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Vero Stormwater Utility Update

INDIAN RIVER LAGOON
 
 
The IRNA has directed much attention to finding solutions to help restore and protect the Indian River Lagoon from the impacts of the human and built environments.  Helping to develop a fertilizer ordinance was a significant first step.  Now comes the challenge to acknowledge problems caused by polluted stormwater run-off and to find a solution.   
 
Our Water Lagoon Committee is to be commended for its outstanding work on this important issue. Recently the City of Vero Beach addressed the matter. 

Save the Lagoon

On January 10th people left the Joint Meeting of Vero Beach's Utility and Finance Commissions optimistic that a proposal to restructure stormwater projects into an Enterprise Fund would be accepted by the City Council.
 
After considerable study the Utility Commission voted 6-1 and the Finance Commission voted 5-0 in their official advisory capacities to recommend to the City Council that they adopt the formation of a utility to prevent stormwater pollutants from contaminating the Lagoon. 
 
And the Rest of the Story...
 
On February 7, 2017 the Vero Beach City Council, in a 3-2 majority vote, declined any further consideration of a Stormwater Utility to finance a project to protect the Lagoon from toxins and other harmful chemicals running off parking lots, roadways and impervious surfaces.  The majority was not persuaded by testimony from scientists, environmentalists and citizens and voted against any further consideration of a Utility.
 
Advocates believed an estimated user fee of $5 a month, for a strictly specified time period, was a fair amount to contribute to restore and maintain the health of the Lagoon.  The monies would have been dedicated and unable to be diverted for other uses and the project would have been run by current staff in the City's departments. 
 
We thank all the dedicated people who attended the Council meeting and who spoke in defense of the Lagoon and it's contribution to the economy, recreation, tourism and property values in Vero Beach and beyond. 
 
Councilmen Richard Winger and Tony Young presented compelling statements about the need to have a Stormwater Utility as this was the best method to provide a committed stream of income. 
 
Although our views on the desirability of a Utility were not accepted we are grateful that the Council recognized the need to clean up and protect the Lagoon.  We encourage a solution be found sooner rather than later.  It is important to do so.