Category Archives: Department of Environmental Protection

The River Warrior Times ~Sunday, April 25th, 2021

Today, I begin a new blog section, called the “River Warrior Times.” This bi-weekly summary is meant for the general public who may not utilize social media. It is my hope, that this summary will help educate people as it is going to be a fast-paced late spring and summer.


This year, blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) was first spotted in Lake Okeechobee the week of April 5, 2021 and relayed to the SFWMD Governing Board by the public at the April 8 meeting. As the public continues to report these blooms, the Department of Environmental Protection has been testing for toxins. That’s helpful, but who is in charge of water quality anyway?

The Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is the lead agency for water quality for the state of Florida. The SFWMD assist the ACOE with opening and closing Central and South Florida gates and working to build projects. The Department of Agriculture is in charge of Best Management Practices for Agriculture. Circling back, the Department of Environmental Protection oversees Best Management Practices for cities and counties. I call this THE TRIANGLE. Not one agency is in charge. According to Florida Statutes,  the three agencies must work together. In 2019, Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order 19-12 laid out the order  for change to get these agencies working together. Since 2019, the state legislature and state agencies are charged to work to fulfill this order as the public pushes Desantis’ order or just their desire for clean water.

On April 10, 2021, the ACOE stopped discharging to the St Lucie River not because algae had been spotted, but because the Lake Okeechobee was evaporating so quickly the federally protected Everglades Snail Kite nests were at risks. Then, shortly after stopping for the Snail Kites, the ACOE needed to start discharging again because of torrential rains from storms that roared across the state filling up the lake again. By this time, the Department of Environmental Protection had found blooms at 121 parts per billion microsytin at S-308, the structure that opens from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River, thus the Colonel’s decision was to send all discharge from Lake O to the Caloosahatee River (west) and none to the St Lucie. Why? Because of the very high level of toxic algae. Food for thought is also that the Calooshatchee has a wide marsh in front of its structure that filters toxins, the St Lucie’s structure  is in deep water that fills up with algae, there are no filters…

This is good news for the St Lucie. However, there are serous concerns here as there is red tide along the west coast. Water managers and experts on the west coast note that scientifically the present discharges do not exacerbate the red tide issue. I imagine some residents of the west coast do not feel this way.

There is a lot of work to do. It is my belief, that the SFWMD continues to work it’s part of the TRIANGLE to cleanse and send more water south most recently by removing the Old Tamiami Trail to allow more water to go to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay, and amazingly the  EAA Reservoir’s project partnership agreement  was approved with the ACOE last Thursday -meaning construction of the reservoir can begin.

Remember, for water quality to improve, THE TRIANGLE must work together: Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Florida Department of Agriculture; and South Florida Water Management District . 


ACOE Operations Lake O statement, april 22, 2021

SFWMD statement: Ops_Position_Statement__Apr_20_26_2021

Yet another situation that occurred during this past week, announced on April 22, 2021, the ACOE halted a USGS Sediment study of the St Lucie River that would have required the S-308 structure at Lake Okeechobee to open. Why did they halt it? Again, because of the high toxic algae levels. Read their official  press release here.


Ed and I last few over Lake O on April 16 seeing some algae along the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee. Since that time and before, Mike Connor, Indian Riverkeeper, and Paul Gray, Florida Audubon, have displayed on the ground photos of much concern. Reinaldo Diaz, the Lake Worth Lagoon Riverkeeper was the first to spot on east coast and John Cassini, Caloosahatchee Riverkeeper on west.

-April 12, 2021, cyanobacteria at S-308 structure at Lake O that opens to St Lucie River (C-44). Photo Mike Conner, Indian River Keeper.-April 15, 2021, east shoreline of Lake O south of S-308, aerial Ed Lippisch. Algae was also north of S-308. -Photos shared on April 22, 2021 by Florida Oceanographic courtesy of Paul Gray, Florida Audubon, Pahokee Marina. Looking a lot like Central Marine in 2016.


