Brevard County officials are bracing for a possible big fish kill in the Indian River Lagoon. And just Tuesday, there are signs it could be coming soon.
- Brevard officials prep for fish kill in Indian River Lagoon
- Algae blooms could lead to massive fish kill
- Brevard leaders working to restore lagoon's health
"There was a huge feeding frenzy, a short time later the dolphins all left, and the fish started to float up to the surface gasping for air,” said Orson Tarver, whose peaceful, serene spot on the Banana River in Cocoa Beach turned sad Tuesday morning.
He and his wife woke up to several dolphins having quite the meal near their dock.
"They were eating all the fish that were stunned from of oxygen," Tarver said. "Finger mullet, sheeps-head, little baby flounders were coming up."
Algae blooms could possibly lead to another massive fish kill.
Right now much of the Indian River Lagoon in Brevard County is in a brown tide state.
Officials say the result of algae blooms fed by things like fertilizer. The blooms are soaking up vast amounts of oxygen in the water.
It's a mix of many sunny days, and a few cloudy ones, causing the blooms to deplete the oxygen levels.
"We had an overcast day yesterday," Tarver said.
Officials say this current situation is following the pattern of what happened in 2016, when a massive fish kill descended on the struggling waterway.
In the Sykes Creek area of Merritt Island Tuesday, we spotted dozens of dead fish, including catfish, which are some of the toughest fish in the water.
Brevard leaders are working to restore the lagoon's health with money generated through the recently passed half cent sales tax. So far, six projects are done and some 60 more are set to begin this year.
"We need to focus on this now," Tarver pleaded, worried about the lagoon's health and his own property values.
Brevard County Natural Resources had staff surveying affected areas Tuesday.
If you see fish kill, call the FWC Fish Kill Hotline at 1-800-636-0511.
Residents demand more action
Inside the Brevard County administration building, public comment got heated Tuesday about the Indian River Lagoon.
"This is a crisis," said Captain Alex Gorichky, from Merritt Island.
The Brevard County Commission passed a 2018 large project plan with a 3 to 2 vote. It will pay out $381 million over the next 10 years to fix the lagoon.
But people at that meeting still feel that is not enough.
“We are done with dirty water, we are done with the nasty lagoon,” said Gorichky. "People who sat in these exact chairs that you are sitting in for decades before you got to sit in them put us in this situation. You took the oath and were willing to sit in that chair, it is now on your shoulders."
The people demanded more money be allocated to a problem they said has been festering and growing for years.
"If there isn't change, what are my children going to see?” questioned Shelby Gorichky. “What are my grandchildren going to see?"
"Now it's become a place where I don't let my children touch that water,” said Charles Levy from Cocoa.
The plan before the board certainly will help, but many people feel that this will only be a Band-Aid fix to a problem that needs deep surgery.
"Do we put our hopes and prayers in a plan that has no historical data to show that it is going to work,” said John Hitchcock, from Palm Bay. “Or do we switch and do what Sarasota and Tampa did, and make advanced waste water treatment, and building out sewers, and getting ride of septic tanks our primary priority?"
The $381 million will come from the half-cent sales tax, with an estimated $54 million in additional sales tax revenue in reserves for future projects.
Reporters Erin Murray and Greg Pallone contributed to this report.