Category Archives: St Luice River and C-44 Canal

Ed’s Aerial Update, 7 days after discharges begin 500cfs SLR

Ed Lippisch

Due to high Lake Okeechobee level and in light of cyanaobactia blooms predicted on lake this summer -a side effect of Category 4 Hurricane Ian- the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers, with the support of the SFWMD on 1-22-23, began discharging 500 cubic feet per second to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon on January 22, 2023 and 2000 cfs to the Caloosahatchee to lower a lake not receding.

Yesterday, on January 29, 2023 my husband, Ed Lippisch, flew over the St Lucie River to see how the estuary is visually faring after seven days of discharges. He captured the images  around 2pm so it was what he calls a “slack tide,” a tide in between high tide and low tide.

Today I share Ed’s aerials, the effects of discharges is obvious and to compare to a pre-discharge high tide and low tide taken on January 22, 2023, before the discharges reached the estuary, please see link above and go to end of blog post.

I cannot thank my husband enough for all of his flights and dedication as a River Warrior of the St Lucie River. He continues to be our eye in the sky since 2013 and my best friend.

Tide chart St Luce River. Note January 29, 2023. Ed’s photos were taken beginning at 1:56pm.

Below:

Aerials of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon after 7 days of discharges from Lake O, note darker water and plume at inlet. Among other things, the discharges cause less light to reach the struggling seagrasses and a plume exiting the St Lucie Inlet covers already sick near shore reefs.

More CERP projects than ever before are being built to offset discharges to the estuaries and this is cause for celebration, but it will take years for these projects to all be completed and undo the horrible environmental consequence of the Central and Southern Florida Plan of 1948. Most recently, since 2018, the State of Florida under the DeSantis administration, has led the effort to stop harmful discharges to the estuaries under Executive Order 19-12 and now 23-06. Millions of dollars are being spent by state and federal government. We will get there.

Slide of expenditures, Everglades Coalition Conference 2023 presentation.

LOSOM, a new lake operations schedule of the ACOE, will help too and should be in place by mid summer. This was an effort of all stakeholders. An exhausting and successful effort.

The St Lucie has not had heavy discharges in over four years. At height in years such as 2013, 2016 and 2018, over 5000 to 9000 cubic feet per second were sent to the St Lucie. This present 500 cfs is an attempt to avoid such a situation this summer. To lower the lake before it kills us. I hate discharges but I rather take my medicine now than be destroyed  later. Also I  appreciate the ACOE for trying something different (HAB DEVIATIONS & LOSOM). I have been watching like a hawk since 2008, I can assure you we are in a better place due to advocacy changing the political landscape. Do not get discouraged!

Lake Okeechobee Lake Levels U.S. ACOE

To follow the most updated lake okeechobee levels go to Todd Thurlow, eyeonlakeo.com
Grey is environmental envelope for Lake O. It is to be seen what the goal is for lowering the lake and decisions will be made weekly by ACOE.

Part III -The Boon of the Huge Monster Ditch, St Lucie Canal

-Stuart News 50th Anniversary Edition, 1964.Today I will complete part three, the final portion of my transcription of an historic 1964 Stuart News, anniversary edition from my mother’s archives. She actually shared this article with me over a year ago and I was so taken by it that I thought it may be an inspiration for a book. I never got around to it, thus now I am sharing on my blog as part of my 2023 new year’s resolution to write more and learn more about the St Lucie Canal. 2024 is the official 100 year anniversary of the St Lucie Canal according to the Department of Environmental Protection.

Here are links to Parts I and Part II.

~Interesting references in part three of the article are the mentioning of a “release canal,” south to the Everglades, something that never materialized; reference, once again, to cutting edge “scientific water control” and the amazing success of the agriculture industry; 1933 noted as the first extreme discharge year from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie River and damaging effects to fisheries and tourism; and in the final paragraph, a future plan linking a new “C-23 Canal on Martin County’s northern border with a major channel which would extend westward to Lake Okeechobee, with a side link to St Lucie Canal, and another channel from St. Lucie Canal southeastward down toward Pratt & Whitney and the Loxahatchee Marshes;” Gulp!

