Restore Lagoon Inflow Research (Phase 1): Project Summary
MetadataShow full item record
The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) is not a river, it is a lagoon. A lagoon is a special type of estuary that is oriented parallel to the coast and characterized by shallow coastal waters with restricted, but free, exchange with the adjacent open ocean. It is this exchange of fresh and saltwater that makes estuaries the most productive and fragile coastal ecosystems in the world. The IRL is a microtidal system that has limited exchange with the ocean through five engineered and stabilized inlets (Ponce de Leon, Sebastian, Fort Pierce, St. Lucie, and Jupiter). With funding of $800,000 from the Florida Legislature, the Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech) completed Phase 1 of a multi-phase project to explore customized solutions for improving water quality within the IRL by restoring periodic historical ocean inflows. The project is working towards installing a temporary inflow pilot system to gather information on the feasibility of a potential full-scale, permanent system. The purpose of this first phase of the study was to gather baseline data and modeling on existing water quality, biological parameters, and hydrologic conditions at potential locations for a future permitted, temporary inflow pilot system, which may then lead to a full-scale, permanent system. The modeling and engineering proceeded in parallel with biological and water quality monitoring in advance of the temporary inflow pilot system study. This ecosystem monitoring was crucial to understanding the baseline status of the lagoon in the vicinity of the proposed inflow, so that the changes resulting from the proposed temporary inflow pilot system can continue to be monitored and evaluated. A multi-disciplined team of research professionals, who were supported by university staff and students, was assembled to provide expertise in each area of study: Modeling and Engineering – Dr. Gary Zarillo, Dr. Robert Weaver, and Dr. Ashok Pandit; Biological Monitoring – Dr. Kevin Johnson, Dr. Ralph Turingan, Dr. Jeffrey Eble, Dr. Johnathan Shenker, and Dr. Jesse Blanchard; Geochemical Baseline – Dr. Austin Fox. Three potential inflow locations were selected for study: Port Canaveral and south Cocoa Beach in Brevard County and Bethel Creek in Indian River County.