All posts by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

Finding II. ~Relevant to Management Determination for the Everglades Agricultural Area, Draft Copy, 1975

Toxic Lake Okeechobee, June 11, 2023 , Ed Lippisch

Today I share Finding II. of “Conclusions of the Special Project to Prevent the Eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee Relevant to Management Determination for the Everglades Agricultural Area,” Draft Copy, 1975.

This information was gathered by my husband and I at the State Library and Archives of Florida in Tallahassee. 

I recently I posted Finding I.

Again, I state how important it is that this historic documentation is not stored in our state archives like something out of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” but rather ready and available to the public. Otherwise, history is rewritten by those with most the power and influence.

For instance, today, one will ofter hear in regards to pollution in Lake Okeechobee, –from those working for and in  the EAA,– “The Everglades Agriculture Area (EAA) doesn’t backpump anymore. Our water is cleaner when it leaves than when it came in.” (basically, we are not responsible for the condition of Lake Okeechobee, others are….)

What is missing in this response is that in spite of its numbers the Everglades Agricultural Area remains responsible for damages that plague Lake Okeechobee TODAY.

If you smoked unfiltered cigarettes from the 1940s through the 1980s and then, because of a law suit, the University of Florida and the South Florida Water Management District helped you create Best Management Practices” that did a great job cleansing  your smoke through giant air filters, (like Storm Water Treatment Areas filter the EAA’s  dirty water of nitrogen and phosphorus,) would it be correct to say the damage in your lungs has disappeared?

No. The damage in Lake Okeechobee from backpumping is still there and continues to be built upon. The filthy backpumped water of the past is a major reason for the pathetic condition of Lake Okeechobee today. It is time for the EAA and its masters  to take responsibility for this and to stop hiding behind their modern day state sponsored improvements.

~begin text:

“With regard to eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee drainage water from 30 percent of the EAA land area is back pumped into Lake Okeechobee during the wet season. An average of 330,000 acre-feet of water entered the lake annually at Structures S-2 and S-3 from the Miami, Hillsboro and New River Canals . In addition drainage districts and the private interest pump approximately 150,000 acre feet of water into the lake from various locations. The EAA irrigation demands draw an average of 438,000 acre-feet from the lake annually…”

Conclusions of the Special Project to Prevent the Eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee Relevant to Management Determination for the Everglades Agricultural Area, Draft Copy, 1975.

Finding II.

Water Backpumped from the Everglades Agricultural Area contributes significantly to the cultural eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee. 

The following research evidence is proffered in support of Finding II.

(page 23.) Joyner (1974) found that water pumped from agricultural areas to the southeast is generally the poorest in quality of all water entering Lake Okeechobee….

(page 24.) Brezonik further states: It is clear from the data that Lake Okeechobee presently receives an abundant supply of nutrients. Both nitrogen and phosphorus loading rates or near or above all  the (dangerous) levels reported in the scientific literature. (Table 2.) If all backpumping were ceased, the nutrient loading rates would decrease by about 20 percent.  This would still leave area loading for nitrogen above the dangerous values, but the volumetric rate would be slightly under the dangerous volumetric rate of Brezonik and Shannon (1971). The photophores loading without backpuming would be lower than all but Vollenweider’s  (1968) dangerous rate….

Lake O 2023


Aerial Update 7-17-23 SLR/IRL

Today I share aerial photographs taken by Ed Lippisch on September 17 around 9:30 am to 10am. The great thing about a photograph is that it speaks for itself!  We  have avoided a recent tropical storm or a hurricane’s impact on Lake Okeechobee, but the lake remains high at 15.41 feet as reported today by the SFWMD. Stormwater and canals C-23, C-24 continue pollute and discolor the estuary. Remember no fertilizer use during rainy season or if you’re like me EVER! Stay vigilant as hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th. Your eyes in the sky, J&E

Keep your eye on lake O!


S-308 at PORT MAYACA, LAKE OKEECHOBEE, and C-44 Canal aka St. Lucie Canal

Studies Based on 1953 Revealed Lake Okeechobee was becoming Dangerously Hyper-Eutrophic

Today I share an excerpt form “Conclusions of the Special Project to Prevent the Eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee Relevant to the Management Determination for the Everglades Agricultural Area,”  Draft Report, State of Florida 1975. It is important that historical information like this is available to the public. It is mind-boggling that in 2023, seventy years since 1953, the issue of eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee has only worsened. Every year the estuaries are plagued by the threat of discharged toxic algae.  Reports like this one lie buried in Florida’s state archives in Tallahassee. Most legislators have probably never read it. What has been done to improve water quality is not enough.

Finding I.

Lake Okeechobee is presently enriched and moderately eutrophic. If the present trend of increasing nutrient loads from the drainage basins is not reversed, the lake could become hyper-eutrophic within the foreseeable future.

The following research evidence is proffered in support of Finding I.

  1. In 1953, Dr. H. T. Odum sampled the phosphorus content of  Lake Okeechobee and tributaries to the lake. Although not  enough samples were taken to have statistical significance, the values of the samples were well below levels consider to be eutrophic. 

In 1953, the lake’s watershed  was essentially undeveloped. The fact that the lake had low phosphate values in the water column indicates that the lake was not eutrophic in 1953. Water quality samples taken since 1953 have all shown phosphorus values higher than those taken by Odum. This indicates that present levels of phosphorus in the lake result from man’s drainage and land-use practices in the drainage basins.

Finding II. to follow….

