Update: Our Deadly Canals, and the “Kiss of Death,” Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

C-25 at Taylor Creek, exits into the IRL near Ft Pierce Inlet. (Photo Ed Lippisch 9-2-15)
C-25 at Taylor Creek, exits into the IRL near Ft Pierce Inlet. (Photo Ed Lippisch 9-2-15)

On Wednesday, my husband Ed and I sat down for dinner. “Did you see my photos of the river? He asked.

“No, I’m sorry, I haven’t looked at them yet…”

“They are pretty dramatic,” he replied, taking a swig of his Lagunitas.

I didn’t think much more about it, but later that evening, when I reviewed his shots, I understood.

Today I will share Ed’s recent photos of the Indian River Lagoon and St Lucie River that he took on Wednesday, September 2nd between 11:30AM-1PM. The first set of photos are from the Ft Pierce area around Taylor Creek where canal C-25 dumps into the IRL near Ft Pierce Inlet. C-25’s discharge can also be from C-24 or C-23 as they are all connected and can be manipulated to flow in different ways by the South Florida Water Management District. C-25, C-24 and C-23 ARE NOT connected to Lake Okeechobee. These photos are just showing rain runoff and all that is carried along with it and brought in by rising ground waters.

Canal and basin map SLR/IRL. (Public)
Canal and basin map SLR/IRL. (Public, SFWMD)
Drainage changes to the SLR. Green is the original watershed. Yellow and pink have been added since ca.1920. (St Lucie River Initiative's Report to Congress 1994.)
Drainage changes to the SLR. Green is the original watershed. Yellow and pink have been added since ca.1920. The watershed has been unnaturlaly expanded to include up to 5 times the amount of water in the natural watershed.LO is the final blow when it comes. (St Lucie River Initiative’s Report to Congress 1994.)
SFWMD chart showing flow into C-25 over past days.
SFWMD chart showing flow into C-25 over past days.

DEP C-25 Eco Summary: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c-25.pdf)

SFWMD link (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/pls/portal/realtime.pkg_rr.proc_rr?p_op=FORT_PIERCE)

I believe there have been recent improvements made at Taylor Creek (C-25), but perhaps there should be more as the outflow still looks like an oil spill. A cocktail of agriculture,  development, residential, and road runoff….a “river of death…”

Once a  reader wrote me saying,” Jacqui I like your blog but when it rains anywhere in the world there are these freshwater plumes….you are being misleading….”

I nicely replied. “I agree there are freshwater plumes all over the world, but I have to say, ours in the SLR/IRL region are beyond freshwater-soil plumes…they are deadly, full of heavy pollution. You can read it on agency web sites if you look hard enough…It is unnatural…and it is killing the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.”

C-25 Canal in Ft Pierce. (EL)
C-25 Canal in Ft Pierce. 9-2-15. (EL)
C-25 discharging into Taylor Creek and the Marina, IRL Ft Pierce. (EL)
C-25 discharging into Taylor Creek and the Marina, IRL Ft Pierce. 9-2-15. (EL)
9-2-15 EL
9-2-15 EL
9-2-15 EL
9-2-15 EL
9-2-15. EL
9-2-15. EL


This second set of photos is from the same day, but further south along the Indian River Lagoon where it meets the St Lucie River at Sewall’s Point. Here you will see a plume at Hell’s Gate, not so dramatic as the C-25 plume, but a definite plume nonetheless.

The ACOE did recently dump BASIN runoff from around the C-44 canal (see map above) in preparation for ERIKA, but they DID NOT dump from Lake Okeechobee. In fact the canal is higher than the lake. I think this blog makes clear we have enough problems even with out releases from Lake Okeechobee.

Well, hope you learned something.  Have a good Labor Day weekend as we honor the American Labor Movement and the contributions laborers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. —Sounds like just who we need to rework our canals….

ACOE/SFWMD slide showing breakdown of runoff into SLR. (9-1-15)
ACOE/SFWMD slide showing breakdown of runoff into SLR. (9-1-15)
ACOE website shows
ACOE website shows no releases from S-308 or Lake O.

ACOE link to Lake O: (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm)

ACOE website does show releases from S-80. In this case this is from the C-44 basin only. The basin is huge and mostly agricultural. See above chart.
ACOE website does show releases from S-80. In this case this is from the C-44 basin only. The basin is huge and mostly agricultural. See above chart.
Plume at Hell's Gate St Lucie River, west side of Sewall's Point. This water is from rain runoff probably from C-44, C-24, and C-23 unless the SFWMD is dumping C-23 and C-24 through C-25 in Ft Pierce. (Photo EL 9-2-15)
Plume at Hell’s Gate St Lucie River, west side of Sewall’s Point. This water is from rain runoff probably from C-44, C-24, and C-23 unless the SFWMD is dumping C-23 and C-24 through C-25 in Ft Pierce. (Photo EL 9-2-15)
9-2-15 EL Another angle of Hell's Gate and SP, SLR
9-2-15 EL Another angle of Hell’s Gate and SP, SLR
9-12-15 EL
9-12-15 EL
Incoming tide still clear around southern tip of Sewall's Point. 9-2-15
Incoming tide still clear around southern tip of Sewall’s Point. 9-2-15 EL –Hell’s Gate jutting forward far left.
Confluence of SLR/IRL between Sailfish Point and Sewall's Point. St Lucie Inlet in full view. (Photo EL 9-12-15)
Confluence of SLR/IRL between Sailfish Point and Sewall’s Point. St Lucie Inlet in full view. (Photo EL 9-12-15)
EL 9-2-15. Another view.
EL 9-2-15. Another view. Sailfish Point, SLR/IRL This areas seagrasses have still not recovered from 2013 even though water is blue in this photo.
Sailfish Flats in distance SLR/IRLEL 9-2-15.
Sailfish Flats in distance SLR/IRL EL 9-2-15.

