Frank Sakuma, Indian River Lagoon Council, handed out to the Board a position statement that the IRL Council developed during their last meeting and he wanted to highlight a few things he feels relates directly to the Plan and efforts towards restoration; and he stated the time for leadership and comprehensive restoration of the IRL is now. He stated clearly that has been demonstrated by not fear mongering or running after the Federal government after the massive algae bloom and fish kill; the Board has taken the time to sit back, evaluate, and take firm action; and he offered kudos to the Natural Resources Director, her team, and those who participated in putting the Plan together. He continued the Plan is bold, actionable, and adaptive, three qualities that every Plan should have, because of the way the IRL Council put together the Bylaws and Interlocal Agreement; in the words of its position statement, increased, accelerated, and recurring funding is urgently needed from local, State, and Federal levels to implement much needed transformational restoration projects; remediation actions that have a high estimated turn on investment value from a healthy IRL; and he believes however it gets there, the Board has its support. He expressed the IRL Council looks forward to working with it.
Commissioner Smith thanked Mr. Sakuma for his comments and clarified what he was referring to was the Policy Statement that the IRL Council produced at the last meeting, spending four hours arguing over everything, and selling the whole idea that the County needs help from Tallahassee to Washington D.C. they need to see dead fish not pretty pictures, because if they want them to feel like the County needs help, then show them the County needs help with the dead fish.
Trish Nichols stated the Commission and the group of people who did this work is unbelievable; in her opinion there is no way the Board would not vote yes, after all the effort has been put in; this morning Commissioner Infantini stated she did not want to pay $2 million for a library and she agreed; everybody else thinks $2 million, no big deal it is not their money, just throw it away to a library that is really not needed; however, that $2 million could go towards this Plan. She continued the Board needs to think a little about what it is doing.
Commissioner Fisher explained those funds cannot be used for the Lagoon, it is a Special District Taxing and it has to go to Library Services.
Ms. Nichols replied she is not up on that. She stated all she is trying to point out is there is money as Commissioner Infantini stated earlier; she has seen people sit up there and make decisions that are not in the best interest of the public; and the Board should really think hard when they put money into something. She continued this is an important issue, it is a life or death issue for the Lagoon and this town; she asked for the Board not to let these people down; and to please vote yes.
Jim Nichols informed the Board that he and Ms. Nichols worked on the petition drive back in 2014 to get Amendment One on the ballot; it passed by over 75 percent in the State of Florida, which was supposed to hold the entire State, land, resources, and water; and he asked can they not help Brevard County with some of that excess money that was set aside for just what is being discussed.
Chairman Barfield replied, they have not, but it opens up an opportunity where the County could receive matching funds with Amendment One dollars.
Mr. Nichols asked if the County has to have a Plan before receiving those dollars.
Chairman Barfield commented normally a plan is needed, it helps to explain it.
Commissioner Infantini stated she would like to see it in writing that there needs to be a Plan; she has heard that the State would like a Plan, but has never seen it in writing from anyone in the Legislature or in the Florida Statutes where it states the County must have a Plan, and must raise its own money before donating money; and the other people who have spoken and had clean up done did not have a Plan, but received money from the State.
Mr. Whitten commented the Governor sent State staff down, in particularly Drew Bartlett, Deputy Secretary for the Department of Environmental Protection, and Ann Shortelle of St. John's Water Management District; Ms. Barker, Commissioner Smith, and himself were in the meeting where it was stated that in no uncertain terms the locals have to have a Plan, and skin in the game before the State is going to fund Lagoon restoration; and they were very clear, they were in favor of the County's four R's, and that a Plan was needed, because the State does not fund issues, it funds Plans that address issues. He stated they were very explicit; there must be a 40 to 50 percent match in most instances to draw down State dollars.
Commissioner Smith stated to Commissioner Infantini that she can pick up the phone, call the Governor's office, and ask for Julia Espy or someone in FDEP like Drew Barlett and they would inform her, they are looking for a Plan; or she could call Senator Marco Rubio's office, Senator Nelson's office, or Representative Posey, all three of those offices will tell her the same thing, if the Board passes this Plan both the State and Federal level, the County will be eligible for 50/50 matches from them.
Mr. Nichols commented he strongly supports the Plan; it has to be passed; and however the Board funds it they will figure it out. He informed the Board he is a real estate broker; and he stated the values are going to drop if the river dies.
Tony Sasso commented having been on the environment Natural Resources Council, even on the Legislative side, when there are funds and Plans from communities; when talking about the Florida Keys and the sewage hookups, that was all done because they had a Plan in place and had some money in the game as well; and that works at the Federal and at the State level, it is not a guarantee all the time, there may be a guarantee that the County Attorney was able to get because he is very convincing, but generally speaking, if the County is not playing, they are not going to play. He continued he hopes in spite of the direction, it seems there is a 5:0 vote, because it does make a difference; the stronger the County is in doing that, coming up with a long term Plan, and the support from the community, elected officials shows that the League of Cities, other municipalities, the County Commission, and community voting on it; and he commented the Board has it easy, it is just putting it out to a vote for the citizens to make that decision. He went on the Board cannot go wrong in doing that; he is not a betting person but would bet anybody that this will pass; and he stated that he is there on behalf of Keep Brevard Beautiful (KBB). He went on to say the County Manager and Natural Resources Director are awesome as well as the Plan; he is an engineer and to him this was one of the most impressive Plans that he has seen; it was so well put together, it is phenomenal; and he encouraged it be passed. He stated he does not want to get into the money part; this is a lifetime Plan that the children and their children are going to be living with and continuing to make sure to keep this Lagoon clean; and changing that culture. He commented the KBB is not an environmental group nor an advocacy group, but it has sustainability built into its mission statement; it has been promoting its statement through the River-Fest Program and the Sustainability Awards Program; and he had approached the KBB leadership about attending today's meeting and speaking to the Board, and the leadership said absolutely, because it is so important. He stated he wanted to discuss sustainability, environmental, economic, and social, which he has not heard a lot about; the environmental part is pretty impressive with all the doctors listed who were part of creating the Plan; the economic side of the Plan has businessmen throughout the County supporting it, it has even been talked about at the KBB, no one is going to buy a house in a dirty community, which includes the waterways, and no one will want to start a business in a place that has a septic tank for a Lagoon, so those are important things; and the social aspect, the first time he had ever spoke before the Commission was about 15 years ago discussing the Thousand Islands, and together with the State, the KBB, Cocoa Beach, and the County all worked together to purchase the Thousand Islands to preserve them. He continued there was a special deal with the City where he was allowed to take the Boy Scouts, and his two Eagle Scouts to camp at the islands, canoe through the Lagoon, and take their swim test there; since then, he has talked to the Commissioners over the years about what was going on in the Lagoon; and now it is at the point where he would not put a child in that water, something is really wrong with it. He pointed out the time for talking about the Lagoon is over; the time for action is now; and he asked the Board to please pass this 5:0 to make a difference, and the citizens will get it there.
