Why Restoring the Kissimmee River is not Enough to Fix Lake Okeechobee and Save the Estuaries, SLR/IRL

Lake Okeechobee is tremendous in size. One cannot see across to the other side. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, S.Engebretsen pilot, 2014.)
Lake Okeechobee is tremendous in size. One cannot see across to the other side. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, S. Engebretsen pilot, 2014.)

The first time I ever saw Lake Okeechobee, I was fourteen years old. I was visiting River Ranch, at Yeehaw Junction, with my friend Vicki Whipkey, and her family. Jay Brock, who was by far the smartest of any of us kids there that summer vacation, and my first real “crush,” recommended we go see sunset on the lake. I don’t remember how we got there, but we did.

Once we arrived, the sun was starting to fall. The horizon was miles away, and the water went as far as the eye could see in all directions.

“It looks like the ocean, not a lake.” I said, taken aback.

Jay, spouted off some statistics saying something like: “The lake is about 730 square miles; 35 miles long; and up to 25 miles wide. It is the largest lake entirely within a state in the United States of America; it is half the size of Rhode Island.”

I wondered how he know all this stuff, and we sat there watching the sunset.

I wondered if I would have my first kiss at this beautiful, but almost eerie, “ocean of a lake.” It never happened…

I never really forgot Jay Brock, and we remained friends throughout our lives.

I never, never, ever, forgot Lake Okeechobee.

Years later,  an adult, I started going back to Lake Okeechobee in my forties when I started to become concerned about the releases from the lake into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. I wanted and needed to see it through “adult eyes.”

—-I have flown over the lake with my husband and his friends many times;  I have entered the lake by boat; and I have driven 30 miles west with my niece Evie, on Highway 76, until arriving at Port Mayaca.  No matter how I have gotten there, every time I see the lake, I have the same experience I had at fourteen years old, I am completely “overcome by its size.”

 

At the edge of Lake Okeechobee, 2015. (Photo by Ed Lippisch.)
At the edge of Lake Okeechobee, 2015. (Photo by Ed Lippisch.)
Lake Okeechobee by plane. (Photo JTL.)
Lake Okeechobee by plane 2014. (Photo JTL.)
Lake Okeechobee by boat. (Photo Ed Lippisch 2009.)
Lake Okeechobee by boat. (Photo Ed Lippisch 2009.)

Yesterday, Governor Rick Scott pledged Amendment 1 monies to the Everglades, but not for buying the US Sugar option 1 lands south of Lake Okeechobee,

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010.)

stressing the completion of projects C-44, C-43 and the Kissimmee River. (http://www.flgov.com/2015/01/27/gov-scott-announces-5-billion-over-20-years-to-restore-the-everglades/)

Aerial photo of positron of restored Kissimmee River. Note discolored filled in C-38 canal juxtaposed to winding restored oxbows. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2014).
Aerial photo of portion of restored Kissimmee River. Note discolored filled in C-38 canal juxtaposed to winding restored oxbows. The  Kissimmee is long but in its altered state, cannot hold all the extra water now stored in Lake Okeechobee and then released into the SLR/IRL and Caloosahatchee Estuaries. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2014).

I am thankful for this, but disappointed; I am thankful Governor Scott has the Everglades and local projects in his budget recommendation for the 2015 Legislative Session. Nonetheless, I recognize that our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon problems will never be fixed until there is land and eventually a reservoir south of the lake to store, clean, and convey water south— a flow way of sorts to move that water south….

Simply put, the Kissimmee cannot hold all the water; and the C-44 STA/Reservoir will not hold lake water, but rather local runoff. (http://www.tmba.tv/broadcastanimation/everglades-restoration/everglades-restoration/)

THERE IS TOO MUCH WATER. SOME MUST GO SOUTH. WE NEED A COMBINATION AND THE OPTION 1 LANDS EXPIRE THIS OCTOBER, 2015.

Let’s think a minute. Let’s review, and contemplate about what we can still do to politely convince our governor and legislature. There is still time.

Florida Oceanographic Society quotes 1.5 or so million acres feet coming out the Kissimmee River into Lake Okeechobee in 2013, (not our worst of years), with approximately 300,000 acre feet being released to the St Lucie/IRL and 660,000 acre feet being releases to the Caloosahatchee. The rest going to sustain the Everglades Agriculture Area south of the lake, and a smaller portion yet trickling to the dying Everglades.

So even if the Kissimmee holds more water, it won’t hold enough water. The water is meant to go south….