This is a reference to part of the canal system proposed in the 1948 and many following editions of the Central and Southern Florida Plan that thankfully was never built. This reference also leads me to believe that I was incorrect in part two when I wrote the article was written around 1937 or 1920 in part one. With these references to C-23, the article must have been composed after the great flood of 1947 as it is referring to the Central and Southern Florida Project of 1948.  I am learning all the time as I sludge through this stuff. The St. Lucie Canal has had so many face lifts! It is hard to know what cut they are referring to!

~As we learn, we are more informed and able to change the future of this huge “ditch” that has defined, benefited, and destroyed the region of our St Lucie River.

So here is a transcription of Part III.

I have entitled my post “The Boon of the Huge Monster Ditch, St Lucie Canal,” as both terms “huge” and “monster,” are noted in full article. To me, the canal is a monster continuing to haunt and terrify. And just like in the movies, I know that until I meet this monster face to face, it wont go away. I hope you will encounter it with me.

You can click on images to enlarge.

Begin transcript paragraphs 11-25:

The great hurricane of 1928, which drowned about 4000 persons in the Lake Okeechobee area, resulted in the widening and deepening of both the St. Luice Canal and the Caloosahatchee River as well as major outlets from the lake. The widened and deepened canal was officially dedicated at ceremonies headed by Secretary of Commerce, Daniel Roper on March 22, 1937.

In the intervening years, the canal’s “good and bad” points have been the cause of growth in the agricultural lands of the interior and of damages to the fisheries and resorts on the coast in periods of excessive discharge. Today, as ever since 1933, when the first heavy discharge from hurricane rains was experienced, efforts are under way to so shape the discharge so that the canal’s benefit can be enjoyed without attendant harm. The U. S. Engineer Corp’s plans for a higher lake level by diking the entire lake may result in less necessity for discharge and a long-range plan has been advanced for diversion of excess water to Everglades National Park by means of a relief-valve canal.

However in the half century which has ensued since the canal was approved, one indisputable fact not clearly seen in the beginning has emerged stage by stage to justify it.

It is “scientific agriculture by water control.”

Thousands of pleasure craft and hundreds of barges, shrimp boats, and other commercial craft use the waterway today, but it never did develop into the “thriving artery of commerce” that was predicted in which ocean ships would sail up to Stuart and load the products of the Everglades Empire brought to the coast by the St. Luice Canal.

Nor did a plan advocated during World War II jell out to make it a major barge and oil transport canal to escape the submarines which infested the Straits of Florida, Yucatan Channel and the Gulf Stream.

What did “jell out” was an expansion all along the route of the the scientific water control for agriculture that was  proven at Port Mayaca by that pioneering agricultural beginning in 1925.

G.C. Troup and Troup Brothers at Indiantown on their former 20,000-acre holdings, demonstrated that the combination of irrigation and good drainage would unlock agricultural riches. Today the Minute Maid and Hood corporations are among the huge citrus firms which have planted some 10,000 acres of new citrus and the largest lemon grove in the world on former Troup lands and lands opened to agriculture through water control by P. L. Hinson and others.

On both sides of the St. Lucie Canal, in the entire twenty-five miles of its length, there are spreading pastures, ranches where blooded cattle graze, and the Indiantown area also has some of the country’s largest diaries.

The Bessemer firm that proved it could be done is “in there pitching” with some of the most outstanding modern developments including Westbury Farms 1, 2, and 3, the new Westbury Farms Valencia Groves on the south side of the canal, and the spreading Green Ridge Groves on the north side. George Oliver who manages the giant spread and Michael Phipps of the major corporation are proud of the agricultural and ranching growth but prouder still of St. Lucie Training Park, unique race horse training facility where, “hopefuls” of some of the nation’s top stables get their “running” starts.

They can be found at dawn watching the work-outs on the oval track. Both are skilled polo players.

“Scientific water control with ample supplies from the St. Lucie Canal, and drainage into the canal, is the key to our county’s solid growth,” commented Oliver.

Currently being pushed by Martin County agricultural interests is a new over-all water control plan for the county which would spread the advantages of irrigation and drainage to areas not continuous to the St Lucie Canal.

The new plan would link in C-23 Canal on Martin County’s north border, where huge  citrus planting have recently been made, with a major channel which would extend westward to   Lake Okeechobee, with a side link to St Lucie Canal, and another channel from St. Lucie Canal southeastward down toward Pratt & Whitney and the Loxahatchee Marshes. Private landowners would link in with these new canals by irrigation pumps and drainage outlet as they have done along the St. Luice Canal.

