The Estuary-Ocean People-Government Relationship, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Only a thin ribbon of land separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Indian River Lagoon.... (Photo Jacqui ThurlowLippisch and Ed Lippisch 2014.)
Only a thin ribbon of land separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Indian River Lagoon…. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch and Ed Lippisch, 2014.)

As we all know, estuaries are the nurseries of our oceans. Sometimes we think of rivers and oceans as separate, but they are connected and the destruction brought upon one affects the other.

Looking above at this photograph of Hutchinson Island near the House of Refuge one can see how close the Indian River Lagoon estuary and the Atlantic Ocean really are. Not only that, when polluted water flows out of the St Lucie Inlet from the St Lucie River estuary, it covers and negatively affects our “protected” near shore reefs and the tremendous variety of life there.

A photo from Martin County shows polluted runoff flowing over nearshore reefs along Hutchinson Island, 2011.
A photo from Martin County shows polluted runoff flowing over nearshore reefs along Jupiter island south of Hutchinson Island and the St Lucie Inlet, 2011.

According to the Consortium  for Ocean Leadership (http://oceanleadership.orgof which locally FAU/Harbor Branch is a member:

“Ocean ecosystems have been subjected to decades of intense fishing, urban and agricultural runoff, and the loss and degradation of estuaries and wetlands. Furthermore, changes in ocean temperatures, salinity, currents and acidity are having significant impacts on marine living resources. The incidence of hypoxia, as in the Gulf of Mexico (http://www.ncddc.noaa.gov/hypoxia/(dead zones) has increased almost 30 fold in the United States since 1960 with more than 300 systems recently experiencing hypoxia.” 

As we all know, the entire St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon is often a “dead zone,” due to toxic algae blooms caused by too much polluted fresh water runoff from canals carrying nitrogen, phosphorus and other pollutants from agricultural canals along the lagoon, and Lake Okeechobee .

The recommendation of the Consortium is as follows:

“…support  conservation programs and services to reduce runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus, and sediment from agricultural activities which is causing harmful algae blooms and dead zones.”

Think about this for a minute.

The four agricultural canals we have here in Martin and St Lucie Counties: C-44, C-23, C-24, and C-25 have no filtering system. When it rains, the water falling on thousands and thousands of acres of agricultural as well as urban lands picks up fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, oil, cow, horse, and pet waste, leaky septic tank effluent, and what ever else is out there; this water then runs into the canals that in turn are released directly  into our waterways. When Lake Okeechobee is dumped it too has no filtering process, so not only do we get our pollution but we get “Orlando’s” as well as the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake O. forces the lake water to flow east and west rather than south as nature intended…. Is it any wonder why we are a toxic mess?

Canal and basin map SLR/IRL. (Public)
Canal and basin map SLR/IRL. (Public)

It must be noted that Martin County, the state, and federal government for years have been working on the IRL South Project that is part of CERP. (http://www.evergladesplan.org/pm/projects/proj_07_irl_south.aspx) This project would help hold, filter, and clean polluted water for canals C-23, C-24, and C-25 before it enters the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. These projects are so expensive and political they are a “slow moving slug,”but they are moving.

The C-44 STA/Reservoir (https://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/pg_grp_sfwmd_wrac/portlet_subtab_wrac_archive_reportsdocs/tab772049/wrac_090606_c44_ray.pdf) is yet another tremendous project that miraculously got a second push to get underway, due to the pressures of last year’s “Lost Summer,” through the help of local, state, and federal politicians and agencies, but that project needs continual push for congressional funding to accomplish its goals too.

Clean water does not come easy. The public must push and push. There is fierce competition.

Yes, we the public must learn more about these projects and how to help get these projects funded, along with our fight for a flow way south of Lake Okeechobee.

The government will only move forward with these projects if they know the public is expecting it and helping with it. With Amendment 1’s passage the possibility is even more of a reality, but it is no guarantee. We must advocate.

The line between the estuary and the oceans is very thin, as is the line between the people and their government. Get involved! The river and the ocean both need you!

 

 

10 thoughts on “The Estuary-Ocean People-Government Relationship, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

  1. Thanks. Eula R Clarke, P.A. Law Offices of Eula R. Clarke, P.A. 615 SW St. Lucie Crescent Suite 105 Stuart, Florida 34994 Phone: (772)220-3324 Fax: (772)220-1805 Email: eulaclarkelaw@yahoo.com From: Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch To: eulaclarkelaw@yahoo.com Sent: Monday, November 17, 2014 9:02 AM Subject: [New post] The Estuary-Ocean People-Government Relationship, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon #yiv0622597357 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv0622597357 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv0622597357 a.yiv0622597357primaryactionlink:link, #yiv0622597357 a.yiv0622597357primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv0622597357 a.yiv0622597357primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv0622597357 a.yiv0622597357primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv0622597357 WordPress.com | Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch posted: “As we all know, estuaries are the nurseries of our oceans. Sometimes we think of rivers and oceans as separate, but they are connected and the destruction brought upon one affects the other.Looking above at this photograph of Hutchinson Island nea” | |

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  2. Thank you, Jacqui! Whenever I converse with ocean conservationists I emphasize saving our oceans by starting upstream. If we can get those interested in ocean conservation to throw their weight behind that concept, we are all so much stronger! I’m grateful to hear that discussion is happening.

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  3. H2O2 in acid is one of the most powerfull oxidizers known. All plants produce there own insecticides to protect there leaves .For thousands of years poop and urine from manitees porpus, fish birds etc all washed ashore(in our lagoon) and churned violently in calcium cocuina shells where the h2o2 and calcium peroxide oxidized everything. This process is what still cleans our beachs

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  4. I appreciate your letting my voice be heard.Yes the IRL is a nursery of our ocean.But what is a nursery without calcium rich milk to feed all the baby creatures. Sometimes when the water is muddy I pour calcium beach sand in and can feel the baby menhaden biteing up and down my legs.I have put seashells around the IRL fishing pier in Indiatlantic and this week end I watched an endless school of baby sheepshead going underneath the pier.I have also seen mullet dig a hole in the ground trying to eat all the sand and the calcium rich algie that grows on it. People have taken and taken from the IRL and she can give no more unless people come to her rescue.

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  5. I am sure I have made my point clear. Hopefully people will check out for themselves what I’ve said. There is much I have not said too. I would love to one day see schools of menhaden 20 mile long feeding in the runoff of Lake O..

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