Category Archives: aerial photos

River Warrior Times 5-16-21

Port Mayaca, Structure S-308 at Lake Okeechobee opens to Canal-44 into St Lucie River. S-308 is open for water supply for agriculture but is not going through S-80 into the St Lucie River/ Indian River Lagoon. Aerial, Ed Lippisch, 5-5-21.

River Warrior Times 5-16-21. This piece is written specially for Lake Okeechobee.

It was my intension to write a summary water piece every two weeks. I last wrote on April 25, 2021.Today, I will try to catch up.

If I had one phrase to describe what has happened since April 25, it would be “high-alert.” Governor DeSantis visited on May 10, giving direction as his executive order 19-12 is the guidepost for the Department of Environmental Protection and the SFWMD.

The blue-green algae bloom at Pahokee Marina, I wrote about last time, was cleaned up through a cooperative of the South Florida Water Management District and the Department of Environmental Protection. This is a first as globs of purple, blue, green, and grey cyanobacteria -blue green algae- sat in marinas and inside canal communities in 2016, and 2018 until they rotted and fell to the bottom. This time, under Governor DeSantis of which DEP and the SFMWD sit organizationally, it was determined (under Section 1 part I of 19-12) to remove the toxic algae via vacuum and chemical treatment, relocating what Palm Beach County could not take safely, far away to District lands away from people and wildlife.

Keith W. Babb, Mayor of Payhokee, attend the May 13 SFWMD Governing Board meeting and was very grateful. You can listen to his comments at 39.00 the beginning of the meeting. Congressman Brian Mast, who led Governor DeSantis’ transition committee, also provided fiery commentary.

Although it is definitely a positive that the toxic algae was removed, we must ask ourselves a question. How are we going to pay for this again, and again, and again? A precedent has been set. Is vacuuming each time sustainable? With Lake Okeechobee in its present condition this is a very relevant question.

As Mark Perry, the Executive Director of Florida Oceanographic has repeatedly stated: “Unless we address the source of the problem in the upper watershed of Lake Okeechobee, we will never reach the 105 metric tons at 40 ppb.” Translated, that means the pollution numbers coming into the lake are high, in some basins over 600 parts per billion phosphorus. You can’t vacuum away as an avalanche of pollution pours in!

The situation is complex. However, the handling of Pahokee Marina is symbolic of a larger problem. I would have liked not only DEP and SFWMD to be in the spotlight at the Pahokee Marina, but also FDASCs the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Why? Because the lake did not get sick overnight, and the history of Lake Okeechobee is an agricultural one. This is reflected in “who” is in charge of water quality.

First, back-pumping fertilized and chemical-leaden water into Lake Okeechobee was common practice and allowed by the by the state. The sugar industry/EAA imparticularly partook of this practice for decades. It almost killed the lake. In the 1970s and 1980s lawsuits forced water that was once back-pumped into Lake Okeechobee to flow south, sparing the lake, but creating a new issue of destroying the Everglades. This in turn spurred other lawsuits so that today Everglades Agriculture Area (EAA) runoff must first be filtered through Storm Water Treatment Areas, south of Lake Okeechobee before it can enter the Everglades Protection Areas or Everglades National Park. Most of this was paid for by taxpayers, just like the clean up at Pahokee Marina.

Lake O, EAA, STAs, and WCAs. (Map SFWMD)

Lake Okeechobee, though in a better position than in 1970 continues to be fed high concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen mostly from agriculture areas north of Lake Okeechobee. Thus destruction already done from the early years is locked up in sediments,  and the new destruction that continues makes for a hyper-eutropic lake that now blooms every year.

Not a good situation. So how is fixing our waters supposed to work? Who is in charge of water quality?

The Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program (373,4595. Florida Statutes) directs the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the South Florid aWater Management District to work together to reduce pollutants and achieve water quality standards in the the Lake Okeechobee, St Lucie River, and Caloosahatchee River watershed through Basin Management Action Plans and Total Maximum Daily Loads program (403.067. Florida Statutes.)”

