Fertilizer giant funding pollution study of Indian River Lagoon

Scotts Miracle-Gro giving $500,000

Signs warning of high bacteria levels along parts of the St. Lucie River will remain for at least another week in both Martin and St. Lucie counties.


With the rainy season just around the corner, those who make a living on the water are worried that the Indian River Lagoon needs answers now.


Charter boat captain Mike Conner says it's harder these days making a living on the water since a lot is missing from the bottom.


"Things like clams, crabs, shrimp that depend on seagrass," that Conner says have virtually disappeared.


Conner says signs up now warning people to stay out of the water by Charlie Leighton Park in Palm City could be a bad sign for the summer.


"Every May we wring our hands and get nervous because we know another onslaught is coming and I don't see anything to change that this year, next year, or the next," said Conner.


Normally when people are looking for where the pollution is coming from, they look out to Lake Okeechobee, but right now there are no freshwater discharges coming through the St. Lucie Lock.


Now a new study is going to try and get to the heart of pollution sources.


Dr. Edie Widder with the Ocean Research & Conservation Association in Fort Pierce was very skeptical at first when Scotts Miracle-Gro offered to fund a 2-year $500,000 study looking at pollution in the lagoon.


"We really want to find out where the pollution is coming from and pin it down and stop all the finger pointing so we can make a difference," said Dr. Widder.


Water monitoring devices called Kilroys will be put in two canals, preferably in an area that gets nutrient runoff from homes, business and agriculture.


Widder introduced Tuesday a seven member committee made up of environmentalists, government, and agribusiness to oversee the research.


"A lot of really good people we can be confident that won't be influenced by industry," she said.


And maybe they can get to the bottom of what's polluting the lagoon bottom.