Spence Guerin reminded the Board, Al Vasquez stated there was $302 million for the bare bones effort and the quicker this work proceeds the greater the reward; a sustainable funding source is needed; and he would like to suggest there be a combination of property tax and a sales tax, because time is of the essence. He continued that the County has to make a big dent in a hurry, otherwise the County is going to lose; a few ago when doing the fertilizer ordinances, that some of Board baulked at, which was a piece of cake compared to this, one of the advisors from the St. John's River Water Management District (SJRWMD) stated the Lagoon was in danger of flipping to an algae pond and once that happens the game is over and it could not be reversed; and there would be no more trying to restore game fish, etc. It would be game over. He went on that no one who has lived here for a long period of time could object to putting something in the pot; to make the visitors pay something and the community pay something too; and he reiterated the Lagoon needs a big impact in a big hurry. He stated the Board may want to ask Wayne Mills, past chairperson for the Board of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, some questions; Mr. Mills is in the audience but did not sign up to speak because he is not a resident of Brevard County; and to find out what they did in Chesapeake Bay.
Commissioner Smith pointed out he really appreciates Mr. Guerin's enthusiasm, but cautioned him, if the Board created a big windfall of money it would not make a difference, because programmed progress is needed and there is no way to get to Step C without Step A and B; all that has to be Planned, permits pulled, and it all requires time; and just for the record, he supports what Mr. Guerin stated, however, it would not help. He went on through a lot of help from the State and Federal Representatives there will be some streamlining going on in the permitting process, which will help tremendously.
Mr. Guerin replied well to date nothing has been done, and it is time something is done; even Florida TODAY, although he is no fan, recognizes that the representatives rate an F on their efforts and it was not real complimentary to what the Board has done; this County has failed to take the action for a long time; and this needs to be put in high gear as fast as possible.
Diane Stees stated she grew up swimming in the polluted waters of Pinellas County in the 1970s; moved to Brevard County in 1985; and now that Pinellas County has cleaned up their water, she is living on what is close to being a cesspool. She continued she has concerns over the legacy being left to the children and future generations to come; she supports the science based project Plan; and commended the County staff and experts who have put so much time and effort into it. She went on she supports the Plan as long as it is for ten years minimum, whether it is option one or option four; she suggested the Board go for the grants; and to not count on the State for a bail out, though perhaps the County could receive some additional funds. She feels everyone has a personal responsibility to do what they can to minimize the impact on the Lagoon; therefore, the public education part of the project Plan is very important. She offered ideas such as: engaging every city along with the County in promoting Lagoon friendly landscaping practices that minimizes the use of fertilizer, pesticides, and water while reducing run off into the Lagoon; citizen volunteers and community organizations can jump start a grass roots effort; to include the students who need Community Service hours in the schools with Lagoon Projects like river shore line clean-ups and oyster mats in a larger capacity than has been done before; the cities and counties can get the word out on the Annual Native Landscaping Home Tour, that is held by the Florida Native Plant Society, usually done in October; and she advised more of these are needed to show people how to do Lagoon friendly landscaping. She continued that lawn care companies are missing a lucrative business opportunity if they do not learn to adapt to what will be the new normal in coming years when lawn watering becomes a scarce commodity, and a luxury; what is done now in residential and commercial landscaping is un-sustainable; and hopefully the educational element Plan will include them. She stated she had heard earlier about Harmful Algae Blooms (HAB), the local Sea life has suffered for years from poor water quality in the Lagoon; some have their own accounts of getting infections, herself included; and she asked if the human health threat escalates from the County not taking effective action to clean up this mess, is it open to lawsuits. She commented she would assume the Citizen's Oversight Committee would be coordinated with the Indian River Lagoon Coalition; a yearly state of the project Plan, a report and/or presentation that provides the public with status on the various elements of the Plan, effectiveness of the measures taken to date, and areas for improvement would be provided to the public in a formal setting; and asked the Board to please decide how to fund the Lagoon Project in 10 years and get it on the November ballot. She stated no more excuses and no more delays, to act now; and she brought to the Board's attention that she has some dead fish pictures.
John Durkee stated there is finally a Plan, although not perfect, but a good Plan; there is debate on the best way to fund the Plan; there should be no debate on the immediate need for action to begin restoration and processes; and he asked the Board to put it on the ballot to let the voters of the County decide. He continued 50 years ago, the eyes of this nation and the brains of Brevard County were laser focused on safely manning landing a man on the moon and bringing him back safely; people came here in droves; they needed houses, roads, schools, and stores; while their eyes were focused on space, however there were some who developed, with their eyes on greed; few paid any attention to the national treasure right here on earth, in the County's backyard, the Lagoon; and now most in the County understand the cumulative damage. He went on the Plan focuses on the reduction of nitrogen and phosphorus flowing into the Lagoon and on removing the legacy pollution; as he read the Plan initially, he was very skeptical; yet over and over the Plan prioritizes specific projects based on the economic costs and return on investment (ROI); and in this case ROI is returned by the reduction of nitrogen and phosphorus. He stated the Plan correctly recognized there is not an endless supply of money in the County; the section on septic tanks is a really good example of prioritization; it identifies specific projects, costs, and timetables to accomplish; and it targets pollution reductions by project. He stated he personally supports a property tax; as a homeowner the ROI is compelling, if a home has a taxable value of $200 thousand, the taxes will increase about $200 a year for 10 years, which is $2,000 over 10 years; if nothing is done in five years, the value of the home will go down $50 thousand; therefore, he commented he would spend a $1,000 to protect $50 thousand in his home's value. He continued others prefer a half cent sales tax for 10 years because tourists are going to pay part of it; he thinks it is regressive but it does not matter what the funding mechanism is, that is not important; and he stated what is important, is implementing the Plan to restore the IRL. He stated the Board may or may not support the proposal; it knows a lot more about the individual things than and how money is spent than others do; and he respectfully asked the Board to put it on the ballot to let the voters decide. He commented he does not need the Board to decide for him; he does not need the Board to tell him he is not smart enough to read the Plan and understand what it is going to cost out of his pocket; and there are folks in the County who are smart enough to launch a rocket to go to Mars, and he knows they are certainly smart enough to decide if they want to pay to restore the Lagoon.
Lynnette Hendricks, President of Space Coast Association of Realtors, stated she is representing about 3,800 realtors in Brevard County; she feels cleaning the Lagoon is a top priority for the realtors in the County; it is already affecting the desirability of some water front properties in the area; and fewer and fewer people are wanting to live on the waterways, the canals, because of the algae blooms and the fish kills. She commented during her travels in other areas of the Country and seeing the algae blooms and fish kills on the news, people are asking what is going on in Brevard County, Florida; it is really frustrating as a realtor when trying to attract people to come to the area to live; and it is a top priority for realtors. She stated realtors are never in favor of raising taxes; however, they are in favor of getting the Lagoon cleaned up and moving forward; therefore, they are in favor of whatever avenues the Board comes up with to raise funds; and they will definitely support the Board's decision of whatever they put on the ballot. She continued the realtors would not publicly oppose anything for the fundraising; and they want to see the effort to move forward, and move forward quickly. She mentioned she agrees with Commissioner Infantini in respect to the mismanagement and misappropriation of funds in the past; it is very frustrating for tax payers when they feel like they are being constantly taxed, and asked for money for different projects when two, three, or 10 years down the road the funds have not been used appropriately, or managed properly; and she would like to see better management of those funds. She went on the big concern for realtors would be the septic tanks that have a direct correlation with housing; she knows that getting the septic tanks converted over to public sewer is a tedious and costly job, but there has got to be something the County can do to make it more enticing, tax breaks or something, to give people down the road, to convert over to sewer; and she has a friend who is building a new house on Banana River Drive, on the waterway, and in some respects he has been forced to put in a septic system instead of tying into the sewer which is right in front of his house. She stated it is insane the hoops her friend has had to jump through and ultimately he had to put in a Septic system; not only are the old systems failing; but, this is going to be an ongoing problem for the children years down the road, dealing with the same issues that are being talked about now, because they are making it so difficult for people to tie into City sewer instead of adding more Septic systems; and she questioned why the County cannot make it accessible and affordable to tie into the City sewer systems.
