“We Have A Dream,” St Lucie River/Indin River Lagoon

Pensacola High School 1993, English Class. (Photo courtesy of photography teacher at PHS.)
With “my kids” at Pensacola High School, 1993, 9th grade English Class. (Photo courtesy of photography teacher at PHS.)

History shows that “things can change.” This doesn’t mean it will be easy, or perfect,  but things can change.

Today is Martin Luther King Day, and as a former middle and high school English teacher, I have read Dr King’s speech “I Have a Dream,” many times together with my students, and each time, my eyes filled with tears at the prospect that these words could one day come true in spite of the pain and difficulty of “getting there.”

This held especially true when I was teaching in Pensacola, in Escambia County, which at the time was one on the very poorest counties in the state of Florida and may still be… I had two classes of  “at risk” kids and my observation was basically that many of my students were “locked in the past” in their thought processes often quoting the Civil War and why things were as they were in their world.

Approaching Martin Luther King Day, we would read aloud Dr King’s speech, and I would tell them that although things are bad, they must remember, that years ago, things were worse, and most of all with the power of collective thinking, THINGS COULD CHANGE. And for that to occur, they had to believe it, live it, and be part of that of change.

I also taught my students some hard facts, noting that if they didn’t know their history, they would not have the tools, fire, or respect to create change in their world.

I believe that this lesson applies to river advocacy for the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon as well. To make our advocacy work, we must know the history of Florida, the the Army Corp of Engineers, the South Florida Water Management District, agriculture, the EAA, development, and ourselves:  then we must believe in change for the river, and we must be a part of that change.

Below are statistics of the history of the St Lucie River and releases from Lake Okeechobee,  from 1931 to 2013. In 2014 there were no releases. Right now, in 2015, the ACOE has started again.

Thank you, to Dr Gary Goforth (http://garygoforth.netfor providing these numbers and an explanation of how he achieved them. The two columns are: “Estimated Releases to the River” (SLSR/IRL) and “Estimated Flow from Lake O to C-44 Canal.” Both are in acre feet. I use the first column often to compare and understand how much water has helped destroy our estuary over the years; ; I hope it becomes useful to you as well. And may we have a dream that things will get even better.

1931-2013 numbers for release from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River. (Courtesy of Dr Gary Goforth, 2014.)
1931-2013 numbers for release from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River. (Courtesy of Dr Gary Goforth, 2014.)
19-----
1931-1960
1931=1960
1961-1995
1900
1995-2013. (2014 = 0 to SLR)

Below is history and explanation from Dr Goforth:

History:

A state-authority – the Everglades Drainage District – constructed the St. Lucie Canal (later known as C-44) between May 28, 1915 and 1928. During this time they also built a lock and spillway at the Lake end of the canal and a lock and spillway at the present location of S-80. On June 13, 1923, water from Lake Okeechobee began flowing through the canal into the St. Lucie River.

In the 1930s and in the late 1940s the Corps enlarged the St. Lucie Canal, and it was then known as C-44.

In the 1940s the Corps completed S-80 – the St. Lucie Lock and Spillway – at the site of the original lock on the east end of the Canal. Flow data beginning 10/1/1952 for S-80 are reported by SFWMD.

In the 1970s the Corps constructed S-308 – Port Mayaca Lock and Spillway – west of the site of the original lock on the west end of the Canal.

Flow estimates:

I cannot find flow data for Lake releases to the Canal prior to April 1, 1931.

Between April 1, 1931 and September 30, 1952, Lake releases to the C-44 are reported by U.S. Geological Service.

I cannot find flow data for Lake releases to the C-44 between October 1, 1952 and December 31, 1964. However, flow data is available for S-80 beginning 10/1/1952, so I estimated Lake flows to the Canal for this period based on the S-80 flows and the correlation between concurrent observed flows at S-80 and S-308 (1965-2013).

Beginning January 1, 1965, Lake releases to the C-44 are reported by SFWMD.

I’ve also provided estimates of Lake releases to the St. Lucie River.

Lake releases are currently made to the C-44 Canal for two reasons:
1. Irrigation demand for agriculture in the C-44 Basin. This Lake water enters the Canal at S-308 but does not leave the Canal at S-80.
2. Regulatory releases from the Lake to the St. Lucie River.

Historically, some Lake water was sent to the St. Lucie River for perceived beneficial purposes – however today both Mark Perry and Deb Drum insist that Lake releases provide NO beneficial purpose to the River.

To calculate the Lake releases to the St. Lucie River, you need to compare the flow that enters the Canal at S-308 with the flow that passes through S-80. The minimum of the two flows is estimated to be the Lake flow to the River.

As an example, say 1000 gallons entered the Canal from the Lake on Day 1. The same day, no water passed through S-80. So for Day 1, the estimated Lake flow to the River is the minimum of (1000, 0) or 0 gallons.

As another example, say 1000 gallons entered the Canal from the Lake on Day 2. The same day, 500 gallons passed through S-80. So for Day 2, the estimated Lake flow to the River is the minimum of (1000, 500) or 500 gallons.

Using this method, we can estimate Lake flows to the St. Lucie River (Figure 2 and Table 2). Because flows were not available at both S-308 and S-80 for the period 1931-1964, I estimated these flows based on the correlation between concurrent observed flows at S-80 and S-308 during the period 1965-2013. Other folks (SFWMD or Corps) may estimate the flows differently based on different assumptions. —-Dr Gary Goforth 

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Dr Martin Luther King’s speech: I Have a Dream: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Have_a_Dream)

5 thoughts on ““We Have A Dream,” St Lucie River/Indin River Lagoon

  1. The real and abiding reason for the discharges from Lake O to the estuaries is to maintain the over-drainage fo Big Sugar lands.

    Irrigation has virtually nothing to do with the large discharges and neither does dike safety play a major role. If the dike were solid steel and completely impregnable the discharges would still be made in wet years, just as designed.

    The only conceivable remedy is to make a flowway through a part of Big Sugar. This could stop nearly all the discharges, save the estuaries and re-wet a good part of the Everglades.

    Until we understand this reason for the discharges, we’re stuck with the same old disinformation from our million dollar ag babies in office.

    Many, many experts over the years have detailed the damages caused by the over-drainage
    but, sadly, scientists have little sav in the matter.

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  2. Florida gets 90% of its oysters from Appalachacola Bay and these oyster depend on their fresh water runoffs.I am glad our towns water is from a deep well. I would not waunt to shower with treated water that has aluminum ions in it—much less drink it. Fishing has allways been a safty net for people to feed their familys when times are hard..

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  3. The people of Cuba have a dream too as do the people of Ukraine and many other countrys trying to find their way in a changing world. Let the USA be an exsample of how a government by the people , for the people ,and of the people is supposed to work .

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