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Indian River County extends biosolids moratorium

Third extension is for another six months
Posted: 5:43 PM, Jun 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-18 17:43:42-04
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INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla.-- Indian River County Commissioners Tuesday extended a moratorium to ban the spread of biosolids for another six months.
Biosolids are fertilizers that include partially treated human waste.

Some fear they fuel toxic algae blooms.

Jim Carroll says when he goes out on Blue Cypress Lake these days, he sees a difference.

“The water quality you can definitely see we haven’t had all the rains," said Carroll.

It’s a far cry from last summer when a highly toxic algae bloom was on the lake.

At the time, biosolids were being spread nearby.

"There’s a pretty strong correlation, yes," said Indian River County Utilities Director Vincent Burke. He says they worked with the permit holder and an engineering firm to reduce the upward trend of phosphorous in the water.

"They were adding more nutrients to the soil that didn’t need nutrients even though they were allowed by permit to do so," said Burke.

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In the wake of the improvements at Blue Cypress Lake, there is another biosolids application out there that could have implications in Indian River County.

Sunbreak Farms has been seeking a composting permit so it can spread biosolids to fertilize crops on its property that straddles Indian River and St. Lucie counties.

The South Florida Water Management District denied that permit last week.

“The district had asked for assurances to make sure there would be no off-site impacts to the water bodies that ultimately go to the lagoon because that’s such an important area," said Burke.

Sunbreak now wants a judge to hear its case.

In the meantime, some residents were thrilled Indian River County extended its biosolids ban another six months.

“If it rains, like it is want to do in Florida, it can wash off and then basically you’re just pooping in the river," said Dan Lamson with the Indian River Neighborhood Association.

The Indian River County administrator says he plans to attend any future hearings for Sunbreak.