In the News

Melbourne to Clean Runoff North of Airport

Jim Waymer, FLORIDA TODAY


Today, oils, metals and other contaminants from roads and runways run off from the city’s center to the Indian River Lagoon.< Stormwater carries a cocktail of contaminants from a 1,475-acre basin bounded by Sarno Road to the north, Wickham Road to the west, Apollo Boulevard to the east and the Melbourne International Airport to the south. But this month, workers began a $1.78 million project to improve stormwater in central Melbourne. The so-called Sarno Stormwater Project will widen an existing drainage ditch just south of Sarno Road, near Apollo Boulevard. Workers will make side slopes of the existing ditch much shallower and more stable to reduce erosion and sediment flowing into Elbow Creek. Workers began moving dirt on the project this month and should be finished by early next year, city officials said. The city is paying for the project with stormwater utility fees. When complete, the refashioned ditch will remove 1,400 pounds of nitrogen per year and 300 pounds of phosphorus per year year. Too much nitrogen and phosphorus can cause excess algae in the Indian River Lagoon, resulting in fish kills and other ecological problems. State limits on nitrogen and phosphorus pollution require the city follow a 15-year plan to remove about 45,000 pounds of nitrogen and 13,000 pounds of phosphorus from stormwater that enters the lagoon annually. So the city has also begun a comprehensive street-sweeping program and outreach and education initiatives to reduce those two nutrients further. Last year, Melbourne City Council passed an ordinance that put stricter regulations on fertilizer use, including a ban on fertilizing during the rainy-season from June 1 to Sept. 30. The city also has the long-standing ban on blowing grass clippings and yard debris into the street, which can carry nitrogen and phosphorus into stormwater that winds up in the lagoon. Contact Waymer at 321-242-3663 or jwaymer@floridatoday.com Follow him on Twitter @JWayEnviro