To residents of Indian River County, the City of Vero Beach, Sebastian, and Orchid, a reminder that fertilizer restrictions will go into effect on June 1st. We are coming into our rainy season when more nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous (as well as herbicides, pet waste, etc,) are likely to be washed from our lawns, driveways, and roads into the stormwater system and, ultimately, into our already impaired Indian River Lagoon. The fertilizer ordinances passed by our communities prohibit the use of lawn fertilizer between June 1st and September 30th. No fertilizer containing Phosphorous is to be used at any time. All fertilizers must contain at least 50% slow-release Nitrogen. Finally, no fertilizer is to be applied within 10 feet of any water body, a wetland, or from the top of a seawall.
If you use a lawn care provider, please discuss these regulations with them and ask them not to blow grass clippings onto the road or into storm drains. This vegetation contains the nutrients from fertilizer that only adds to the pollution of our waterways. For details regarding the ordinance and fertilizing tips, please see the County’s video: https://www.ircgov.com/publicworks/stormwater/fertilizer.htm or email Alexis Peralta, the County’s Stormwater educator and fertilizer enforcement officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For your health and the health of our waterways, complying with the fertilizer ordinance is more important than ever as excess nutrients encourage the growth of harmful and possibly toxic algal blooms. These blooms are already being reported in other parts of our State. Please do your part to improve water quality by obeying the fertilizer ordinance.
The Indian River Neighborhood Association (INRA) supports Vero Beach’s decision to retain control of one of its most desirable assets, the marina. We also recognize the need to upgrade the existing marina and make it a self-supporting enterprise. We are sharing our recommendations below with the council and the public after doing an in-depth study of the master plan.
We agree that the South Complex is in urgent need of repair to avoid liability issues. We support moderate expansion of the dry storage facility to increase revenue, accommodate larger/additional boats, and help limit the number of docked vessels. We also believe that the architectural design and size of the new facility should consider environmental impacts from additional stormwater run-off, tree removal and noise pollution because of its location in a residential neighborhood.
During marina modernization, low-impact development principles should be applied to protect the lagoon from stormwater run-off that can carry oil and other potentially toxic chemicals to the lagoon. A catchment basin should be planned for the area where boats are rinsed off after being hauled out. Additional parking areas should have permeable surfaces and sufficient stormwater retention.
When the main docks are modernized, each slip will have pump-out equipment that connects all vessels to sewer, thereby eliminating overboard discharge of sewage. This is a valuable upgrade.
When permitting is received, additional mooring balls will be added in the north mooring field. Vessels using these mooring balls will be required to comply with the marina’s excellent pump-out requirements that are executed by a pump-out vessel. This plan is environmentally sound.
We also suggest that the following three additional environmental benefits be considered in the broader context of marina modernization:
Improve the launching facility for non-motorized vessels – kayaks and canoes.
Explore the possibility of other nutrient reduction projects (oyster bags, etc.) at outfalls to the IRL, north of the marina.
Proudly promote the status of the Vero Beach Marina as a Florida Clean Marina through active programs that acquaint marina patrons with the practices that maintain a “Clean Marina.”
In addition to the recommendations listed above, we suggest that the COVB consider working with Indian River County (IRC) to develop a county-wide muck map for the Indian River Lagoon (IRL), including adjacent tributaries and the Vero Beach Marina. Then, over time, COVB could join IRC, Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) and the State of Florida to obtain funding for muck mitigation projects.
When and where dredging is appropriate, we encourage collaboration with FIND to use one of their Dredge Material Maintenance Areas (DMMA) in IRC. We foresee development of a long-term plan to hydraulically dredge appropriate muck deposits from the marina area and other large deposits in IRC. These long-term efforts parallel the multi-year modernization of the marina and help achieve a measurable reduction in nutrient fluxes, a positive environmental benefit to the lagoon.
We understand that the upcoming workshop will address only Phase 1 of the Marina Master Plan – the south complex. However, for the benefit of the overall planning process, the IRNA currently has concerns about the scope of the following projects as portrayed in the Marina Master Plan:
Scale of expansion in the small lagoon
Expansion behind the dog park along the southern shoreline.
There remain questions to be answered factually. Don’t speculate. Participate in the City’s May 5 workshop at 6 pm at City Hall. Citizen involvement is always important to quality growth in Vero Beach.
Mike Johannsen, Chair Indian River Neighborhood Association
The next IRNA luncheon will be on April 21 at 11:30 AM at Marsh Landing in Fellsmere.