Learning About What Killed Lake Okeechobee and is still killing it

Today I am including notes from: Draft, A Summary of Progress of the Special Project to Prevent the Eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee, 1975, inspired by my last post. This draft report eventually led to de-chanalizing a substantial portion of the Kissimmee River, the halting of backpumping by the Everglades Agricultural Area, the beginning of Best Management Practices for Agriculture, and conservation for drinking water.

It must be noted that it was the Central and Southern Florida Plan of 1948, after the great flood of 1947, implemented by the Army Corps of Engineers that channelized the Kissimmee River and created the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). It took me years to understand this.  The EAA and its flood protections were created by our federal government. Then acting in lockstep our state government morphed the Everglades Drainage District into the Central and Southern Flood Control District to manage the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District-which included the Everglades Agricultural Area. In 1975, around the time of the Draft publication, the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District was been renamed the South Florida Water Management District. The intensions of the Draft were good, but conflicts of interests continue today with management of the EAA, on both the state and federal level.

Think about it.

So once it was decided the Everglades Agricultural Area could no longer back pump into Lake Okeechobee due to the lake’s eutrophication, the EAA’s government sponsored pollution led to the law suit that now requites all Everglades Agricultural Area “runoff” to go through the Storm Water Treatment Areas to be filtered before it gets to the Conservation Areas thus Everglades National Park. “Lake Okeechobee water” on the other hand sits cooking toxic algae in the still sick lake, before it is sent polluted, unfiltered  to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries and residents of those estuaries have no legal standing.


The Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee was created and is protected as part of the ACOE and SFWMD’s C&SFP, c. 1948-61.

Begin quotes from text, 1975:

Water back pumped from the Everglades Agricultural Area contributes significantly to the cultural eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee. (pg. 23)

The major causative factors of the present cultural eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee are:

  1. Canalization of the tributary rivers of streams (especially the Kissimmee River).
  2. Backpumping of highly enriched waters from the Agricultural Area, south of th lake , into the lake during the wet season.
  3. Upland drainage practices in the lake’s watershed.
  4. Inadequate nutrient conservation, livestock management, and other agricultural practices in the watershed.
  5. Management and regulation of the lake and its tributaries which diminish their ability to absorb nutrients. (pg. 5)

In view of the fact that the cessation of back pumping would result in a reduction of the lakes present water budget by some 12-14 percent and that water conserving is one of the over-riding management objectives for the South Florida region the committee recommend further that “runoff water from the Everglades Agricultural Area be stored in or near the EAA for subsequent re-use as irrigation water.” This will alleviate the present need to use an average of 350,000 acre feet of water for the lake for irrigation in the EAA and balance the loss of the present 330,000 acre feet contributed to the lake by back pumping. (pg. 10)

Legal and Administrative Aspects of Management have been created and charged with managing various aspect of the region. The present management structure evolved in piecemeal response to growing management problems. Agency responsibilities often overlapped and conflicted and there is no balanced, integrated, or well directed management program for the region. (pg. 11)

Since 1948, the major resource management agency in South Florida has been the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District which was created to manage the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project constructed by the U.S. Army  Corps of Engineers. (which includes the EAA.) 


Killing Lake Okeechobee~at least since 1971

I recently received some very interesting comments about a  post I wrote in 2022 featuring  state archived documents. The title? “Summary of Progress, Final Report on the Special Project to Prevent Eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee.”  I decided to share the post again in a different way.

Sometimes looking back makes you wonder if you are going forward…

The hand written corrections and typewritten format on the document really bring it home:

Paragraph two: “The lake has been and is being degraded. Poor land and water management practices in the drainage basin threaten to further degrade and destroy the lake’s indispensable values. This was recognized as early as 1971…”


Milky Atlantic to the C-43 Reservoir and Port Mayaca

C-43 Reservoir construction 9-2-23, EL

Yesterday, September 2, 2023,  my husband Ed flew from Stuart to La Belle located along the Caloosahatchee River. I asked him to take some aerials of the C-43 Reservoir that although having some tribulations will one day will be similar, but larger, than the St. Lucie’s  C-44 Reservoir. Ed agreed and a took some interesting pictures. Ed also took some aerials of the St. Lucie/Indian River Lagoon that was whipped up and milky looking from eight foot seas pushing sand into the inlet from the Atlantic Ocean.

Check out Todd Thurlow’s amazing site, EyeonlakeO,  which in “real-time” measures Lake Okeechobee at 15.38 feet, even after Hurricane Idalia. Hurricane season has at least two more months to go, so we are not home free yet. The ACOE and NOAA are vigilant.

We  continue to be your eye in the sky! See you next week. J&E

I. C-43 Reservoir under construction, along Caloosahatchee River. 9-2-23, about 10:55 am. EL
Location along Caloosahatchee River

II. St. Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon with strange milky look due to high seas, 9-2-23, about 11:30 am. EL

III. S-308 Port Mayaca, Lake Okeechobee visible blue green algae (cyanobacteria) has lessened with cooler weather, but lake water is terribly polluted and blue-green algae remains just dormant. Presently there is no discharging by the ACOE from Lake O into the SLR/IRL. Runoff from C-23, C-24 and C-25 and area runoff continues. 9-2-23, 11:20am. EL

Not Jimmy Buffett…

I hadn’t even opened my eyes this morning when Ed yelled up the stairs: “Jimmy Buffett died.” I picked up my phone from the floor and there was a text  from my brother, from my mother, and from my sister. We went back and forth recalling favorite songs and even a concert. Days of youth in a world so different than today.

I put down the phone.

In disbelief I stared at the wall thinking “Not Jimmy Buffett!” A tear formed in my eye as a flood of memories rose to the surface, especially about my late father.

