Category Archives: St Luice River and C-44 Canal

Visual Update SLR/IRL June 23, 2022

I am very fortunate to have a team of people, “River Warriors” who help me document from sky to water the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Today, I share photos taken by friend  Mary Radabaugh who overnighted in the area over Father’s Day weekend, June 18-19, 2022. She took amazing photos of nature: live sand dollars, growing seagrasses, wading birds, manatees, and sea turtles. Life is returning to the area.

Next, Dr Scott Kuhns shares five aerials he took the same weekend, on June 18,  around 11:30am. These photographs reveal clear waters with rain runoff plume over St Lucie Inlet and nearshore reefs. There is also a photo of the C-44 Reservoir filled to just over ten feet. This reservoir sits on the C-44 Canal and was just completed this past year as the first major CERP project. It is scheduled to be operational by 2023, although the ACOE is trying for earlier.

My husband, Dr Ed Lippisch, took his plane up yesterday. He shares four photos from June 22, 2022 around 12:30 pm that encompass the estuary from a higher altitude. The darker rain runoff is more visible. The estuary still looks good in the region near the St Lucie Inlet. Higher up the north and south forks the water is darker. There have not been major discharges from Lake Okeechobee in over three years. This is a very good thing and we must continue to make this our goal.

Thank you for all who fight for a clean and healthy St Lucie River!Periodic_Scientists_Call_2022-06-21

ST LUCIE RIVER/INDIAN RIVER LAGOON

I.-Mary Radabaugh, living sand dollar and more life, Sandbar near St Lucie Inlet between Sewall’s Point & Hutchinson Island, 6-18/19-22

 

I am adding two more wildlife videos 4:35pm, 6-23-22

A. Spotted Eagle Rays at the Sandbar, June 19, 2022,  by my sister Jenny and her husband Mike Flaugh.

B. Trigger Fish, Powers family dock, S. Sewall’s Point, IRL side June 23, 2022.

 

II.-Scott Kuhns, SuperCub, June 18, 2022 near St Lucie Inlet and C-44 Reservoir, 6-18-22.

 

III.-Ed Lippisch, Van RV, St Lucie Inlet SLR/IRL  June 22, 2022. 6-22-22.

SFWMD canal and basin map.

 

 

Not too Bad…

I visited my mother yesterday and we talked about the tremendous recent rains. We sat inside to chat because the mosquitoes were so bad outside.

This is about how our conversation went:

Jacqui: “I just took a picture of another seven inches in my rain gauge.”

Sandy: “Yes, I have dumped out over fifteen inches of rain in mine since that tropical disturbance…”  (6-3-22)

In spite of all this rain, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon doesn’t look too bad. Here are aerials taken by my husband, Ed Lippisch, and friend, Scott Kuhns, on June 11, 2022 to show what the area looks like. The St Lucie itself does look dark brown and there is a plume from runoff, but overall it is “not too bad…”

We will continue to be your eye in the sky documenting the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

#NOLAKEO

-Ed Lippisch, RV, June 11, 2022 10:30am. St Lucie Inlet. -Roosevelt Bridge, St Lucie River 

-Scott Kuhns, SuperCub. June 11, 11:30 am. St Lucie Inlet. -Shawn Engebretsen flies his T-6 on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean & IRL 

The St Lucie River Central & South Florida Project Canal System SFWMD-June 11, 2022 South Sewall’s Point, JTL. My mom lives in North Sewall’s Point. 

The Incredible Wildlife, C-44 Reservoir/STA

-Road to the C-44 Reservoir pump station, speed limit is 25 miles per hour.Keeping you up to date…

I’ve had the chance to go back out to the C-44 Reservoir/Storm Water Treatment area on February 19, 2022, and it is a sight to see! The wildlife! I shared many of these photos on Facebook; I am posting on my blog for posterity. I hope you enjoy.

C-44 R/STA Wildlife video SFMWD

C-44 Reservoir Filling Up

SFWMD Press Release CERP C-44 R/STA ribbon-cutting, Dec.6, 2021  

-Empty apple snail found at C-44 R/STA evidence of Snail Kites!WHITE PELICANS

The drive to the Reservoir from Citrus Boulevard is long and slow; on your way you pass the Storm Water Treatment Area that consists of six cells. During an earlier visit, I saw numerous endangered Everglades’ Snail Kites flying over looking for apple snails. I learned at SFWMD Governing Board meetings that the birds had many successful nest here.

When I visited just last week, I saw a large flock of white pelicans! What a treat, I have never really seen them before. Maybe once in Sebastian.  They are huge and I noticed they have black markings under their wings. They were flying around in groups overhead, like modern-day pterodactyls.  So cool.