Commissioner Fisher stated he has heard a couple times that Commissioners wasted money and asked Ms. Hendricks for an example.
Ms. Hendricks replied she cannot provide an example; she just knows from attending several Commissioner meetings over the years, schools for example, there was a big deal about tax monies and schools; the County wanted to raise taxes to help the infrastructure for the schools; there seems to be a lot of discussion every time there is an issue where taxes are to be raised and questions of what happened to the money already collected for certain projects; and there has been a lot of mismanagement.
Commissioner Fisher pointed out compared to other counties, Brevard County is one of the most efficient county's around. He commented when people say this Board wastes money, one recent example was the Blue Origin deal, where Commissioner Infantini made reference that $8 million was passed out, he as a business owner, and property owner of several properties which he pays taxes on, stated one of the reasons why the Blue Origin deal made sense to him was that Blue Origin was going to invest $220 million in the community and employ a minimum of 330 people at $89 million a year in salaries, so to take that $89 thousand a year in salaries, it is approximately $30 million in new revenue coming to this County for jobs, and then $220 million of its own money into a facility that is already twice the size of what they said it would be in the agreement and he feels the realtors will get a shot at selling those people homes, and then the County will have 330 people buying homes and paying taxes that will help generate and increase the tax base; from an investment standpoint he will make an $8 million investment for over $300 million to be pumped into the community, so to him that is not really a waste of money in his mind, maybe it is in others minds, however that is a philosophy that some believe and some do not believe. He went on that is okay, but, people make that comment all the time; and he thinks it is really sad.
Ms. Hendricks responded she understands this County, in comparison to other counties, in respect to finances and budget, is actually very good; but she is paying taxes in this County, so the concern is the taxes in this County; she is actually on the executive committee for the EDC so she understands the money invested for Blue Origin and is not opposed to that; and she does agree that the realtors probably will have many opportunities to sell those employees coming in with Blue Origin and other companies, properties, however will they want to buy properties on the IRL
Commissioner Fisher stated he hears her.
Commissioner Smith stated he is very interested in the background of the story she told on how someone she knows could not tap into the sewer system and asked her to contact his office with the information, because he would like to look into that.
Anita Unrath stated she too brought Wayne Mills’ newspaper article; it is amazing that he highly supports this project and stated he said, "The IRL is a gift from Mother Nature and our Creator and should be respected and restored for the benefit of all; "the Chesapeake Bay clean water blue print first implemented in 2010 and now bay grasses are returning in abundance this year along with Oysters and water clarity;” and "it is only 40 percent implemented.” She commented she would say yes to Option #1; that she would be happy to pay more on her house as Mr. Durkee had previously explained; she would also say yes to Option #4 for a sales tax; and if both could be done, there would be $66 million in the first year, which would be a big wow to start off the program, maybe it could be sped up a little, and maybe the Federal and State government would then come through with some further grants. She continued the County cannot count on the State Government, because as someone else had stated earlier, where are they, not here; and the Federal government has not even come up with a Zika Plan to get rid of the mosquitoes; therefore those higher levels of government cannot be counted on to come up with the money. She stated she would say yes to the impact fees for money for the roads starting in January 2017; Commissioner Barfield had a great idea months ago for a six-cent gas tax to help; she used to pay $50 to fill up her car and now it cost about $25; and at the last two meetings, there were attendees who need public transportation, some of that six cent sales tax could go for public transportation and the roads. She asked the Board to support the Plan anyway it can and reminded the audience that there is no State Income Tax in Florida.
Sara Davis stated she lives in Merritt Island, she votes, she pays taxes; and she supports the Lagoon Project Plan, however the Board decides to fund it. She continued Options one and four sound good to her; and she is happy to pay for it.
Tuck Ferrell stated he believes there is a problem with the Lagoon and appreciates the work the County staff has done. He stated he is impressed with the Natural Resources Director; that she is networking with a lot of other people; he has been to a lot of Lagoon Council Meetings and the County really does have a Plan; the Plan is on paper, but they are talking about it; and trying to bring a political coalition, talking with Congressman Posey trying to get Federal and State money. He believes the County needs the money for matching funds and to put this together; to get anywhere with the State and Federal people, the County needs to start; and it is important to implement one of these Plans. He went on there are so many issues with the Lagoon; filtration marshes are needed; muck removal is needed; there are so many things that need to be done; and it is not going to be free. He stated the river is in a very critical situation; he would really appreciate a unanimous vote to more this forward; and it is important to the whole community.
Lyle Zody stated he is here to read a statement by his good friend Vince Lamb. He read, "The most important factor in restoring the Lagoon is getting our residences informed and engaged. How many Brevard homeowners know that lawn fertilizer is a major source of pollutants in the Lagoon? How many of you volunteer to help Plan a living shore line? A recent Melbourne Beach Planning meeting, there were a 150 people who showed up to volunteer. The IRL is the center piece of Brevard County life. There is a large impact on our quality of life. We can choose to be actively involved by boating, fishing, paddling, or other activities. We can be more passive by watching sunrises and sunsets on the Lagoon, perhaps observing Manatee and Dolphins. The issue for all of us should be how we can help to restore the Lagoon's health. While none of us individually contributed to the large amounts of its demise, collectively we are responsible for the pollutants in the Lagoon. Rather than objecting to a modest tax to fund clean-up, we should make our city proud, by our willingness to help. Commissioner's I urge you to support this Plan and place the funding referendum on the November ballot. Let the people decide. I am confident that we will vote to fund the Lagoon clean up." He commented in the last couple of years he has been to half a dozen presentations on the Lagoon's quality, presented by people like Virginia Barker, Natural Resources Director, Dr. Dwayne Dupree, and Leesa Souto; these people have convinced him that something needs to be done; and as long as those three people are in support of this Plan, so is he, 100 percent. He noted he is counting on the Board to see that this gets funded, and actually gets done. He stated despite being an old man on a fixed income he would be more than happy to pay the extra funds it takes to get the Lagoon clean up.
