Finding Out How Much Discharge is Killing Our SLR/Indian River Lagoon and Where it’s Coming From

C-44, C-23 and C-24 basin runoff discolor the waters of the SLR/IRL while exiting the St Lucie Inlet 7-19-14. (Aerial photo, Ed Lippisch.)
C-44, C-23 and C-24 basin runoff discolors the waters of the SLR/IRL while exiting the St Lucie Inlet 7-19-14. (Aerial photo, Ed Lippisch.)
All Photos were taken 7-19-14 and are showing C-44 basin runoff along with C-23 and C-24 runoff into SLR/IRL. (Photos by Ed Lippisch.)
All Photos were taken 7-19-14 and are showing C-44 basin runoff along with C-23 and C-24 runoff off. Pictured are Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point  along the SLR/IRL. Water exits at the St Lucie Inlet going mostly south to Jupiter Island over nearshore reefs. The plume is significant but not as large as the summer of 2013 when the ACOE was releasing from Lake Okeechobee as well. (Photos by Ed Lippisch.)

The river looks awful right now as the photographs taken Saturday, 7-19-14, by my husband show. Why? They are not even discharging from Lake Okeechobee…yet.

We have terrible problems with our local canals and adding the Lake discharges on top of it is a crime. The state, federal and local governments are working slowly to improve the situation through CERP (Central Everglades Restoration Project) projects but improvement is very expensive and cumbersome.(http://www.evergladesplan.org/pm/projects/proj_07_irl_south.aspx)

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The C-44 Storm Water Treatment Area/Reservoir the governments are working on now will cost millions of dollars and store only some of the discharges from the C-44 we are getting today. But there must be more. We must learn more. We must keep pushing and helping our governments move along.

The best way to do this is to know how to read the information on water discharges yourself.

Last summer, when the discharges from Lake Okeechobee threw our already ailing river into toxic status, Boyd Gunsalus, one of the the leading scientists (and certainly coolest) at the South Florida Water Management District, showed me how to find the water discharge statistics, and  today, in case you do not know, and are interested, I am going to show you.

FIRST THE LAKE AND C-44 BASIN

This link (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm) of the ACOE at Lake O. will show you the level of the lake, and whether the ACOE is releasing from the C-44 canal, and or Lake O.

Go to the site above and on the right hand side you will see, St Lucie Lock, S-80 Spillway. Click on it. A chart will come up arranged by dates. (The data is always one day behind.) Look for FLOWS CFS (cubic foot per second) in the 3rd column. Today’s is 260 cfs. : 20JUL14  14.46  0.58  260 0. 00  270  0.0 7 30.07  1018. 2 0.00

Now go back to the same link and look at, Port Mayaca Lock, S-308 Spillway. Click on it. Again look for 3rd column, FLOWS CFS.. Today reads “0.” The gates from the lake to C-44 are not open. 20JUL14  13.55  14.40  0 0.00  270 0.0  9 30.04  1017.3  0.33  0.00

Now if both S-80 and S-308 are open you have to add the numbers together to know how much total cfs are coming into the SLR/IRL. And to figure out how much water is coming in just from the lake, subtract the S-308 number from the S-80 number which will always be larger.

To learn how high Lake O. is go back to the link, go to the chart and hit CURRENT LAKE OKEECHOBEE LEVEL. Today it is 13.66 feet. “Current Lake level is: 13.66 (ft-ngvd)”

OTHER CANALS

OK, now for C-23, C-24 and C-25.

Now, go to this link, the SFWMD’s web site: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page) 1. Look for the tab “Managing and Protecting Water;” look under and to the left of this tab for a small title reading “Scietists and Engineers,” click on this and go to LIVE DATA. 3. Go to the top link “Water Conditions-Regional Realtime Data, Status of Water/ Control Gates.” 4. Go to FT PIERCE and click right on the Ft Pierce link. A confusing chart will come up.

Look for these things:

1. S-49. S-49 is the opening for C-24.

2. S-97. S-97 is the opening/gate for C-23

3. S-99. S-99 is the gate for C-25.

Mind you C-23 and C-24 run into the St Lucie River’s north fork and main area and C-25 dumps directly in the IRL at Taylor Creek close to the Ft Pierce Inlet. So C-25 is not coming through the SLR and St Lucie Inlet like the rest of the sludge but it is important to know C-25 too as it is heavily destructive to the IRL.

OK, if you have been able to follow me so far. Once you open the SFWMD pages and get to FT PIERCE and see the weird chart, find the corresponding gate numbers I gave you above, and click on the the second row’s PLOT little box and arrow. Once this opens up, you will see a chart corresponding to discharges that looks like a wave or like boxes. The hight of the box or wave corresponds to a number on the left side of the chart. For instance: Today, S-49 (or C-24) is 450 cfs; S-97 (or C-23 ) is around 350cfs; and S-99 (or C-25) is around 100 cfs.

(I know there are a duplicate gates sometimes but I ignore them and  just read  one. They seem to say the same thing.)

Now to add up the cfs for “today:”  C-23=350; C-24=450; C-44 at S-80 =260; S-308 from lake, 0. Today’s total incoming discharge water is around 1060 cfs cubic feet per second coming into the St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon.

Last week it was twice or three times this much. The discharges occur after it rains, long after and then finally slow down like they are now.

I do hope this has been helpful and that your head is not spinning or that you can save the links and instructions and try it when you have time. Call me if you have questions and want to learn, 772 486 3818.

It is important for the public to keep up with this and let the ACOE and SFWMD know we are watching what they are doing, so one day I don’t have to choke when I see the tab “Managing and “PROTECTING” water.

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6 thoughts on “Finding Out How Much Discharge is Killing Our SLR/Indian River Lagoon and Where it’s Coming From

  1. Thanks Jacqui! I printed this out so that I could study it and refer to it later. Thanks for all you do — understanding what the problem is is the first step to funding the solution!!!

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  2. Good reporting again – Thank You. I also saved and printed the information because I do better having in my hands to read. It’s is frustrating, as these “water release decisions” are totally out of our control,, but yet we and the Lagoon, suffer by the effects.

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