The Beechcraft Baron – whose distinctive wing tip has marked thousands of aerial photos since the infamous algae bloom year of 2016 – is flying to further skies. I thank this airplane for documenting the important issues of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, Lake Okeechobee, and Florida Everglades. Ed and I never gave him a name, other than “the Baron.” I insisted that Ed take some farewell photos before he is handed off to a new owner. I share those photographs today.
~Last Flight Old Friend, I will miss you.
-Early morning sunlight and rain combine in a beautiful farewell to an extraordinary place, St Lucie Inlet, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, Stuart, Florida 8:00am, 1-12-22. Ed Lippisch
-Ed in his favorite Bullsugar shirt and FOS Chair, Mr Bob Mathias smile for a selfie pre-flightWell the weather has been fabulous! Ed and I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
To document the end of the 2021, Ed and the Chair of Florida Oceanographic Society’s Board of Directors, Mr Bob Mathias, flew over the region on December 23 at 2:00 pm with Ed giving his best history lesson of the Central and South Florida Project that so negatively affects the health of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.
Most recently, since 2019, there have been some, but no major discharges from Lake Okeechobee as in 2013, 2016 and 2018. However, intermitent heavy rains have overwhelmed the estuary through C-23, C-24, C-44 and area stormwater runoff. We must remember that originally, prior to drainage the St Lucie received filtered water and less than half the amount being dumped into it today.
As you know, because of recent record state and federal funding and Governor DeSantis, massive efforts are finally underway by the ACOE and SFMWD to improve the situation for the entire Everglades region, and the C-44 Reservoir came on-line in Martin County as the first major completed CERP Project this year. More good news is that the C-23, C-24 Reservoirs are in design by the ACOE, and the C-25 land purchase became complete by the South Florida Water Management District just two weeks ago!
With lots of work to do, we are heading in the right direction and must continue to do more, more, more to get water quality right and seagrass lushly growing again for Florida’s iconic manatees that are not having a happy holiday season.
Good new year’s resolutions we can achieve right in our own backyards to help are to give up fertilizer and plant native and Florida Friendly, and to keep pushing politicians on all levels to “work for water.”
The recent “Riverlution,” 2013, due to the LOST SUMMER, started right here in Matin County and it has spread to the entire state! WE MUST KEEP THE WAVE GOING!
~Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays as we all continue to work for clean waters!
~Jacqui & Ed
St Lucie Inlet: St Lucie Inlet State Park, Sailfish Point, Hutchinson Island, Sewall’s Point, Stuart, Rio, Jensen and Port St Lucie in the distance. This area is the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon confluence. The inlet was dug by pioneers in 1892.
-Various views-Stuart and Rocky Point looking towards St Lucie Inlet and Atlantic Ocean -Looking up the Indian River Lagoon that is 156 miles long -the St Lucie is east of the peninsula of Sewall’s Point.
-Lake Okeechobee’s Port Mayaca S-308 and C-44 Canal
-C-44 Reservoir filling up…Greetings. These aerials were taken November 26, 2021, the day after Thanksgiving, by my husband, Ed Lippisch, and his niece Darci. They took an after Thanksgiving flight and I made sure they took some pictures. It was a glorious Florida day!
Today, I am sharing Ed and Darci’s flight photos of the following:
-S-80 at St Luice Locks and Dam (gate open for C-44 basin runoff)
-And finally, the skinny, but very visible plume exiting at the confluence of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon exiting the St Luice Inlet.
The water quality grade from Florida Oceanographic Society ending November 24th was a “B.” This is good news, however, seagrasses remain sparse and manatees are migrating due to colder weather, hungry, and deaths are way above average due to loss of seagrass throughout the Indian River Lagoon and other parts of the state.
The C-44 Reservoir will very much help improve water quality from the C-44 canal into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. This is a huge step and will be be majorly complemented by the EAA, and C-23/24 Reservoirs in the future. The C-44 Reservoir is being filled incrementally, checking for the structure’s integrity, and is expected to be in full service by the end of next year. Improved water quality is the only way to heal our waters and we need the EAA Reservoir to send the water south!
-Lake Okeechobee appears algae free. Looking east over Structure 308 and the C-44 Canal. FPL Cooling Pond left surrounded by agriculture, mining, and DuPuis Management Area.
-C-44 Reservoir is two and one half miles wide, and two miles long. Note pump station in left foreground. It is being filled slowly by the Army Corp of Engineers. The STA is in closest foreground.-Another angle-Back to pump station view
-C-44 Storm Water Treatment Area’s 6 cells cleansing and treating C-44 water were built by the SFWMD. Reservoir is visible far upper left. Note speck of pump station in the distance.
-Caulkin’s Water Farm is remarkably successful. It cleanses and stores water and was once a citrus grove. Such projects are funded by the Florida Legislature and managed by the SFWMD.