Lorilee Thompson stated Brevard County was once among Florida's top seafood producers, that is no longer the case; the decline in seafood as the fish kills increased; and she gave some statistics from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) website that shows pounds of product that were off loaded in Brevard County. She read the statistics for 1994 which included, clams -1,463,000 pounds, blue crab - 2,243,000 pounds, spotted sea trout - 39,000 pounds, and brown shrimp - 198,000 pounds; and 20 later in 2014, Clams-4,900 pounds, blue crab - 142,000 pounds, spotted sea trout - 2,900 pounds, brown shrimp - 23,000 pounds; these are all animals that rely on sea grass to survive; and then in 2015, it was worse. She continued she represents the commercial fishing industry, and the first brown tide event came in Mosquito Lagoon in 2013 where Clam farmers were the first casualties; millions of sea clams perished and hundreds of thousands of dollars in investments were lost; and the water quality has not recovered sufficiently for clam and oyster farming to resume, which is really sad when thinking about the importance of shell fish and their ability to filter massive amounts of water. She went on many of the clammers have lost their bottom leases, because if a person has a clam lease and he or she does plant clams for two years, the State can seize a person’s lease; she has seen greatly diminished landings of mullet, sheepshead, sea trout, and blue crabs at her sister's fish house; and earlier this year, everything ran from the brown tide, the shrimp barreled out of Mosquito Lagoon way before they should have, and the biggest clam farmer gave up on Mosquito Lagoon and moved his operation to St. Augustine where there is cleaner water. She stated recreational guide fishing is down 50 percent, guides in Mosquito Lagoon are finding a few fish, but the guides working the north end of the Indian River are running their trips down between Melbourne and Sebastian Inlet; and that is another consequence of sick waters, fishermen have to travel or they go out of business. She continued when they move they increase pressure on the areas that they moved too; the watermen have lost their lively-hoods, they can no longer make a living on the water; and if the water does not get fixed, the County is looking at the last generation of IRL commercial fisherman, most of whom are in their 50s and 60s. She commented there is no future here for young people; these guides have spent their lives on the river and that is all they know; they have known the river was sick for decades and have tried to tell people that; they stand ready to help in any way they can; and the County can put them back to work restoring the Lagoon. She mentioned sea grass can be grown in tanks and then transferred out to the Lagoon and Planted; the County can pay them to grow and plant the sea grass since they know where the lush sea grass meadows once flourished; and they can be hired to restore the shorelines, they thrive in the wind, sun, and ran out on the water. She asked the Board to put the guides back to work in the place that they love. She thanked the Board for having the courage to open up this discussion on how to fix the Lagoon. She stated its condition is a growing public health threat, a deepening environmental crisis; a looming economic disaster; and a public relations nightmare. She commented the Board is fortunate to have brilliant scientists and a superb staff to help decide whether to invest in the future or pay dearly later. She continued to ask the Board to do the right thing and pick a strategy that will raise the most money for the Lagoon in the shortest amount of time. She stated she has a report of the database for the fish kills just for Brevard County; it started with one pipe fish in Titusville in 1973 that had tumors, and the fish kills were really low; the last 10 pages of the 64-page report is for 2016, and there have been 339 fish kills through August 4, and she knows there have been more; and she hopes for a 5:0 vote to let the voters decide.
John Saathoff thanked the Board for their leadership on the Lagoon restoration. He stated the Natural Resources Director and her staff did a terrific job under time pressure in putting together a sound comprehensive Plan; it deserves the support of the entire Board; and he supports the Plan as well as the proposal to finance it with a tax increase. He continued his relationship with the Lagoon is personal; it goes back 30 years when he and his family, including two preteen girls, moved to Indialantic in 1984 and settled into a house with a beautiful setting on the Indian River; their first month there was difficult, they slept with the windows open and the noise caused by the splashing mullet kept them awake at night; his daughters had found an abandoned boat drifting on the river and a neighbor gave them a pair of oars; and the girls spent many weekend afternoons exploring the river and watching the wildlife on the shore. He went on in 1984 Brevard County's population was 323,000 and life was good; 30 years later the population has increased by 220,000 people; and it has put enormous stresses on the Lagoon for all of the reasons that have been discussed today. He stated the health of the Lagoon can no longer be taken for granted; like another fragile, natural system it takes care and maintenance; and now they must compensate for years of neglect and abuse. He continued this County has a responsibility, a public trust, to restore and maintain the Lagoon for the benefit of the economy and future generations; Ms. Thompson talked about the public disaster that they are currently confronted with; recently he has been receiving emails from his daughters worried that the Lagoon is slipping away; emails from family are one thing, but when PBS and the New York Times picks up the story, that is a crisis of a different magnitude in public relations terms; and now even the National Geographic is publishing stories about green slime covered beaches becoming the new normal in Florida. He stated the County may not be experienced in the IRL as they see it off the shore, but people reading these publications outside of Florida do not have a way to differentiate; it is happening on the beaches; and therefore it is happening everywhere. He commented he has read the County's Plan in detail and from his perspective, as an operational analyst, the restoration project is realistic in scope and cost effective; and he feels the County must secure the Plan and long term funding to implement it. He urged the Commissioners to approve and support the Plan to restore the IRL.
Captain Alex Gerichkey III stated he stood here several months ago after the fish kill and told the Board this was going to take a dedication of billions of dollars and decades to do the work that needs to be done to turn the Lagoon around; the Plan is a great Plan, he has read it from cover to cover; it is a great start to what needs to be done to help the Lagoon; this is virtually at a complete dissolving of the Lagoon, at this moment in time; and he commented if the Board had not had a chance to go out to the water in the past couple months, to do it, it would shock them. He went on at that same meeting, he heard "Lagoon first"; he has yet to see what "Lagoon first" means from anybody, other than in terms of the Plan; the Plan is a stepping stone, billions of dollars are not being made by this Plan and are not going into what needs to be done; to do that there needs to be a little more commitment from the Board, to tighten budgets, to go as hard as it can at the State and Federal Government to match every bit that it can get out of them and whatever tax it comes up with; he is in favor of the Plan, he is in favor of all of it; and give us as much money as possible because where it’s at right now, only takes it to where it’s not in violation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and it does not fix the Lagoon, it just gets us started in fixing the Lagoon. He noted after the last 35 to 40 years, there's been a loss of Oysters, Clams, and after 2010 every bit of sea grass has been lost; the shoreline and mangrove habits have systematically been destroyed for development; he stated it has to stop at some point in time; and there has to be an all stop on this Lagoon in Brevard County and have to take the serious decisions to make this Lagoon turn around. He continued one of the scientist said the Lagoon is becoming an algae based system, but it is already there; the Lagoon has split, it is not the same; algae is what supplies dissolved oxygen in this Lagoon, not the grasses that used to live there; when the algae dies, all the fish die; it been seen repeatedly; and Ms. Thompson provided the Board the paperwork on it. He stated its not getting any better any time soon; basically the Board has the oversee of the complete crash of a national treasure, it is on the Board; the people who sat in the seats that the Board members sit in now decades ago, refused to make the serious decisions that would have put the Lagoon on a different path; however, it is now this Board's choice to put it on that different path in a much more aggressive manner than just this Plan; and this Plan is a stepping stone, not the end all, be all. He stated it is a wonderful Plan, but it does not address everything; there is not word in that Plan, which is one of the biggest issues, about the flow that has been choked in the Lagoon; there was one single slide that showed where all the deposits and muck are; while in the back of the room he picked out all the causeways that he could not see on the slide, because of the muck deposits around it; these mistakes were manmade and now need to determine how to fix them; and not one bit about how to restore the natural flow to the mangrove swamps that are still there. He went on some of the mangrove swamps could even be used as ways to filtrate, could be a giant filter, pumping water in, have oysters and everything in there, so the water that comes out would be a whole lot cleaner; basically it is the flow and it needs to be fixed; the County needs to step up; and $300 million is not what is needed, it is more like $2 billion.