I wonder if the governor or Adam Putnam have any grandchildren who might be able to explain this? 🙂

Remember that the Governor’s recommendation is just that. It must be approved by the legislature. We still have time to make our voices heard and to ask for one thing to be added. ——one thing that would really help hold the tremendous and over-pouring waters of Lake Okeechobee, —-a lands purchase and a reservoir south of the lake. Then the senate, the house and the governor can duke it out….it’s not over yet!

What did Winston Churchill say? “Never, never, never, —-never give up!” 🙂

Senate Site for Comments on Amd. 1 monies: (http://www.flsenate.gov/media/topics/wlc)

 

EAA below Lake Okeechobee. (Public map.)
EAA below Lake Okeechobee. (Public map.)
Historic flow from lake Okeechobee. (Map Everglades Foundation.)
Historic flow from lake Okeechobee. (Map Everglades Foundation.)
Today's flow from Lake Okeechobee. (Image Everglades Foundation.)
Today’s flow from Lake Okeechobee east and west through the estuaries.  (Image Everglades Foundation.)
My niece Evie stands at the manicured edge of the east side of Lake Okeechobee at Port Mayaca. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 2013)
My niece Evie stands at the manicured edge of the east side of Lake Okeechobee at Port Mayaca. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 2013)
Lake O. 730 square miles and was once 1000 square miles....
Lake O. 730 square miles and was once 1000 square miles….

 

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. These option lands could store some of the water now stored in Lake Okeechobee and released to the estuaries. (SFWMD map, 2010)

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Lake Okeechobee: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Okeechobee)

 

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “Why Restoring the Kissimmee River is not Enough to Fix Lake Okeechobee and Save the Estuaries, SLR/IRL

  1. Wow, politely inform the gov! Not sure he is going there with Adam around. I am guessing somebody drained and filled 300 acres of Lake O? After straightening the Kissimee River?
    Have to give these guys credit for vision – and lack of compassion. For anything living.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. After EVCO this is really depressing. What is this and who are these people are why is this being pushed? Who is this coalition?

    What the EAA Reservoir Can Help Do:
    Graphic courtesy the Everglades Foundation
    Everglades Restoration — EAA Reservoir Project Coalition
    January 16, 2015
    Take Action Today to help address devastating water releases to the estuary and assure Amendment 1 funding is used for appropriate projects. The EAA Reservoir Project Coalition has been organized to tell the Governor, Legislature and public how important the EAA Reservoir Project is to help solve Florida’s water crisis by storing more water in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). Click here for PDF of flyer.

    We need your support and ask that you take three important actions now:

    1. By Monday add your name in support of an EAA Reservoir Project Coalition to urge the Florida legislature to purchase land in the EAA for a reservoir before the option expires this year. Purchase of the land for a reservoir will to create the opportunity to flow water south out of Lake Okeechobee and relieve our estuary of devastating releases. Funding for the project must be secured by April to make this happen.

    Email kelsey@bascomllc.com to add your name to the EAA Reservoir Coalition. In the subject line of the email include: Add my name in support of the EAA Reservoir
    2. Go to the senate website http://www.flsenate.gov/Media/Topics/wlcand submit comments on how Amendment 1 money should be used. Below is a suggested message. Feel free to add a personal reason or experience of how polluted excess water affected your business or family but be sure to submit comments so your voice can be heard.

    In the FY16 budget, along with other water and land conservation purposes, bond Amendment 1 funds to buy land for the EAA Reservoir Project to reduce harmful discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and provide clean water for the Everglades and other users.
    We need land for the EAA Reservoir to protect the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers, Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.
    The time is now; the option expires in October 2015.
    If you are not going to buy the land needed for a reservoir, what is your plan?
    We are facing another lost summer with no long term solutions for storing more water south of Lake Okeechobee.
    3. Share this email with your community groups, business partners and neighbors. This effort will protect our local economy.

    Like

    1. Cindi I look at it as part of what is trying to be achieved. The Everglades Foundation is promoting this for the business community especially—EAA Reservoir
      Coalition. Perhaps they want new words for the same thing? I think it is good and part of the puzzle. What is difficult is that so many things (that are actually related) are being discussed it gets confusing (because it seems like new stuff). Any flow way will have to have a place to store, treat and convey the water…..Hope to see you at the Rivers Coalition Meeting today.

      Like

  3. This is being viewed through 1st world eyes. These types of “environmental disasters” aka controlling mother nature is what allowed for civilizations to exist. IE reliable water, foods, shelter etc. I know this is an old blog, I just get disgusted when I see and hear people ranting about how we are f’ing up dirt to provide sustenance to millions of people through water and land management.

    Liked by 1 person

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