The Myth of Local Runoff, St Lucie River/IRL “Rain Event,” 9-16-15

St Lucie Inlet and Sailfish Point area after approximate 7-10 inches of regional rainfall in area 9-16-18. Photo taken on 9-23-15, Ed Lippisch.
St Lucie Inlet and Sailfish Point area after approximate 7-10 inches of regional rainfall in area 9-16-15. Photo taken on 9-23-15, Ed Lippisch.

“From 7 a.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday, the heaviest rainfall was reported at the Savannas Preserve State Park in southeastern St. Lucie County, with 7.67 inches. Next highest in 24-hour rainfall, according to the Weather Service, was 6.87 inches at Hobe Sound.” —-from article y Elliot Jones, TCPalm, 9-17-15

SFWMD showing releases through canals recently. Note spike after recent rainfall.
SFWMD chart showing releases through canals recently. Note spike after recent rainfall.

Today I will share aerial photos of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon taken by my husband, Ed, on 9-23-15. I asked Ed to document the after effects of the tremendous rainfall event in the region from September 16th  through the 17th, 2015. After reviewing his photos, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon has dark waters, this is evident, but first, let’s set some things straight….

We hear a lot about “local runoff,” however, it is becoming more and more understood, there is no such thing as “local runoff” for the St Lucie River/IRL…. The canals that dump into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon are regional canals that have been “plumbed” over the past 100 years to drain and dump waters off the lands from as far away as western Martin County, Okeechobee County, and even what used to be the north flowing waters of the St Johns River in Indian River County! Then when things are really bad, since the water can’t flow south, “they” dump the overflow waters of Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River to boot.

The poor St Lucie River is inundated with “everyone’s water” not just “its own.”

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. (St Lucie River Initiative’s Report to Congress 1994.)
SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image.
SFWMD canal and basin map. The St Lucie’s natural basin as seen above in green has been very much enlarged by  the C-44 canal built in the 1920s —with expanded basin and often Lake O overflow; also C-23, C-24 and C-25 were built  ca. 1950 to drain lands in St Lucie County for orange groves/agricultural development  and land development by General Development Corp and others.

It is critical that we study and understand what happens in our area after a huge rain, with or without the “extra-extra killing waters of Lake Okeechobee.” Why?  Because maybe, just maybe, if the SFWMD, ACOE, as well as state and federal politicians will see how much the river is already suffering, they will do all they can, “not to kill it more.”

So here are Ed’s photos, taken one week after the rain event. It takes the water coming in through the canals some time to move through the St Lucie River;  I imagine a lot had already exited the St Lucie Inlet. The 23rd was the soonest Ed could “get up in the air.”

I am thankful to my husband, as for me going up in that plane? It is really amazing to be flying,  but also very stressful. Somehow to me it seems God only meant for birds to fly….

At least with the Cub, I feel like if something ever happened, over the ocean anyway…. we could just jump out!

2013.
2013 Ed Lippisch/Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.
St Lucie Inlet at Sailfish Point. 9-23-15.
St Lucie Inlet at Sailfish Point. 9-23-15.
Crossroads, Sewall's Point and Sailfish Flats. 9-23-15.
Crossroads, Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Flats. 9-23-15.
St Lucie Inlet 9-23-15.
St Lucie Inlet 9-23-15.
Water in Jupiter Narrows very close to St Lucie Inlet. 9-23-15.
Water in Jupiter Narrows very close to St Lucie Inlet. 9-23-15.
Unusual in that plume was flowing north and south. Here north at Sailfish Point 9-23-15.
Unusual in that plume was flowing north and south. Here north at Sailfish Point at SL Inlet. 9-23-15.
Northerly movement of plume. 9-23-15.
Northerly movement of plume. 9-23-15.
Sailfish Flats of SLR/IRL confluence as seen from ocean over Hutchinson Island. 9-23-15.
Sailfish Flats of SLR/IRL confluence as seen from ocean over Hutchinson Island. 9-23-15.
Heading back...9-23-15.
Heading back…9-23-15.
On the way back to Witham Field. Sewall's Point Crossroads 9-23-14.
On the way back to Witham Field. Sewall’s Point Crossroads 9-23-15.

