“I Can See the Light!” Moving Water South, SLR/IRL


Looking at the clouds over the St Lucie River, Roosevelt Bridge, Stuart, Florida. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lipppisch 11-14)
Looking at the clouds over the St Lucie River, Roosevelt Bridge, Stuart, Florida. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lipppisch 11-14)

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that…” Martin Luther King, Jr.

The  situation for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon remains a bleak one, but I am telling you, “I can see the light!”

At last week’s Water Resource Advisory Commission, (WRAC), of the South Florida Water Management District, (SFWMD), Dr Gary Goforth, (http://garygoforth.netthe great scientist watchdog of the District and former employee who designed and “built” the Storm Water Treatment Areas, (STAs) for the SFWMD, stood before the commission and gave thanks to the District and to the Army Corps of Engineers for “sending more water south” through the STAs to the Everglades  in 2014, than since 1995.

273,188 acre feet in fact! 

Although 273,188 acre feet of Lake Okeechobee water will not save the St Lucie, sending this much water south is an incredible move on the part of the SFWMD and the ACOE. Of course there is more work to do and the situation wouldn’t be as rosy if we had had as much rain fall as in the “Lost and Toxic Summer of 2013.” Nonetheless, those who worked hard for this must be given credit.

Doing so meant taking risks of breaking the WQBEL, or how much phosphorus can enter the Everglades Protection Area. Over a certain amount is a breach of federal law. Sending so much water south also meant irritating some powerful stakeholders, like the EAA and Homestead sugar and vegetable farmers who need dry feet to grow their crops and stored water to insure they can grow them…..

Dr Goforth's chart showing amount of Lake O. water sent south to the STAs from 1995-2014.
Dr Goforth’s chart showing amount of Lake O. water sent south to the STAs from 1995-2014.

The situation is difficult, really the”razors edge” as the “water going south” does not just include the waters of Lake Okeechobee but also the waters of the EAA that have precedence.


This year was markedly different. Why?

Because of the pressure put on the ACOE, SFWMD, the Governor, DEP and others by the SLR/IRL and Caloosahatchee River Movements, the public, Scripps Newspapers, Martin County, St Lucie, and Indian River Commissioners, the IRL 5 County Coalition, and powerful “linked-in” politicians, like Senator Joe Negron and Congressman Patrick Murphy who are watching, and forcing the agencies to follow the requirements of state and federal policy to send water south even though it is a very slippery slope.

The clouds and sun are always moving….

Change happens slowly; it requires altering  the culture and habits of institutions and society. Looking at what happened this year, is proof that this indeed is occurring.

I am a no “Pollyanna;”  I know that what has to happen to save the St Lucie and Indian River Lagoon is tremendous, almost beyond comprehension, but in order to overcome darkness one must begin by recognizing the light…

Please see link for Dr Goforth’s charts for moving water south, 2014. (https://www.dropbox.com/s/d94eg2nrj8l3xci/2014%20Flows%20through%2010%2031%202014.pdf?dl=0)


FDEP: Derivation of the WQBEL for phosphorus in discharges to the Everglades protection Areas(http://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/derivation_wqbel_stas_toc_4-20-10.pdf) 

5 thoughts on ““I Can See the Light!” Moving Water South, SLR/IRL

  1. As you make clear, it is a relative drop in the bucket, that acre/footage is just over 9 billion gallons Jacqui, or what typically is sent through the St.Lucie Lock and Dam in about three days during major Lake discharges. Whether that 9 billion gallons sent south through the 3 major canals actually prevented the Corps from opening S380 into the C44 I don’t really know. What I do know is that our immediate task should be to insist on measures to prevent this past summer’s unacceptable C44 Ag runoff into our river. This is what our elected representatives don’t seem to consider as Job 1.

    1. Thank you Mike. The C-44 will be alleviated not fixed but alleviated by the C-44 Reservoir /STA that is under construction now.
      I have heard there is grumbling about its funding etc… from the ACOE and that we really must push for the project’s completion. Or are you saying MC Comm should push for the C-44 basin water to go back into the lake as they have done in the past but not this year? In the end we have a lot of problems don’t we?

      1. If we had to depend on the County Commission as a whole to force the issue over the C44 debacle this past summer, we are definitely in trouble! Sorry, but there is no energy from them on this. In fact, my direct inquiries to them in the past had no reaction. Same goes for comments I made to local legislators–they all say C44 project is the silver bullet. Not really. Pretty weak.

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