KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla .– Problems with the Indian River Lagoon have sparked a race to save the Unique Estuary, and now the Kennedy Space Center is also considering its role in the health of the lagoon.
What would you like to know
- NASA plan would monitor and work to resolve issues at its end of the Indian River Lagoon
- Initial plan calls for a multi-pronged approach focusing on wildlife, mud removal, septic tanks and seagrass beds
- Toxic algae blooms cause death of seagrass, leading to massive death of manatees in the lagoon
With 140,000 acres of federal property adjacent to the Brevard County Space Center, NASA said its environmental services divisions at KSC place a high priority on the health of the lagoon.
The Indian River Lagoon Roundtable, a non-partisan group that focuses on environmental issues, received a copy of the initial version of the KSC Indian River Lagoon Health initiative plan on Friday.
The plan includes monitoring many aspects of the lagoon’s health, from runoff caused by prescribed burns to resilient wildlife and shoreline. The report states that approximately 95% of the seagrass cover has been lost in KSC waters due to phytoplankton blooms since 2010.
The agency wants to determine all the sources of pollution inputs into the IRI, the mosquito lagoon and the Banana River from the space center, and how to reduce them.
He also wishes to work on the restoration and expansion of dying seagrass beds by mapping areas of important seagrass beds and finding places to transplant grass.
It also proposes more effort to remove mud from the lagoon, restore surviving clams to help improve water clarity, expand shoreline habitat, and reduce reliance on septic tanks on the KSC property.
KSC also indicates in the plan that it wants to partner with several groups, including local universities like UCF and Florida Tech, Hubbs SeaWorld, the IRL Observatory Network of Environmental Sensors and other agencies to monitor wildlife, engage in additional dredging, monitor and report algae blooms, monitor nutrients and more.
Read the full report on the NASA website.
Efforts to save the Indian River Lagoon were intensified last year due to the deaths of manatees. As of September 24, 957 manatees in the state had died. Of these, 320 died in Brevard County. It is believed that the loss of seagrass mass is a big reason, as seaweed is a food source for sea cows. The federal government has called the manatee deaths this year an unusual mortality event.