The Blackened, Bubbling St Lucie, SLR/IRL

Guest blog an photos by Geoff Norris,  Indian River Plantation POA Group:

Guest blog an photos by Geoff Norris,  Indian River Plantation POA Group:

These photographs of the Indian River Lagoon were taken on 11 October 2017, between the bridge at East Ocean Blvd, Stuart and north to Indian Riverside Park and Jensen Beach, Florida. The lagoon waters have been polluted for several days with run-off from Lake Okeechobee making the lagoon various shades of brown, orange, red and grey, with dirty scummy foam a feature at the shorelines and also as foamy windrows and wave crests in open water. The St Lucie River is in much the same state.

During this time the Army Corps of Engineers has been opening the locks at Port Mayaca to discharge water from Lake Okeechobee down the St Lucie Canal to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon estuarine system. Rates vary from 4500 to 5500 cubic feet per second, equivalent to 2.9 to 3.5 billion gallons per day. It has been calculated that this amount of discharge would cover the Stuart peninsula north of Monterey Road with four feet or more of water in one day.

The Florida Oceanographic Society reports for 10 October 2017 that salinities in the Lagoon have been drastically reduced by this lake discharge to between 1 and 3 parts per thousand sufficient to kill many estuarine fish and other plants and animals (normally the salinity would be between about 20 and 25 parts per thousand in this section of the lagoon). The Society has graded the overall health of the Lagoon on either side of the East Ocean Bridge as “Poor to Destructive”. See this link:

Click to access 171005.pdf

The Army Corps of Engineers is aware that they are killing the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon estuarine system by their actions, but consider it more important to lower the Lake Okeechobee level from the current level of 17.2 (feet above mean sea level) to a desired level of between 12 ft and 15 ft.

These are the facts. It is also a fact that politicians have not managed to stop this destruction.

Geoff Norris

7 thoughts on “The Blackened, Bubbling St Lucie, SLR/IRL

  1. Thanks for correctly identifying the agency that makes the decisions on where Lake O water goes…USACE….they have a very difficult task as the entire system is “flooded” from Orlando to the Tamiami Trail….Please note, only about 6000 cfs is being allowed to flow past the Trail into Everglades National Park by another federal agency…the U. S. Dept. of Interior. Also, please note that is about the same as the flow out of Lake O to the St. Lucie…not a lot considering the flow into Lake O exceeded 30,000 cfs at times. One thing missing in this article is the amount of “local basin runoff” from the St. Lucie Basin (which is also “flooded”)….Most of the fresh water, well above the 6000 cfs from the Lake, comes from the local basin and would have had most of the same impact on the river and the IRL….Simply a natural event that sends tannic colored water into the estuary with any large rain fall.

  2. 50 years ago foam would always blow across our causeways like big animals raceing in front of our headlights. Now the tannic acid has removed the last bits of calcium carbonate from the lagoon and the foam is gone.with it thousands of differant types of creatures that depended on this environment to survive. If you taste the water near the foam I believe it will taste salty(do not swallow) This salt is how the creatures survived.The algie that everyone hates is how all the creatures got their calcium. I am sure many types of coral are now tetering on the brink of exstinction. It is easy to point fingers and blame people but it is hard doing the work needed to bring it back. Thanks for letting me tell it like it is—BW

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