It’s been almost three years since the IRNA last visited Fellsmere. We’re excited to return and catch up with our friends there are to hear about what’s been going on. With business, industry, development, and state funding, culminating with a recent visit of Governor DeSantis to present a grant, there’s a lot going on in Indian River County’s largest municipality (by area).
Our speaker will be Mark Mathes, City Manager of Fellsmere. Mayor Joel Tyson and Police Chief Keith Touchberry will also be in attendance. There will be a time for written questions as well.
This luncheon will be $20 per person (payable at the door).
Property managers, homeowners associations and condo associations utilize management strategies to protect property value. All decisions about landscape management are directly aligned towards an appearance that reflects the current cultural norms. This results in an expensive high maintenance landscape that lacks diversity, color, and resilience. In addition to this, there are also water and nutrient restrictions to consider. Florida-Friendly Landscaping management techniques can be used to circumnavigate all these issues while delivering a beautiful landscape.
Florida-Friendly Landscaping Principles for Community and Property Management is the framework for finding solutions to communal landscaping needs. You will learn how to apply these principles in a way that is tailored specifically for use on shared landscapes. Let us discuss a plan that will continue to emphasize property value while fostering a cohesive look that is inclusive of individual preferences. You can sustainably manage beautiful common areas and front yards with curb appeal. There are many practical options for making your landscape plan more Florida-Friendly.
Plant selection is the basis of this system. The management of the right plant in the right place is significantly less taxing on limited resources. Increasing plant diversity directly impacts the health, appearance, and resilience of the landscape. Most covenants have a much longer plant list than what is represented in the landscapes. This means that increasing plant diversity is unlikely to cause any major amount of controversy in the community.
One of the biggest issues with community landscape management is turfgrass maintenance. There are many reasons why turfgrass is the groundcover of preference. It can be managed in a less demanding manner than how it is currently cared for. After determining which cultivated variety of turf is being used, it is best to follow the care instructions that provided best results from the grower. Lower maintenance management might include something as simple as mowing it at the correct height or changing the variety based on growing conditions. Alternatives to turfgrass can also be explored where it fails to provide the expected appearance or if an opportunity to increase plant diversity is presented. There are many ways to sustainably manage turfgrass or other ground cover selections.
Watering and fertilizer restrictions are an additional impediment to managing a thriving landscape. This does not have to be the case. Florida-Friendly Landscaping management is focused on lowering the quantity of water, fertilizer, and pesticides required to still have a beautiful, lush environment. There is no need to sacrifice a healthy-looking landscape due to poor water management. By managing the right plant in the right place correctly, the landscape will be drought tolerant and need less supplemental irrigation. Nutritional requirements are also modified when the landscape is managed more efficiently. Florida-Friendly Landscaping management will help overcome Florida’s climatic and soil challenges.
For help establishing a plan customized for your community’s needs, please contact me using the information below.
Nickie Munroe University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Indian River County Extension Environmental Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator County Administration Complex 1800 27th St, Building B Vero Beach, FL 32960 email@example.com 772-226-4318
There is a lot going on right now in Indian River County. This email mentions several events and and programs that we wanted you to know about. Be sure to check them all out. Thank you to everyone who reached out to the legislature after our last post. Only with our voices unified will we be able to improve our local environment.
We hope this information will be helpful to you and will be back in touch as other issues arise.
As always feel free to reach out to us to let us know your worries and concerns. The IRNA is here to help!
Save the date for an important presentation on aquatic vegetation – a curse or a solution? This is an issue we are very concerned about with regard to the management of drainage canals in our county.
Allen Stewart published an extremely informative analysis on this topic last summer that provided some in-depth analysis and solutions for the issue of aquatic vegetation management. His presentation at The Emerson Center is sure to be interesting!
As you may know, we are having a luncheon on Friday, March 4 at noon at the Vero Beach Yacht Club. (More info here.)
In preparation for this meeting we, along with our friends with the Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County, met with City Manager Monte Falls, Marina Director Sean Collins, and Tem Fontaine (from Coastal Tech) to discuss the Marina. It was a very good meeting we are happy to be hosting the informational luncheon on March 4. There are still some spots left, if you’d like to attend, but an RSVP is required. If you can’t attend, here’s some info from the meeting:
The umbrella permit for marina improvement was granted in 2021. It is good for 5 years with one 5-year renewal possible.
Phase I includes the following improvements at the South Complex Only:
This area was chosen for the initial renovations due to severe lack of maintenance over the years causing liability issues for the City.