No one agency is in charge of water quality. Like it or not, in Florida, three agencies have this responsibility. As Florida Statue requires, we must all work together to turn Florida’s organizational chart from a line into a triangle. Until FDEP, SFWMD & FACS are truly working together, there will not be improvement to Lake Okeechobee’s water quality and Florida’s tax payers will be on the hook.

THE TRIANGLE!

Organizational chart State of Florida. Note the members of The Triangle (circled) responsible of water quality. The Dept. of Ag is a cabinet position. DEP and SFWMD are lower agencies but fall under the top tier, the governor. The governor is doing a great job but he can not do it alone!

Links to timely information:

JAX ACOE keeps S-80 closed, adjust flows to Caloosahatchee

SFWMD operations statement Ops_Position_Statement_May_11_17_2021

EyeonLakeO website Todd Thurlow

DEP algae bloom dashboard 

FOS SLR water quality report

Orca report on dead manatees in the IRL by county

 

 

 

21 Days After the Discharges~2021

-St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon March 27, 2021. Photos Dr Scott Kuhns.As we all know, the ACOE began discharging 500 cubic feet per second of Lake Okeechobee water to the St Lucie River on March 6, 2021. At this time the lake was at 15.23 feet. There were/are great concern as wet season is rapidly approaching…

Since March 6th, Ed and I have been documenting the discharges for 2021 so that visually we have a record of changes as time goes on. We have been doing this since 2013’s Lost Summer that spurred a River Movement that turned over the tables, has evolved in many directions, and continues to work on changing Florida water policy today.

In today’s blog post it not Ed and I, but friend Dr Scott Kuhns who is documenting the discharges. Unlike me addicted to my iPhone, Scott uses a professional level camera. Wow!

Presently, Ed’s plane is in the shop so I am very grateful to pilot Steve Schimming and pilot/photographer Kuhns, for filling in and taking these excellent aerials yesterday, March 27, 2021 around 10:30 am. It was a full incoming tide with full moon rising today, March 28th. The water looks beautiful. The photos even reveal the near shore reefs!

Such conditions can push back against 500cfs coming from S-80 as presently there are no discharges from canals C-23 and C-24 because it is bone dry right now. Lake Okeechobee is evaporating and is now at 14.56 feet. This remains high. Please view the information I have included at the end of this blog for details of conditions from Florida Oceanographic as well as SFWMD & ACOE content. No discharges are good discharges but it is wonderful to see these blue aerial photographs as Spring is sprung and wildlife is procreating! Hopefully oysters, fish, and bird life will have a good season and mature before summer storms are arrive.

In closing, thank you Scott and Steve for a classic view from the Cub also known as the “River Warrior II;” so good to see her! She was and remains the “original!

~Documentation St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, March 27, 2021. Scott Kuhns & Steve Schimming reporting from the Piper Super Cub.

-Over nearshore reefs off Peck’s Lake, all photos by Dr Scott Kuhns.-Wide views St Lucie Inlet State Park and St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. -Sailfish Point and St Lucie Inlet note near shore reef! Beautiful! Also damaged by discharges as documented by Harbor Branch. -Great shot of nearshore reefs off the St Lucie Inlet.-Looking towards Stuart and the Crossroads over St Lucie Inlet. -Part of Sandbar area. Could that be seagrass coming up?-Opening to Jupiter Narrows. Note dredge. -Sailfish Flats still devoid of seagrass.-Sewall’s Point between St Lucie River on west and Indian River Lagoon on east-Over south Sewall’s Point looking towards Stuart -Hell’s Gate, bottleneck between Stuart and Sewall’s Point, St Lucie River.-Witham Field, Stuart and looking west.-Below: Over Langford Landing that still looks like an atom bomb hit after five years of development-after they tore down all of Francis Langford’s beautiful trees and flattened the historic bluff that pirates used to use for an outlook. I hope they plant some vegetation soon! Aggg!-Roosevelt Bride over St Lucie River.-Looking west towards the Roosevelt Bridge, Palm City and Rio in foreground. South Fork and Beginning of North Fork visible-Another view of Langford Landing with no trees  after five years, the former home of the famous and generous Frances Langford.-Langford Landing marina is filling up and is located at the merging point of north Sewall’s Point and Rio. This would look a lot better with some stately trees.-Here we see the Harborage Marina near the Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart/Rio. River water is not blue here as flushing is poor compared to St Lucie Inlet. The St Lucie has been ravaged by discharges from C-44, Lake O, C-23 and C-24 beginning in the 1920s.-Looking west over the Roosevelt Bridge note C-23 Canal in distance that separates Martin and St Luice County. Over-drainage is the root of Florida’s water problems today. As a farmer once told me, “We spent 100 years taking the water off the land, and we’ll spend 100 years putting it back on…”

