VIERA, Fla. — Nature lovers who put a popular spot in Viera on their annual travel list will need to find another spot to take in the fauna of the Space Coast during the latter half of 2023.

What You Need To Know

  • The Viera Wetlands will close for 26 weeks for the work

  • The wetlands are part of Brevard County’s South Central Wastewater Treatment Facility

  • A popular birdwatching spot, the Viera Wetlands sees about 210,000 visitors each year

The Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands at Viera, also known as the “Viera Wetlands,” is preparing to close to the public around mid-to-late June.

The Brevard County Commission approved a $2.7 million project for this year designed to remove dead vegetation alongside muck removal.

Don Walker, the communications director for Brevard County, explained that the project is not so much one focused on the wetlands aspect of the site, but rather on the area’s true purpose: as a place that uses natural processes for water treatment supporting the county’s South Central Wastewater Treatment Facility.

“This treatment plant was in place before the wetlands became a big thing. We’re glad that people like it out there and we’re glad to keep it open for people to come and enjoy. It’s definitely a beautiful area,” Walker said. “But there’s testing that we have to do in the waters out there to ensure that what we’re discharging in the St. Johns River is compliant with what the Florida Department of Environmental Protection requires.”

One of the wetland’s biggest supporters, Viera resident Anita Ingram, said when she heard the wetlands would be closing to the public temporarily, she wanted to get more information to make herself better informed and get accurate information on the work.

“I met with two, high-level managers and they spent an hour telling me about what their concerns are with the facility, what they need to do, how it needs to operate, more than you ever wanted to know about a utility,” Ingram said.

Armed with quality information, she took to Facebook with the group “Viera Wetlands,” to bring the local community together to share information about the wetlands and the forthcoming work.

“We could’ve done this in phases, but we’re going to shut the wetlands down for 26 weeks and that’s just going to allow us to get in there, get that work done and get back out of there and that way, it can be back open for the public use,” Walker said.

The wetlands shut down to vehicle traffic a couple of years ago but remain open as a popular spot for walking, biking and birdwatching. The wetlands were added to the Great Florida Birding Trail in 2008.

Ingram said she’s not thrilled with the prospect of the wetlands being closed for so long, but said she’s understanding that it’s important that needs to get done for the health of the wastewater treatment plant.

“We all benefit by having the utility plant work as optimally as it can and do what it’s supposed to do,” Ingram said. “We need the water in the St Johns River clean. We don’t want nitrogen enriched water flowing down into the St Johns.”

The wetlands shutdown will begin in mid-to-late June, with equipment moving in shortly thereafter, which will begin the 26-week-long work. The county will advise when the work is complete and the wetlands will reopen.