New dry storage building (3 size options were presented to council and for economic reasons, they choose the largest option)
Stormwater Retention Facility to capture run off from dry storage building and additional parking area.
Additional Parking Spaces to accommodate dry storage expansion
Sea Wall replacement
Floating Dock replacement adding 10+ additional slips
Dredging around the floating dock only using mechanical dredging. Considering the Waddell building site as a de-watering area.
Within 6 weeks (by the first week of April), the City will hold a public workshop to fully explain the plans for the South Complex Improvements.
This will include conceptual drawings that allow the public to see how the expanded dry storage building will appear in the existing location.
Drawings to allow the public to see how the stormwater run-off from the additional parking and the larger building will be captured and treated before entering the lagoon.
Drawings will show how an expanded floating dock will impact the current configuration.
We encourage everyone interested to attend this workshop. We will send out more information once it is available.
We are in our season of fundraising right now and if you would like to support our mission, please visit this page to see how you can do it. We rely on our members to help fund our work. We would not be able to do it without your support. Please consider making a generous contribution to your IRNA today.
February is a busy time in Indian River County! If the traffic this season is anything to go by, it will probably be a banner season for our local economy. This is an opportune time to mention that the Lagoon is an economic driver of the regional economy, generating $7.6 billion annually. It provides jobs, housing and industry to Florida residents, and recreational and tourism opportunities to visitors. Now, more than ever, it is important to remember that our water matters. In addition to our sunshine, it’s why people come to Florida!
There is a lot going on right now and we will be posting more in a few days with more info and events coming up. Please keep your eyes open for it!
Throughout this legislative session, we have alerted you to bills which seem like they will harm our land and water more than they will help. The IRNA sent an extensive letter earlier in the session to Sen. Mayfield and Rep. Grall listing many bills we were concerned with. Since that time many of the bills have changed, passed, or died in committee. We wanted to provide you an update on where certain important bills are in the two-week period remaining for this legislative session.
At the end of the bill summary is a sample letter you can modify or send “as is” to our State representatives reiterating our pro and con positions on the bills described.
SB 832/HB 561 – Governor’s Blue-Green Algae Taskforce Recommendations – IRNA and CWC sent a letter to our legislators about this bill specifically. This bill would require implementation of additional recommendations from the Governor’s own Task Force related to septic tank inspections and prioritizing and assessing the effectiveness of waterway clean-up plans. This is a step in the right direction to lessen the blue-green algae outbreaks that routinely threaten Florida’s waters and economy. This bill is moving through committees and needs some help.
SB 2508: Environmental Resources – We are appalled at the Senate’s backroom behavior in passing SB 2508. Full of egregious actions which destroy the work the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corps of Engineers have accomplished over the last two years to better manage Lake Okeechobee. Not to mention a provision that allows Florida Electric Utilities to approve their own wetland permits. This bill was amended before it was passed in the Senate, due to the actions of aroused environmental groups and people like you. But the amendments do not do enough. The House has yet to pass a similar bill, and with more letters and phone calls, it may not ever become law. Thankfully, Gov. Desantis is opposed to this bill and has said he may veto it. For the best source of information on this egregious bill, watch this video. (See the misleading postcard that has been spotted all over Florida further down in this email.)
SB 198/HB 349: Water Resources Management – Promotes ‘Seagrass Mitigation Banks’ which involves destroying local seagrass fields in one area and restoring them in another. The last thing we need is to get rid of is ANY seagrass where it is alive right now. This bill seems designed to aid developers to build in areas where seagrass prevents them from doing so.
Home Rule – The concept of home rule is important because it keeps control of our community in the hands of citizens and the local leaders we elect. The most precious powers a city in Florida has are its Home Rule powers. The ability to establish its form of government through its charter, and to then enact ordinances, codes, plans and resolutions without prior state approval is a tremendous authority. These powers are constantly under assault in the legislature. Here are several examples from this yea’s legislative session. SB 512/HB 325 Except for those local communities that have pre-2011 ordinances, like Vero Beach, cities and counties would be limited to conducting essentially unenforceable registration of vacation rental homes. This bill is still moving through committees in the House and the Senate. SB 280/HB 403 would require local governments to publish – at their own expense – a business impact statement for ANY ordinance it passed. Not only is this an unfunded mandate, but it would allow businesses to “lay in wait” for an ordinance to pass so they can file suit and collect taxpayer dollars. This has passed the Senate and is moving through the House. SB 620/HB 569 would allow a business to sue a local government for profit loss due to an ordinance it passed. Florida TaxWatch determined the legislation “could lead to a number of financially motivated and malicious lawsuits, costing local governments over $900 million annually.” This bill has passed the Senate looks primed for approval in the House.