 

Previous Posts Jacqui & Ed:

Day Before the Discharges, March 5, 2021

7 Days After the Discharges

15 Days After the Discharges: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2021/03/22/15-days-after-the-discharges-2021/

Helpful Recent Information:

Florida Oceanographic water quality report grades a “B” for March 24, 2021 click here.

ACOE March 26, 2021 press release about reduction in Caloosahatchee Lake O releases, St Luice to remain the same click here.

ACOE, Lake O on 3-28-21, at 14.56 feet: https://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm

SFWMD staff’s recommendation to the Corps regarding Lake Okeechobee operations for the period March 23 to March 29, 2021: Ops_Position_Statement__Mar_23_29_2021

 

15 Days After the Discharges~2021

Ed and I continue to  document the discharges by air – “a picture speaks 1000 words…” ACOE continues discharging from Lake Okeechobee at 500 cubic feet per second as reported last week and week before.  Lake Okeechobee is going down, and today, 3-22-21, sits at 14.79 feet.

Previous Posts:  

Day Before the Discharges, March 5, 2021

7 Days After the Discharges

Information: 

~Most recent ACOE Periodic Scientist Call, 3-10-16: Periodic_Scientists_Call_2021-03-09

~SFWMD 3-16-21: Ops_Position_Statement__Mar_16_22_2021

~Florida Oceanographic Society  WQ Report, 3-11-21/3-17-21

Aerials taken over St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon on 3-21-21, 12.30 pm, incoming tide,  over St Lucie Inlet and Sailfish Flats between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island, Martin County, Florida. One can see the effects with sediment cloud discharging into Atlantic Ocean and darkening waters. Nonetheless, salinity conditions are safe for oysters and Florida Oceanographic has water quality at a B-. Please read information section above for details.

See you next week. 

J&E 

Aerials 3-21-21 E&J Lippisch

 

 

 

 

7 Days After ~Discharges March 2021

~Ed takes a picture at 3000 feet

I. HELPFUL INFORMATION:

1. ACOE Statement regarding discharging March 5, 2020

2. Lake Okeechobee level 15.06 feet

3. ACOE Pulse Release Schedule: 4.SFWMD staff’s recommendation to the Corps regarding Lake Okeechobee operations       for the period March 2 to March 8, and March 9 to March 15, 2021: Ops_Position_Statement__Mar_02_08_2021 

Ops_Position_Statement__Mar_09_15_2021 

5. Florida Oceanographic’s Weekly Water Quality Report 

6. HAB update and science data: Todd Thurlow’s website eyeonelakeo

II. DOCUMENTING THE DISCHARGES -all photos taken 3-13-21 by J&E on outgoing tide around 1pm. Friday, March 5, my husband Ed and I , took aerials of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon just one day before the Army Corps of Engineers began discharging to the St Lucie River on March 6, 2021. I can’t say that in all our years of taking photographs since 2013, we have done so just one day before discharges began. Thus, now Ed and my goal is to take photos every week as long as the discharges continue. This will give us a really good opportunity for visual comparison.

