A New Inlet?

The problem with a new inlet that some think will fix the Indian River Lagoon’s problems is that it won’t work. Here are just 2 reasons why:
1 – There comes a point where the amount of flushing just doesn’t matter. Let’s take Tampa Bay as an example. The Bay has a wide mouth and deep channels coming into it, and a good tide range. This means that Tampa Bay is very highly flushed. Arguably, it’s the most well flushed estuary in the state of Florida. Despite this, nearly all of Tampa Bay’s seagrass died off a few decades ago because of too many nutrients and pollutants coming into the Bay. What saved Tampa Bay and allowed the seagrasses to recover? They passed strict water management measures to reduce the input of nutrients and pollutants. Only then was the water healthy enough to support seagrass. And even then, they’ve spent years and a lot of money restoring the seagrass. Short version – Tampa Bay has maximum flushing and still had to fix the nutrient issue in order to recover.

Sebastian Inlet. Photo: TBOW

2 – Putting in an inlet will allow the resource managers and politicians to hit the snooze button on addressing the causes of too many nutrients entering the Indian River Lagoon. In a best case scenario, a new inlet will make things look good for a while. But this ‘improvement’ will be false, only delaying another crash (see Tampa Bay, above). In the meantime, the problems of too many nutrients, the poor management of freshwater flows, the inflow of pollutants will not only not be addressed, they will get worse. And with more time elapsed, they will become more expensive to fix. The politicians who have refused to protect the resource that supports the fisheries and tourism economies are looking for any excuse to kick the can down the road. Don’t let them do it.  A new inlet may or may not be a good idea, but it should come after the sources of the problems are addressed, and should be part of a comprehensive plan, not a desperation shot.

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