HONEY MINUSE, CHAIR OF THE IRNA (INDIAN RIVER NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION)
If only water would stay in place we could have total control over it and assure its safety for everyone and everything that needs it to survive.
But it doesn’t stay put.
Water moves in the Lagoon – the underground aquifers, the rivers, the canals, the roads and parking lots. It moves whether put there by nature or on a surface created by man. It was never intended to be stagnant.
And when it moves, it carries everything put into it along the way. There is particular concern about known pollutants carried by waters that empty into the Lagoon and negative impacts to our health, the enjoyment of recreation and the vitality of our economy.
Sources of pollution are usually known. A few examples are septic systems, aging infrastructure and agricultural run-off.
So the question becomes: if we know how and where pollution begins, why hasn’t it been fixed?
The simple answer is because it is a political issue and will be decided by the “Government.”
People get elected into office because of promises they make, but then have to deal with layers of bureaucracy to bring about solutions to such problems. And there will always be special interests fighting regulations.
We can speak with our Federal and State Senators and Representatives about our concerns. They are but singular voices unless and until they are joined by other elected officials whose constituents have also raised their concerns. And it must be recognized that any successful effort from those levels of government to improve our waters will take a significant amount of time to reach us on the local level because of the necessity of passing through those layers of bureaucracy.
So we look at our local level and ask what can be done? How can we help by taking steps that have a more immediate positive impact?
Vero Beach introduced their successful STEP system to reduce septic pollution and is now looking at stricter enforcement of illegal boat discharges of raw sewage into the Lagoon.
Sebastian meanwhile has three new Council Members and they immediately placed a temporary ban on herbicides and pesticides in their parks and near waters. There is more to be done but this signalized a positive approach by a new Council to deal with the problems of our waters.
The County has also placed restrictions on new septic installations and dumping of “bio-solids” (sewage sludge) on county lands. As growth and development expands once again the County will face challenges to its infrastructure and the associated costs to prevent pollution of our waters.
There are many organizations, committees and coalitions, both public and private, formed along the Indian River Lagoon dedicated to bringing about its good health. The IRNA was a founding partner of this County’s Clean Water Coalition (CWC) of which there are over 600 partners.
These water issues are not new and unfortunately, due to government inaction, they became worse over time. But there is acute public awareness now and elected local officials appear to be responding appropriately.
It is everyone’s fervent wish to be able to enjoy these waters as previous generations once enjoyed them and there is a very positive movement in our community to work together to make this happen. Anything less will not benefit our community’s most precious natural asset.