We all know a picture speaks a thousand words…

Today, Saturday, March 13, 2021, is exactly one week after discharges began-(this time). You can see last week’s photos here! Do you think they were prettier than todays? I must admit, today, the water coloring looked better than I anticipated and that’s good news. This may not be the case in the coming weeks especially if the ACOE ups the discharge level.

We shall see.

~Jacqui and Ed

-St Lucie Inlet and Sailfish Flats at Sailfish Point-Sailfish Flats with no visible seagrass-St Lucie Inlet -A faint plume is visible going south along Jupiter Island-St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon-Looking south over Hutchinson Island at St Lucie Inlet-Views north along Indian River Lagoon -At St Lucie Inlet looking over Jupiter Narrows to Port Salerno and Stuart-Water just outside St Lucie Inlet on north side, reefs visible as is sediment exiting inlet -Another view encompassing almost all: St Lucie River, Southern Indian River Lagoon -Looking south towards Palm City where the South Fork connects to the C-44 and Lake Okeechobee when structure S-80 and S-308 are open. -Looking east toward the cross shape and forks of the St Lucie River. IRL in foreground. Sewall’s Point lies between the St Lucie and IRL.

Day Before the Discharges, March 5, 2021

Yesterday, Friday, March 5, 2021, around 3:30pm, my husband Ed and I, took a flight over St Luice River/Indian River Lagoon. We knew we needed to document because word on the street had been that there was a good chance, with Lake Okeechobee over 15.00 feet, and rainy season approaching, the SFWMD and ACOE would soon be recommending a special HAB DEVIATION-discharging to the estuaries. Since 1948, the two agencies have worked together to manage the Central and South Florida System

In any case, when Ed and I heard the announcement 4:48pm, less than an hour after arriving home from our flight, -that the ACOE would open S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam from Lake Okeechobee- “tomorrow, March 6th,” we were speechless. 

“Wow. Thank God we got up in the plane,” I said to Ed. 

Today, I offer our St Luice/Indian River aerials as a visual day-before-discharges baseline.  Of course I am terribly disappointed. Ed keeps telling me I need to cheer up. I doubt that  I will, but I can say that  I am grateful that now water will also start going south, and that natural resources are being taken into consideration by the agencies. Unfortunately, there are not so many natural resources left. 

~As we have since 2013, Ed and I will continue to document the discharges. 

Please read the ACOE March 5, 2021  announcement to begin Lake O discharges to the estuaries.

For the technical, please read the SFWMD Operation Position Statement March 4, 2021: Ops_Position_Statement__Mar_02_08_2021

SFWMD image: C&SFFCP’s canals to the St Lucie. The western C-44 and Lake Okeechobee had no historic connection the the St Lucie River. The first five photos were taken in the area of the St Lucie Inlet over Sailfish Flats between Sewall’s and Sailfish Points. The flats presently are devoid of seagrasses. -Looking east over the St Lucie/Indian River estuary from Stuart to the Atlantic Ocean.-Looking south to Jupiter Narrows of the Indian River Lagoon. The St Lucie enters around the peninsula of Sewall’s Point. -St Lucie Inlet and “Crossroads/” Where the St Lucie and Indian River meet and exit the St Lucie Inlet.  -Close up of St Lucie Inlet and Crossroads.-Looking north, up the Indian River Lagoon.  -Jupiter Narrows looking south over Peck’s Lake. Note a controlled burn in Hobe Sound in the distance. -North fork of the Loxahatchee River lies in Hobe Sound and Jupiter just south of the St Lucie River. -Circling back over the St Lucie Inlet near St Lucie Inlet State Park on Jupiter Island. Here you can clearly see the waters that lie between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point at the Crossroads of the SLR/IRL. -Looking west over Sewall’s Point and Witham Field towards Stuart one sees the north and south fork of the St Lucie River and the Indian River Lagoon on the west side of the peninsula. Look hard and you will see the straight line of the C-23 canal-the boarder of Martin and St Lucie Counties.

