A Ten Year Calendar View, Discharges to the St Lucie Estuary

A Ten Year View, Discharges to the St Lucie Estuary

Today I share images that help tell the story of the St Lucie Estuary over the past ten years. The first image is from the website eyeonlakeo. My brother, Todd Thurlow, takes data from D-Hydro of the SFWMD and puts it into a format that the average person can understand. 

The chart above shows the “S-80 spillway at St Lucie Locks’ cumulative discharges by CALENDAR YEAR, 2011-2020.”

Scientists use Water Years, May 1 of one year, through April 30 of the next year. This splits up the years making it more confusing to remember or understand. We, as people, live our lives in calendar years. 

We can see by looking at Todd’s chart that 2016’s calendar year is highest overall discharge year with 842,775 acre feet (one foot of water covering one acre) of water going to the St Lucie from what is called “local runoff” (all canals and surrounding areas) as well as discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

How large is 842,775 acres? Comparatively, Martin County is 347, 520 acres. 2020 is 188,723 acre feet and climbing. We are talking tremendous amounts of water! 

In descending order, we see 2016; 2013; 2017; 2018; 2015; 2020; 2012; 2014; 2019; and 2011.  The brown of line of 2020 crests 2015 as when the year is completed, 2020 will more than likely be higher than 2015.

I also wanted to share some very helpful charts I recently requested -in my research- from the South Florida Water Management District.  

This was my request:

“Could you please get me a chart or graph showing discharges to the St Lucie River for 2012-2020 by month. Please present this information from January through December of each calendar year and break it out from S-80 and S-308 and also give a total combined number. Please also note for each of those calendar years, the highest level Lake Okeechobee got that year.” 

To view this information, click on Charts in red below for visuals, and data in red below for numerical charts. As mentioned this information below is from the SFWMD. This compiled information provides great perspective. 



I, as many, participated in yesterday’s Army Corp of Engineers‘ Periodic Scientist Call. During the course of the call, it was alluded that the ACOE may be letting up or halting Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St Lucie Estuary soon. As soon as they do, we will begin to chart calendar year 2021. All things considered, everything in me believes it will be better than 2020! 


5 thoughts on “A Ten Year Calendar View, Discharges to the St Lucie Estuary

  1. Thank you Jacqui! While this is bad for the East Coast, the West Coast has been inundated with nonstop discharges from Lake O. Can your brother update his Caloosahatchee chart to include 2020?

  2. This year will be my 34 year in the St. Lucie/Martin county area, and in many of those first years we had algae in Lake O released into the St. Lucie and Indian Rivers.
    I was a member of the Martin County Conservation Alliance, where I spoke to sitting Commissioners trying to get them to stop that water from coming down at us from the Caloosahatchee & Kissimmee Rivers.. However what the Martin County Commission does best of all, is to sit. They would sit on their hands and do nothing.

    i always believed the algae was at the bottom of the Rivers north of us, after a summer season of heavy wind and rain, one day it was proven to us, we went to the St. Lucie Locks where the water is being released into the two canals which dumps that water into the Rivers I mentioned.

    The water was partially green with algae as it came through the locks proving to me that the algae coming out of the Caloosahatchee and the Kissimmee Rivers is loaded with algae, and this algae is already visible in the water BEFORE it gets into Lake Okeechobee.

    In my opinion this is a problem coming right out of Orlando, they have millions of people going to Disney and other theme parks flushing toilets in their restrooms, and even though they say that water is treated, we could never find out to what level of treatment this water was getting?

    As you may know unless the treatment of this sewerage is done to the highest level, algae and contamination of these waters will be the result, and this water will also smell like sewerage, because that’s exactly what it is.
    Your nose doesn’t lie to you, but people in charge will.

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