I love my parents’ generation, but when it comes the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and growing up in Stuart, I feel that I grew up unprepared. As a child, I was taught only to love and appreciate my river, not how to protect it, or to recognize what was killing it.
I learned about adorable and fascinating seahorses, but not canals; I was taught about seagrasses, but not how one day algae blooms from all of our fertilized yards and the agricultural people’s fields could be blocking out needed light and destroying these valuable eco-systems.
I grew up in the 1970, and 80s and all the problems we have today can be linked back to those years and before. Older generations knew “it” was coming, but we ignored the inevitable.
But today is a different world, the “inevitable” has arrived and our river is dying. Thankfully, many young people today are not only learning but embracing the problems that threaten the Indian River Lagoon, and they are embracing these problems positively, as “challenges,” as “opportunities,” to create a better water future for themselves and their children as well.
But WE HAVE TO TEACH THEM.
When my husband’s nephew, his wife, and their one year old daughter visited, Ed and I not only took them to Florida Oceanographic, the beach, and the pool, we let them roll their sleeves up and get in the air showing them from above our struggles with pollution being released into our waterways by the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corp of Engineers. We flew over the retched canals of C-23, C-24, C-25 and C-44 and discussed over drainage of our state. We visited poor Lake Okeechobee drowning in the filth of the Kissimmee River, and Orlando, whose “best management practices” are really “poor at best.” We showed them how the sugar and vegetable agri-businesses are blocking the flow of water south to the Everglades so it is sent here….
Ben, Ed’s nephew, works for AT&T in Chicago, and had all sorts of technology ideas about streaming and sharing river photos in ways Ed and I didn’t even know were possible. Old learns from young. Young learns from old…Ben once home, will share his experiences here in Florida with his group of friends in Chicago and all the places he travels. As a former U.S. Marine, he will share the ideas and issues he has learned about the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon with his comrades…We of all ages want a better water America, and we need to start taking that goal into our own hands.
As Lake O is dropping, and algae blooms are occurring in our river due to the overabundance of fresh water from the lake lowing the river’s salinity, today the Army Corp of Engineers thankfully ramps down their releases from Lake Okeechobee into the river to 200 cubic feet per second down from a high of 900.
Today to summarize the year so far, I will share some photos Ed, Ben, friend Scott Kuhns and I have taken since January when the discharges started. The photos are interesting to view “over time.”
One day, so long as we share, future generations may be able to get the number down to zero. For all of us, as addicts of an over-drainage society, the saying becomes: “One generation at a time…”
ACOE J-Ville: (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil)
6 thoughts on “Protecting the Indian River Lagoon, “A Generation at a Time,” SLR/IRL”
Jacqui, An important point here is that the plumes and environmental damages they cause in our local waters are resulting from MINOR so called SAFE volumes of discharge. That safe level formerly , and if I am correct was 1000 cfs. Al Feb 2015 to current discharges have been less than the SAFE level, yet blue green mini-blooms have/are appearing.
I believe that the river is or at a tipping point where the SAFE level of discharges is no longer safe. That safe level may need revision downward to even lower discharge volumes. Why? Because the built up pollutant fertilizer load in the black , oozy sediments in our river return pollutants back into the river water at greater amounts than in the past, so that a little SAFE addition from the C-44 canal overwhelms a river that used to be able 1000 cfs without blue green blooms. The bloom will not expand in salt water only fresh water.
Lastly, the increasing blue-green algae outbreaks in lake Okeechobee are starting to resemble the algae outbreaks in lake Apoka. The algae in Apoka are not blue -greens, but the results in Apoka are a “dead” lake.
Very interesting Joe. I am sure you are correct. The algae is a sign…I once read somewhere “safe” was under 2500cfs for ALL canals–C-23, C-24,C-44 and the lake. That seems like way too much and during 2013 I think was at least 5000-7000 at coming from lake and c-44 basin plus tremendous amounts like 2000 or close from both C-23 and C-24. So maybe 10,000 cfs per second? Disgusting. Thanks so much for your insightful and useful comments. We all must push for the ACOE and SFWMD and legislature and governor to realize none of that putrid water is “safe.”
Great comment about BMP’s.
Did you read my comment on how dogs trained to smell for human remains might could find scent in muck from bottom of lagoon due to the fact that acid removes oxygen and can preserve decaying material for many years. I felt this might be VERY important so I mentioned it again. Of course it would probably have to be dried out
Joe– I think most of Florida lakes look clean and clear but fishermen know they are dead as a doornail. It is obvious that lake Appopka was one more such lake. It obviously came in contact with calcium and once the acid in the lake desolved the calcium it spread over the whole lake. Calcium probably came from doing road work in heavy rains. Like most of Florida lakes Lake Appopka was dead before the algie bloom —the problem was calcium stopped commeing into the lake allowing bacteria eating the algie to suck all the oxygen out of the lake. Had a continueous flow of calcium went into the lake desolved oxygen released would let bacteria totally brake down all the organic material so other plants and fish could thrive.