Middle and high school, days working as a receptionist at  his law firm over summer, driving in with him dressed in tie and suit fulfilling the sometimes thankless job of father and provider. We’d get in the car and I just hoped he’d play Jimmy Buffett. It would make us sing. It would make us laugh. It would make us forget. It would make us remember. It bound us as father and daughter and as Floridians.

I’m sure you have a lot of memories connected to Jimmy Buffett too.

Once I saw Jimmy Buffett  live, not singing, but giving advice…

Today I repost a blog post  from May 15, 2015. It was Ed’s niece Darcy’s University of Miami graduation day. The commencement speaker? None other than Dr. Jimmy Buffett. I hope you’ll enjoy rereading this post as much as I did and the speech at the end? Just like his music, it will make you want to sing along…

Rest in Peace Jimmy, and thank you.

Please click on link below to hear-


Before the Storm, August 27, 2023

These aerials were taken by my husband, Ed Lippisch, on August 27, 2023 around 12:15pm. Other than an operational  burp from Lake Okeechobee through C-44, it’s canals C-23 and C-24  which drain Port St. Lucie, Allapattah Flats, as well as our Tidal Basin – that are causing the present discoloration and decline in water quality. On a good note, though impaired, seagrass beds are visible near the Sandbar and algae is no longer seen from 1000 feet at Port Mayaca.

As we enter the primary hurricane season it’s unfortunate the alternative canal through the Everglades Agricultural Area once considered by the ACOE  in the 1950s to alleviate the discharges is not in place. If history does indeed repeat itself, we must be prepared for more rain and Lake Okeechobee destruction added to the St. Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

We must keep our  eye on lake O!

Most recent ACOE/SFWMD SLR update, 8-22-23
Lake O history, ACOE/SFWMD

Rain and runoff plume exiting St. Lucie Inlet Visibile seagrasses and macroalge Sailfish Flats Sewall’s Point between the St. Luice and Indian RiverPeck’s LakeSL Inlet w/ plume

Sailfish Point on Hutchinson Island is next to St. Lucie Inlet  S-308 at Port Mayaca C44 Canal aka St. Lucie Canal – no algae visible from 1000 feet  



A picture speaks a 1000 words…

Ed’s RV is having its annual so on August 16, 2023 Ed went up in the SuperCub with Scott Kuhns. It was early morning and lighting limited successful outcome of photographs. Thus I have chosen a just a few, that for me, are impactful in what they say about development and agriculture and our environment.  JTL

Roosevelt Bridge, Stuart, Florida.
North River Shores, Martin County, Florida.
Tradition, St. Lucie County, Florida.
Cutting up the western lands, Tradition, St. Lucie County, Florida.

Sugar’s perfect water-control. Martin County, Florida.
Blue-Green algae in St. Lucie Canal (C-44), Martin County, Florida.
S-308 at Port Mayaca, St. Lucie Canal (C-44), Martin County, Florida.
Ed as a passenger over Lake Okeechobee, SuperCub of Scott Kuhns, 2023.


Aerial Update SLR to LO 8-6-23

Ed’s comment when he came home from flight yesterday  was “not as bad as last time.”

Today’s aerials were taken 8-6-23 around 1:30pm. One can see blue-green algae, along the eastern shoreline of Lake Okeechobee, but not as much in the C-44 canal.

The St. Lucie River looks a bluer near Sewall’s Point- perhaps thanks to recent full moon tides and less rain runoff. Seagrass meadows covered in increasing a cyanobacteria and macro algae are visible. The seagrass is returning, but not in as good a shape, after massive and longterm Lake O discharges in 2018, 2016, and 2013 and decades of destruction.

Sandbar near St. Lucie Inlet, 8-28-23, FB Mike Yustin

Ed and I  continue to be your “eye in the sky” and Todd is helping all of us keep an eyeonlakeo now at 15.30 feet according to the SFWMD. Hurricane season should start ramping up. It is not a good situation. More water should be able to be sent south as God intended.

~Lake O, Rim Canal, and C-44 at Port Mayaca’s S-308

~St. Lucie River-Indian River Lagoon. Sewall’s Point divides these waters.

~Note seagrass beds in next two photos. Once 700 acres now much less and impaired.  Good to see it in any case!

Thanks Ed!
Canal system of CSFP SLR/IRL. credit SFWMD


Aerial Update St. Lucie River to Lake O 7-29-23

Northern Lake O algae bloom On Saturday, July 29, 2023, my husband Ed returned from flight with 103 aerial photographs of the St. Lucie River to Lake Okeechobee. When there are so many photographs it is difficult for me to decide which ones to include so I have shared most in gallery format.

The St. Lucie River continues to be darkened by C-23, C-24 and storm water runoff while Lake Okeechobee continues to suffer from cyanobacteria blue-green algae blooms primarily in the north. Ed said there was algae in the middle of the lake but that it was more like a “sheen.” Like gasoline on water.

Ed’s photos show algae on both sides of the St. Luice Canal (C-44), but none at S-80, St. Lucie Locks and Dam, and little visible in the lake -again just a greenish color- at S-308 at Port Mayaca lakeside.

The algae in north Lake Okeechobee is dramatic and looks more clumped than I have witnessed previously. Perhaps wind and rain? Strange…

The only good thing I can say is that the ACOE and SFWMD continue to recommend no discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie River. We’ll see about next week.