 

DEER

Almost immediately after seeing the white pelicans, I saw deer. I was careful to stay my distance and could see them running along the storm water treatment of Cell 2. They looked healthy and happy as there is plenty to eat and there is no hunting allowed at the Reservoir/STA.

INDIGO SNAKES

One of the main reasons you have to go slow is the federally threatened Eastern Indigo Snake. Snakes often warm themselves on the pavement. As a kid there were many indigo snakes in St Lucie Estates in Stuart. They are docile, large, and a striking blue/black in color, just beautiful. My mother used to bring them to my brother, sister and I to look at. Today there are hardly any. I saw no indigos during my C-44 Reservoir/STA visit but I did see a friendly black racer. He or she was warming right at the base of the pump station at the reservoir.-Panoramic view of the giant C-44 Reservoir. About two and a half miles across in every direction.

ALLIGATORS

Alligators are also in on the new real estate and can been seen warming themselves along the edge of the Reservoir. This photo is by Sean Cooley, SFWMD Communications Director who I was with this day. These alligators must have walked up a thirty foot berm and then down into the reservoir! “Build and they will come!” Love it!

-The ACOE is filling up the C-44 Reservoir to its second level. Five feet each time, for three times, to reach fifteen feet. The reservoir will be monitored for safety and integrity throughout 2022.

-Pump Station S-401 brings water in from C-44 Canal-A view from the top of reservoir’s edge looking east over pump station confectioning canal, and STAs in distance-Sean Cooley and I at the reservoir as it fills up. Sean is communications director for SFWMD and previously worked for Audubon.Evening falls…the alligators fall into sleep to awake for a new and wonderful day at C-44 Reservoir/STA.

WATCH THIS GREAT SFWMD YouTube  Wildlife Video of C-44R/STA

Together with the ACOE, C-23/24 STA

-Selfie with ACOE Col. Jamie Booth, courtesy of Brigida I. Sanchez, USACOE Public Affairs.-Rounding an oxbow of the North Fork of the St Lucie River, tour with ACOE, February 18, 2022.The St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon had a great day, February 18, 2022. The C-23/24 Storm Water Treatment Area for CERP‘s “Indian River Lagoon South” broke ground in St Lucie County. In this case, the SFWMD bought the land and the ACOE builds the projects. As they have since 2000, when CERP was first authorized, the ACOE & SFWMD work together. Component C-23/24 was first authorized by Congress in 2007; this project has waited patiently for its debut.

I noticed right off the bat that the Army Corp’s words spoken at the ceremony were more personal, more empathetic than I had ever heard before.Lt. Col. Todd Polk:

“I can already see the eelgrass in the lagoon. I see the healthy wetland. I can see the birds and fish. I see our neighbors in St. Lucie and Martin counties making a living, enjoying and recreating in the restored environment.”

Col. Jamie Booth:

“This feels like a watershed moment….”

For entire ACOE presentation click here.

~It was quite windy and the outstanding educational project posters the ACOE had created were blown down. I asked I they would send me a PDF of the posters so I could share them.

Thank to the ACOE for methodically moving forward with with a modern mission to heal our waters. Together, we will get there!

SEE LARGE PDF BY CLICKING LINK BELOW IMAGE.

1.

POSTER_C-23_24_020822

2.

IRL_S_OVERVIEW

3.

IRL_S_FUTURE_BENEFITS

4.

IRL_S_C44

-SFWMD Comm. Dir, JTL, H.M. Ridgley, Evan’s Properties, courtesy of Brigida I. Sanchez, USACOE Public Affairs.

PHOTOS FROM RIBION CUTTING AND TOUR OF NORTH FORK OF ST LUCIE RIVER THAT FOLLOWED GROUNDBREAKING.

“Smile!”press release acoe & sfwmd“Chairman SFWMD Governing Board, Chauncey Goss, wears his ACOE/SFWMD cap!” Thank you for driving from Sanibel to speak Chauncey! Thank you to City of Stuart’s Mayor Merritt Matheson who arranged for the boat tour with help from Captains for Clean Water & Indian Riverkeeper. After the groundbreaking, officials toured the C-24 Canal and North Fork of the St Lucie River – filling three crafts. It is priceless for the agencies to witness on the ground/on the water the waterbodies we are working to restore!

-My boat was captained by Mike Holiday, Captains for Clean Water. Passengers left to right St Lucie County Commissioner Frannie Hutchinson who is credited along with St Lucie County Commission for keeping this project alive for 20 years and then getting it to groundbreaking, no simple task; ACOE Col. Jamie Booth; Captain Mike Holiday; Stuart Mayor, Merritt Matheson; and Exec. Dir SFWMD Drew Bartlett.