Max Taylor stated he built his home on the Lagoon about 50 years ago, he is a commercial fisherman, and has been a commercial, oysterman, and clammer; driven boats from one end of the Lagoon to the other end of the Lagoon, from New Smyrna Beach to Port St. Lucie; and commented he has a relationship with the Lagoon. He continued he completely supports the science of this project, everything sounds good; he agrees with Mr. Gerichkey, it is a start; he disagrees with the funding and implementation; every person who lives in the five counties that abut the Lagoon pay taxes right now, the taxing entities are supposed to be protecting and enhancing the Lagoon; and the water management districts have spent the last 40 to 50 years doing nothing, but destroying the Lagoon by pumping trash into them through all the channels. He went on what happened when the State government enacted the five water management districts, is tell them to clean it up, keep it clean, and enhance the waterways; what they ended up with, is just people who dump trash in the Lagoon; the two entities primarily responsible for the IRL at this point are the SJWRMD and the South Florida Water Management District; there are four other semi-private water management districts involved also, but they are the primary problems; and they have combined to increase the water shed of the IRL by over four fold. He stated if the Plan is enacted, it would have the effect of creating the perfect bureaucratic daisy chain; the people of the Lagoon are already being taxed to pollute the Lagoon, and this proposal will tax us again to clean it up, perfect bureaucratic circle. He stated he believes if somebody has an argument against the proposal then perhaps something else should be brought to the table to alleviate that; the Board pretty much needs to work with the other four County Commissions and ask that the Legislative Delegations put a proposal before the Legislature to amend the original Water Management Legislation to make a new water management district, the IRL Water Management District; and take back control, have the ability to fix the Lagoon, and remove it from bureaucrats, developers, agricultural interests in Palatka and Okeechobee.
Leslie Maloney stated she is speaking on behalf of the Turtle Coast Sierra Club who have 1,500 members locally and 2.4 million worldwide; the Club whole-heartedly endorses the Plan; everyone knows the Lagoon is in trouble, so take control locally by passing this tax; a tax will get the ball rolling, and show the State and Federal government that the County owns the problem; and she believes they will then come through with matching funds. She continued that the Natural Resources Director and her team have put together an excellent Plan, so impressive; it is rigorous, practical, and thorough; the oversight Committee, as laid out in the Plan is key for public confidence; and picking this committee before the referendum vote, she believes, is very important in getting it passed. She went on to state the public want to see the names of the committee members, it was true back in the 1990s with the EELS Program; when it was on the news who the members were, it passed with the public; and it will greatly help with public confidence. She stated people want strong oversight, and rightly so; she hadn't heard mention of future developments and septic tanks, if Septic tanks are being cleaned-up, but more development is going up with septic tanks, that is a problem; and she thanked the Board for its leadership, and vision. She continued getting this passed could be one of its most important legacies; there is an incredible resource, Wayne Mills, who can give the Board a lot of information about what he did to turn around the Chesapeake Bay, and she highly recommends the Board seek him out.
Commissioner Smith stated she made an excellent point regarding putting in septic tanks in areas that are in the water shed of the IRL, if there are mandates or restrictions going forward to remove them or improve them; his chief aid brought that up last week and he has since discussed that with Ms. Barker and the County Attorney; and it is being looked into.
Commissioner Infantini stated she has another commitment this evening and asked how many more speakers there are.
The Board recessed at 3:30 p.m. and reconvened at 3:40 p.m.
Bob Kane stated the staff did a great job with the Plan; he does not feel it is complete; he totally endorses the plan; and would like to see it funded with a sales tax and for the Board to let the people of Brevard County make that choice. He commented there are a few things about the Plan that he did not agree with; he would like to see more berms along the river; maybe a little bit of salt water flushing from the ocean, there is a beautiful ocean full of fresh water out there, and there has not been any mention of that; what really concerns him, being on the river since the 60s, there was an article in the Orlando Sentinel and it talked about the Manatee and how many in Brevard County have and how many have been brought back; and that is wonderful, but questioned whether the County should be proud of it. He went on in 2014 the Manatee count for Brevard County was 612; in 2015 there were 1,677 Manatee; that is a 300 percent increase in Manatee, he loves them, but he is not sure the County can afford them; their average weight is 800 to 1,200 pounds; and when that is calculated into how much sea grass and vegetation they eat, which is 50 percent of their weight, they are consuming about 835,000 pounds daily of the sea grasses. He stated maybe that is something to be looked at; the Plan addresses many things, but most of the things are long term with no immediate remedy; and he believes the County should start considering relocating some of the Manatee. He continued if that at the FPL Plant in Port St. John they are all rolling around; he does not think that God meant for there to be that many in Brevard County; and so his Manatee are up for sale.
Mary Sphar noted she lives on a canal off the St, John's River. She stated her area has the same problems that the Lagoon has, but to a lesser degree; there are septic tanks within 100 feet of the river and still have people fertilizing and using too many pesticides; there is muck and algae that is visible from time to time; and seeing the growing problems with the St. John's River makes her more appreciative of the need to help heal the IRL. She continued the County cannot wait around for the State of the Federal government to fix the Lagoon's problem without County money; this excellent Plan is needed along with a funding source that will allow for matched money from the Federal and State sources; and her options would be option 1 or option 4, because that would provide the money within 10 years. She feels that if the money is raised within ten years it would help accelerate the Plan; to accelerate the Plan it will increase the return on the money; and she urged the Board to support the Plan and she will vote for the referendum.
Douglas Sphar commented he was asked to read a letter from the Southeastern Fishing Association, a professional organization whose 250 members handle over 75 percent of Florida's domestic seafood harvest. He read, "Mr. Chairman and Members of Brevard County Commission, Southeastern Fishing Association salutes the Brevard County Commission for designing an aggressive clean water programs preventing further degradation of waters. Clean water determines the quality of life for residences and millions of tourists visiting our state annually. Tourism counts for 60 percent of the revenue that runs Florida. Our hospitality industries are, without question, the economic engine that drives Brevard County and the State of Florida. Brevard County cannot stop the rain, but it can guide the run-off as it moves down the hill. It can control the toxins and chemicals dumped into the water to some degree and can work properly with the adjoining counties whose waste waters flow to the ocean through Brevard County. Our water quality must be greatly improved. Our waters will not improve without adequate funds to build and sustain the infrastructure necessary to clean the IRL. If the Lagoon is to be saved, Brevard County is saved. A tax referendum is the fairest and quickest way to launch the long process of bringing our waters back up to the highest quality possible. All members and businesses of our association support a tax referendum. We hope you approve it. Thank you for your leadership. Sincerely yours, Peter Jarvis, President.” He stated on a personal note that his neighborhood along the river is served by sewers; he has a file from when he was president of the homeowners association, letters from the Board’s predecessors as Commissioners dating clear back to the 70s stating yes septic systems are needed there and they are coming soon; that was 30 years ago, so it is hard to determine the definition of soon is; and he will gladly abandon his alleged free ride and contribute his fair share.
