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Water-Related News

Troubled Water: Agencies Work to Clean Storm Water Before It Gets to Waterways

By Dinah Voyles Pulver

Take a walk along Riverside Drive in Edgewater or other waterfront streets along the Indian River Lagoon and it's easy to spot open pipes that still funnel storm water right into the lagoon system.

Storm water — rainfall that runs off streets, parking lots and yards — picks up dirt, debris, oil and other pollutants along the way and then runs into storm gutters, retention ponds and sometimes straight into the lagoon system.

For many years, storm water management in Florida consisted of "getting rid of the water as quickly as possible," said Brevard County Commissioner Chuck Nelson. In the 1990s, the water management districts adopted newer, stricter rules for treating and handling storm water.

"That hasn't been enough to stem the damage from all of the previous development," Nelson said. "We've got to retrofit a lot of our communities to clean up the waterways."

Using federal money, the state's water management districts have partnered with local governments along the lagoon system to complete millions of dollars in storm water system improvements in the past decade that clean and treat storm water before it flows into waterways.