Indian River Lagoon

manateeFormerly known as the Indian River Lagoon NEP, it rebranded as One Lagoon to bring all interests along its +150 mile length. | Estuaries and coast | Coastal and Heartland | Indian River Lagoon | Apalachicola | Near St Augustine | Rookery Bay | Tampa and Sarasota Bays | Florida’s water districts | Water bodies | Aquifers

Intro - One Lagoon

One very long and shallow lagoon

By Robert V. Sobczak

The Indian River Lagoon National Estuary watershed comprises a bar-built estuary that merges five freshwater rivers (Tomoka, Eau Gallie, St. Sebastian, St. Lucie and Loxahatchee) and five saltwater inlets (Ponce de Leon, Sebastian, Ft. Pierce, St. Lucie and Jupiter) into four brackish water basins, Halifax River, Mosquito, Banana River, and Indian River lagoons. Credit: Jane Thomas

Once largely cut off from the Atlantic and a relatively small watershed, cuts in the barrier islands brought in saltwater at the same time freshwater canals tripled the size of its watershed. Then there's the connection to Lake Okeechobee called the St. Lucie Canal. The lagoon is shallow and poorly flushed. The full length of the lagoon is over 150 miles, almost as long as the mainstem of the Chesapeake Bay, but it is narrow, shallow and poorly flushed making it susceptible to water quality problems from nutrient loading from population growth and discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Loss of seagrass beds in recent years has led to a large die off of manatees and a public outcry to correct the problem. Ultimately that involves working on short and long term strategies for improving water quality and more broadly, seeing the lagoon as a single water body -- thus its rebranding as "One Lagoon" -- to cultivate the sense of a single community and voice working together to restore the lagoon's environmental health.


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