Valerie Petersen stated when she thinks of the Harbor City without the Lagoon it makes her emotional; she supports the referendum to be added to the ballot in November; and she hopes the Board agrees. She continued that she is a sunbird, someone who comes to Brevard County from Miami every year in summer; she is a teacher of government and tries to teach her students to realize government is at their disposal, and she will tell them about it when she gets back there.
John Mandala commented he knows the Board does not want to kill the goose, because the goose is who pays its salary; what is happening is the Lagoon is not being taken care of; he stated he does not know how long any of the Board have been on the Commission, but it took dead fish; the County is responsible for the fish breathing, they cannot more or go somewhere else; and they have to drink and breathe the water the County makes available for them. He stated there are 50,000 more people moving to the area in the next five years; he asked if there are any restrictions on developments; if the County has a plan on how to deal with all of the run-off and dog feces that people do not pick up; and he had asked someone from the Brevard Zoo what they do with all the waste, and was told, he did not know, that there was going to be a compost. He went on their needs to be a plan not only for cleaning the river, this is much bigger than Brevard County; the whole State has a problem and the County wants to put a Band-Aid on it; that is not really thinking well; and told the Board to be realistic. He stated the Board does not have a choice but to put this referendum on the ballot, otherwise people are going to say they do not need any of them; it does not care about the river; they can assume the Lagoon can be fixed, but they do not know for sure. He noted people were saying earlier that the future cannot be predicted; however, there are other people saying the writing has been on the wall for the past 20 years; and if the community cannot hold the elected officials accountable for clean water, then what are needed for. He went on to ask if that was part of the Board's job; make sure that the people of Brevard County are safe; people go into the river with a cut and end up with diseases and viruses; and although it has not killed anybody yet, but plenty have gotten sick. He continued Federal and State funds, the government is broken and everyone knows it; homeowners' associations are saying and fining people because their homes look distressed, because people are not putting fertilizer on them or watering enough; and asked who to listen too. He asked do they get fined $10 a day for watering more than allowed; or the lawns look distressed so there's a fine; there is a real problem; not everyone is on the same page; Ms. Barker is trying to put us all on the page; and come up with something that might help the Lagoon. He went on they have heard person after person; there is no question how the Board can vote; it has to go on the ballot, otherwise its legacy is "Listen we don't care"; and he does not believe that is what it wants. He suggested the Board raise the sales tax a whole penny to make sure there is more than enough to get started; he stated there are a lot of tourists coming from Orlando, going to the Space center; and he asked if anybody at the Space Center is being held accountable for the amount of water they use to cool their projects and manufacturing. He questioned how many development companies are involved; how many State Representatives are in attendance; how many Federal Representatives are in attendance; what the Board can do to make sure they start listening to it; and he commented that maybe Brevard County needs some other kind of referendum, to get them onboard with what is happening. He continued the future can be predicted; there are five counties surrounding the IRL; and he asked why the other four counties are not in attendance as a concerted effort to the State. He stressed for the Board to wake up.
John McMahon stated he does support the Plan; his wife has been incubating baby Oysters for the past two years in the river, so they are already part of the Plan; and it is a great Plan. He noted he is a retiree from the United States Army, and he spent his last 10 years in the Army as a senior leader; in that capacity, he saw, managed, and worked very closely on fish mitigation projects in the Pacific Northwest, California; and Eco-system restoration projects all over the 17 western states, the Missouri river basin, the Columbia snake, and the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers in the Bay area. He continued he managed dredging projects as well, in port and navigation channels; he has had a little bit of experience in some of the aspects of the Plan; and would like to comment on some of the things that he has heard today. He commented the briefing on the Plan was very good, but the first law of ecology is everything is connected to everything else; his experience in looking at the eco-system restoration plans is they need to be comprehensive and water shed based; and given the size of the IRL there needs to be collaboration, working with other counties, Corp of Engineers, the Federal agencies, Fish and Wildlife service, National Marine Fisheries, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the State entities, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, among others, the Congressional staff and members, Senators, State Legislatures, the other four counties that make up the Lagoon, the water Districts, non-governmental organizations such as Nature Conservancy and others, the sugar companies, the farmers, ranchers, private sector, and others. He continued all these entities have a role in this to play; if the Plan is just for Brevard County, the Board will miss the opportunity to have the Plan sustain itself over the long haul, way past the next 10 years; and the $302 million is an initial down payment, it will only manifest and sustain itself it is thought about from the larger water shred perspective, coordination of the Plan, and seeking Federal and State matching funds. He stated dredging is not an exact science, it is a blunt instrument, and there are consequences to dredging; it needs to be closely quality controlled and assured, otherwise it will not produce the results the County is looking for; it is important this is done surgically to the extent it can be; and a point Dr. Windsor made, is muck moves by hurricanes and what-not, the Plan should be a living document, it will change, and although this is an initial stab at the Plan, but at his experience it will change overtime, and needs to change. He went on as a tax payer, he is supportive of option 1, option 4, or a combination of both; and to not lose sight of the big prize; get this on the ballot to let the voters decide; and not to worry about how to pay for it, because he thinks responsible citizens will respond properly.