-End of transcript and article JTL

Ed’s St. Lucie River Update, January 15, 2023

-Eye in the sky since 2013, Ed Lippisch I am going to keep this blog post short as I already wrote another today. Yesterday, 1-15-23, at around 1:45 pm, Ed took aerials over the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. As it has been cold and windy the past few days there has been a “Beach Hazards Statement” from the National Weather Service. In Ed’s photos, the rough, turquoise, incoming ocean waters make for a stark contrast against the darker waters of the river. I believe the ocean waters are full of sand and that is what gives the aerials the milky, almost iridescent coloring. Hopefully, the sand is not burying the dormant seagrasses in the Sandbar and Sailfish Flats. Thankfully, there is no dumping from Lake Okeechobee at this time although the river is receiving the other C-Canal water and runoff. I’ll get Ed up in the plane again soon as I have not yet flown in the Van’s RV -and I am not planning on it! 🙂 JTL

SFWMD canal and basin map.

Added 1-18-23. ACOE’s Periodic Scientists Call -Power Point 1-17-23. Periodic_Scientists_Call_2023-01-17

Part II: The Boon of the Monster Ditch, St. Lucie Canal

Today’s post is the second part of a story. A story from the 1964 50th Anniversary Edition of the Stuart News. Signalizing Half a Century of Growth and Progress in Martin County, Florida.” It is a huge special edition newspaper, 110 pages!

The article I am sharing is on page 6-H and is titled ” St. Lucie Canal Approved in 1914, Is Boon to Agriculture Here. Huge Citrus Growth Along Water Route; Mayaca Groves First.” I feel this remarkable article given to my mother for her history archives by family friend and real estate man, Ronnie Nelson, must be shared. As the 100 year “anniversary”of the St. Luice Canal is next year in 2024. At this time, I must state I am finding many different dates as to the completion date of the canal, but at this point I am sticking with an article from the Department of Environmental Protection, 1916-1924. (Ecosummary 2001, C-44 Canal)

Learning about the St. Lucie Canal can be confusing because it was “rebuilt” or “improved”  and, believe it or not, “celebrated” a few times. I think this article included in the 50th anniversary edition was written as the canal approached its second rebirth in 1937.

There is so much to learn about how the St. Lucie Canal was perceived in earlier times. And it is only through understanding the past, that we can create a better water future for today and for tomorrow.

Part I  Paragraphs 1-4 

Part II, transcription continued, paragraphs 5-11

1964 Stuart News, 50th Anniversary Issue, Thurlow Archives
1964, Stuart News 6-H and 7-H

Transcription begins:

“The completion of this monster ditch will mean much for the Everglades, for south Florida in general, and for Stuart in particular. The improvement of the St. Lucie Inlet and harbor will thus make Stuart the gateway to the Everglades, and millions of dollars worth of agricultural timber, fish, and livestock products will pass through the canal transferring at Stuart onto ocean-going vessels. The canal is, according to contract, to be completed in four years.

First tangible result of the canal for large-scale agriculture was the pioneering effort of the Port Mayaca development back around 1925, created by Bessemer Properties, Inc., a Phipps company which saw the opportunities for agriculture through scientific water control by tapping on to St. Lucie Canal with pumps to provide irrigation in dry spells. At the same time, a series of canals discharged excess water into the canal during wet spells.

Port Mayaca Valencia orange groves today represents the first big-scale successful planting of citrus in Martin County.

Port Mayaca could well be said to be the test plot on which millions were spent to prove, by trial and error, with the best possible scientific agricultural advice, what could be done by enlisting the aid of the man-made waterway.

Paul M. Hoenshel, now a resident of Stuart, was the first agricultural manager in the Port Mayaca development. He was backed by the vision and guidance of such able Phipp’s representatives in Florida as Paul R. Scott and Roy M Hawkins, as was Thomas Gartland when he took over the management in later years.

Port Mayaca was an outstanding “first” because it squarely faced up to the fact that the problems of drainage and water control must be solved if agriculture was to be successful in Martin County. The Phipps interests took the property of several thousand acres and divided it into forty-acre fields separated by drainage ditches, roads, and windbreaks.