South Florida Water Management District: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page)

Army Corp of Engineers, Lake O: (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm)

Canal C-23: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c23.pdf)
Canal C-24: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c24.pdf)
Canal C-25: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c-25.pdf)
Canal C-44: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-44%20Canal%20.pdf)

41 thoughts on “Update: Our Deadly Canals, and the “Kiss of Death,” Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

    1. The solution to pollution is dilution, we need a lot more salt water in the lagoon to dilute and flush the crud out. I read the recent article in the TC Palm, its an old Idea and a good one. I think pumps are the wrong approach though. a series of mini inlets with gates could be just as effective at a fraction of the operating costs. Open them at incoming water and close them at high tide, flush out of the existing inlets as tide falls. I’m sure it’s not quite that simple, but using the tide to move water is a lot better than burning tons of fuel and adding to air pollution and wasting money.

      1. That pollution solution = dilution nonsense is what got us in this pickle in the first place.
        Rivers, canals, and streams accumulate each and every outfall and non-point source of pollution along their course until the concentrated collective brew is lethal to all biology at the downstream end. And there lies the Lagoon. Each permit to discharge into these liquid conveyances is given based on the dilution factor calculated for that discharge into an unpolluted receiving body of water. But that receiving water body is not unpolluted after moving water past hundreds of permitted discharges, not to mention the unpermitted runoff.

        You’re going to dilute that sewage with salt water? Shame on you for such medieval thinking!

        What we need is a non-degradation standard with teeth, one that prohibits putting water into another water body that is worse than the receiver. Enforce this all the way upstream until the problem is solved. On site treatment is the answer really, not discharge.

        1. Joe I like you strong words. My goal is to get everybody talking about everything water. everything. I agree with you about stopping source pollution. Have you every studied about residual fertilizers from sewage treatment plants that is spread as “fertilizer” (AA and A and B) on most land in the counties surrounding LO and tributaries of the IRLand runs right into them? And then the state has a TMDL/BMAP program…..with out really discussing this long term oddity with the public…Now for me this is true madness and the grand irony and hypocracy of our state. There are others of course but this is the stuff of myths. (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wastewater/dom/reshome.htm)

  1. Good post Jacqui. Thank you both for your continued vigilance in documenting this travesty. Without your aerial photos, this would go unseen. What a terrible shame that the Lagoon’s watershed (the area of land that drains into the Lagoon) has been more than doubled by draining lands out west and shunting all the water into these canals, where it drains fast and dirty into the Lagoon. That water used to percolate slowly through sand and vegetation, into the aquifer, and was cleaned by the slow percolation process. This artificial increase in the size of the Lagoon’s watershed also opens the door for SFWMD to point out that most of the damaging releases come from “our” watershed. However, that is semantics…”our” watershed originally did not include all these western lands. The Lagoon is being used as a dump, and all of us who live in the communities along the Lagoon are paying the price.

  2. Good morning Jacqui! Thanks for yet another wonderful blog.. To add to Marjorie’s (GREAT post M.S.) comments, our NATURAL watershed was somewhere around 100 thousand acres for the St. Lucie River. Water managers have since added about 400 thousand acres of UNNATURAL watershed responsibility to our estuary and now ignore the unnatural aspect of it. Over and over claiming it to be OUR watershed.. pooey, it IS NOT NATURAL to our watershed. Marjorie is SPOT ON, about the fact that water managers, and corporate polluters insist on calling that unnatural responsibility they have FORCED upon us as “OUR” watershed. I have beat upon this issue for my entire tenure as Indian Riverkeeper. When the C-44, 23, 24 and 25 STA’s were pulled OFF the plate, I was incensed.. The good news is SLC Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky pinned their ears back at the last NEP meeting about this very issue. The ONLY reason I personally support CERP is because the FIRST projects include Indian River lagoon south components to address our UNNATURAL watershed responsibilities. I have suspected that the removal and subsequent mail from SFWMD to USACE to take our STA’s OFF the plate until 2026 was driven by the need of corporate polluters to be able to point fingers at the problem being “ours” exclusively. Keep up the good work, and please thank Ed for the images.

