Erin Grall's Efforts to Clean & Restore the Indian River Lagoon

 

Water quality and water supply are fundamental to the health of Floridians. Specifically, the restoration of our lagoon is critical to our quality of life and our economy. Water and the management and storage of water are key components to the state’s infrastructure and require consistent funding. The Land Acquisition Trust Fund (also known as Amendment One) should continue to be used to accelerate projects that will restore the Lagoon. However, due to the degraded nature of the state’s water bodies, additional funds beyond the Land Acquisition Trust Fund will be necessary. All solutions require a combined effort by the citizens and each level of government - local, state, and federal. We must address this crisis before it causes irreparable damage to the Treasure Coast and Florida, and it is imperative we make decisions based on facts.

Over the last two years, Representative Grall has:

  • Fought for an appropriation for septic to sewer conversion in areas of Sebastian closest to the Lagoon,

  • Helped deliver $400,000 for septic to sewer conversion in Wabasso, which will make sewer available to more than 100 low-income homes and/or parcels,

  • Supported an environmental cleanup package which invests over $1 billion into cleanup efforts,

  • Supported the additional storage south of Lake Okeechobee in order to reduce discharges,

  • Supported funding for water quality projects

    • $31 million for Northern Everglades & Estuaries Protection

    • $5 million for agricultural nutrient reduction and water retention projects in Lake Okeechobee Watershed

    • $5 million for dispersed water storage,

  • Led the fight for Osprey Acres, obtaining $1,234,286 for the project to improve the water quality of the Indian River Lagoon by providing additional nutrient removal from Osprey Marsh Algal Turf Scrubbers effluent, to provide a significant platform for public educational opportunities regarding stormwater pollution and treatment, and to preserve one of the few remaining large, pristine upland parcels in eastern Indian River County. Overall, the project provides additional nutrient removal capability for 10 million gallons/day.

 

Representative Grall will continue to work with legislators and the community to solve our water problems. Below are a few areas of priority:

 

  • BLUE GREEN ALGAE: We must identify a solution for blue-green algae. Its effects are detrimental to our health, our environment, and our economy. Seek a cost-effective solution to remove the legacy loads present in our water bodies.

  • LAKE O RELEASES: Stop Lake Okeechobee fresh water releases that lead to fish kills and algae blooms. Support efforts to change the Lake regulation schedule to reduce discharges to the estuaries. 

  • STORAGE: Create more in-land run-off retention and storage areas to clean water. Not only should this be done to clean water north of Lake Okeechobee, but in other parts of the state where we need to focus on storage, cleaning, and reuse. Support the evaluation of other above and below ground storage methodologies currently in use around the State to ensure that these are safe and will not jeopardize our water supply.

  • BIOLSOLIDS: Limit pollutants that can be used and are harming the Lagoon. Protect all water bodies from biosolids and the increased pollution that results from application. Ensure any recommendations from the Biosolids Technical Advisory Committee include input from local officials charged with meeting goals for reduced pollution. Encourage alternative processes and technologies to address biosolid disposal.

  • WASTEWATER TREATMENT & SEPTIC TO SEWER: Get our local outdated and failing septic systems hooked into our city and county sewage lines. Encourage communities to use current statutes to enforce hook up to sewer where available. Create low-interest loan programs for homeowners use in converting to sewer. Create incentive programs for local governments to update waste water treatment facilities in order to limit nutrient infiltration in our water bodies.

  • STORMWATER TREATMENT: Help fund the installation of more sophisticated baffle boxes to mitigate the impact of stormwater runoffs from our local roads, and help create effective local fertilizer use solutions. Work with state and local agencies to encourage efficient and effective use of herbicides and pesticides when controlling aquatic vegetation, as opposed to a one-size fits all approach.

  • COOPERATION AND LOCAL CONTROL: Require collaboration between state agencies and incentivize cooperation between different levels of government. Reduce pollutants by working with individual communities to establish a customized plan for clean water.

 

Beach Nourishment

 

The state should dedicate recurring funding to beach nourishment as over 400 miles of Florida’s beaches are critically eroded. The health of our beaches directly ties to the health of our economy – as such, the State should make consistent investments into beach management. I support revising the ranking process for Florida’s Beach Management Funding Assistance Program to require Florida Department of Environmental Protection to consider more detailed criteria for funding consideration, as well as require FDEP to adopt rules dividing the criteria into a four-tier scoring system. Within each tier FDEP must weigh the criteria equally. Revisions to the ranking system allow FDEP to consider more comprehensive factors in prioritizing projects. These additional factors bring more parity to the process and set clear expectations for communities seeking funding. We need to ensure our beaches are structurally sound to protect our coastal areas from increased danger from storm surge and hurricanes.

 

A Snapshot of Relevant Meetings, Tours & Conferences Attended

  • Tour of Lake Okeechobee Locks

  • Tour of Main Relief Canal

  • Tour of Osprey Marsh and Egret Marsh

  • Tour of Blue Cypress Lake

  • Tours of agricultural land, in use and abandoned

  • Florida Atlantic University at Harbor Branch

  • Ocean Research & Conservation Association

  • Harbor Branch Foundation

  • Florida Conservation Voters

  • Indian River Neighborhood Association, individual members

  • St. Lucie County Commissioners and staff

  • Indian River County Commissioners and staff

  • Vero Beach City Council Members

  • Indian River Lagoon Council Executive Director

  • Martin County staff

  • Indian River County Airboat Association, Florida Airboat Association

  • Local Farmers

  • Sebastian Inlet District

  • Fellsmere Water Control District

  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection

  • Workshop re: Lake Okeechobee water level management and discharges

  • Indian River County Mosquito Control and Florida Mosquito Control Association

  • Environmental Permitting Conference, 3 days of presentations by South Florida Water Management District, St. John’s Water Management District, Southwest Florida Water Management District, Suwanee River Water Management District, Northwest Florida Water Management District, US Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, US Fish & Wildlife, various law firms, local governments, engineers, and scientists

  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection

 

The problems we face originate from a variety of sources. Solutions require a collaborative effort and the use of proven technologies. To address the water challenges before us, Florida needs leaders who will seek real solutions, not merely sound bites for the next election. 

Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Erin Grall, Republican, for State House District 54

 

 

Erin Grall for Florida House 

7555 20th Street

Vero Beach, FL 32966  

Erin@ErinGrall.com

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