Scientists trying to pinpoint lagoon pollution, Group wants more 'Kilroy' water quality monitors

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - Dr. Edith Widder's office is full of maps, graphs, and spreadsheets.

The device gathering all this information?  Its name is Kilroy.

Dr. Widder, The Executive Director of ORCA, the Ocean Research and Conservation Association in Fort Pierce, created Kilroy back in 2009.  It's about 2-feet tall and looks a little like a UFO.

Right now, there are 13 of them monitoring water quality in the Indian River lagoon.

"People are starting to understand how monitoring can actually make a difference if we can find the sources of pollution," said Dr. Widder.

While a lot of attention has been placed on freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee, Dr. Widder says recent data showed very high concentrations of nitrogen coming into the lagoon in short bursts through some Indian River County canals.

"It seems to be correlated with rain events.  We're going to try and get some more rain gauges up in those canals so we can start figuring out exactly where it's coming from.  But the fact that it's so discrete is fantastic so we can track it to its source," added Dr. Widder.

Some of the data provided by Kilroy is what two ORCA scientists are taking to Washington DC this week to take part in that big Indian River Lagoon conference put on by Congressman Patrick Murphy.

Kilroy was created in part by state funding that's since dried up.

ORCA is now asking Tallahassee for 2-million dollars to place another 25 Kilroys throughout the lagoon.


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