-Various angels of the C-44’s Structure 80, or “The Seven Gates of Hell” that allow both C-44 basin water and Lake Okeechobee water to disrupt salinity and pollute the St Luice River. The gate open in this photo is for C-44 basin water only. Many call this “local basin runoff,” but it is not. In 1916 C-44 busted through the natural ridge that historically separated the St Lucie from Lake Okeechobee.
-St Lucie Inlet looking north towards Sailfish Point. The runoff is from Canals C-44, C23, C-24 and runoff from all our our homes and streets, etc. Pick up dog waste! Don’t fertilize! Go to native and Florida Friendly plants; get on sewer if on septic; demand Agriculture follow Best Management Practices and prove accountability. SAVE OUR RIVERS!-St Lucie River at Witham Field. See you next flight!
Ed and I went up in the Baron recently on October 30th, 2021 and it was a little bumpy. Although I have flown hundreds of times with Ed since the “Lost Summer” of 2013, when I decided I needed to overcome my fear of flying in small planes, sometimes this feeling, again, gets the best of me.
There may be a little turbulence or a vulture goes wizzing by the windshield and I think to myself: “This is it. This is the day. “
No matter how turbulent it gets, Ed always appears unaffected. He trusts the plane, the engineering, the physics of flight. Me? As much of a wonderful miracle as flying in a small plane can be, it always seems a bit, what shall I say, “unnatural.” Every time we land I cross myself thankful for one more flight. Ed always laughs.
What makes me go up again and again? Because every time we go up, it reinforces how much there is to fight for, what a beautiful place we live in along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. From the ground it is beautiful, from the air it’s something hard to describe. Some call this a relative of the overview effect.
I thought I’d share these St Lucie Inlet photos because they are impressive in their own right and also to compare them to what I posted yesterday on a flight from 10-27-21. As you can see light is everything. Appearances shift. On 10-30-21, around 11:00am it was overcast grey/green/blue over St Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park. It is also interesting to note the erosion on the south side of the St Lucie Inlet which was dug by hand as a permanent inlet in 1892 and created the St Lucie Estuary.
You’ll see that our German Shepard, Luna, was nothing but smiles! She reminds us we have so much to smile for!
-Luna is a very good flyer and never doubts the plane or pilot
-The air is great but there’s no place like home, Terra Firma!
These pictures were taken by my husband, Ed Lippisch, on 10-27-21. It was such a busy few days, that I really did not get to look at them until now. The first thing that struck me was the beauty and the interesting geometric shapes. We certainly live in a gorgeous place. This year the river has suffered from tremendous run-off from the C-23, C-24 and C-44 canals as well as stormwater runoff from all of our yards, driveways, and streets. Fortunately, we did not have major, long lasting, discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Fortunately, we were not struck by a hurricane!
I wanted to share this entire series of aerials as I think they complete a picture and give one the feeling of flight. The St Lucie Sailfish Flats look beautiful but please keep in mind that although you will see some dark areas on the sandbars that look like recovering seagrass, reports from Indian Riverkeeper, Mike Connor, and others, report various clinging algae more than lush seagrass beds. My brother, Todd Thurlow, has been reporting on the phenomenon of seagrass loss at recent Rivers Coalition meetings by comparing Google Earth images. You can go to his website eyeonlakeo.com to view in detail.
The St Lucie/Southern IRL has not had a “major event” since 2018 and worse, 2016, when the entire rive became a toxic soup due primarily to the discharges from Lake Okeechobee over an already impaired system. The ACOE and SFWMD continue to move forward on exciting projects that will help improve the river’s woes. The first of these to come on line will be the C-44 Reservoir in Indiantown. This ribbon-cutting will happen this month. I will be reporting on it and other components of CERP’s Indian River Lagoon South that are in motion. With Indian River Lagoon South and the EAA Reservoir there is hope. Actually there is more than hope. Our river one day, shall recover. Please do your part to refrain from fertilizers, and if you have one, keep a clean septic tank until you can go to sewer. Agriculture, too, must do its part, as we continue our journey to build a healthy water future.
-St Lucie Inlet to Atlantic looking beautiful at this time day. Note nearshore reefs.
-Crossroads’ confluence of St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, S. Sewall’s Point – note lack of lush seagrass meadows
Jupiter Inlet and Loxahatchee River– heavy rains causing discoloration
Beechcraft Baron, Ed Lippisch, August 21, 2021, 3:30pm
-Looking towards Stuart over Sewall’s Point, SLR/IRL. Sailfish Point Marina left corner.-Sailfish Flats- note shades of seagrasses but no lush meadows-brown coloration -Over Atlantic-Indian River Lagoon lies east of Sewall’s Point, St Lucie River lies west -Various views
-One can see river’s proximity to Witham Field in Stuart. These photos show darkness of St Lucie due to stormwater runoff off lands and canals C-23. C-24, and C-44. No Lake O discharges.