On July 25, my brother Todd Thurlow eyeonlakeo texted me that S-308 was open at 1656 cubic feet per second but S-80 remained closed. I would imagine this water let in from the Lake Okeechobee was for canal levels or water supply of agriculture. If I were growing crops I would not wish to accept this water as University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences UF IFAS had notes: “Cyanobacterial toxins can accumulate in crop plants, resulting in injury and yield loss; human health may be affected. Impacts of field crop exposure to cyanotoxins in irrigation water are unknown.

Known or unknown,  it can’t be good.

The historic role of agriculture supported by our state and nation is the primary reason the lake is in such awful condition today; this has been documented since 1969. (U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with Central and South Florida Flood Control District two year study on chemical and biological conditions of Lake Okeechobee, Beyond the 4th Generation, Lamar Johnson 1974.)

On Saturday, July 29 the South Florida Water Management District recorded the lake level at 15.03 feet. Do not pray for rain…





Canal systems dumping polluted fresh water into SLR, SFWMD visual.


Original Little Locktender’s House – St. Lucie Canal

Locktender’s house at St. Lucie Canal lock #2 in the Everglades Drainage District. 1913 (circa). State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

I love this old photograph. I would think it must have been taken sometime between 1916 and 1925 when the Everglades Drainage District was constructing or repairing, (1924), the St. Lucie Canal. Yes, the lonely little house in the wildlands of a slash pine forest saw the the construction of the canal, the lock and spillway, the first locktenders, some wicked storms like the hurricane of 1928 causing the Army Corps of Engineers by 1930 to take over management of both Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie Canal. In 1937 the canal was rededicated as the “Cross State Canal, or Okeechobee Waterway.” It was deepened and widened for higher discharges and for more yacht traffic. By 1941 the St. Lucie Lock and Spillway was replaced as part of this expansion and the southern banks were drastically cut in the direction of the little locktender’s house. I can imagine the stories this little house would tell! Today we don’t have the little house, but we have the next best thing, my little brother!

Watch Todd tell the remarkable history of replacing the lock and spillway and the location of the original locktender’s house throughout the canal’s changes. Todd brilliantly uses historic aerials and images juxtaposed to Google Maps some shared by my mother Sandra Thurlow.



~The site plan: “U.S. Engineer Office – Jacksonville, Florida.  Sept. 1938… To Accompany Specifications June 27, 1939.

~The aerial photo with the locks under construction is dated 2/23/1940

~On Florida Memory the picture of the little house is titled cited “Locktenders house at St. Lucie Canal lock #2 in the Everglades Drainage District. 1913 (circa). State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

~1940 Aerials, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

~Dr. Gary Goforth, 2014 History of the St. Lucie Canal

Early Locks, Thurlow Archives, Courtesy Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

2024 will be the 100 year anniversary of the St. Lucie Canal…

Courtesy Dr. Gary Goforth, History of the St. Lucie Canal 2014.

Aerial/Seagrass Update St. Lucie River also Lake Okeechobee 7-23-23


Today I share my husband Ed Lippisch’s aerial photographs and one video taken around 11:30am on 7-23-23. Also included in the post are photos of reemerging seagrass beds taken by my brother Todd Thurlow on 7-2-23. A wonderful thing although Todd estimates that just under 80 acres were in the area he visited.  

The St. Luice River/Indian River Lagoon is dark from rain, C-23 and C-24 discharge, and stormwater run-off, however most of the ocean looks gorgeous blue. You can even see the nearshore reefs. Seagrass and or macro-algae appear near the sandbars just inside the inlet. Not the 600 acres of yesteryear but some, and this is a good sign. There has been no discharge of Lake Okeechobee since April and that was a small amount with no algae. Nonetheless, it is never good for the river.

Lake Okeechobee shows no major algae blooms near S-308 as just a week ago at Port Mayaca although one can see the long green wisps like shadows in the water. This changes every day and you can follow at eyeonlakeo. This is Todd’s site and it shows Lake Okeechobee at 15 feet. Pray for no hurricanes.

There is algae on the inside gate of S-308 and some along the St. Lucie Canal also known as the C-44 canal as titled when it became part of the Central and South Florida Flood Control Plan of 1948. S-308 is overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers since 1930 but the South Florida Water Management District is involved spaying peroxide pellets on the algae when it gathers in big blue-green-gray rotting clumps as it did last week.  The algae dies but more than likely sinks releasing toxins. A conundrum most definitely….

Thank you to my husband Ed who is in his tenth year documenting our waters by air. All of working together are make a difference. We are watching and they know it. 

ACOE documented algae at S-308 on 7-13-23.



Sailfish Flats between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island – note seagrass and macro algae in dark waters. 
Seagrass with macro-algae near Sandbar 7-2-23, Todd Thurlow.
Hermit crab enjoying seagrass 7-2-23, Todd Thurlow.
Underwater one can see the macro-algae atop seagrass. Macro-algae is increasing due to nutrient pollution and warmer temperatures. 7-2-23, Todd Thurlow.
St. Lucie Inlet with plume juxtaposed to turquoise Atlantic waters.
Roosevelt Bridge at St. Luice River, Stuart (L) and Palm City (R).
St. Lucie Inlet
Atlantic side
Blue green algae in St. Luice Canal
Attachment to FPL cooling pond – algae present
S-308 Port Mayaca at Lake Okeechobee attached to St. Luice Canal
Close up vague algae streaks in lake and in enclosed area locks opening to boat thoroughfare.
Canal systems dumping fresh water into SLR, SFWMD visual of Central and South Florida Flood Control canals of Martin and St. Lucie County.

Dramatic Lake O Algae Aerial Videos S-308 – 7-12-23

Date taken: 7-12-23 at 1pm/Location S-308 and C-44 Port Mayaca, Lake Okeechobee, FL/Pilot Ed Lippisch.