For three years, Mike Knepper of Martin County has been producing videos with a drone about the state spraying of vegetation in Florida lakes and waterbodies. These video are almost exclusively on social media and have started a movement that is “turning over the tables” as the Mr Knepper educates and inspires the public to push state agencies, particularly the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) to reevaluate motivations and outcomes of chemical spraying of floating vegetation, like water-hyacinth.

Recently, (4-18-21) the front page of the Stuart News ran an article by Ed Killer, entitled “Using Chemicals in Savannas Debated.” This article does not focus on Mike Knepper specifically but is a great guide to this issue.

Mr Knepper believes that there is a connection between the toxic algae and the chemicals that get into the environment as the chemicals cause the plants to die and float to the bottom and rot -causing more nitrogen and phosphorus to be released- thus fueling algae blooms. For example, a body such as the Savannas is connected to both the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon watersheds. The Kissimmee River is connected to Lake Okeechobee…

State agencies have been making headway with reflection, and redirection using more mechanical means etc, however; there is much, much more work to do.

I recognize the serious conundrum as an overabundance of floating plants can occur very quickly and explode into population that inhibits functioning flood control, endangering us all.

Mr Knepper says, “The plants? Why are they there ? This is Mother Nature trying to fix things! She is trying to take up all the phosphors and nitrogen through those plants!” 

Is there a better balance? Is spraying, indeed, adding to the toxic algae blooms? Until the next River Warrior Times. Keep fighting!




Tales of the Southern Loop, Miami to Tavernier, Part 3

Tales of the Southern Loop, Stuart to Boyton, Part 1

Tales of the Southern Loop, Boyton to Miami, Part 2

Tales of the Southern Loop, Miami to Tavernier, Part 3A cloud covered sun and a silver moon coated Biscay Bay with a metallic morning light. Today was September 6th, and last night something had changed.

At 3am Ed had shot out of bed. “It’s too quiet in here.”

“It is. That’s why we’re sleeping.” I rolled over putting the pillow over my head.

Ed returned a few minutes later. “The generator stopped working.”

“Oh,”I mumbled and quickly went back to sleep. When I awoke, I found Ed inside the engine room. 

“Good morning,” I said. He looked up.  “So maybe it’s not such a good morning; the generator doesn’t work.” I tried to smile. “But let’s not let this ruin our trip.” 

“Jacqui the oven/stove wont work, the refrigerator and the air-conditioning won’t work, and forget easily charging the phone or computer. We wont be able to anchor out. I was really looking forward to more of that.”

“Yeah, it’s a bummer. But it will still be fun. So we’ll have to depend on marinas to plug in that shore power thing.”

Ed smirked. “I’m surprised you remember- shore power.- In any case, let’s get ADRIFT underway.” Ed closed up the engine room, headed to the helm, and hit the button to raise the anchor. The clickity-clack sound of metal hitting metal echoed throughout the bow and upper helm.

“At least the anchor still works!” I yelled to my Captain. 

ADRIFT crept south in the direction of Tavernier. Once again, it was turning out to be a beautiful day. -Leaving Miami, Biscayne Bay-Card Sound, Biscayne Bay, heading south to the Florida KeysBiscayne Bay was stunning and huge. As we exited the bridge at Card Sound, the waterway started to narrow. Some boats were going very fast. I decided to continue reading my new favorite book, Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades,  rather than complain. I knew Ed was thinking about the generator…

“Hey Ed!” I yelled towards the upper helm. “Did you realize we have been passing the marl transverse glades?”

“Hadn’t really been thinking about them,”  he replied. 

I walked up the ladder and sat beside him. “I’m going to read to you, OK?”

