Nestled between Florida’s east coast and a string of barrier islands, the Indian River Lagoon is a shallow estuary where salt water from the Atlantic Ocean blends with freshwater from the land and tributaries. The 156-mile-long waterway — stretching from Ponce de Leon Inlet in Volusia County, south to the southern boundary of Martin County — is home to a rich array of plants and animals.
Many partners are working together to improve their understanding of this special place — heralded as the most biologically diverse estuary in North America — and to develop and implement long-term management and protection solutions.
The National Estuary Program (NEP) was established in 1987 by amendments to the Clean Water Act. The Indian River Lagoon is one of 28 national estuary programs in the United States.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers the NEP. Program decisions are made locally, with each NEP composed of representatives from federal, state and local government agencies, local residents, business leaders, educators and researchers.
The IRLNEP was established in 1989 and operates with the guidance of three stakeholder committees. The committees make recommendations regarding the work of the IRLNEP:
Find information about the lagoon, current news, programs and projects, and how you can help protect this precious resource.
The St. Johns River Water Management District sponsors the lagoon program. The St. Johns District oversees lagoon work in Volusia, Brevard and Indian River counties and the South Florida Water Management District oversees lagoon work in St. Lucie and Martin counties.
For more than 20 years, the St. Johns District has conducted lagoon restoration and protection work, including water quality improvements such as building stormwater treatment areas, reducing freshwater discharges to the lagoon, eliminating effluent discharges, dredging and removing muck from lagoon tributaries, reconnecting mosquito impoundments to the estuary, restoring dragline ditches to wetlands and providing support for a variety of community-based programs.
The District enhanced its lagoon work in 2013 by establishing the Indian River Lagoon Protection Initiative. Through that program, the District’s ongoing and enhanced work includes seagrass monitoring and planting, a four-year algal bloom investigation and installation of water quality monitors to provide real-time water quality data.
Maria Lombardo leads education and outreach activities for the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program (IRLNEP) within the lagoon’s watershed. Contact her at:
IRLNEP Education Coordinator