SLR/IRL up to 7000 feet

~Documenting the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon. Sewall’s Point, Ed and my home, lies between the St Lucie & Indian River Lagoon. My husband, Ed Lippisch, flew high, up to 7000 feet, to take photos of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and S-80 (St Lucie Locks and Dam), on Sunday, February 21. The pictures were taken around 2:45pm on a very windy day. (Thus I declined an invitation!) Ed basically made a big circle. 

I am including all 52 photos as each one presents a slightly different perspective. Ed flew from the Crossroads and inlet of the SLR/IRL west to S-80 along the C-44 canal. There he saw no discharges coming through the gates from either the C-44 basin or Lake Okeechobee. Most recently, the ACOE halted discharges on January 9th, 2021 after 3 months of discharging. The river is starting to recover in appearance, but not soul.

Today, Lake Okeechobee is at 15.42 feet.

Tomorrow at 3pm the ACOE will hold a media call to announce their operational decisions for the coming week/s. James Yochem, spokesman for the Corp, has shared the following media advisory. The public usually does not speak on these calls but can listen-in. 

MEDIA ADVISORY:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will conduct a briefing with interested media representatives regarding water management for Lake Okeechobee and south Florida. The media briefing will be held Feb. 25 at 3 p.m.

Please join the call using this information:

US Toll Free    844-800-2712
Access code     199 453 9583

If you are asked for an attendee ID number, dial #

It is very important that we are paying attention to “all things river”and “speaking up for the St Lucie” when possible as we approach wet and hurricane seasons. 

Thank you Ed for the recent aerials!

~To view Ed’s photo essay documentation prior to this one on February 3, 2021, see Milky Waters!

~To review what happened to the St Lucie in Toxic 2016, see Too Unthinkable.

About Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 

Milky Waters

~St Lucie Inlet with Crossroads of SLR/ILR at Sewall’s Point Ed’s February 3, 2021 photos of the St Lucie River & Indian River Lagoon at the St Lucie Inlet are unusual. Taken during cold temperatures and windy conditions at 2:15pm – at “dead high tide,” they show the incoming blue waters with a milky quality juxtaposed to the darker estuarine. This combination is one I have never seen, ever. Ed and I have been documenting  since 2013. When I first saw these photos, I posted a few on Facebook stating: “Interesting…”

Later, my brother Todd wrote back: 

“I just saw Ed’s pictures of the river.  When we were out last weekend the St. Lucie was that milky blue.  With the pounding waves offshore, the water was full of suspended sand.  You would think that sand is actually beneficial when it is transported inside the estuaries to settle on top of the muck bottom.  I did YouTube videos of the Bahamas after Dorian when the entire Bahama bank and outer reefs were that same milky blue.”

So that’s what’s going on! Interesting! 

Today I share more of Ed’s recent photos. They are taken from 4000+ feet which gives a much broader perspective and highlights the beauty of the St Lucie Inlet region in spite our struggle to revive our seagrasses and protect our water from discharges, especially those of Lake Okeechobee. On February 3, when these aerials were taken, the ACOE was not discharging having halted January 9th, 2021 after 3 months. At the present moment the ACOE does not have plans to discharge from Lake Okeechobee. The lake is presently sitting at 15.37 feet. 

This could be problematic for the St Lucie come summer…

*Thank you to my husband, Ed Lippisch for taking these photos! 

 

 

The Green Ridge

Although I first took this photo on January 21, 2021 to document the layer of smoke hovering at the horizon due to the burning sugarcane fields, I later noticed the clear aerial composition of the Green Ridge. Thus I share today…

Looking even briefly at the photograph, you will notice that this ridge is scraped flat by agriculture fields and 1-95 swinging over it – to take advantage of the high 30-35 foot topography.