About 100 miles of those ditches were dug in the Port Mayaca development, all linked by giant pumps to the life saving waters of the canal. Since Port Mayaca contained both muck lands and sand lands, it was an ideal test tube not only for for its initial 600 acres of Valencia oranges but also for various truck crops, gladiolus- then a major flower crop before chrysanthemums came along- and for experiments in the right grasses and mineral additives to make pasture lands where livestock could thrive…”

~End of transcription. To be continued. JTL

Google Maps 2023 shows Port Mayaca’s location on/near Lake Okeechobee, in Martin County, FL. Blue Dot is area of confluence of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon leading to St Lucie Inlet.

Article about the history of Port Mayaca and Cypress Lodge by the late historian, Alice Luckhardt.

Visual Seagrass Comparison -August 2022 to January 2023 SLR/IRL

After a stretch of hurricane and rains since October 2022, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is clearing up. The river has endured the “usual suspects” C-44 basin, C-23 canal, C-24 canal, and stromwater runoff; however, luckily no damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

With my husband Ed’s most recent flight, I was pleased to see the blue, clear waters returning to the Sailfish Flats and surrounding waters of the St Lucie Inlet in the vicinity of Sewall’s Point. But I was surprised and a bit disturbed to see a “seagrass desert” once again. Of course seagrass, like all plants, is more abundant and lush in summer months, but to see “nothing?”  This seems strange. I need to get in the water with a mask for a closer look!

Let’s compare two photographs, one taken in August 2022 and another taken in January 2023.

I. AERIAL TAKEN January 8, 2023. Water looking clearer but no visible seagrasses.

II. AERIAL TAKEN AUGUST 26, 2022.  This photos show regrowth of seagrasses.

As the August 26, 2022 photograph shows, seagrasses had rebounded in the southern Indian River Lagoon after years of damaging discharges. The worst recent Lake Okeechobee discharges were between the years of 2013 and 2018.

St. Lucie seagrasses are critical water and wildlife habitat. Especially as the seagrasses in the central northern lagoon have disappeared at such an alarming rate that a high number of manatees have starved to death.  

In recent years FWC has been feeding Indian River Lagoon manatees romaine lettuce as they have no secure seagrass food source. This is not sustainable. All political policy must specifically support the betterment of water quality and the return of seagrasses of the Indian River Lagoon. This began yesterday with an Executive Order  of Governor Ron DeSantis. See section 2.

-ALL OF ED’S AERIALS January 8, 2013, around 12:30pm.

-EXTRA and WONDERFUL NEWS. Click on photos to enlarge.

The next day, January 9th, Ed went flying with artist and friend Geoffrey Smith to relocate a very endangered Right Whale and her calf that Geoffrey had spotted in the Hobe Sound area just south of the St. Luice Inlet, on January 8, 2023. With his permission, I am sharing Geoffrey’s photos.

Wonderful news that our St Lucie is looking better. We must continue to take the protection of seagrasses and water quality seriously.

-Photos and mapping of Right Whale and Calf off of Hobe Sound in Atlantic Ocean.  Geoffrey Smith, January 9, 2023.

AREA CANALS DRAINING TO SLR/IRL

SFWMD canal map showing canals that drain lands and thus negatively affect water quality in the St Lucie River.

“The Boon of the Huge Ditch,” St Lucie Canal

Today, we will continue to study an article of a 1964 50th Anniversary Edition of the Stuart News from my mother’s history archives. We are doing this in light of the upcoming 100 year “anniversary” of the St. Lucie Canal.

The title of the this article, published originally in the 1920s is “St Lucie  Canal, Approved in 1914, Is Boon to Agriculture Here. Huge Citrus Growth Along Water Route; Mayaca Groves First.” In 2023with all of our water quality issues it is hard to imagine supporting the digging of this giant ditch. Back in the 1920s, it was a promise for a better future.

Looking west towards Lake Okeechobee. St Lucie Canal meeting the south fork of the St Lucie River c. 1920s. Thurlow/Ruhnke Collection.

TRANSCRIPTION, first 4 paragraphs of Stuart News 50th Anniversary Edition, 1964, page 6-H. JTL

“The St Lucie Canal, a twenty-five  mile artificial river tapping vast Lake Okeechobee, was originally approved back in 1914 as a drainage and navigation outlet from the lake, with great accent upon its commercial use as a barge waterway, but few foresaw that its greatest boon would be to agriculture. Digging began in September 1915, with dredges starting at the lake and working eastward.

Excerpt, Stuart News Anniversary Edition 1964.