“In contrast to the unobstructed, rimless, and continuously flowing Peat Transverse Glades, the Marl Transverse Glades were raised spillways, receiving water from the Everglades only during the wet season…The significance of of the Marl Transverse Glades for understanding predrainage Everglades hydrology lies not in their volumes of outflow but instead in their indication that Everglades waters from Rockland Marl Marsh typically rose high enough each year to flow out….” 

“Do you know what this means Ed?” 

“No idea…” 

“It means that when the Everglades were high, like now, during hurricane season, water oozed through to Biscayne Bay not just from areas around Ft Lauderdale, but also from south of Miami  to about Homestead. Today that stretch includes cities like Kendall, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Naranja, and Homestead Air Force Base.”

“That is pretty surprising.” Ed replied, seeming to be in better spirits. “So – another reason Biscayne Bay doesn’t get enough fresh water.”

“Look at you!” I lovingly mocked. “I’m surprised you remember!”

-Compare predrainage “marl transverse glades” (southern most arrows) pg. 48 & to post drainage developed areas today, pg. 49 -between Miami and Homestead. In predrainage times, this area McVoy calls the “marl transverse glades,” filled up/flowed over with high Lake O and rain waters oozing through to Biscayne Bay. Today due to development, pumps, and drainage this does not occur. Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades, McVoy, 2011.I looked up from my book. We were in a narrow waterway of mangroves and approaching Key Largo. “Why are those boats going so fast?!” I complained. I couldn’t hold back anymore.

“Because they are allowed to.” Ed replied. “They are in the channel.” Wakes hit up hard against the shoreline.

“They shouldn’t be allowed to go so fast in here. I don’t see how a manatee could survive. And it’s dangerous.” I agonized. 

“Just smile Jacqui!” 

Ed remained silent looking straight ahead. ADRIFT plodded along in repetative wakes while swirling through boat traffic. And I decided – I better just smile…When we arrived in Tavernier, at Mangrove Marina, Ed was once again focusing on the broken generator. Docking was not so easy this time. The winds had kicked up and I was in charge of the lines. I wondered how I’d jump off to the dock if necessary. The engine ground as Ed moved forwards and backwards trying to back into the slip.  We almost smacked into the dock and I yelled loudly realizing the fender was caught on a neighboring house boat. Thankfully, at the last minute, two young dockhands saved us. We thanked them profusely and Ed handed them a tip. 

“Thank God they were here,” I grumbled.

“One day they wont be.” Ed replied. 

“How would I have jumped on that high dock?” 

Ed did not answer. 

“I’m going to open the lazarette to look at this generator again.” I knew Ed would be obsessed until this was resolved.

“OK. I’m going to take a walk,”  I said. I’ll see you in a little bit.”

It was good to get on land and good for Ed and I to take a break from each other. 

Walking the marina, the first thing I noticed, were these weird and beautiful sea anemone like things on the floor of the shallow docking areas. I got down on my stomach to look closer. -It looks like the DREAM OF THE SLEEPING JELLYFISH. Over the course of our stay, I became totally preoccupied with them, checking on them throughout the day and evening. My blog post is above.I continued my walk. Quaint houses lined the streets. “I love it here.” I thought. “There is absolutely nothing like the Florida Keys.” Once my stroll was over, I knew it was time to make it back to see Ed. He was not a happy camper.

“What’s wrong hunny?” I inquired. 

“I’m not sure I will be able to fix the generator, but the marina office gave me a number of a guy to call. It’s Labor Day weekend. I’m not going to bother him.”

“Come on babe, all the days blend together in a place like the Keys. Let’s call him.” Before we called, we decided to take the inflatable canoe out into a small cove. It was so beautiful! The seagrass was lush and Ed thought he saw an otter but it ended up being a mother manatee and and her young calf poking their noses out to breathe.  It was so joyous to just be there next to them as they came up for air. I though about the fast speed boats we’d seen by the mangroves and prayed the mother and calf would be safe. The sun set , we made dinner,  and retired early. I dreamt of sleeping jellyfish and baby manatees.