Three videos are included of the large cyanobacteria-blue green algae bloom off of S-308. S-308 opens into the C-44 (St. Lucie Canal leading into Stuart and out to St. Lucie Inlet.) This bloom waxes and wanes based on conditions but it “always there.” Nutrient pollution must be overcome.

S-308 is presently closed by ACOE. Keep your eyeonlakeo today measured at 14.87 feet.

~A picture speaks a 1000 words; a video…


Lake O SLR Algae Aerial Update July 2023

These aerials were taken over Port Mayaca and the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon by Ed Lippisch on 7-7-23 around 11:30am.

The algae bloom on Lake Okeechobee has lessened compared to two weeks ago however, now Cyanobacteria can be seen clearly on the inside of S-308 at Port Mayaca, Lake Okeechobee. This is from boats coming through the locks from Lake Okeechobee at S-308 as the first two photographs display.

“The blue-green algae continues east along C-44 up to the railroad track, about a quarter to a half mile.” Ed Lippisch.

Keep your eyeonlakeo today, Sunday, 7-9-23 at 14.86 feet.

Gates closed at S-308 algae backed up

Boats going through locks S-308 algae from Lake O enters C-44 aka St Lucie Canal

More photos:

S-80 St Lucie Locks and Dam, about 20 miles east on C-44, no visible algae

Burning field along C-44

C-44 Canal-Turnpike bridge

St Lucie South Fork area where C-44 canal meets Fork of St. Lucie River 1st constructed 1916-1924 by the Everglades Drainage District. Tuned over to ACOE in 1930.

Kiplinger Island at Palm City, St Luice River. Tremendous shoaling occurs here due to St Lucie Canal aka C-44 controversial for 100 years.

7-7-23: St. Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon view from Willoughby Creek approaching Witham Field. River is darker with runoff and canal waters but not Lake Okeechobee. No algae.


Most updated chart SFWMD showing inputs for agenda materials 7-7-23. Will be fully updated by 7-13.


Continue to Call Out the Bad Actors-Toxic Lake Okeechobee Todd Thurlow, 2023-06 Sentinel-2 L2A True color

Jacqui, you spoke for the water, for the water had no tongue. And with faux righteousness, Florida’s leaders attacked you. God forbid you call out the bad actors…” 

“Bad scene this morning, It’s the whole lake covered.” Toxic Lake Okeechobee. Professional pilot Dave Stone 6-24-23 of Ft. Meyers.

“Lake Okeechobee is really lit up around Pahokee.” Ed Lippisch, 6-23-23.


“The cyanobacteria is now on inside of S-308 Port Mayaca, Lake O.” Ed Lippisch 6-23-23.

S-80 St. Luice Locks and Dam C-44 Canal. Discharge of “basin” waters 6-23-23, but no Lake Okeechobee water.

“St Luice Inlet post rains 6-21-23.” Dr. Scott Kuhns


St. Lucie River dark with runoff and C-23, C24, C-44 but no Lake O.


Lake Okeechobee on 6-26-23 is at 14.56 feet TT3

“We will continue to call out the bad actors.” JTL

CSFcanal systems discharges polluted water into SLR. SFWMD

SFWMD 6-20-19


“In Full Bloom” Documentation Lake Okeechobee, Early June 2023

Thank you my husband Dr Ed Lippisch our eye in the sky. And thank you to my brother Todd who alerts us through his website when to fly. June 1st we entered hurricane season. If a storm causes the lake level to rise significantly there is a real possibility the ACOE will discharge. LOSOM an updated lake schedule that would be more beneficial to the estuaries has been delayed. Be ready. Make yourself heard.

A Tough Year for Everglades’ Nesting Birds

Abandoned stork nests, Jetport S colony, WCA 3A, as presented 5-11-23 SFWMD GB

Today I am going to put aside the St. Lucie Canal to discuss another very important subject, the birds of the Everglades. Since the late 1800s drainage, farming, and development  has drastically altered the avian environment. As we try to restore what we can, each year the SFWMD reports on nesting outcomes in SFER or the “South Florida Environmental Report.” This is done in “Water Years” that run from May 1 of one year to April 30th of the next.

At the May 11th, 2023 meeting of the South Florida Water Management District, I asked a question to presenter Lawrence Glenn about the “Ecological Conditions Update.” Mr. Glenn was explaining sensitivity to water/food levels and why it had been observed that hundreds to thousands of wood storks and white ibis in Water Conservation Area 3-A of the Everglades had evacuated their nests abandoning their young.

Mr. Glenn’s chart specifically focused on wood storks (WOST) and white ibis (WHIB).  I inquired about other birds nesting in the Everglades. Mr. Glenn explained that for purposes of this scientific report wood storks and white ibis were the sentinel species.

~Note the decline of these species nests below below.

On May 24, 2023, about two weeks after the governing board meeting, I received an email in response to my question from SFWMD avian expert Dr. Mark Cook.  I had had the pleasure of meeting and flying with Dr. Cook in a rare banner-nesting year, in 2021. Dr. Cook who oversees the SFER nesting bird reports gave an in depth explanation to my question about “other birds,” and how the science works. Thank you to the SFWMD and Dr. Cook for allowing me to reprint below. I wanted to share it with you!

Wood storks, roseate spoonbills, white ibis, courtesy SFWMD


Subject: Following up on your question about nesting in the Everglades (May GB)


Good morning, Ms. Thurlow-Lippisch.  At the May Governing Board Meeting you asked Lawrence Glenn if there were other types of birds nesting in the Everglades aside from white ibis and wood storks.  Dr. Mark Cook has responded to your question (below).


