Funeral service for Indian River Lagoon set for Satruday. It recalls event back in 1970

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. - Hundreds of people are expected to attend a funeral on the Treasure Coast Saturday but it's not for a person.  Instead they're mourning the Indian River Lagoon.

The mourning began early on Friday afternoon. About a dozen people wore black and held signs advertising the funeral on the Roosevelt Bridge on Route 1 in Stuart. 

"It's symbolic of all the death that's happened in our lagoon," says Indian Riverkeeper Marty Baum.

They decided to hold a funeral after last week's decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to delay the approval of a plan that would send Lake Okeechobee discharges south away from the Indian River Lagoon.  Last year discharges caused toxic water problems on the Treasure Coast.

This isn't the first time the lagoon has been laid to rest.

Ralph Comstock showed us pictures from a funeral for the St. Lucie River back on April 26, 1970.   He was one of the pallbearers. The funeral was held by students at Martin County High School and it was highlighted in the school yearbook.

"A motorcade of about 100 cars left the school for the St. Lucie locks," read one passage in the yearbook.

There was a service led by a pastor and the coffin was filled with items like fishing poles and a swimsuit.

"Because they could no longer swim, they could no longer fish, they could no longer scuba dive," says Comstock.

Comstock says students were sounding the alarm about water pollution. Those concerns continue today more than 40 years later. 

"In my mind the problem has become increasingly worse," says Comstock.

But just like in 1970, there are people fighting to keep their water clean.

"We're not quitting ever," says activist Eileen DuClau.

Saturday's funeral starts at the St. Lucie at 9 o'clock in the morning. It will feature a funeral procession, coffin, flowers, bagpipe player, bugler and comments by featured speakers.