Mike Armenia, retired naval officer, stated having worked in the Navy in the marine and oceanography environment he has seen results of many military bases that have to do remediation and reclamation after they close down and it is not always a pretty sight; they did not have to come before the Board to ask permission to begin with, therefore there is no fault to the County; and what he learned was that enforcement is always a good tool, and one of the ways to get things done, where the problem was known whether it be on a military base or what is happening in the IRL, is to enforce existing laws; and all the organizations, which Mr. McMahon spoke of, need to cooperate and that certainly would be a good thing, but that is a tangled web, trying to get them all to talk to each other. He continued his point is enforcement; he is a tax payer and a home owner in District two and living on retirement from industry and the United States Navy Reserves; he built a home in Brevard County in 2009 in part to pursue his aquatic hobbies, especially wind surfing, he loves the sport; the Banana and Indian Rivers are world famous venues for wind surfing; people came from all over the world to wind surf here, Olympic grade people; and this is what drew him to the area. He went on from 2009 to present day, after many days on the water in Titusville and Melbourne he became quite aware and concerned this year in the persistence of the brown tide, algae bloom, and the massive fish kills; he stopped all the recreation in these waters in March, after experiencing a few weeks of skin rashes, high rashes, and then an e-coli infection in his body; the e-coli infection was confirmed by doctors and in laboratory cultures, so he was treated with antibiotics; whereas toxins from algae blooms such as the brown tide are potentially harmful to the environment, the bacteria and the viruses that accompany sewage, for example the e-coli bacteria, that is leaching into these waters is most important and certainly harmful to humans, not just fish, probably less harmful to fish because they make some of that; and he has seen the data from the slides and other scientists, of the hundreds and possibly thousands of potentially defective private septic systems bordering the areas that he has used for recreation and has read on local government websites that shellfish beds in these waters are either closed off for certain times due to sewage, fecal contamination. He continued some of the leases that were spoken of earlier on are no longer used and the lease holders had this plan to take out insurance, and put in insurance claims after they could no longer harvest; a lot of these beds are closed permanently now, the commercial ones, according to the Department of Agriculture; his hope over the long term is with funding, the tax payers can provide overall environmental quality in the waters, such as through the referendum issue; however, he is immediately concerned with sewage contamination from the point sources and the disburse sources; and he has seen that the Department of Health, which is a State department, test ocean side beaches in Brevard County regularly, and post that information on websites and in the newspapers. He stated these beaches are occasionally closed because of the postings, sometimes because of fecal sewage other times because of algae and that gets noticed nationally; and his immediate request is, he is not sure it is to this body or more to the Department of Health, that a certain amount of minimal funding might be used for testing the Indian and Banana River for fecal contamination. He continued he has spoken to fellow water enthusiasts, and many of them are willing to be trained to take and deliver samples to the appropriate laboratories that are used for the beach testing, and so volunteers can get together routine testing can be done, that would result in very small costs because no new field personnel would be needed to do the testing; he plans to continue this conversation with the State Department of Health; and if the Board, the staff, or coalition members have any recommendations on how to do that or how to get that going to please let him know, because he would like to volunteer himself and maybe 20 wind surfers, and 40 kayakers to do it. He noted he did this in Rhode Island and it worked; the beaches were closed as soon as the testing was done; which means the rivers here would have signs up stating no swimming; funds all of the sudden became available, magically; and referendum issues were instigated. He went on that he believes something like this may have also happened in Chesapeake Bay; enforcement is his message; and enforcement of existing law is what got them moving.
Ed Martinez, Cocoa Beach City Commissioner, noted to Commissioner Smith that he has plenty of pictures and video to provide the IRL Council from his little pontoon trip, this week; he stated that Virginia Barker did an excellent job with this Plan; and that he was so impressed with the detail, and he too as an engineer, to see something like this put together was very impressive. He stated it addressed reducing, removing, the restoration, and responding; the City if Cocoa Beach passed a Resolution in support of adding the referendum to the ballot; and he voted in favor of that. He explained to the Board what voting in favor of means to him personally; it means he expects the Plan will be executed in a timely manner; that he hopes to see an aggressive approach, five years versus 10 years; it means this Plan will be implemented with no waste because they will be watching the allocation of the funds; and it means he expects to see those grants that are outlined in the Plan, they are very important. He continued most importantly he expects the Governor to step up to the plate and provide cost sharing for this project; in Cocoa Beach they have had some tough decisions to make regarding property taxes because of the decaying infrastructure, city hall and Police station; for that reason he supports option 4; he thinks option 1, 2, and 3 are a burden to the City that it cannot endure; and he thinks they should put the burden on some of the visitors as well. He went on to say he supports the Plan; the environment is in peril; bold action needs to be taken; the decade’s worth of damage to the Lagoon needs to be repaired; and he asked the Board to place this on the ballot and consider his suggestions. He commented with this ballot the people of Brevard County are making a statement; they are willing to do what it takes to restore the Lagoon and he hopes the Governor will answer the call because many people have been waiting, but he is not going to hold his breathe; he hopes the entire Board has listened to what everyone has had to say; there is no reason this should not be a 5:0 vote; and his reasoning for that is what the Board is doing is letting the people decide, that is what a republic does.
Ed Fielding of Martin County, Chairman of the IRL Council National Estuary Program, stated the Board's Chairman was one of the initial members of the starter project, which was a collaborative of the five counties; Commissioner Smith is a board member of the Council where there are representatives of all the counties, the two water management districts, the EP, and the EPA; they are making efforts to be pulled together to make these decisions; and he thinks it is wonderful that the Board is in the process of pulling together and realizing the addressing of these significant Lagoon issues. He continued Martin County joins the Board in this dedication; a problem which has been mentioned a few times is they have all been waiting for the same thing, somebody to come with the money; they have all been waiting for decades, and they had not come; now they have got to do it; and in doing that they have gotten some support, some matching monies, for the various projects; and he encouraged the Board to step forward and do it as well. He went on to say Martin County has begun a septic sewer conversion program; they have prioritized their neighborhoods; they have a contract ready to go for the first, that is going to be about 1000 units the first hit; the way Martin County has done their financing, he is not telling the Board how to do their financing, is to call upon an enterprise, their utilities, they were resisting, but they were called upon to make some contribution, the County is making a contribution, individual property owners, anyone who has an ERC, so they have come up with about $9,000 per household that they have to finance; and they have a 20-year financing, which is less than one percent. He stated it also has in place ability, if a person or household has the inability, then there is funding for those people who meet the HUD guidelines for low income; if the monthly cannot be paid, there is funding to help with that; and that is what the Martin County program consists of. He continued the County is going to take a bite of about 900-1,200 units per year and the program extends over about 25 years; there is also a long-term stormwater program being financed a couple different ways, sales tax created about $50 million in the past four or five years, and beyond that, it is being financed with Ad Valorem and they are trying to meet their TMDL's that way; Brevard County has recognized the significance of muck; he thought it was just aesthetics until he heard Dr. John Trefry say it was another problem; muck is a major contributor to Nitrogen release, so that is an important ingredient; something he has is an IRL economic valuation update that the Council has received from the East Central Florida Regional Plan in Treasure Coast Regional Planning and sponsored by Florida Department of Economic Opportunity who funded it; and what they say is, "How valuable is the Lagoon?” He stated overall annual economic output or value received from the IRL in 2014 is about $7.6 billion dollars on an annual basis which does not include approximately a $334 million annualized real estate value added for the properties that are on the Lagoon. He noted what Martin County has done is expanded up into Volusia County so that they are all the way up Ponce De Leon Inlet because that adds more money to the value of the Lagoon and it is $9.9 or $10 billion annual economic input from the Lagoon; he is very partial and this is extremely important for it survival; and Martin County will join Brevard County in its strong efforts.
Nicholas Frank Sanzone stated he has lived here all his life, a true native; he went to Satellite High, then on to the University of Florida; he studied soil and water science and the reasons he has done all those things was because of the Lagoon; when he was a kid, about seven years old, he went on a field trip to the Lagoon and he got to put his feet in the water and actually got to see what all the fuss was about; and Virginia and her team have done a great job and all those who have stuck around did a great job showing the Board how important this is. He went on this is a great start; thanked the Board for their time, for listening to everyone; for it will do later on, because in his heart and in the Board's eyes he can see that it knows already what it is going to do; and the true decision is going to come later by the residents as they will show it, that it has made a good decision trusting them and they have trusted in it as elected officials; and the Board will remain that way by its actions and showing the residents that it does care.