It was so exciting to show the Col. Booth the remaining beautiful North Fork of the St Lucie River that is designated a state designated aquatic preserve. See video below!

The St Lucie River was originally a large fresh water “stream” that ran into the Indian River Lagoon. Now it is connected to multiple canals.

Senate Bill 2508 in Black, White and Toxic Algae Green

Toxic algae under the Evans Crary Bridge, St Lucie River, Sewall’s Point 2016. There have not been long-standing, major destructive discharges to the St Lucie or Caloosahtchee since 2018. We certainly do not want them to return.

What is Senate Bill 2508? So it puts a constraint on how you optimize and operate Lake Okeechobee. It elevates water supply above all other system-wide objectives for lake operations. Three years of collective stakeholder work on LOSOM would be overridden forcing water supply guarantees in the EAA that consists primarily of sugarcane. Oh yeah, and if the SFWMD doesn’t conform, no money for CERP projects.

Today I offer Senate Bill 2580 Environmental Resources, which is part of Senate Bill 2500 Appropriations in “black and white.”

First, I share the easy to understand “Background and Effects” of the Bill that was given to me by South Florida Water Management staff at the beginning of the Governing Board Meeting, Thursday, February 10, 2022.

Second, you can read the entire: Senate Bill 2508 Environmental Resources

Third, you can read the entire Senate Bill 2500 Appropriations 

Fourth, highlights of Senate Bill 2508 Environmental Resources include lines 246-273 and 336-351

Fifth, highlights of Senate Bill 2500 Appropriations include section 1647.

Sixth, I offer the response of Governor Ron DeSantis that was also provided to me at the beginning of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board meeting held Thursday, February 10, 2022. It is time to fight for our estuaries once again. Watch the SFWMD meeting here statrting at 1:23.

Last Flight Old Friend

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 with Baron 6-19-2016

-Ed with Baron 10-30-21.

-Me kissing Baron goodbye…

An After Thanksgiving Flight

-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-308 at Lake Okeechobee and Port Mayaca

-The C-44 Canal

-The ACOE’s recently completed  C-44 Reservoir, part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan’s INDIAN RIVER LAGOON SOUTH projectbeing filled with C-44 Canal water- in Indiantown. 

-The South Florida Water Management District’s C-44 Reservoir Storm Water Treatment Area-receiving the water from the reservoir and cleaning it before it is returned to the canal and thus the St Lucie River

-Wonderfully performing Caulkins Water Farm

-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!

The St Lucie River was originally a large fresh water “stream” that ran into the Indian River Lagoon. An inlet was cut in 1892.

 

Reversing the C-Canals’ Destruction

-C-25, Taylor Creek, Ft Pierce, FL July 20, 2013 Jacqui & Ed Lippisch

This aerial photo is an old one. Taken in July of 2013, it became one of the “poster-photos” in the fight to fix the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. This photograph is not of Lake Okeechobee water, but the polluted runoff of C-25, Ft Pierce, St Lucie County.

Yesterday, the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board approved the purchase of 1,583 acres to create a reservoir and storm water treatment area for the the C-25. This means, that over time, this horrible looking sediment-pollution plume will be lessened or even disappear. Good for the Indian River’s seagrass! Good for the hard working residents!

What are the C-Canals anyway? And why are we talking about them now?

When the modern River Movement began, brought on by the “Lost Summer of 2013,” the entire focus was on the discharges destroying the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon from Lake Okeechobee. The St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon deals with a “two-front war.” The C-Canals (C-44, C-23, C-24, C-25) and often toxic Lake Okeechobee that is discharged through the C-44 Canal along with basin run-off.

The St Lucie River was originally a large fresh water “stream” that ran into the Indian River Lagoon.

What ensued will make the history books:

~The people united against the Cyanobacteria laden Lake Okeechobee discharges that are considered the worst of all the discharges, and pushed for the EAA Reservoir, with the help of Senate President, Joe Negron, and others. The reservoir was approved by Congress in 2018. This was an amazing feat. The EAA Reservoir is ready to go under construction, and will allow more water to go south to the Everglades and less water to be discharged to the St Lucie and Calooshahatee estuaries. This was the first and most important goal.

So now, with that in place, (and continuing to fight for its completion), it is time for the River Movement to expand to the next level of destruction, the C-Canals. Although the betterment of these canals has been part of CERP since the beginning, they are just now seeing their day. All of them fall under the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan category, “Indian River Lagoon South,” and there are four of the them in our region: C-44, C-23, C-24, C-25. “C” stands for Canal.