The land from Stuart westward to the mysterious lake was a wilderness supporting a few scrub cattle and a few patches of “hit-and-run” tomato farms which were frequently drowned out or parched. Small scale citrus plantings, attempted on ten-acre tracts west of Palm City and Port Salerno were bringing heartbreak because of a lack of water control. There was either too much or too little.

Back on November 5, 1915, the Stuart newspaper reported the work of digging the huge St. Lucie-Okeechobee drainage and shipping canal is progressing nicely and is being hurried along with night and day shifts. Two dredges are employed in the work, each operating from the Okeechobee end. The small dredge, which precedes the larger, is now about one and one-half miles from the lake, and is advancing at the rate of about 600 feet a day. The large dredge which completes the actual work of digging the huge ditch has reached a point about one and one-half miles from the Okeechobee end and is excavating dirt at the rate of about 10,000 cubic yards daily. If this rate could be maintained constantly work would be finished in a year. Actual digging operations on the canal have been in progress for about five weeks. It is probable, the the Furst Clark Construction Company, the contractors, will also put a dredge at the St Lucie end of the canal so as to expedite the work, although no definite announcement to this effect has been made.

Manuscript Collection, courtesy, Florida Memory https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/335255
Dredge “Culebra” on the St. Lucie Canal in the Everglades Drainage District, 1925.

The St Lucie Canal will be the main control canal of the immense Everglades drainage system, the largest drainage project in the world. The huge ditch will be twenty-five miles in length. 200 feet wide at the top, 160 feet wide at the bottom, with a maximum depth of twelve feet. It will empty into the south fork of the St lucie River six miles above Stuart, the waters reaching the Atlantic Ocean through St Lucie Inlet about the same distance southeast of Stuart. Indications are the digging operations will now go steadily forward until the completion of the canal and that no further hitch up will result  as the Internal Improvement Board of Florida and the United States War Department have come to a thorough understanding…” 

-End of transcription.

Florida Geology Collection, courtesy Florida Memory, https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/124753
People along the Saint Lucie Canal near Indiantown. Note sand. Unlike other canals  constructed, at least partially along the alignment of natural creeks or rivers, the St. Lucie Canal winds through uplands with no natural drainage patterns (SFWMD historic timeline). The St Lucie has/had no natural connection to Lake Okeechobee.

The St Lucie Canal, now known as the C-44 Canal since becoming part of the Central and Southern Florida Project of 1948, runs from Lake Okeechobee to the South Fork of the St Luice River. The canal/ditch allows for both “basin runoff” (historically almost all of this water flowed south to the Loxahatchee system attached to the Everglades) and  Lake Okeechobee’s waters to be directed through the St Luice River. The “ditch” is also designed to flow backwards into the lake if the lake level is lower than the canal level.

The infamous St Lucie Canal in spite of its “boon for agriculture and Everglades drainage” has been, and continues to be, the most controversial canal in Martin County (in 1925 Martin County was created from Palm Beach County and a smaller part of St Lucie County) due to its potential for immense, longstanding, economic and environmental damaging discharges to the St Lucie River.

Thankfully and ironically, progress by the same entities that built this huge “ditch” is being made by the modern  Army Corp of Engineers (referred to in the historic Stuart News article as the United States War Department) and their local partner whose origins go back to the 1905 Everglades Drainage District now the South Florida Water Management District.  Yes, modern progress is being achieved through the Indian River Lagoon South portion of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. As we know, times change and so does the definition of what brings a better future!

As we work to improve the system it is important to understand the perceived positive and negative consequences of the history of this “ditch.” I will be writing a lot about the St Lucie Canal this year, as mentioned at the beginning of this post, next year, 2024, will be the official anniversary of the St Luice Canal.

Google Maps today in 2023. The red bubble is near Indiantown. The St Lucie Canal runs from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River and out to sea at the St Luice Inlet, near blue dot. The St Lucie “ditch” cut through uplands of narrow strips of pine flatlands interspersed with hammocks, ponds, sawgrass, wide prairies, sloughs and cypress trees, severing the natural flow south of water from Allapattah Flats and connected lands that once drained almost entirely  into the Loxahatchee/ Everglades system that also has been severed.

