Understanding Why Sometimes Some Things Don’t Make Sense, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Waters in St Lucie River on west side of Sewall's Point, (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Lake O water and some area canal water flowing through SLR after ACOE opened  S-308 on 1-16-15. (Waters in St Lucie River east of Roosevelt Bridge) Photo taken  1-25-15 by  Ed Lippisch)

One thing to remember is that the St Lucie River and many parts of the Indian River Lagoon are “impaired,” as determined by the state of Florida at least by 2002 and 2008:

SLR impairment: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/SLE_Impairment_Narrative_ver_3.7.pdf)

IRL impairment: (http://waterwebprod.dep.state.fl.us/basin411/indianriver/assessment/G5AS-IRL_Low-Res-Merge.pdf)

This basically means any number of things, but mostly, that there is too much “nutrient” (phosphorus and nitrogen) in the water. This comes from many sources and all of the sources should be addressed. These nutrients encourage algae blooms, sometimes toxic,  destroying seagrasses, water clarity, and other “life.”

So no matter how “good” today’s water quality reports may be, or how good the water looks, or whether the Martin County Health Department reports “acceptable” levels of bacteria in the water, the waters of our area are “impaired.” This is especially true, “under the water” where one really can’t see unless you dive in with a mask and flippers.

The state saw this “impairment” status coming for decades due mostly to Florida’s  development boom and the gigantic and historic role of agriculture, but…..

Yes, the key word is “but,” it happened any way…

 

More recently, on January 16th of 2015, the Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) started dumping from Lake Okeechobee into the SLR/IRL again. This is early in the year to start dumping and historically this foreshadows a bad summer—-BUT Lake O. was high and the ACOE and South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) like to have 3 to 4 feet of “freeboard” in the lake so if a hurricane comes in summer and the diked lake fills with  3-4 feet of water, the Herbert Hoover Dike doesn’t break. They don’t like the lake to be over 15.5 feet or so.  It is “best” if the lake is around 12 feet by summer–BUT they will never tell you that——something to do with “water supply…”

Chart  releases 2-15-14 by the SFWMD showing releases from Lake O since January into SLR/IRL.
Chart releases 2-24-14 by the SFWMD showing releases from Lake O since January into SLR/IRL.

The above chart provided by the SFWMD shows all releases since January into the SLR/IRL. Blue is Lake O. The ACOE stopped for one week starting  February 17th so Martin County could complete a bacteria study.

During this time I went up in the plane with my husband; the water looked great in the Crossroads by Sewall’s Point and the St Lucie Inlet as it was an incoming tide and releases had been halted.

One might think: “Oh the water is healthy again!”

Remember, it is not.

SLR/ILR Crossroads 2-22-15. (Photo JTL)
SLR/ILR Crossroads 2-22-15. (Photo JTL)
SLR/IRL convergence waters between Sewall's Point and Sailfish Point 2-22-15. (JTL)
SLR/IRL convergence waters between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point 2-22-15. (JTL)

Another factor in all of this is—— if you look at the SLR/IRL reports from Florida Oceanographic (http://www.floridaocean.orgover the entire time of the recent releases,  measuring salinity; visibility; and dissolved oxygen, the reports are quite good. And they are good, but this does not remove the “impaired status” of the river. 

I apologize they are out-of-order below, but I could not achieve better with out great time and effort.

You can click on the images to enlarge the reports. These charts basically show a consistent grading of  “B to A”  water quality in the SLR/IRL since January 8, 2015—- other than the South Fork which of course is where the water from Lake Okeechobee is coming into the St Lucie River through C-44!

Anyway, to repeat again, one must remember that at all times and in all places right now no matter how pretty or how good a chart looks,  our St Lucie River and parts of the Indian River are “impaired.”

We must work to improve the status of our rivers by lessening  area freshwater canal runoff; our own “personal pollution” though fertilizer, septic and other stuff we put on our yards and down the sink; from roads/cars–Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) canals are everywhere and have no “cleaning;”  and most of all, we must work to one day redirect as much water away from Lake Okeechobee as possible.

The purchase of land in the Everglades Agricultural Area south of the lake is about the only place this can be achieved.

It is all so confusing sometimes, BUT one thing is for sure, the more we learn, the more we can help and inspire others to clean up our rivers!

 

FOS
FOS 1. 1-8-15
2.
2.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 5 photo 3

FOS charts out of order showing water quality.
FOS charts out of order showing water quality.

 

 

14 thoughts on “Understanding Why Sometimes Some Things Don’t Make Sense, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

  1. Great points, Jacqui. Thank you! We also need to remember that the Lake fills up six times faster than water can be discharged, according to Dr. Paul Gray, and that’s without a hurricane crossing central Florida. If Congress would ever fully fund the Herbert Hoover dike’s rehabilitation, the Army Corps would be less nervous about a repeat of the Katrina disaster, but that’s a big if….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment Barbara. For me, one of the most difficult things is our dependency on the Federal government. It is like a bad relationship one has no choice but to stay in— not a good thing….I gave this up personally, years ago….:)

      Like

  2. These reports are on your estuary that should be teaming with life and yet they are dead and the state is reporting that everything is just fine. If you think it is hard to break down walls you should try breaking down this wall.

    Liked by 2 people

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