and chloride flowing to the upper St. Johns River, providing a mosaic of wetland types that will provide habitat for a large number of species, decreasing the frequency of freshwater discharges through the C-54 canal to the Indian River Lagoon to less than a 1-in-100-year storm event; conserving groundwater that is withdrawn from the Floridan aquifer; augmenting dry season flows to the St. Johns River, enhancing downstream aquatic environments; and increasing water storage in the Blue Cypress Lake watershed.
  • Sebastian River Improvement District Treatment and Storage — This is a water quality project to benefit the Sebastian River and the Indian River Lagoon, with secondary benefits of alternative water supply and flood mitigation. The project will involve modify existing gates with modified weirs and divert flow to a reservoir or stormwater treatment area.

The District’s cost-share programs help local governments, agricultural entities, disadvantaged communities, and other non-governmental organizations undertake projects to benefit one or more of the District’s core missions and benefit your community. Such projects include upgrades to water treatment facilities, expansion of reclaimed water lines, creating stormwater treatment ponds and parks, etc. Here are examples of this work in your county.

  • Indian River County Osprey Acres Stormwater Park — Improves water quality in the Indian River Lagoon by providing additional nutrient removal from the Osprey Marsh Algal Turf Scrubber effluent and additional treatment of South Relief Canal water. Also provides ecological education for the public.
  • Indian River County Moorhen Marsh Low Energy Aquatic Plant System (LEAPS) — Construction of an aquatic plant (water lettuce) based treatment system that treats stormwater from a 6,300-acre contributing area. The system will pump 10 mgd from the North Relief Canal and into the aquatic plant treatment system.
  • Estes Citrus — Four cost-share projects awarded since 2018 have funded irrigation and upgrades, including soil moisture sensors, weather stations and pump automation on 120 acres of citrus in Vero Beach. Estimated 19 percent reduction in water use.
  • Read about our cost-share program.
  • See other projects
Farmer working a irrigation system
Cody Estes of Estes Citrus demonstrates an irrigation system.

The District collects a wealth of data that is used to make science-based decisions in all our work. This includes data on how much rain your county has received, the water levels in area lakes and rivers, the amount of nutrients in natural waterways, planning to address future water supply needs and much more.

The Blue School Grant Program provides funding to teachers within the District in support of their efforts to engage students in understanding and appreciating Florida’s freshwater and estuarine systems.

Encourage your child’s teacher to apply for a grant.

Contact us about a speaker for your group. We’d love the opportunity to speak with you about our work. Speaker’s bureau.

Free materials you can read or download at home or school.

Staff in our Governmental Affairs Program provide water resource information, assistance and support to federal, state and local elected officials and their staffs, and collaborate on water resource issues, programs and projects. One of the ways you may have met team members is during the annual Water Conservation Month observance when your local governments approved proclamations recognizing the observance.

Mayor Robert Gibbons holding a proclamation
Mayor Robert Gibbons (left) presents a Water Conservation Month proclamation to District Intergovernmental Coordinator Jim Cannon on behalf of the Town of Orchid Town Council.