Ed’s Aerial Update, 7 days after discharges begin 500cfs SLR

Ed Lippisch

Due to high Lake Okeechobee level and in light of cyanaobactia blooms predicted on lake this summer -a side effect of Category 4 Hurricane Ian- the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers, with the support of the SFWMD on 1-22-23, began discharging 500 cubic feet per second to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon on January 22, 2023 and 2000 cfs to the Caloosahatchee to lower a lake not receding.

Yesterday, on January 29, 2023 my husband, Ed Lippisch, flew over the St Lucie River to see how the estuary is visually faring after seven days of discharges. He captured the images  around 2pm so it was what he calls a “slack tide,” a tide in between high tide and low tide.

Today I share Ed’s aerials, the effects of discharges is obvious and to compare to a pre-discharge high tide and low tide taken on January 22, 2023, before the discharges reached the estuary, please see link above and go to end of blog post.

I cannot thank my husband enough for all of his flights and dedication as a River Warrior of the St Lucie River. He continues to be our eye in the sky since 2013 and my best friend.

Tide chart St Luce River. Note January 29, 2023. Ed’s photos were taken beginning at 1:56pm.


Aerials of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon after 7 days of discharges from Lake O, note darker water and plume at inlet. Among other things, the discharges cause less light to reach the struggling seagrasses and a plume exiting the St Lucie Inlet covers already sick near shore reefs.

More CERP projects than ever before are being built to offset discharges to the estuaries and this is cause for celebration, but it will take years for these projects to all be completed and undo the horrible environmental consequence of the Central and Southern Florida Plan of 1948. Most recently, since 2018, the State of Florida under the DeSantis administration, has led the effort to stop harmful discharges to the estuaries under Executive Order 19-12 and now 23-06. Millions of dollars are being spent by state and federal government. We will get there.

Slide of expenditures, Everglades Coalition Conference 2023 presentation.

LOSOM, a new lake operations schedule of the ACOE, will help too and should be in place by mid summer. This was an effort of all stakeholders. An exhausting and successful effort.

The St Lucie has not had heavy discharges in over four years. At height in years such as 2013, 2016 and 2018, over 5000 to 9000 cubic feet per second were sent to the St Lucie. This present 500 cfs is an attempt to avoid such a situation this summer. To lower the lake before it kills us. I hate discharges but I rather take my medicine now than be destroyed  later. Also I  appreciate the ACOE for trying something different (HAB DEVIATIONS & LOSOM). I have been watching like a hawk since 2008, I can assure you we are in a better place due to advocacy changing the political landscape. Do not get discouraged!

Lake Okeechobee Lake Levels U.S. ACOE

To follow the most updated lake okeechobee levels go to Todd Thurlow, eyeonlakeo.com
Grey is environmental envelope for Lake O. It is to be seen what the goal is for lowering the lake and decisions will be made weekly by ACOE.

6 thoughts on “Ed’s Aerial Update, 7 days after discharges begin 500cfs SLR

  1. Thank you Jacqui and Ed for keeping your eyes on this. After seeing celebrations for the dike repair completion and opening of water storage areas, it’s hard not to get discouraged. Billions of dollars spent, and we still need to discharge water.

  2. Great shots, I would be interesting to see overtime silt studies done on the southern end of the Indian River Lagoon using Satellite imagery.

  3. The river water was just clear enough to see a small green sea turtle feeding in shallow water between the downtown Stuart boardwalk and Hudsons On the River restaurant this morning. Seemed hopeful.

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