It's Your Lagoon: The Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program
IRL Council meeting

The Board of Directors of the IRL (Indian River Lagoon) Council will meet:

Sept. 11, 9:30 a.m.
St. Johns River Water Management District
Palm Bay Service Center
525 Community College Pkwy., S.E.
Palm Bay, FL

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 Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program (IRLNEP)

Congress established the National Estuary Program (NEP) in 1987 to protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity of estuaries of national significance.

Sebastian Inlet

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers the NEP. Decisions are made locally, and each NEP is composed of representatives from federal, state and local government agencies, local residents, business leaders, educators and researchers.

The Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program (IRLNEP) was established in 1990 and has operated with the guidance of an Advisory Board. In February 2015, the Advisory Board approved the formation of a new regional council to sponsor and carry out the goals of the IRLNEP. The new leadership anticipates more money for lagoon research and restoration projects than in the past. By Oct. 15, 2015, the Council will have at least $2 million from member entities.

The IRL Council includes representatives of four counties bordering the lagoon, which are Brevard, Volusia, St. Lucie and Martin counties, and the St. Johns River and South Florida water management districts, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). EPA provides guidance to both the existing Advisory Board and the new Council during this transitional phase.

All seven Council members have signed an interlocal agreement outlining their managerial and financial responsibilities.

During the spring and summer of 2015, the Council will meet to address various interim administrative tasks needed to establish and operate the organization. The transition is expected to be completed by Oct. 1, 2015.

IRLNEP Council members

  • Martin County Commissioner Ed Fielding
  • Brevard County Commissioner Curt Smith (Vice Chair)
  • St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky (Secretary)
  • Volusia County Councilman Doug Daniels
  • DEP Deputy Secretary Drew Bartlett
  • St. Johns District Governing Board member Doug Bournique
  • South Florida District Governing Board member Kevin Powers

IRLNEP Council meetings

Currently, meetings are held in the Blue Cypress Room of the St. Johns River Water Management District’s Palm Bay Service Center, 525 Community College Pkwy. S.E., Palm Bay, FL. Meeting dates are as follows:

Sept. 11, 2015
Oct. 9, 2015
Nov. 13, 2015
Dec. 11, 2015

Contact Derek Busby for additional information about the IRLNEP at (386) 329-4459.


The St. Johns River Water Management District

Until the recent creation of the IRL Council, the St. Johns River Water Management District has sponsored the IRLNEP. 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.

District staff working in the field

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.

Boats in the Indian River Lagoon

Read the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program’s Comprehensive Conserva­tion and Management Plan (CCMP), 2014–2015 work plan and 2015–2016 work plan.

Find out how you can purchase a lagoon license plate, apply for funding through the cost-share program or participate in the calendar photo contest.

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:

Maria Lombardo
IRLNEP Education Coordinator
(321) 446-8567

Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program