Study of this historic article is to be continued…JTL

 

Coming to Terms With a Painful Environmental History-St Lucie Canal 1913-1937

-Part of a series leading up to the 100 year anniversary of the St Lucie Canal (built 1916-1924) as we continue to work to understand and heal this waterway…

-Left side of 1913 east coast drainage blueprint, Florida State Archives -Right side of huge 1913 east coast drainage blueprint, Florida State ArchivesTwo days ago was the first day of 2023. As there is always a chance we will once again be tortured by the “C-44 ,” now seems like a good time to review it under its original title: the St Lucie Canal.

The above blueprints are from the Florida State Archives and they are enormous documents. Ed and I visited Tallahassee in order to lay eyes on these remarkable pieces of history. Laid out on a large table in the library one can piece the two pages together to read:

Territory From lake Okeechobee to the Atlantic Ocean,

Between Townships 37 and 43 South,

Showing Routes Examined for Proposed Drainage Canals,

Made Under the Direction of F.C. Elliot,

Acting Chief Drainage Engineer, March – April 1913.

The St Lucie Canal was built by the state of Florida’s Everglades Drainage District from 1916 through 1924 when Martin was Palm Beach County. Over the holiday I read through some of my mother‘s historic newspaper articles. They were sobering.

A 1923 Stuart Messenger headline reads “Wednesday Next is the Day Set for First Flow of Water From Lake to River Through St Lucie Canal.” It sounds a bit like today, fishermen and tourism had major concerns, but the chamber of commerce folk celebrated with visions of expanded inland agriculture and a port of commerce. The truth of the matter is that the primary reason for the St Lucie Canal, since Florida’s earliest fantasies, was drainage.

In fact most bragged about it. An April 29, 1920’s Stuart Messenger article expressed with pride: “The St Lucie is the main control outlet for Lake Okeechobee.”

On July 7, 1923, the same paper wrote: “the St Lucie is the key to the entire Everglades drainage project.” On November 6, 1931, not long after the deadly hurricane of 1928, The Florida Developer printed something that today makes me sick to my stomach:  “The east locks of the St Lucie Canal were closed Saturday, after being open nearly two years. In that time the level of the lake has been reduced from 18 to 14 feet.” 

Unbelievable! Four feet off the lake through the St Lucie!

In 1937, the year the St Lucie Canal was federally rededicated as part of the Cross State Canal to Ft. Meyers -another jaw breaker. In a 1937 February 27 Stuart Daily News article written by famous journalist and horticulturalist Edwin A. Menninger it reads: “…work on the St Lucie had begun when the pioneers realized the that canals through muck lands were unless as they refused to carry water out of the lake. Four of them had been dug and were utterly worthless. The St Lucie Canal was completed in 1924 and for 13 years has been the only functioning outlet from Lake Okeechobee to the sea.”

The St Lucie Canal the only outlet for 13 years?! No! Kill me please!

A Daily News Article of the same day has a title reading: “New Ortona Locks to Alleviate St Lucie Flow.”  According to this article, apparently until made part of the Cross State Canal’s Okeechobee Waterway in 1937, the Caloosahatchee’s drainage of Lake Okeechobee had not been functioning at least since 1924. 13 years! 

Upon reading through these old articles, I just about cried. I drank a lot of wine. I have studied this for years but nevertheless. And there were more articles…

The worst was a Stuart News January 9, 1964 anniversary issue article, the year of my birth of all years. There is a photo is the upper right corner with a picture, it reads again with pride: “Old Aerial View shows the island and lock formerly at Port Mayaca where the canal enters Lake Okeechobee. These works were removed in 1936 to give unimpeded discharge from the lake.”

They removed the structure at Port Mayaca so the most lake water could flow through? What’s wrong with you people?!!!!!! No!!!!!

As I was losing my mind, my husband, Ed, pointed out to me that the lake was not polluted at that time. True, but nonetheless! Fresh water is a pollutant to a brackish system! No! Another glass please!

Excerpt, Stuart News Anniversary Edition 1964.

To think of all the destruction the St Lucie River has experienced! As written in the archive timeline in the hallways of the South Florida Water Management District whose official close date for the St Lucie Canal is 1925:

“Recommended by the Randolph Report and begun in 1916, …unlike other canals constructed at least partially along the alignment of natural creeks or rivers, the St Lucie Canal winds through uplands with no natural drainage patters. Its sole purpose is to channel excess water from the lake to the Atlantic Ocean.”

