Ed and I returned from California on July 9th and within 24 hours he was up in his plane and took these photos of C-25’s Taylor Creek outlet in Ft Pierce releasing excessive rain water runoff into the Indian River Lagoon. Still recovering from the three hour time difference, I gladly stayed home!
The C-25’s canal outfall, although not connected to Lake Okeechobee, is one of the most dramatic and heartbreaking sites of our Indian River Lagoon’s destruction as it releases very close to the Ft Pierce Inlet so the difference in the water color is extreme. C-23, C-24, and C-44 releasing into the St Lucie River are probably quite similar, however, because the St Lucie River is dark in color and not close to an inlet to the ocean–the brown on brown water does not give the same effect as C-25’s brown on blue.
During last year’s heavy releases from Lake Okeechobee by the ACOE, my husband Ed and I flew up to Ft Pierce and flew the entire length of the C-25 canal which attaches to the C-24 canal, which in turn attaches to the C-23 canal. The water can be”made” to go in any direction by the South Florida Water Management District for agriculture purposes or otherwise. So water from C-23 or C-24 could theoretically be moved into C-25 and visa versa.
So anyway, Ed and I were taking a video for Dr Edie Widder of ORCA who is studying the water issues of the area. The ride was so bumpy and windy I became very sick which is not unusual for me in airplanes.
“Ed can you turn around?” I think I am going to puke.” I muffled through the microphone.
“Sorry babe, we’re in for the long haul with this wind; we should just follow the canal in this direction and ride it out….”
At that point my jacket in the back storage area flew out of the Cub and I envisioned it going over Ed’s face and us crashing, but it did not, and instead floated to the ground below. I held my stomach wondering what the person or cow who saw the jacket fall to the ground thought, hoping it did not land on someone’s windshield.
That trip, along the C-25, C-24 and C-23 back to Stuart was the worst ride of my life and I got sick many times while looking over mostly acres of orange fields and other agriculture. I saw some cows and then development as we got closer to the coast. I really just remember that is was acres and acres of land.
In the wind, the trip took over an hour from Ft Pierce, inland, south, and then back to the east coast of Stuart. The map below shows how the canals are connected and you can see the path we took–like a giant tall open rectangle.
There is great literature on the C-25 and from what I have read the state agencies have been aware of the destruction caused by the canal for many years.
The ECO SUMMARY written by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection 1998, unfortunately, mostly still applies today, as the Indian River South Plan, has not come into being yet. The Indian River South Plan is a component of the Central Everglades Restoration Plan or CERP, that was approved by Congress around 2000. This plan would and hopefully will, one day, acquire lands, to hold water so it doesn’t just run untreated into the lagoon.
C-23, C-24 and C-44 are part of this IRL Plan as well, and as we know we have been fortunate this year and in recent past years to have been appropriated partial monies by our US Congress, the state of Florida and Martin County to build the C-44 Storm Water Treatment and Reservoir system–they are building it now.
But back to the C-25 the Eco-Summary. This link below interestingly states:
“The C-25 Canal was created as past of the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project (1950/60s) and discharges into the Indian River Lagoon…The section of the lagoon currently impacted by discharges from C-25 comprises one of the best remaining segments of the lagoon, namely the area just north of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution to the Ft Pierce Inlet…Thus C-25 potentially impacts the best of the best.”
“C-25 delivers a greater volume of water and thus a great net pollutant load that the other major upper east coast drainage canals C-23, C-24, and C-44. ( A surprise to me.) C-25 has been shown to transport pesticides, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and heavy metals into the estuary as well as offshore…”
As you would expect, the C-25 is an “impaired” water body and was determined as such by the Department of Environmental Protection in 2003. Yet the IRL, from Vero to Ft Pierce Inlet, has been designated by the state as a protected Aquatic Preserve since 1975.
Did I just write that?
An impaired canal full of heavy pollutants has been running into an Aquatic Preserve?
Yes, I just wrote that. This is the truth.
This to me is even more heartbreaking than the photo. To know “we” have known the situation since the 1970s really and have not fixed the issue is a crime. We are all guilty as it is we that direct the course of our government.
So please don’t forget:
“The power of the government is derived from the consent of the governed….”Let’s keep pushing our elected officials and be prepared ourselves to do what it takes to fix this mess!
Thank you for reading my blog and for caring about our rivers.
Department of State/Impairment C-25 Canal: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-25_Impairment.pdf)
IRL Aquatic Preserve Vero to Ft Pierce: (http://www.liveoakproductiongroup.com/AquaticPreserve/indian_river_south.html)
Aquatic Preserves DEP (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/programs/aquatic.htm)
SFWMD: Indian River Lagoon South Project/CERP: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/common/pdf/irl_south_042804.pdf)