In the morning I convinced Ed to take a walk, meet my jellyfish, and see the adorable Keys houses. Lo and behold there was a sign! A sign on a red truck that just happened to be the number the marina had given Ed for someone to fix the generator. Ed left a message and Larry Heimer, Blue Earth Marine Services, returned the call! Soon after we met Larry and Wendy. Wonderful people! Ed learned a lot watching and asking questions. Thanks to Larry the generator got fixed!   Ed after the generator was fixed by Larry Heimer and Wendy 🙂Stormy weather forms… I was so happy! Ed was smiling again!

But there was another issue brewing…

We looked up. “Where is this weather coming from?”  

“There’s a system forming,” Larry replied. “You best leave tomorrow if you can.” 

Night fell; Ed and I listened to the band playing.

Lights reflected off the water and I thought about the jellyfish sleeping on their heads on the milky limestone bottom and the thousands of years of time, tide, and water that had formed this remarkable place.

Ed and I watched the heat lightning and toasted our good fortune to find Larry and  Wendy to fix the generator. 

We decided that unless it was really storming, we would head out first morning light….


Florida, The Greatest Real Estate Development in the World, Unless…SLR/IRL

This 1925 Florida News Real Estate Investor’s Guide, reminds us exactly how developers saw Florida in 1925, “as the greatest real estate development in the world!”

Sure, Florida remains perhaps “the greatest real estate development in the world,” unless of course, our waters are, “now and then,” filled with toxic algae.

Let’s hope that the Florida Memory Project’s future timeline will not reflect that our generation allowed the destruction of the greatest real estate market in the world because we thought we had more time that we really did…

Department of Environmental Protection:

Florida Department of Agriculture, Best Management Practices:

Florida Water Management Districts:

Community gets primer on toxic algae | Clay Today, 8-30-17,8268

JTL 9-1-17

Our Common Enemy, Toxic Algae, SLR/IRL

Rocks and algae, Lake O 7-26-17

Definition: caught between a rock and a hard place

“to be in a very difficult situation and to have to make a hard decision”

“State Says Blue-Green Algae in Lake Okeechobee is Not Toxic,”
WPTV, link 7-26-17:

The fact that Lake Okeechobee, the St Lucie River, and other water bodies of our state are in such poor condition puts the state of Florida “between a rock and a hard place.” After all, for centuries just saying the word “Florida” conjured up visions paradise…
Early rendition of the Everglades area including the rivers of the SLR/IRL. (Thurlow Collection.)
Cyanobacteria, that often becomes “toxic algae,” is bad for business. In fact, perhaps nothing is worse for business. It is also bad for people’s health. Hmm? How does the state report toxic algae and fulfill their responsibility for safety without scaring people away? And without hurting business?

The answer is of course that “you really can’t…” But you can be honest and take leadership. You can turn a bad situation into a good one, because after all, a very powerful force of human nature is a common enemy.

Cyanobacteria, toxic algae, is our common enemy.  For ALL of us.

The state has known that Lake Okeechobee has been eutrophic (prone to algae blooms) since at least the 1960s–the time of my birth. Early documentation from the state Geological Societies and Water Management Districts clearly documented the over nutrification of the lake, due to agriculture and development’s run-off exacerbated by channelization of rivers, lakes, the draining of lands, later the spreading of bio-solids (treated human waste) on fields, and a population explosion.

It is time to start diligently approaching the reporting of algae blooms and tracking their sources. There is a lot of area to cover; we can’t just test from the side of the road. Algae is living and changing and morphing every second. It is worth the investment to monitor it for what it is, an enemy.  24 hours a day…

Area of Lake O algae bloom, 7-21-17.

Dept. of Environmental Protection, algae sites reported and tested:,23.6596,-75.3882,32.9764

DEP’s warning to the public regarding algae blooms in water bodies:

Visit Florida’s words on algae blooms, toxic algae and cyanobacteria:


Lake O shoreline, 7-26-17