So what is the Green Ridge and why is it important to the St Lucie River?

You may have recently read my post on Allapattah Flats where my brother utilized the map below from a 1960’s U.S.Geological Survey, “Martin County” report, on water resources prepared by William F. Lichtler? This report gives an excellent breakdown on pages 7-11; but even if you don’t read it, you can see it!

The Green Ridge guided waters south as they traveled slowly through the marshy Eastern Flatlands being deepest closest to the Orlando Ridge, Allapattah Flats. (For reference, today Indiantown lies in the southern portion of the Orlando Ridge.)

When the St Lucie Canal, (C-44) was cut ca. 1914-1923 and then deepened, widened, and “improved” many times since, it caused the waters moving southeast to shoot down into the St Lucie. Today, due to agriculture and development, these water are polluted and basically unfiltered and have been allowed to be so for many, many years.

And when Lake Okeechobee is opened into the St Lucie Canal…we all know what happens then. Complete destruction from a water source, Lake Okeechobee, that also was never connected to the St Lucie!

For years I tried to understand the Green Ridge, and it’s importance, now I think I do. In restoring our waters it is helpful to be able to envision how Nature functioned before humans altered the landscape to the point that she is almost unrecognizable. 

-Red baloon designates the Green Ridge

 

Finding the Shark River

When Ed and I recently visited Flamingo and rented a boat to explore White Water Bay, my goal had been to find the Shark River. I never found it…

I had wanted to see this river because although there are many Everglades’ rivers, the Shark is the most associated with Shark River Slough. Even though this slough, this river of grass, has been amputated by the Everglades Agricultural Area, Tamiami Trail, and eastern coastal development, getting waters into Shark River Slough and the Shark River still translates and is actually improving: “Sending Water South.”

So we took a flight…

Ponce de Leon Bay, where much of this water exits, is particularly breathtaking to see. The geometric shapes, shades of green, brown, and blue create a giant puzzle. It makes me want to put all the pieces back tother again.

It was so wonderful to finally find the Shark River!  I wanted you to see it too! The primary goal remains, to send more water south; this we must envision…

-Everglades Rivers flowing southwest out of Shark River Slough 1-21-21, photos JTL&EL -Ponce de Leon Bay where Shark River exits into Florida Bay The Shark River is the primary river you see coming into this area of Ponce de Leon Bay. White Water Bay  is to the right. It all kind of blends together. 

  1. Shark River, red dot follow northeast; 2. Shark River Slough, large most far right area above shark river -seemingly brownish green – running into Shark River 3. Water Water Bay appears as a dark green depression southeast of and connected to the Shark River; 4. Shark River exits at Ponce de Leon Bay into Florida Bay. Florida Bay is in dire need of more fresh water. 

Documenting the Discharges, December 2020

Documenting the Discharges, December 2020

Eyeonlakeo

I posted most of these photos on Facebook, but today I will give explanations and document on my blog. From above, our St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon remains beautiful, but we must be sensitive to the losses beneath the waters. These aerials were taken during  a “slack tide” between 12 and 2pm on December 9, 2020 by my husband, Ed Lippisch. December 9th was the last of five days the ACOE stopped discharging from Lake Okeechobee; however S-80 was discharging “local runoff.” (Click on chart above.) Unfortunately, due to high lake level and lack of storage reservoirs, since these aerials were taken, the ACOE has begun ramping up Lake discharges once again. 

Below Lawrence Glenn of the South Florid Water Management gives a comprehensive ecological report covering low-salinities and loss of oyster spat in the St Lucie and other aspects, positive and negative, for the entire Everglades system.

Below is an explanation of aerials documenting discharges December 9, 2020. All photos by Ed Lippisch.

-S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam discharging local basin S-80 runoff on December 9, 2020

S-308 at Port Mayaca, Lake Okeechobee closed on December 9, 2020. No algae visible. 

-Plume of along Jupiter Island south of St Lucie Inlet