Despite concerns over pollution at Indian River Lagoon, researchers are seeing improvements

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — As coastal waters warm up, researchers are also keeping a close eye on the health of the Indian River Lagoon.


Experts said there are some signs of improvement.

Thursday afternoon, a cool rain buffered the Indian River Lagoon against summer’s warmest temperatures.

The temperature in the lagoon was about 77 degrees.

Researchers said they are seeing some fluctuations into the upper 80s and lower 90s.

Read: Florida lawmakers discuss progress of Indian River Lagoon Clean-up project

Dr. Austin Fox, Assistant Professor at Florida Tech’s Department of Ocean Engineering and Marine Science, studies coastal processes.

He said the projects taking place at the lagoon are contributing to positive developments.

“In the past couple of years, we’ve been seeing a general downward trend in nutrient concentrations, that I’m not seeing correlations with any of kind of the external weather pattern,” Fox said. “I’m hoping that at least part of that can be attributed to all of the different projects that have been ongoing in the lagoon.”

Read: Flagler County nighttime beachgoers asked to be mindful of sea turtles; how you can help hatchlings

For context, in the lagoon, warmer temperatures can contribute to nutrient problems, mainly nitrogen and phosphorus.

Higher temps mean more nutrients; more nutrients contribute to poor water quality.

Also, dissolved oxygen is less soluble at higher temps, and bacterial respiration increases.

Read: SpaceX to try again Thursday night to launch Falcon Heavy rocket

Researchers said rainfall that can cool the lagoon brings nutrients from external sources that contribute to poor water quality.

But, they have also said there are signs the lagoon is headed in the right direction.

“The reports that I’m hearing or that we’re seeing more sea grasses coming back in various areas of the lagoon,” Fox said.

PHOTOS: Massive aquarium to soon replace former Daytona Mall

Sherman Davis, Brevard County resident, said he is hopeful this is the case.

“Boat tours and stuff like that people come here, particularly the fishing tours and stuff that we want to see in a clean lagoon,” he said.

Fox also said good things are happening: dissolved oxygen seems more stable, and nutrients are lower.

“We have to keep going with all of the different efforts people have been taking to improve the water quality,” he said.

Read: County commissioner looks for ways to make Brevard beaches safer

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.