The Indian River Lagoon was once a sandy bottom estuary, with a modest accumulation of organic detritus from shoreline and aquatic vegetation loss.The bottom of the lagoon is now covered in a layer of fine silt and sediment called “muck” that has accumulated over years of excess sedimentation. Silt, sediment, and other fine particles carried in by tributaries, canals, and storm drains accumulate and break down on the bottom, forming thick black ooze. This ooze or “muck” builds up in channels and deep pockets where it has reached depths of up to 15 feet. The muck blocks light from benthic grasses and organisms and it serves as a legacy load that slowly releases nutrients back into the water column.
Muck dredging is the most effective way to remove this material. The Florida Inland Navigational District (FIND) is a special taxing district that improves navigational channels and restores spoil islands in the Indian River Lagoon. They have successfully completed extensive muck removal projects in the Sebastian River and Crane Creek, making these tributaries cleaner and more navigable. They have completed the first phase of muck removal in the Eau Gallie River and are working on supporting funds to complete the Eau Gallie River project in the coming year. Muck removal is important to the health of the Indian River Lagoon.