Today, I will take you on an air tour, hopefully one of the last of this year’s rainy season. In Florida, rainy season corresponds with hurricane season that lasts June through November. Nonetheless, typically the rains start to wind down towards the end of October.
The Army Corp of Engineers has not released from Lake Okeechobee this year so it has given us an opportunity to see what the runoff in our area is “in and of itself.” I refuse to use the words “local runoff” because the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon’s runoff is over 50% of what is was before the Water/Flood Control Districts and the ACOE created since the 1920s in order to drain the land for development and mostly agriculture.
It is the runoff of these expanded lands that we are dealing with today, full of sediment, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, road pollution, and whatever is on people’s yards.
I think seeing how “bad” our canal runoff is also shows why WE CANNOT ACCEPT WATER FROM LAKE OKEECHOBEE on top of this already bleak situation of our own.
So anyway, enough of my lecture, let’s get started!
The tour starts at Witham Airport in Stuart.
The first thing one sees once up in the air off of runway 12, is the polluted freshwater pollution/sediment line coming around the tip of Hell’s Gate in the St Lucie River. This water is coming from the South Fork of the St Lucie River where C-44 is located and the North Fork area where C-24 and C-23 are located. This filthy water flows into the St Lucie River proper and then around the tip of Sewall’s Point, into the Indian River Lagoon, out the St Lucie Inlet and then into the open Atlantic Ocean. (See map/chart 3 above for canal locations and expanded watershed runoff.)
Continuing on, as one flies over the St Lucie Inlet and along the Atlantic Coast over Jupiter Island one sees the dark water in what is usually a turquoise blue ocean. It must be noted that although this runoff canal-plume is disgusting looking it is nothing close to how dark and sediment filled it was last year when the runoff included releases from Lake Okeechobee.
There was some fun stuff to see also. There were many sharks in the dark waters. Ed and I wondered if they were sneaking up on the fish in all the cloudy water, there were so many. We must have seen 20-25 large sharks. We also saw sea turtles and giant rays, and lots of bait fish and sea birds both in and out of the plume area.
As we approached Peck’s Lake, we could see the tip of the plume in the distance like a giant slug. The plume ended about a mile short of Hobe Sound Beach, in Jupiter Island.
Ed and I talked about how one house would have the dark plume waters and another only a few feet away had blue ocean…
Well that’s the end of the tour. Hopefully you learned something or saw something new. And hopefully it is also the end of the rain for 2014. To learn more about these canals please see links below.
Another year, another rainy season behind us….
As we flew home, I was grateful to live in such a beautiful area and with every flight I become more determined to save it from the dirty waters of our canals and Lake Okeechobee. To destroy such a paradise is wrong.
C-44 DEP: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-44%20Canal%20.pdf)
C-23 DEP (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c23.pdf)
C-24 DEP (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c24.pdf)