-St Lucie Inlet
-Stuart Sandbar with many boaters. Water is dark with stormwater and canal runoff but remains to recreational standards.
-West now over S-308, Port Mayaca, Lake O – no visible algae from altitude of 1500 feet. Satellite images do show algae on west and middle of lake. SEE my brother Todd’s website EYEONELAKEO for all info. -Although water looks good at St Luice Inlet at an incoming tide, the estuary is suffering from too much input. Read Florida Oceanographic’s update for details.
Today, August 22, 2021 Lake Okeechobee is at 14.39 feet. This recent TCPalm article by Ed Killer gives insights based on a recent media conference with Col. Kelly of the ACOE.
Ed, Scott, and I, part of your River Warrior team since 2013, continue to visually document the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon by air. Although due to algae at the gates of Port Mayaca the ACOE’s lake schedule has not subjected the St Lucie River to Lake Okeechobee discharges since April 10, 2021, the rains and stormwater runoff from surrounding lands and canals C-23, C-24 are flowing. I know I am not an official keeper of rain, however, the rain gauge in my garden has displayed significant rain over Sewall’s Point in the past weeks. See ACOE & SFWMD recent official documents below.
Today I will share aerials from Dr Scott Kuhns. A view from the Super-Cub. These aerials reflect a visual change in the water color due to the rain. The water is darker and contains sediment, and all other that runs off roads and lawns, and agriculture fields out west. Sometimes over a million acre-feet of discharge a years can come from C-23 and C-24 alone! We do not need any Lake O discharges on top of this. C-44 runoff (see canal map at end of this blog post) is probably on the way as when the canal level is lower than the lake it is usually made to flow in our direction. Right now the lake is at 13.87 feet. Two tropical systems are being watched. Hopefully, we will not have a hurricane! The river over all has been looking great! Seagrasses slowly returning. Better fishing reports.
It is important we stay on top of things. Continue to advocate! Learn all you need to know about #LakeO on my brother Todd’s website eyeonlakeo.
Dr Scott Kuhns, SLR/IRL, yesterday, August 5, 2021 at 10:00 am. Note Atlantic remains blue in color and St Lucie Inlet as well but there is a plume. The estuary and Crossroads of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon-they are more impacted. The final photo of St Lucie Locks and Dam’s S-80 structure is inland and thank goodness remains closed! Thank you Dr Scott Kunhs for being our eye in the sky and longtime River Warrior documenter!
Documenting the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, 2021
Dr Scott Kuhns sent me aerials he took from the St Lucie Inlet this morning, July 28, 2021, at 10am from 2500 feet. Although due to rain there is local basin runoff and C-23/24 dumping into the St Lucie River, there is not Lake Okeechobee discharge mostly due to the presence of algae. So we have been fortunate and our waters have been looking great. So blue! Beechcraft Baron
The second batch of photos I already shared on Facebook. My husband Ed took these photos Saturday, July 24, 2021, from about 1500 feet. Seagrass is budding back! One sees the darker colored runoff water inside the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, but again, there is no Lake Okeechobee water thus still blue out over the nearshore reefs and closer to the St Lucie Inlet/Atlantic Ocean. Last, I will share Ed’s aerials inland of Lake Okeechobee taken on July 24, 2021 as well. The lake aerials show algae along the shoreline, but not so much further out. We must heal all our waters including this lake!
Hopefully there will not be a hurricane this season, and the waters of the St Lucie can continue to recover from previous long-lasting Lake Okeechobee discharges. In any case, Scott, Ed, and I will continue to document.
Thank you pilots!
In closing, I must admit that for my whole life, my favorite color has been green, but I love when it’s blue!
Learn all you need to know on my brother Todd’s website eyeonlakeo Click on image to see Lake O and C-44 discharges so far in 2021.
I’ve had so many calls and reactions to my recent post “Keeping Alive the Power of the Public Voice,” that I’m going to keep sharing my photo archives of the “Riverlution.” Yes, today’s modern Florida water advocacy all started here in Martin County.
This next set of archived photos is dated August 10, 2013, Lost Summer (only seven days after the Rally at the Locks,) and labeled “Beach Rally for the River.” Photos reveal a large crowd at Stuart Beach and aerials of a black coffee/green algae St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Terrible!
For me, one of the all time most inspirational photos is in this collection. I am displaying it as the first one. It shows a little boy raising his arms in glee towards the sky as Ed’s original River Warrior -the yellow Cub- plane passes overhead and the flag flies! Save Our River! We are working not just for ourselves but for the future. Please keep the power of the public voice alive for all our Everglades’ rivers during the optimization of LOSOM. The voice of the people must direct policy and we must continue to lead the way!
(Email to comment: LakeOComments@usace.army.mil)
Beach Rally for the River, August 10, 2013, Stuart, Florida (Thurlow archives)