El Nino, Indian River Lagoon

During an El Nino, ocean  water along the equator is warmer and thus there is more rain. (Public photo)
Generally speaking, during an El Nino, ocean waters are warmer and thus there is more rain. (Public photo)

Last night, my husband, Ed, walks into my office, sneaks behind me, looks at my computer screen with an El Nino water pattern photo on it, and says jokingly: ” What are you now? The weatherman?”

I look at him with a wry smile:”No, I’m not the weatherman; I am going  to write about El Nino in my “Indian River Lagoon” blog tomorrow. I think the ACOE could start dumping into the St Lucie River soon. There’s a connection with El Nino, and it’s a terrible way to possibly start the new year.”

Ed leaves the room laughing…”Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch- weatherman!”

Well, Ed did make me laugh for the moment; but today, I am not laughing.

From what I have witnessed over the past few weeks, before I had a wonderful holiday break, as I hope you did, the scientists on ACOE Periodic Scientist Conference for Lake Okeechobee and the Estuaries, were alluding to releasing water from Lake Okeechobee to the estuaries. I have been thinking about this the entire break. This could happen, or not happen. And although the reasons are many and multi-layered, let’s start with a simple question.

“What is an El Nino?”

Apparently the word which literally means “Christ Child” (Little Boy) is derived from Spanish-speaking fishermen who noticed that sometimes, around Christmas, ocean waters get warmer, thus the name. Because the warmer waters are not as nutrient filled as the cool waters, this radically affects fishing, and bird life, as well as weather patterns—causing more rain during the winter season.

The opposite of El Nino, the cooler system, is La Nina, or (Little Girl.) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Niño)

So, during the recent ACOE Periodic Scientist calls, that I sit in as an elected official, most recently on December 23, 2014, NOAA reported that there is a 65% chance that there could be an “El Nino” this winter. (http://www.elnino.noaa.gov/) Thus the projections for rain this winter are “high.”

For scientists from the Army Corp of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District tying to manage Lake Okeechobee, (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm), this affects how they will manage the lake.  The lake is now at 15.20 feet. This is almost a full foot higher than last year and high in general for this time of year. Usually at this time of year one would hope that the lake is going down so it will be ready to hold the waters of the next rainy season… 

All things considered, now the ACOE/SFWMD might dump to “make room.”  You’ve got to be kidding me?

Why can’t the ACOE  send this lake water south?

According to them and the charts below, they can’t because they already sent so much water south in 2014. Sending water south is good. More water was sent south in 2014 than in many, many years before. Still….

Hmmm…. So am I supposed to feel OK about this? No.

It’s kind of like understanding why you are going to get beaten. You may understand, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less….

Also, one other thing they don’t mention is that the Storm Water Treatment Areas and Water Conservation Areas south of the lake are reserved first for the Everglades Agriculture Area’s (EAA) water….

In my opinion, this is not right….

It is also not right that the estuaries repeatedly get destroyed. We must fight on.

So take a look at these slides and “understand,” but may it give us ammunition to fight harder as part of our new year’s resolution for 2015, and definitely, not to accept our plight.

ACOE/SFWMD summary at last Periodic Scientist Call,
ACOE/SFWMD summary at last Periodic Scientist Call, 12-23-14.
ACOE/SFWMD chart from PSC showing how much water they "could" have sent the SLR...
ACOE/SFWMD chart from PSC showing how much water they “could” have sent the SLR…12-23-14. Blue what LORS allowed. Red what they sent this year.
LORS Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule chart
(LORS 2008) Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule chart. Although the ACOE’s chart “tells” the ACOE that they can send the SLR 1170 cfs of water, and has for months, the ACOE has been sending 0.

Happy New Year. Happy 2015. 2014 was “progress” because of you. So let’s keep learning, and pushing for a third outlet south of the lake, and lands to hold that water, so one day in the future, we don’t have start the new year with an ax over our heads.

Below is the last message from the ACOE, regarding the next Periodic Scientists Conference Call, so tomorrow, will be an “epiphany.”

12-24-14: “The next periodic scientist call will be 6 January 2015 at 2:00 PM. We anticipate continued discussions regarding Lake Okeechobee levels, weather forecasts to include El Nino conditions, and dry season lake release strategy.” —ACOE


 Previous blog post explaining what the ACOE Periodic Scientists Conference Calls are: (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/03/06/the-acoes-periodic-scientists-call-and-the-indian-river-lagoon/)

17 thoughts on “El Nino, Indian River Lagoon

  1. This was attempted last year in February, I recall and we rallied in downtown Stuart the night before and met the press and then moved to the locks at 4:30 until they changed their minds at 7am. All discharges were sent west.
    I guess we will have to go out again to change their minds.

  2. First, thank you so very much for educating all of us about this topic. You really deserve our gratitude. Second, is there anything we can do now? Should we be writing letters? Should we be writing editorials in local newspapers to help educate even more people? We can’t let them poison our Lagoon again!~

    1. I think your ideas are great Megan. Education is the most powerful tool there is. The more we know, the better chance we have to change things. Happy new year and thanks so much for your input and caring.

  3. Megan, the first thing water advocates should do is write directly to their elected officials. often. Then follow up with letters to the editor, in our case, TC Palm. It seems that 50 percent of the letters to the Ed are written by about a dozen of us. What we can’t let happen is give our elected office holders the impression that only a handful of us are truly concerned about our water. DIRECTLY ASK for a response. If you get a “form letter” response, that you feel is not penned by that office holder, respectfully re-contact him or her and ask for better. or, ask for a personal meeting.

  4. These drainage canals are long and narrow—perfect for putting fine calcium beach sand in. The fine sand will role across the bottom createing food for oysters, menhaden and more. More importantly the acids will not end up disolveing our beach. I am 57 YO and trying keep in good health but its a struggle.

  5. I do accept as true with all the concepts you have presented
    to your post. They’re really convincing and can definitely work.
    Still, the posts are too short for beginners. May just you please
    lengthen them a bit from next time? Thank you for the post.

  6. Hi there, You’ve done a fantastic job. I’ll definitely digg it
    and personally suggest to my friends. I am confident
    they will be benefited from this website.

Leave a Reply