  3. Good morning and congratulation on your decision to run for Martin County Commissioner! I would like to support you and help any way that I can. I think you will make a fantastic commissioner. Please let me know how we can help. Jody 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.

  4. Keep up the good fight…it’s all in the journey of life…there is no winning or losing in this battle against ignorance. There is only our efforts that our meaningful to our souls. Keep the faith in ourselves and keep on fighting and THANK YOU!!!!!!

  5. What I find most concerning about photos is there is very little foam behind boats. I watch foam behind boats closely this time of year to tell if there is plenty of H2O2 in the water. Hydrogen peroxide and calcium peroxide have viscosity and this creates bubles.

  6. Excellent article – the photos speak volumes.

    How can I obtain a copy of the St. Lucie River Initiative’s 1994 report?

    Thanks again,


  7. Jacqui the day before these pictures were taken Keri West was driving home from Ft Piece and was on the phone with me, and she said all of a sudden ‘ MY GOD THE LAGOON LOOKS HORRIBLE!! ” She didn’t have her camera with her to take pictures but she said it was a strange gold color and had foam all over it.

  8. Powerful photos, as always from you and Ed. So sad that human beings altered so much, and now we must find a way to contend with the current reality. I do not believe most people anticipated the level of pollution that would come with the vast increase in population, or the effects of destruction of wetlands for a myriad of uses, either. We must be determined to seek solutions, wherever we can. That is the challenge to focus on; finding the way forward from here, one step at a time. Thank you, Jacqui, for your continued work.

      1. Hi Jacqui,
        Thank you for all you do. Many thanks to Ed for his photos. The two of you are doing extraordinary work in documenting this scourge on our community and “treasured” way of life. We won’t be the Treasure Coast for long if this keeps up.
        I am over the moon with joy that you are running for commissioner and will do anything and everything to help you win.
        You’ve got my number. Please let me know whatever I can do.

        You are what and who we need in Martin County and beyond. I am voting for you!

        Julia C. Sansevere

  9. The springs of Missouri all have a blueish color — a natural give away that hydrogen peroxide is present. These springs are formed from thousands of years of acids seeping into the aquifer and desolving the limestone. A similar process to what used to happen on ALL the shores of our lagoon. Our lagoon used to be an almost magical ecosystem that could support unlimited amounts of life and it CAN be brought back. But the creatures that are now exstinct are gone forever

  10. Now that I think about it I think that fertilizer has killed the lagoon. It is the fertilizer that has been spread by the people who you have trusted to tell you the truth

  11. Great post, thank you for this wonderful information.

    And I agree with Glenn, we need to open up mini inlets into the lagoon to help flush this pollution out of our waterways. It is too late to stop the pollution completely so we need to get rid of it and not leave it festering in our waterways.

    The Hurricanes of 2004 opened up Little Mud Creek and St Lucie County used their emergency powers to close it right back up. This is a natural inlet than man has closed. This would be a very easy place to simply remove the sand that the County placed there and see if this makes an improvement in the health of the lagoon. It would be a perfect test case since it is a natural inlet than the County closed.

  12. I do not waunt to discourage your concern for our lagoon Julie but there are many facts that can not be overlooked that tell that createing new inlets will NOT inprove the health of our lagoon. The air photos that show there is no seagrass growing in your inlet is just one.If you get a chance look up Florida memory gallery and in the box at the top write coquina and press search. These photos of coquina formations from 1900 is what the whole lagoon looked like and I am certain that if you bring these formations back the self cleaning action from high oxygen levels will bring everything back.

  13. I do not wish to discourage your concern for the lagoon Julie but there are several facts that show new inlets will not help — the fact that there is no sea grass in the inlet you have now is just one of them. If you look up —Florida Memory gallery–on the internet and then at the top of the web page write in the word –coquina– you will see pictures of how all the shores of our lagoon used to look. Waves used to churn violently in these SOFT coquina formations creating a very high oxygen environment that would break down all the toxic chemicals.

    1. Unfortunately the county did not want to use coquina when Indian River Drive caved in in 2004. Over residents objections they replaced the natural shoreline with a concrete highway embankment along the 14 mile stretch of the Drive from Fort Pierce to Jensen Beach, taking out thousands of trees while they were at it.

      But it seems obvious that the water is cleaner at the inlets. It looks like brown sludge where we are, which is halfway between Fort Pierce and Stuart. The seagrass has all died. It’s disgusting….. And sad. Sad to see the birds wading in the sludge, sad to see my daughter wading through the sludge when launching her boat to go sailing. Something needs to be done, something more than is being done now,

  14. Actually the coquina now is all Hard and is of minimal effect at nutrilizing acid. The sludge you are seeing is actually organic material that is being preserved in acid–kind of like pickles in viniger. You should have seen all the sea grass that came back where I put shells last year. Manitees had a ball as did many creatures. Right now I am covering a lot of area making sure warmer waters do not kill fish by removeing oxygen. I can stop a fish kill by putting fine calcium sand in—this adds oxygen.I have noticed that barnicals will grow on concrete embankments and acids react with them much better than Hard coquina.

Leave a Reply