Yes, we have about 14 species of wading birds nesting in the Everglades, all of which are monitored to some degree for the wading bird report.


However, there are four species that are used specifically as indicator species to gage restoration success of the freshwater Everglades and to help guide water management: white ibis, wood storks, snowy egrets and great egrets. Multiple aspects of their reproduction are monitored including nesting effort, timing of nesting, location of nesting and reproductive success (numbers of offspring produced per nest). Of these four species, the stork and ibis are particularly useful for understanding the health of the everglades because they are tactile foragers (feed by touch) meaning they need higher densities of prey to feed effectively compared to the visually feeding egrets and in turn their nesting patterns are highly dependent on getting the water right – the right amount of water at the right time and place. Historical hydrological conditions were particularly conducive to successful nesting of these two species. A good example of this was the relatively wetter conditions on the coastal marshes and western prairie marshes in Everglades National Park that promoted good prey production and allow for early nesting of storks and massive super colonies of white ibis in the coastal colonies.


For Florida Bay we have a single indicator species, the roseate spoonbill. This pink beauty is also a tactile forager and as such is highly sensitive to hydrological conditions within the coastal marshes of eastern Florida Bay. This species was almost exclusively restricted to nesting and foraging in Florida Bay but within the past decade it has moved inland to the freshwater Everglades probably because sea level rise has increased water levels in the coastal foraging areas. This species is generally doing poorly in the bay but relatively well in the freshwater Everglades.


As predicted given the relatively dry antecedent conditions, this nesting season has not been a great year for the five indicator species. Nesting effort (numbers of nests) was about average but nest success has ben very low for all species except perhaps the snowy egret. White Ibis and great Egrets started abandoning nests in March-April probably because prey was limited in the Everglades after last year’s extensive drying of WCA-3A. In addition, extensive rain-driven reversals (loss of concentrated prey) in April finished off many of the remaining ibis and egret nests and led to the complete abandonment of wood stork nests in WCA-3A and significantly reduced their nests in ENP. Surprisingly, snowy egrets seem to be doing quite well, possibly because they are feeding in the STAs or elsewhere. My colleagues from University of Florida, who monitor nesting on the ground, have reported very poor growth rates of nestling and high levels of starvation in all species except snowy egrets. Nesting data are currently being processed and will be available as soon as possible.

Roseate spoonbills, courtesy SFWMD

Group shot, SFWMD

Great Egret, SFWMD

Snowy egret, Audubon




Two 1924 “Extreme Tropical Cyclone Rainfall Events” Affecting Completion of the St. Lucie Canal

I want to thank Tony Cristaldi of the National Weather Service, Melbourne, Florida, for writing and sharing historic weather information that gives strong insight into why in 1924 the St. Lucie Canal was so damaged that its completion date has been “clouded in history,” and thus the subject of my most recent blog posts.

The October 1924 Cuba hurricane is the earliest officially classified Category 5 Atlantic hurricane on the SSHS. According to Tony Cristaldi, NWS Melbourne: “Heavy rain fell along, and well ahead (north) of its center, with between 1 and 2 FEET falling across SOFL from Oct 18-23, and this is only part of the story….” Image: courtesy of Wiki.

The Great Rain of 1924, Postponing the St. Lucie Canal 

Storm Damage that Almost Destroyed the St. Lucie Canal

Mr. Cristaldi’s message is below. It is a fascinating read! Tropical Storm #9’s rainfall levels; the Great Cuba Hurricane’s immense rainfall-interestingly, a hurricane who later would be declared a Category 5 Storm; and the combined 1924 rain levels in our region of today’s Treasure Coast of up to three feet !

Thank you Tony for this wonderful documentation -as together we learn all we can for the 100 Year Anniversary of the St. Lucie Canal -coming up in 2024 even though the storm damage pushed its “opening” to 1925 or 1926 and maybe later….

Below: Letter National Weather Service’s Tony Cristaldi:

“Hi Jacqui,

I’ve been an avid reader of your blog for a few years now. I did a some research into this rainfall event, and learned a few things. This was one of two separate extreme tropical cyclone rainfall event which impacted SEFL in October of 1924.

The first, a moderate strength (60 mph) Tropical Storm (#9), was centered over the Gulf of Mexico, well to the west of Florida, but was part of a prolonged wet period which produced between 5-15″ of rainfall up and down the entirety of the Florida east coast from October 4-10.

The second, which occurred only days later, was the infamous “Great Cuba Hurricane of 1924”. Heavy rain fell along, and well ahead (north) of its center, with between 1 and 2 FEET falling across SOFL from Oct 18-23.

While I could not find daily/monthly rainfall totals for the PSL/Stuart area, there are records avaialble for Vero Beach for that month. 25.01″ of rain fell there that month, including almost 12″ from the first system and nearly 9″ from the second (during the 2-day period where 15″ fell at Stuart).

Given the heaviest rainfall totals occurred south of Vero Beach during both events, one can probably assume that between 2.5 and 3 FEET of rain fell near the Inlet entrance that month, a truly historical month in terms of weather.”

Tony Cristaldi
National Weather Service
Melbourne FL

Thank you Tony! And for readers, you can conveniently follow NWSMelbourne  for today’s hurricanes and rainfall events. I know I do! Obsessively!

1924 Storm Damage that Almost Destroyed the St. Luice Canal

Florida Memory, Everglades Drainage District, St. Lucie Canal, undated.