Chris Exley stated he too remembers the good ole days; he grew up in the north end of Miami Beach; one of the things about the good ole days is the stories; and he remembers one story from the early 80s, the early start of the space program that may have been adapted from an actual event, or may have never even happened; trying to transport a rocket or section of a rocket to the space coast to be assembled, it was on a truck bed and they could not get the truck under an overpass and all the experts were out there and finally some little boy on a bicycle came by and told him to just let some of the air out of the tires. He noted sometimes the simple answers are the best. He continued by saying on environmental concerns are very important, the most radical environmentalists would rather go back, not the way it was 40 or 50 years ago, but to 525 years ago; but a person cannot replicate that Lagoon; a lot of people also talk about immediate needs; and he had a theory for quite a while and it was mentioned earlier. He went on to come up with a perfect lab to grow algae and some of the other problems with the Lagoon, a scientist could be hired to try and replicate water in this area with all the nutrients; to go into a lab warm the water up to proper temperature, give it enough sunlight, and grow all those same problems in the lab; and another thing, go to Port St. John where the power plant is, row out in a boat and dip the water out to get the results. He stated it seems to him that 20 years ago both of those power plants were replaced and when they did that, they deliberately created a hot water reservoir and discharge to replace the hot water discharge from those old oil fired, steam powered electric plants, which to his understanding those plants are now natural gas fired and do not run off idled steam processes, they are running through turbines and the current hot water discharge is deliberate for the protection of the Manatee; and on Google Earth, if zoomed in enough, the Manatee are visible from outer-space in that area. He commented a simple inquiry into the Internet says the average Manatee eats 50 kilograms of vegetation a day which equals 110 pounds, works out to 20 tons per year for 1,000 Manatee; some people consider that to be population in Brevard County at certain times; that is 80,000 tons of consumption of mangroves, sea grasses and everything else that they are trying to protect because of what is needed to cleanse the water; the Manatee are not natural residences of this area in the winter time; and back 525 years ago and native population, there would be no Manatee in January in this County, they move south. He went on it is a natural phenomenon, it is a way for the river to heal; it is pretty easy, turn off the hot water; some people might say that an environmental study needs done before turning off the water because it might affect the Manatee adversely; his thoughts are that is fine, show him the study that was written to introduce the hot water to the river; and he would say, it will not be found. He commented the simple solution with the rocket ships, here is the simple solution, one finger, throw the switch, and to see what the results will provide.
Herb Hiller stated he consulted on eco-tourism and has been involved in Brevard County going back about six or seven years now; he has previously written three books about Florida that always involved Brevard County; what he is hearing involves a context that has not yet been defined, which is the situation in the IRL is the result of policies which the County has had relatively little control; certainly in terms of the outflow of fresh water from lake Okeechobee, the County has had no control of that nor have any of the Indian River counties along the entire 156 miles; they are the result of draining the land for development for farming, ranching, all good purposes, but done without regard to the environmental impacts, no surprise, these matters were not thought about until fairly recent decades; and the results are beyond the County's control. He continued in the case of Brevard County, the problem is different, but also the same because it was prey to development of such a rampaging sword during the race for space; that people too paid no attention to the environmental impacts of what was going on in order to achieve that stage of economic development and find housing for all the people that had to relocate here in order to work at NASA; the County is strangely coming to grips with the past over which it was not personally invested, but now have to be; he looked fairly recently and saw that within the IRL's five counties there are about 35 Environmental Education and Interpreter Centers; and there is nothing like that elsewhere in the State of Florida. He went on that is the result of people concerned over the years about maintaining the IRL and keeping the system healthy; there are some pretty major institutions like the Marine Discover Center in Ponce Inlet, Barrier Island Center, the Brevard Zoo, the Florida Oceanography Society in Martin County, and the Eco Center in St. Lucie County; every county has a major, and many, many more in addition; and it seems to him that if this referendum is put to the voters and if it passes then the five counties of the Lagoon are in a position to be able to focus on what has been done very well, which is create this extraordinary destination of environmentally interpretive unit system, infrastructure, and a highway or trail of environmental Centers that does not exist anywhere else. He stated to establish that, is what defines them in a situation where they are doing everything they can to remediate the environmental problems of the Lagoon, then that becomes a way to represent themselves, that has not been done before; if this Board were to vote 5:0 in favor of the referendum on the ballot, it would empower the sense of unification within Brevard County that has been missing ever since the race for space; it is a huge opportunity to redefine who the Board members are; and he hopes it passes 5:0 so the Board can capture that opportunity.
Richard Kurt Mariani, representing the South Patrick residents association, thanked the Board for its efforts and coordination with the stake holders. He stated there was one stake holder that was not mentioned, and he encouraged the Board to look them up, the United States Air Force; there is a waste treatment facility on Patrick Air Force Base and he believes it is imperative to coordinate its efforts with them; and the first point sources, part of the pie chart, had been reduced one or two percent. He continued of those point sources some of them are sewage treatment plants and as some may know recently in South Patrick there was an incident where there was too much coming in, maybe due to rainfall, and raw sewage was dumped into one of the ponds; of course a lot of residences were concerned; inquiries were sent out to find that it was part of the plan; the pond was there for that purpose; and he should not be concerned about it just because it was in the middle of a residential area and close to a school. He went on further inquiries were done and found that output to the Lagoon was expected as well as covered by EPA regulations, and he should not concern himself with that either; however, every second day that he walks past that waste sewage treatment plant and, being right next to the Lagoon, he sees brown on the water, a certain aroma in the air, and it is not chocolate; and last night when the plan was talked about, there was a lot of support for it. He stated there was some discussion, no agreement on the financing, and wished the Board luck with that; they all think it is important and the Board is on the right track; however there was very little support to take whatever goes down the toilets and ends up in the septic tanks, and to spend lots of money just to route it around two sewage treatment facilities where it spun around a little bit, filtered a little, treated a little, and dumped back into the rivers, back to the Lagoon, which is not a river, and as pointed out by the recent FIT professor, that there is some strange bacteria in the Lagoon that has an origin from the human body, he did not go into how it got there, but he has a pretty good idea. He urged the Board to address this; stated there was not a systemic fix, there is still a sewage waste; human waste is partially treated and the byproduct is pumped into the ground, it is treated in some ways that he approved of, but another part is put into the water system, and he cannot support that; and if the Board does not address that then there will be a weakening of support for the County's Plan. He asked the Board to please fix this. He commented he was overseas for many years and would go with his wife and the school children to the local sewage treatment plant that managed to put out product that the farmers could put in the fields, managed to put the water back into the river system at the right temperature, and it looked clear; it did not look like cocoa; that was a village of 16,000 people; and he asked why can that not be done here with almost a million people. He continued education versus verification; the County has $600,000 for education and that the education was effective and had immediate results; less phosphates and less nitrates going in, people are listening and they are acting, they have results; and to allocate $600,000 is wonderful; but to allocate $10 million to verification for a guide or scientist, and a couple technicians to walk around, may be the amounts can be flipped around and put that amount into education, television spots, and radio to see if it has an effect, it has been proven that it works; and he asked how many people smoke. He went on years ago when he was five he could not walk through the train station without getting burnt because everyone had a cigarette in their hand; that stopped because of positive propaganda; information went out on why it was bad for our health; and that is where he encourages the Board. He continued for the Board to be cautious how they spend the taxpayer’s money, the taxpayers are with it on this, and to maybe add it to the water usage bills.