Remarkably enough, the C-44 Reservoir, in Indiantown will go on-line next week as the 1st major CERP project completed and as the first component of “Indian River Lagoon South.”

ACOE Indian River Lagoon South

Because of the ACOE moving forward, in the near future, other C-Canal projects will be completed: 1.C-23 and C-24, done together through the C-23/24 North and South Reservoirs, and the C-23/24 Storm Water Treatment Area; and 2. there is now land for the C-25 Reservoir and Storm Water Treatment Area. (Top of image.)

It is impressive that since 2019, not only was the first construction contract awarded for the EAA Reservoir – and that the SFWMD is building the EAA Storm Water Treatment Area, but that also from 2019-to present, the Army Corp of Engineers is “in design” on C-23/C-24 and, yesterday, the SFWMD bought land for C-25. This is all costing millions of dollars!

I know all of these numbers get confusing. The bottom line is that almost all is in place to to heal our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. (EAA Reservoir; C-44 Reservoir, C-23/24 Reservoir and now even C-25 Reservoir.)

Now we just have to get it all to the finish line.

This will take about ten years so long as all goes well and LOSOM’s outcome is palatable. I will talk more about this in another post.

In closing, for long-working Martin County Commissioner, Sarah Heard, I must mention the last and perhaps most important part of Indian River Lagoon South. The “Natural Lands” component. ~for the birds and other creatures. Part, like Allapattah Flats, is complete but there is more to acquire. See list below.

For now, please try to learn the C-Canals if you don’t know them. We will all need to know them for the the next chapter of the St Lucie River/ Indian River Lagoon!

Please see Jennifer Reynold’s, SFWMD presentation C-25 & IRLS

The St Lucie River was originally a large fresh water “stream” that ran into the Indian River Lagoon. Today the C-Canals built from 1923-the 1960s drain lands and discharge directly in the both the St Lucie River and Southern Indian River Lagoon.

-C-25 2013

C-25 Image used often in Stop Lake O rallies! Rally at the Locks 2013, JTL

 

Beautiful but…seagrass is the life

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!

-10-14-21 SFWMD Ecological Update, Laurence Glen

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.

SFWMD canal and basin map

 

What is the IDS? LOSOM postponed?

Last week was a big week for Everglades restoration. Today I will share two important  “informationals” that you may have missed. Both announcements were made last Friday, October 29, 2021.

I.

IDS- Integrated Delivery Schedule Final 2021, Army Corps of Engineers. 2021 SFER Integrated Deliver Schedule_Final Draft_29 October 2021. This colorful and somewhat overwhelming chart is updated each each year as a timeline for the Central and Southern Florida Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, or CERP.

The St Lucie and Loxahatchee watersheds as well as the EAA Reservoir are all noted on this schedule. The big recent additions are the C-23/C-24 Reservoir/STA components in St Lucie County and the Loxahatchee River watershed in southern Martin and Palm Beach counties. The C-44 Reservoir -that has been on the IDS for many renditions- is located in Indiantown and will be going on-line this year as the first completed major CERP project!

To study this chart, click on link above, familiarize yourself with the key at the top, note color coding by timeframe/Congressional approval, and type. It’s pretty cool once one figures out how to read it!

-Excerpt with Indian River Lagoon South’s C-23/C-24, C-44 etc…-Excerpt Loxahatchee River just authorized in WRDA 2020

Click here to see all slides from the ACOE’s IDS presentation: Public Engagement Workshop_IDS Final Draft_29 October 2021

II.

LOSOM – Lake Okeechobee System Operation Manual

By now you have certainly heard of LOSOM (Lake Okeechobee System Operation Manual) that is replacing LORS (Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule.) If you haven’t, basically the operation schedule for Lake Okeechobee is being updated in line with the anticipated completion of improvements of the Herbert Hoover Dike.

For over two years, the ACOE has patiently taken input from stakeholders and the public. They had originally expected to announce their final output on November 2, 2021, but have decided to postpone their final announcement until November 16, 2021. Why did they postpone? Read here:  ACOE LOSOM press release. Even after November 16th the process will continue as the operations manual is written. LOSOM is on the IDS above and listed as a “Non-CERP” project (light blue at top.)

A lot of exciting things are happening for the St Lucie and for the Greater Everglades. Most definitely there is a reason for hope.

Keep the pressure on, be empathetic to all, and never forget how hard we have worked since 2013.

-River Kidz art contest 2013. Winner TCPalm competition.

-Rio, St Lucie River, Jeff Tucker, toxic algae 2016

Algae pouring into St Lucie River  from Lake Okeechobee  at S-80, 2016. JTL