Make Your Voice Heard!
Sample letter/phone script you can use when writing or calling our elected officials. Dear Sen. Mayfield/Rep. Grall:
I am a resident of Indian River County and wish to express my opinion of several bills before you this legislative session.
SUPPORT: Governor’s Blue-Green Algae Taskforce Recommendations (SB 832/HB 561) – this bill will help our water, and our water needs a lot of help! The recommendations of the Blue Green Algae task force are long overdue to be implemented. This bill needs help to make it through both the Senate and the House. Please do everything you can to help this bill pass!
OPPOSE: SB 2508 is a terrible idea and I hope you do everything in your power to stop it. The special interests are coming out strong for this one, so please stand up for the people and the environment, and not big corporations who could afford to spend a little more to clean up their act. (And who already get huge subsidies from the government!)
OPPOSE: SB 198/HB 349: Water Resources Management – Seagrass is already incredibly scare, We need to do all we can to keep what we have and expand it. Mitigation banks mean that some current seagrass beds would be harmed/destoryed in order for new ones to be planted. Seagrass is precious, we need all we can get. A similar bill was vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist back in 2008. The Governor at the time expressed concerns about the long-term success of artificially-created seagrass beds. He also pointed out the mitigation banks would likely result in a net destruction of seagrass beds across the state.
OPPOSE any bill which preempts Home Rule. Three bills that are especially bad for local governments are: SB 512/HB 325 SB 280/HB 403 SB 620/HB 569. The Senate has already passed these bills, but the House could stop them! Traditionally preemption was used to align state and local laws to make sure there were no inconsistencies. New types of powerful preemptions – called maximum preemption, blanket preemption, nuclear preemption and super-preemption – are now often used to void or block local government actions. Preemption is not always “bad”. “Bad” preemption deters policy innovation, limits local governments’ ability to make policy or undermines protection of individual rights. Most new preemptions are driven by partisan, ideological or special-interest motivations. Business-funded corporate interest groups are using their considerable political influence, gained through campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures, to push preemption legislation in the Florida Legislature.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Sen. Debbie Mayfield
Represents: District 17 (all of Indian River; part of Brevard)
Capital address: 322 Senate Office Building, 402 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-1300
Pretty much every environmental organization that has taken a stand on SB 2508 is against it. Do not let out of town special interests to convince you that this bill is good. Even amended as it was, it is still a bad bill. Please use the numbers above and call Senator Mayfield and Representative Grall and let them know you DO NOT support this poison pill bill. Please share this message with your friends. This postcard has been reportedly received by multiple people in and around Florida.
If we have learned anything in this process it is that YOUR input up the line DOES matter. The only way we can collectively influence bad legislation sponsored by wealthy special interests is to collectively object…it is only then, that we can make a difference. So please, write often to our elected leaders. Don’t consider this a “one and done”.
Forward this link to your friends because a lot of our neighbors are interested in this issue and would like to know more. This event is open to all, members and non-members of the IRNA alike. If you would like to learn more about membership or join us, please visit this page.
The Florida Senate passed two bills, SB 620 Local Business Protection Act and SB 280 Local Ordinances. Both of these bills would implement unfunded mandates on cities and counties. We had previously sent a letter to both Senator Mayfield and Representative Grall about the damages these bills could cause.
Requiring local governments to publish – at their own expense – a business impact statement for ANY ordinance to be passed is by its very definition an unfunded mandate. SB 280 would do just this. SB 620 would allow a business to sue the city or county it operates in if an ordinance harms their business. It sounds innocuous, but would allow for much abuse. (“League of Cities lobbyist Rebecca O’Hara raised the point that if the Legislature had passed the bill years ago, it would have interfered with local government’s attempts to restrict pain management clinics that were operating as pill mills, drawing opioid addicts from all across the country to Florida communities, forcing local governments to enact policies that attempted to regulate their doctors and shut them down.” Source.)
If the Legislature is so concerned about laws impacting a small business’ bottom line, why does this bill only focus on local ordinances and not statewide laws as well?
Politicians in Tallahassee often decry federal overreach encroaching on Florida. There is reason to be concerned when the governments above you try to tell you to do things their way. That’s not how this should work. We’re on the ground here, we know how things are in our communities much better than the Federal Government.