Over the past year, I have been trying to learn everything I can about the history of the St. Lucie Canal. Details are hard to find, especially because the canal has served two masters: Florida’s Everglades Drainage District (1916-1930) and the USA’s Army Corps of Engineers (1930 to present).

I would be remiss if I did not thank the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corps of Engineers for making many outstanding and rare historical documents available to me.

In light of next year’s 2024 “100 Year Anniversary” of the St. Luice Canal, it is my hope that with sufficient access to historical documentation, the present and following generations will continue work to undo the massive ecological damage of the St. Luice Canal; this can only be accomplished with full understanding of its history.

Today, I focus on an ACOE 1954 document entitled:

Basic Considerations, Partial Definite Project Report, Central and Southern Florida Project For Flood Control and Other Purposes, Part IV, Lake Okeechobee and Outlets, Supplement 4–Design Memorandum, Effects of Fresh-Water Discharges Through St. Lucie Canal

The succinct history in this slender document really helps give insight into my previous post, The Great Rain of 1924 and the Postponement of the St. Luice Canal. The Storm of 1924, that occurred in October of the year the canal was “completed” caused serious damage to the St. Lucie Canal and was then followed by famously destructive hurricanes of 1926 and 1928 and then another serious storm in 1930. After such a run of Mother Nature’s wrath, the canal that had been built as the primary control outlet for Lake Okeechobee became too much for the state and thus the federal government took over.

In an alternate universe of my dreams, the St. Lucie Canal was overcome by Mother Nature. She shoaled in the manmade cut through her upland pine and pond cypress forests with the raging waters of Allapattah Flats. Lake Okeechobee was never diked and flows free as God intended. Wildlife abounds. Ofcouse that is not what happened, Humankind, the great controller, had another plan, and thus our world today…

Begin transcription of ACOE document:

c. History–Surveys for a canal route which would allow excess water from Lake Okeechobee to be released in St. Lucie River were made as early as 1905; however, construction was not begun until 1916. The location chosen was selected because it presented the shortest and least expensive route to tidewater. Original construction of the canal to a capacity of 5,000 cubic feet a second with Lake Okeechobee at elevation 15.6 feet was practically complete in 1924 by the Everglades Drainage District. It was controlled by two dams, one near the lake and the other near the lower end. Local runoff from the storm of October 18-21, 1924, overtopped the spoil banks in several places, cut deep channels into the canal, and carried a million yards of eroded material into the channel. The channel capacity was reduced to about 70 percent of the 5,000 cubic feet a second design flow. The spillway at the lower end of the canal was not opened prior to the storm and a channel about 65 feet wide was washed out around the dam down to a bottom elevation of -4 feet. Serious shoaling from local inflow also resulted from the storms of 1926 and 1928. The design capacity of the canal became available after excavation by the drainage district of about 2,000,000 cubic yards of deposited material in 1927 and additional 1,000,000 cubic yards in 1928. However, sand bars formed during the storm of 1930 and channel capacity was again reduced. In 1930 the United States accepted control of Lake Okeechobee as an authorized project and since that date the canal has been maintained and operated by the Corps of Engineers. Construction of fixed spillways at 16 inflow points along the banks of St. Luice Canal was initiated in 1933 in order to prevent sediment from entering the canal. The locations of those spillways are shown on plate 1. Crest elevations were below natural ground but high enough to provide stilling basins in the wash channels upstream. A constricted section about 6,000 feet long, in which the bottom width was only 65 feet instead of 155 feet as designed, was left in the canal near the lower dam. In 1937 that construction was removed and the waterway improved to provide a navigation channel 6 feet deep. The River and Harbor Act of August 26, 1937, provided for replacement of obsolete structures at locks Nos. 1 and 2 in the canal by a new lock and spillway at the site of the lower dam. The main spillway was completed in 1944 except for the Trainter gates. Temporary wooden flashboards were used until the seven steel Trainter gates were installed in 1950. The canal was enlarged in 1949 to provide a navigable depth of 8 feet and a discharge capacity of about 9,000 cubic feet a second with lake stage at 15.6 feet.

End transcription…


Page 3, History w/ my notes

Spillways map referred to in text

Next post, I will continue with Section 5. “Discharges through St. Lucie Canal.”



The Great Rain of 1924 – Postponing the St. Lucie Canal

The condition of this October 23, 1924 Stuart Messenger article makes it difficult to read, but it is important to the history of the St. Luice Canal whose 100 year anniversary is coming up next year in 2024.

In my research, I have noticed the final date of construction of the canal varies in historic documents. Sometimes I see 1925 or 1926. I have chosen to use 1924 because that is the official date used by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection.

This article entitled “Storm Damage Comparatively Light—Heaviest Rain in Fifty Years,” may shed light on why the completion date of the Everglades Drainage District is hard to pin down.

The bolded line under the headline reads: “Fifteen Inches in Two Days–Trains Stalled for Several Hours–Roads Out North and South–Canal Around Locks–Local Damage Very Light–Wires Kept Open With Few Interruptions.”