TCPALM article on rainfall: Subscription may be necessary to view, (http://www.tcpalm.com/news/local-news/weather/rain-likely-to-continue-friday_95415704)

11 thoughts on “The Myth of Local Runoff, St Lucie River/IRL “Rain Event,” 9-16-15

  1. A lot of people hate big ag. for changing the environment to what they waunt it to be and turn around and try to change the lagoon to what they waunt it to be. These dark fresh water runoffs are normal and have been happening for thousands of years. ALL the lagoons shores were CALCIUM rock sand and shell. Calcium allows plants to absorb nutriants. Without calcium nutriants are trapped in acids and the lagoon is DEAD. All our ocean and offshore reef creatures that have depended on this are also DEAD. They have been studying this for years and if you continue to give them money they will continue to study. Thanks be to god that some people are finally getting off their rear ends and bringing the lagoon back to LIFE. Politicians can either be part of the problem or part of the solution its up to them but I think continueing to flush taxpayers money down the toilet will bring death to their political carier

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  2. The one big complaint we had many years ago was the smell of rotting sea grass. This problem can be solved by putting calcium sand on it . The hydrogen peroxide will obliterate it, One more thing I thought of about the spring in Missouri is upstream of the spring the small river was muddy and the crawdads lived in mud holes. Down stream of the spring their was NO mud —just river rocks— Its obvious now that hydrogen peroxide obliterated the mud.

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  3. Well done Jacqui.. I have been beating on this drum since my first position paper as Indian Riverkeeper. It did my lil heart good to hear Mark Perry address this a couple months back at an RC meeting. It is unconscionable that the state took our only protection hopes and tabled them for YEARS. I refer to the STA’s C-23, 24, 25, 44 that Governor Crist took OFF the table when he tried to buy US Sugar.

    It has always been frustrating to me that Rivers Coalition never wanted to address the other pollution events, and wetland destruction on the “River” the “Coalition” was to protect. We have been operating as the “stop the Okeechobee Discharges” coalition, without involvement on the OTHER issues effecting the St. Lucie River. No discussion or resolutions during fertilizer ordinance fights, nothing STILL about the Crosstown Bridge, and until the last couple months nothing about the unnatural artificial watershed corrupt state water policy has FORCED upon us. Thanks for all you do!

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  4. SOme of us know the truth, Jacqui, right? Some of us refuse to acknowledge, and still others profit by the status quo. Its on my mind big time tonight as I prepare to attend the Michael Shields memorial tournament and as a guide in the fishing tourney tomorrow, have to run from the dirty mess to take folks fishing. Embarrassing as always.

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  5. What was done was done. My Grandmother always said “no use crying over spilt milk”. Now we need to look forward and find solutions even for this ” Local Runoff”. It is simply unacceptable to be wasting this freash water out to sea. Thank you Jacqui and Ed for your continued work on solving our water problems.

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  6. Today at our lagoon house I read —-environmental protection is not a luxury, it is a condition for existence. I take this to mean if you destroy the environment a total breakdown of society is sure to follow. I read that the Michael Shields fishing tournament is to help teenagers who are into alcohol and drugs. I just came back from our fishing pier where there are allways a dozen kids catching good to eat fish. I think the only group of people who seem to benefit from a breakdown of society are lawyers. Maby that is why in the bible no other group seemed to PO Jesus more than lawyers..

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  7. This world is such an evil place that it is only by the grace of God that anything good at all can happen here. Can you believe that of all the groups of people Jesus chose fishermen for deciples.

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  8. Here in Melbourne and Cocoa they have spent millions and millions of our tax money to pump and dump calcium sand on our beachs. I read the signs on our boardwalks telling their theory of how the sand would gradually spread out. The reality is these fresh water runoffs are acidic and calcium desolves in acid . Most of sand that has been pumped on our beach was desolved last November after rains. I predict the rest will be far our to sea in another 2 months . We did not have these erosion problems many years ago when there was still some calcium in our lagoon nutrilizeing the acid. In fact I remember reading (back then ) that California was looseing beach and the east coast was actually gain beach at the rate of a few inchs a year.The sand needs to be calcium because the h2o2 will keep them clean

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