SFWMD timeline

In closing, there is some good historical news, if you click on the blueprints above and study them you will see that in the design work for 1913 there was a proposed canal from Lake Okeechobee trough the Loxahatchee to Lake Worth. Boy they are lucky that canal was never built.

After a long drive, Ed is reflected while taking my picture in front of the Florida State Archives, 2022.

 

Wrapping up 2022-St Lucie River Update

Tomorrow will be December 31, 2022. Today I share the most recent aerial photographs of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and even one around Lake Okeechobee.

It was a very cold Christmas season. According to the Stuart News, Stuart logged in at 39 degrees on Christmas Day! The cold system hovered for a few days causing intermittent rain and cloud coverage. These photos taken a few days later after it warmed up -on an incoming tide- reveal that since our last photo session, it appears the river is clearing up thankfully with no discharges from Lake Okeechobee in 2022.

AERIALS

-December 28, 2022 at 8:45am, west of Stuart, east side of Lake Okeechobee, near Barley Barber Swamp and FPL cooling reservoir, -sugarcane burning or a controlled burn??? Photographs taken by Scott Kuhns from SuperCub.

-December 29, 2022 around 2:30 pm, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon around St Lucie Inlet, Sewall’s Point, Sailfish Flats, wide view taken over Palm City. Aerials by Ed Lippisch from Vans RV. I am including all photos although some are very similar as each one shows something a little different. Remember you can click on photo to enlarge 🙂

Wishing everyone a very happy and safe New YearEve and let’s continue to work together for a great 2023 for the St Lucie River! 

Visual Update St Lucie River 12-20-22

I wanted to provide a visual update of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Even though the river looks dark and silty, as 2022 comes to a close, we remain fortunate that there have been no major discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River since 2018 and no discharges to the St Lucie this year even though Lake Okeechobee got very high -maxing out at 16.51 feet.

Recently, there has been quite a bit of rain in Martin County. This follows the rains of Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole. Thus the river looks dark and silty from weeks of runoff. The runoff now is coming from surrounding lands as well as C-23, C-24 and C-25 out in the IRL at Ft Pierce. There are also hundreds of old ditches that dump into the St Lucie River running though creeks such as Dansforth, Willoughby, Warner and others.

Thankfully the Indian River Lagoon South project is underway by the ACOE and local sponsor SFWMD to offset the destruction of the major canals of the Central and Southern Florida Plan. If things go well and the economy and political will remain in place, the remainder of these projects should be complete in ten or fifteen years. The C-44 Reservoir and STA in Indiantown, Martin County is complete.  Ten to fifteen years sounds like a long time, however, these  are gigantic, expensive  projects working to undo gigantic problems as our population skyrockets.

In the meanwhile we should be working on going septic to sewer where necessary and improving our yards by using little grass, fertilizer, or pesticides;  planting more native and Florida Friendly plants; using less water, picking up dog waste; and realizing everything we put on our laws or fertilize -crops and/or yard plants- ends up in the water ways! We have to be part of the solution. Don’t expect the government to do it all.

AERIAL PHOTOS ST LUCE RIVER UPDATE

Ed Lippisch, my husband, and Scott Kuhns, our dear friend, took the aerials  I am sharing today. The river does not look great due to so much rain. Thank goodness there are no Lake O discharges on top of this “local runoff.” Of which it really is not! This runoff has been mainlined here through canals of the Central and Southern Florida Plan.

SFWMD canal and basin map.

Next year they both Ed and Scott will have been River Warriors for ten years documenting the St Lucie! As eyes in the sky they provide a wider view and inspire a wider net of recovery for these waters. My brother, Todd’s web site eyeonlakeo allows for full time satellite and data updates.

SCOTT KUHNS, SUPER CUB, December 16, 2022 around 9:40 am. St Lucie Inlet (Hutchinson Island) plume about 12 miles south past Peck’s Lake, (Hobe Sound).

ED LIPPISCH, VAN’S RV December 18, 2022 around 12:15 pm. Plume at St Lucie Inlet, and dark runoff waters discoloring the entire estuary even close to the inlet around Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point, Hutchinson Island.

Most recent rain as shown in my rain gauge. Just under 4 inches around December 14.