Trying to be optimistic, the article begins:

“Stuart is back to normal and is counting up its comparatively small losses after the heaviest rainfall in history. Fifteen inches of rain fell in less that forty-eight hours. Rainfall for the past week has been particularly heavy. On Saturday it rained steadily all day and far into to the night. Sunday’s rainfall was heavy and continuous, all day Monday the downpour continued in to early hours of Tuesday morning…”

~The railroad washed out at Rio…

~The river is the highest within the memory of the oldest inhabitants and backed up over the sea wall both north and south of the county bridge…

~The St Lucie hotel dock went out…

~The river washed away fifteen feet of high ground in front of the hotel annex…

~Reports from the west lock on the St. Lucie canal are to the effect that the canal has cut through around the lock and is digging  a wide channel…

~Homes on the South Fork were inundated…

~Water is pouring into the river from the back county in an immense volume. …

Archives, Sandra Henderson Thurlow, Stuart Messenger, 10-23-1924

The erosion cutting around the lock of the St. Lucie Canal creating a wide channel would have spelled failure for controlling the waters of Lake Okeechobee and surrounding basins. Water pouring in from Allapattah Flats known as the “back county” would have exacerbated an already very dangerous situation.

Lost in time, today we read about an October 23rd, 1924 storm where Stuart, Florida experienced a major rain event ironically occurring right around the time the St. Lucie Canal was being completed or was “complete.” Maybe that is why some articles say the canal was finished in 1925 or 1926 when it was really first completed in 1924? It is important for me to get the date right.

If only it had never had never been completed…



48 Years Ago: “Summary of Progress”- Final Report on the Special Project to Prevent Eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee

48 Years Ago: Summary of Progress…

A look into Florida State Archives

Leading up to 2024’s “100 year anniversary of the St. Lucie Canal,” Ed and I visited the State Archives of Florida in Tallahassee. We had called ahead and the archivist had set all aside having to do with the “Final Report on the Special Project to Prevent Eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee.” This very important document, published in November of 1976, was key in directly and indirectly improving the situation of the St. Lucie River and all the Everglades. Its research faced head on the deteriorating health of Lake Okeechobee; documented the importance of Kissimmee River restoration for nutrient reduction and water quality;  called for the halting of back-pumping into Lake Okeechobee from the Everglades Agricultural Area south of the lake; and even inquires implementation of Best Management Practices by the Agriculture industry and stricter rules for sewage management from developing cities.

The seven pages of the document I share today is from the summary and is part of the lead up to the Final Report. As is always the case, the final report is  much more polished. The seven pages of the 1975 “A Summary of Progress of the Special Project to Prevent the Eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee,” is not. You will see handwritten corrections and notes in the margins. A very powerful way to view a working document. “Old school” for sure!

Forty-eight years have passed since this homework led to the famous 1976 publication “The Final Report on the Special Project to Prevent Eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee.” The working document’s historic value cannot cannot be underestimated. Reading it is like looking back into the mirror of time. Here is reflected how much progress has been  made, and how much more still needs to be achieved.

“Lake Okeechobee water quality has been declining noticeably for about twenty years, and the is now best be described as culturally eutrophic…” ~1975 

Today’s 1975 summary of progress led up to 1976  “Final Report…” I will be sharing more of both in the future as we approach the 100 year anniversary of the St. Lucie Canal.

Lake O’s Original Shoreline-Today a Remnant of the “Once Great Forests of Indiantown”

Today is a follow up to my recent post: “The Once Great Forests of Indiantown.” In response, my dear friend and well known engineer Dr. Gary Goforth commented:

“Jacqui, there is a beautiful linear park containing a diverse sample of trees similar to what was in the historic Barley Barber Swamp: the Lake Okeechobee Ridge Park. The park is the last remnant of the original shoreline of Lake Okeechobee. The Rafael E. Sanchez Memorial Trail runs throughout the length of the park and is a part of both the Big Water Heritage Trail and the Great Florida Birding Trail. The trail runs along the original sand/muck berm that was constructed along portions of Lake Okeechobee before the 1926 and 1928 hurricanes washed them out. Access is along US41 just north of the St Lucie Canal.”

The park in Port Mayaca, Martin County – next to Indiantown, is open from dawn ’til dusk, so yesterday afternoon, Luna and I went for a walk in the Rafael E. Sanchez Memorial Trail that Gary told us about. It was fascinating!

The skinny forest was stunning and even with the modern noise from the old Connors Highway ringing in my ears, it took me back about a hundred years. As I walked, I thought: “The park is the last remnant of the original shoreline of Lake Okeechobee; the trail runs along the original sand/muck berm that was constructed along portions of Lake Okeechobee before the 1926 and 1928 hurricanes washed them out…” 

Soon after 1928, the state and federal governments’ answer materialized into the  Herbert Hoover Dike, -forever altering the living-lake, shrinking it and blocking it from expanding.

Lake Okeechobee, SFWMD 

Today I share Luna and my walk through this amazing remnant forest. Once periodically flooded, now dry, Luna and I saw only a few very tall and beautiful cypress trees. But we could imagine the old shoreline full of them with their knees pushing forth from the earth. Luna and I also saw massive strangler-figs and oaks and even the famous white moonvine that once graced the pond apple forest south and east along the lake. Luna and I also saw many cabbage palms. The leaning/curving palms, seeking light, were really beautiful. Certainly a hundred years ago the flora and fauna was very different, but Luna and I did get a “glimpse” and for that I am thankful.

For perspective, the FPL cooling pond lies to the east. The park goes on for six miles well beyond my image below. I hope you’ll check it out! Thank you Gary for your comment and for expanding my knowledge of the once great forests of Indiantown.

FPL cooling pond/ Barley Barber Swamp are located to the east of the linear park.

Luna walking amongst leaning cabbage palms, giant strangler-figs, cypress and oaks. Dogs are allowed on a leash.

A tall cypress tree-maybe some relation to the Barley Barber Swamp?!

Who was Rafael E. Sanchez who must have inspired this wonderful park?

Palm Beach Daily News, October 6, 1994.

1855 vs 2023 Todd Thurlow. The beginning of the park can be seen in southwest corner.