Sediment Loads Into the St Lucie River-2015, Dr Gary Goforth, SLR/IRL

St Lucie River substrate map, DEP, Chris Perry. (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/northfork/resources/physical.htm)
St Lucie River substrate map, DEP, Chris Perry. (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/northfork/resources/physical.htm)

Perhaps the greatest tragedy that is constantly playing out in our declining St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is the tremendous sediment infill covering its once white sands, seagrasses, and benthic communities.  This began heavily in the 1920s with the connection of the St Lucie Canal (C-44) connecting Lake Okeechobee to the South Fork of the St Lucie River, and then increased in the 1950s and beyond with the construction of canals C-23, C-24 and C-25.

It must also be noted that the St Lucie River/SIRL underwent great changes when the St Lucie Inlet was opened permanently by local pioneers at the encouragement of Capt Henry Sewall in 1892. (Historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow) Prior to that time, the Southern Indian River Lagoon and St Lucie River had been “fresh” —-fresh and brackish waters and their communities of plants and animals “came and went” with nature’s opening and closing of the “Gilbert’s Bar Inlet” over thousands of years….

Since 1892 the St Lucie River has been a permanent brackish water “estuary…” and until the opening of the St Lucie Canal was teeming with fish and wildlife and considered the “most bio-diverse estuary in North America.” (Gilmore 1974)

Anyway, today we have a very special guest, and one of my favorite people in the world, Dr Gary Goforth, to share with us information on 2015 sediment statistics entering the St Lucie River from C-44, our most damaging canal. (DEP 2001:(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-44%20Canal%20.pdf)

Dr Goforth recently sent out an email,  and I ask him if I could share the information; he agreed. He states:

“The pollutant that has been consistently left out of discussions is the sediment load to the estuaries from Lake Okeechobee – over 2 million pounds to the St. Lucie River and Estuary in 2015 alone; almost 4 million pounds to the Caloosahatchee Estuary.” (Dr Gary Goforth)

Isn’t that awful? “We” are filling the river in….smothering it.

The slides Dr Goforth included are the following:

Flows and loads for the period January 1, 2015-May 31, 2015. (Dr Gary Goforth 2015)
Flows and loads for the period January 1, 2015-May 31, 2015. (Dr Gary Goforth 2015)

Please click on image above to read the numbers. Mind boggling!

This second and complicated image below shows “flows” into the estuaries from Lake O into the St Lucie, Caloosahatchee, and to the Everglades Agricultural Area. Generally speaking, the Army Corp of Engineers in discussions with the South Florida Water Management District,  began releasing into the St Lucie River January 16, 2015 until late May/early June. About 3 weeks ago.

Flows between January 1 and May 31, 2015. All flows in acre feet and subject to revision. (Dr Gary Goforth,, 2015)
Flows between January 1 and May 31, 2015. All flows in acre feet and subject to revision. (Dr Gary Goforth,, 2015)

Recently our river waters have looked very beautiful and blue near Sewall’s Point and the Southern Indian River Lagoon and water quality reports have been more favorable.  Nonetheless the river, especially in the South Fork and wide St Lucie River, is absolutely impaired as there is not much flushing of these areas and the sediment infill is tremendous. The seagrasses around Sewall’s Point and Sailfish remain sparse and algae covered when viewed by airplane. Blue waters does not mean the estuary is not suffering!

Months ago I wrote a blog, that is linked below, focusing on south Sewall’s Point’s river bottom infill history,  and depths that  have gone from 19, 15, and 14 feet in 1906, to 4, 8, and 7 in 2014—and looking on the Stuart side, north of Hell’s Gate, the 1906 map shows 10, 8 and 12 feet and a 2014 NOAA map reads 2; 3; and 4 feet!

Insane….so many changes!

Our government has filled and dredged our precious river…elements of this inputting sediment become MUCK…..

I’ll end with this:

The River Kidz say it best, although my mother didn’t approve of the tone: 🙂

River Kidz "Get the Muck Out" campaign, 2014.
River Kidz “Get the Muck Out” campaign, 2014.

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For interest, I am going to include two more images Dr Goforth included in his email on sediment loading; please click on image to see details.

Thank you Dr Gary Goforth for sharing you expertise on the science of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, Lake Okeechobee and Everglades. Please check out Dr Goforth’s website here:((http://garygoforth.net))

Lake Releases to the South. (Dr Gary Goforth, 2015)
Lake Releases to the South. (Dr Gary Goforth, 2015)
Lake Releases to STAs (Storm Water Treatment Areas) (Dr Gary Goforth, 2015)
Lake Releases to STAs (Storm Water Treatment Areas) (Dr Gary Goforth, 2015)

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FDEP North Fork Aquatic Preserve: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/northfork/resources/physical.htm)

Former Blog post about depths of St Lucie River, JTL: (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/06/04/1906-2014-water-depth-changes-in-the-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)

13 thoughts on “Sediment Loads Into the St Lucie River-2015, Dr Gary Goforth, SLR/IRL

  1. Good morning! I cannot thank you enough for all these article. They are fantastic and our viewers love them. Have a great day! Jody Kelly President 772-708-2420 jody@treasurecoast.com http://www.treasurecoast.com https://www.facebook.com/Treasurecoast

    Confidentiality Notice: This e-mail, and any attachments, contains information that is, or may be, covered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. 2510-2521, and is also confidential and proprietary in nature. If you are not the intended recipient, please be advised that you are legally prohibited from retaining, using, copying, distributing, or otherwise disclosing this information in any manner or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited. Instead, please reply to the sender that you have received this communication in error, and then immediately delete it. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

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  2. Good one, Jacqui! This story cannot be ignored. Kevin Henderson have seen it for ourselves. A lot of the sediment accumulates around the Palm City Bridge and in the Manatee Pocket

    W.E. “Ted” Guy, Jr.

    643 SW Fuge Rd

    Stuart, Fl 34997

    (772) 287-4106 (home)

    (772) 485-1866 (cell/car)

    guywe2@gmail.com

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  3. Thank you Ted. Kevin’s Henderson’s report from the St Lucie River Initiative on muck is the best resource: Final Report: Characterization, Sources, Beneficial Re-Uses, and Removal of Marine Muck Sediment in the St Lucie Estuary 2004. I have a hard copy of this report. So good to hear from you Ted! Here is another good one I did find on line by Bob Voisenet. Too bad Palm City and Manatee Pocket have filled up….although they did dredge Manatee Pocket of Muck in 2010 I think.

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  4. Thanks to you and Dr Gary. I have a question. It in the chart labeled Flows between January 1 and May 31, 2015. All flows in acre feet and subject to revision. (Dr Gary Goforth,, 2015)
    You see where one canal that goes south to STA5/6. When we went there the water seemed very low like there could have been more water going down that way. Does Dr Goforth have an opinion about that?

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    1. From what I understand this is the worst performing STA. There is talk at WRAC/SFWMD about improving the connection to the lake or to allow more flow to go into it….I believe this is why so many people got SO angry that ALICIO got the huge water faming funding from the state… Dr Goforth told me that it is in the water shed or whatever for STA 5/6 so even less water will be able to get there….

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