12-21-22 Added Presentation from ACOE Periodic Scientist Call: Periodic_Scientists_Call_2022-12-20

More Rain, but #NoLakeO, SLR/IRL

Thanksgiving was a whirlwind and a lot of fun as Ed’s family including niece and nephew visited. The two days before their arrival on November 22, 2022 was quite rainy -a light, humid, constant rain. After the “rain event” my rain gauge read just under 6 inches! Here along the coast in Sewall’s Point the old saying remains: “when it rains, it pours.”

Today, I am sharing my husband Ed’s aerials of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. They were taken area above Sewall’s Point, the St Luice Inlet, and a few of the Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart -on November 26, 2022 around noon on an incoming tide. Like my previous post , after Hurricane Nicole, the contrast of milky, stirred up ocean water and the dark, fresh, polluted, runoff from area canals and surrounding lands and neighborhoods is extreme.

In my opinion, to witness such events without the discharges from Lake Okeechobee is educational, it makes clear how important not fertilizing and using chemicals on our yards is, and thankfully the tides flush the mouth of the river out over time. When the ACOE starts Lake O discharges, this can go on and on – for months and in worst case scenarios -for years. The river cannot clean out. There have been no major, longstanding discharges from Lake Okeechobee since 2018 and the Sailfish Flats’ seagrass community has been slowly recovering.

Today the lake stands at 16.50 feet. There is a periodic scientists call today of the ACOE when input will be taken regarding lake discharges and other water issues.

Thus Ed and I present these photographs for the record.

-My rain gauge after the rains a few days prior to Thanksgiving on November 24, 2020. almost 6 inches.

-SFWMD Lake O update

-Canal map

SFWMD basin map showing canals that lead to the SLR. The C-44 can dump water in the C-44 basin or water from Lake O or both.

11-29-22 6:17pm slide from ACOE PSC at 2pm

 

Hurricane Nicole’s Ugly Effect – St. Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

As shared in my recent blog post, Hurricane Nicole brought a significant storm surge to the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon region. Many residents experienced flooding and property damage, especially of docks and seawalls.

Today, 11-16-22, my husband, Ed, went up in the RV plane and took pictures to compare to others we took prior to Hurricane Nicole.

It has been quite a time. Nicole hit Florida on November 10, 2022 and Hurricane Ian on September 28, 2022. The river has taken two recent hits.

When Ed got home and I asked him how the river looked, there was a pause and he replied, “just like old times…” meaning “not good.”

Ed’s photos were taking during a rising tide around 1:15 November, 16, 2022. You will see that there is the flushing/cleaning of incoming ocean water from the St. Lucie Inlet. If the estuary is left alone, in time, a few weeks, it will significantly clear up. If the ACOE discharges from Lake Okeechobee, (the Lake is at 16.22 feet) it will not clear. Tomorrow’s (11-17-22) Rivers Coalition meeting at 11am at the City of Stuart Chamber, 121 SW Flagler Avenue, Stuart, Fl 34994, will address this issue, also the issue of “sending water south.” The guest speaker will be LTC Todd Polk. I encourage all to attend.

The goal? To allow the St Lucie River to return to her true beauty and that can only happen when we stop the discharges, all of them.

2-11-15 ACOE Periodic Scientist Call information: Periodic_Scientists_Call_2022-11-15

-Sewall’s Point between the SLR/IRL -click on to enlarge. -Ernie Lyons bridge from Sewall’s Point to Hutchinson Island- IRL–Jupiter Narrows far left, SLR-Plume in Atlantic Ocean coming out of St Lucie Inlet

 

St Luice River and Nicole

Tropical Storm/Hurricane Nicole

I am posting the aerial photographs below for comparison after Tropical Storm or Hurricane Nicole arrives. The St Luice River will surely be impacted. At this time, as much as ten inches of rain is predicted in some areas. Follow TS/Hurricane Nicole on EYEONLAKEO.COM

National Hurricane Center: rainfall and other charts 

Although I have no aerials for November 2022, I have three unpublished October aerials to share.  They were taken by my husband, Ed Lippisch. One can see from the photographs the impact from canals C-23, C-24, C-44 and “local basin” runoff that accompanied Hurricane Ian that struck southwest Florida as a category 4 storm on September 28, 2022 – impacting the entire state. For weeks, the rains from Ian filled the St Lucie River. But by October 28th the river is clearing up.

Post Ian, Lake Okeechobee was not discharged into the St Lucie. The impacts of Nicole we do not know at this time, but whatever they are, they will not be good.

Lake Okeechobee sits at 15.89 feet.