This is also true of the state government encroaching on the powers of local jurisdictions. We need to make a concerted effort to encourage our elected officials to stop taking away the powers or tie the hands of local governments. We elect local people to deal with local problems. One size does not fit all.
Please reach out to Governor Ron DeSantis, Sen. Debbie Mayfield, and Rep. Erin Grall to ask them to take your concerns about Home Rule seriously.
Some points you can raise when talking to elected officials:
“I support Home Rule because it keeps control of my community in the hands of citizens like myself and the local leaders we elect.”
“My local officials do not focus on ideological or partisan differences. Instead, they focus on creating better public policy for all our residents.”
“Partisan politics has no place in municipal government. There’s no democratic or republican way to fix a pothole.”
“As the government closest to the people, my city/county has a unique bond with its citizens.”
“Local leaders want to partner with state leaders to protect our ability to control our own destiny. I urge you to work with them, not against them.”
“Let my city/county work to develop innovative responses to problems affecting my community.” (An example here in our area is Vacation Rental regulations which are again under attack by the legislature this year.)
Gov. Ron DeSantis
Represents: All Florida citizens
Address: The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
The IRNA recently sent a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis, Rep. Erin. Grall, Sen. Debbie Mayfield, Commissioner Peter O’Bryan about the relentless assault on Home Rule that the State Legislature is undertaking. SB620 and SB280 were passed by the Florida Senate and looks poised to pass in the house as well.
TCPalm’s exclusive investigation of Florida’s flagship program to limit nutrient pollution flowing into Lake Okeechobee is the first to show that every single rainfall runoff drainage basin around the lake with available data exceeds the state limit.
Improving the state’s system depends on public attention and accountability. Readers who think the system isn’t working can contact their legislators to demand change.
Read the full investigation and see the map and all the charts.
Clean-water advocates have cited these possible solutions:
More funding to hire additional staff to inspect farms every two years as required
More water quality monitors gathering data to pinpoint pollution sources
Effective enforcement against farmers who don’t follow state rules
Limits on fertilizer use that could prevent harmful runoff into waterways.
Gov. Ron DeSantis
Represents: All Florida citizens
Address: The Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
The Indian River Neighborhood Association, in its advocacy for protection of Indian River County resources, has been monitoring the State’s BMAP* program of TMDL** requirements and concluded it was inadequate to do the job of improving Florida’s polluted waterways. We are several years and millions of dollars into that program and, unfortunately, have not seen any regrowth of seagrass in the IRL. Even though the Marine Resource Council’s latest annual lagoon report shows improvement in water quality, there still is no seagrass growth. Obviously, we are not sufficiently addressing the problem.
On December 20th three conservation groups signed an intent to sue the Federal Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts for failing to protect manatees from water pollution in Florida. Earth Justice attorneys will represent the Defenders of Wildlife, Save the Manatee Club and Center for Biological Diversity in their pending suit. They have tasked the EPA to reinitiate consultation with the Fish & Wildlife Service to re-assess water quality standards. The death of over 1000 manatees in our state, the majority of which occurred in the IRL, has spurred this action and raised awareness, not only in our state but across the country, to the water pollution problems in the State of Florida…especially those causing the death of the manatees.
They are the nitrogen and phosphorous and a number of other contaminants coming from fertilizer, inadequate waste water treatment, leaking septics and stormwater runoff. These pollutants are well known to those of us in Indian River County who have been educating our residents to the dire health of our lagoon and urging our State and local lawmakers for legislation that will prevent further pollution. These pollutants feed the algae blooms that cloud the water preventing needed sunlight from reaching the seagrass beds. Seagrass is a nursery for juvenile marine life, a filter and co2 absorbent as well as the mainstay of the manatee’s diet.
We are sending letters of endorsement to the three conservation groups and Earth Justice as they task the U.S. Government Environmental Protection agency for stronger regulations and enforcement of existing regulations governing the reduction of nutrient pollution in Florida waters. All are non-profit organizations that will need moral and financial support to succeed. It’s a bold step in the right direction and a necessary action; something we have contemplated for many years as the only way to garner significant attention to the State’s water pollution problems. Stay tuned. The future of Florida’s waterways is at stake.
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Registration Number CH52284. A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Division of Consumer Services by calling toll free 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) within the state or by visiting their website at www.800helpfla.com. Registration does not imply endorsement, approval or recommendation by the state.