Crystal River, Credit: Paul Nicklen/National Geographic 2013.I
Slide from “Manatee UME on the Florida Atlantic Coast 2020-2021” -Martine de Wit, DVM
I wanted to share today’post because I have recently been exposed to this inofrmation. Most of it is very disturbing, and unfortunately, it is going to get even more so. We have to prepare. We have to decide. As winter approaches, we are going to have to face some hard choices about manatees.
As we all know, Florida’s manatee’s are in the middle of a UME or Unusual Mortality Event. It has been documented by FWC that most deaths are due to starvation as the seagrass meadows of the 156 mile long Indian River Lagoon are dead, dying, or in poor condition, due to poor water quality, algae blooms, discharges (S.IRL) , and thus lack of sunlight. The Florida Wildlife Commission’s 2021 numbers are displayed in the chart below and more information can be found here.
This August, Martine de Wit, DVM, presented a power point to the Management Board of the Indian River Lagoon Council. It is heartbreaking but should be seen by all.
The bottom line is: this winter the migrating manatees will have site fidelity (like elephants) to the four power plants along the IRL. In the past, as many as 2500 have stayed true to the warm waters near Cape Canaveral’s power plant in the northern central IRL. The question is, not who will come this year, it’s just how many. These manatees will be warm but there are no longer historic seagrass beds to eat. In spite of this, they will stay and put being warm first. Since we know there is no seagrass and since we know they will gather in their known warm waters, should we try to feed them or relocate them/something not supported in the past…
Reintroducing Myself to Pelican Island’s Warden, Paul Kroegel
-A 30 year old Jacqui meets the Paul Kroegel statue, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, Sebastian, Florida, 1994. Photo by mother, Sandra Thurlow. -A 57 year old Jacqui reintroduces herself to the Paul Kroegel statue, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, Sebastian, Florida, 2021. Photo by husband, Ed Lippisch.
The Story of Recreating the Photo
Last week, when I told my mother I had an Indian River Lagoon Council meeting in Sebastian, she forwarded me a 1994 photograph of me with my hand on the shoulder of statue Paul Kroegel. I vaguely recalled visiting the statue twenty-seven years ago during a family outing to the St Sebastian River.
“You’ll have to reintroduce yourself to our friend, Mr Paul Kroegel,” mom said. “You know, the man who inspired Theodore Roosevelt to create the Pelican Island Reservation that became the nation’s first National Wildlife Refuge in 1903. Mr Kroegel was appointed the United State’s first warden. He loved and protected thousands of pelicans!”
“I’ll do that mom. I’ll find the statue. I do remember that day,” I replied. “You, dad and I were canoeing and got caught in a thunderstorm.” It all started coming back to me…
The more I thought about it, the more I stared getting excited about finding the statue…
On Friday, August 13, I attended the Indian River Lagoon Council National Estuary meeting. Afterwards, using Google Maps, a devise not available in 1994, I found the Kroegel statue in Riverview Park just down the road from Sebastian City Hall.
There Warden Kroegel stood smoking his pipe, pelicans at his feet, just a shiny as ever! Someone had patriotically placed an American flag in his arms. It blew in the wind as pelicans and wading birds flew by. I took a deep breath, stood tall, and using my best manners reintroduced myself to Warden Kroegel. Looking into his bronze eye was almost real. We looked at each other for a long time. I placed my hand on his shoulder as in the original shot but had to turn around to take a modern day selfie. No one was there to take my picture, so I was unable to recreate the 1994 photo for my mother.
-Sculpted by Rosalee T. Hume
Luckily when I got home that night at dinner, I convinced Ed to drive up with me to Sebastian on the weekend, Sunday, August 15, to recreate the photo. We had a blast! First, it is such a beautiful drive to Sebastian from Sewall’s Point along historic Indian River Drive. Second, Sebastian is small and beautiful. A lot like Stuart was when I was a kid. We really enjoyed our visit there. After finding Riverview Park and enjoying the scenery, I introduced Ed to Warden Kroegel and we took the picture!
-Riverview Park, Indian River Lagoon -Ed looks out to the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, Indian River Lagoon -Standing at Paul Kroegel’s statue -Ed takes the iconic recreation photo of Jacqui and Warden Kroegel 27 years later!
Pelican Island and the legacy of Paul Kroegel are on display in Sebastian just about everywhere, but first and foremost at the remains of his Homestead at Kroegel Produce, right at the corner of Indian River Drive and U.S. 1. Pelican Island proper is “right behind” the old Homestead out in the Indian River. On land, the tomatoes were the best I’ve ever had! If you visit Sebastian, please take a photo with Mr Kroegel and send it my way. I’ll share it with my mother too.
And thanks to my husband, Ed, for helping me recreate the 1994 photo with Paul Kroegel. For mom, for fun, for history!
-St Lucie Inlet to Atlantic looking beautiful at this time day. Note nearshore reefs.
-Crossroads’ confluence of St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, S. Sewall’s Point – note lack of lush seagrass meadows
Jupiter Inlet and Loxahatchee River– heavy rains causing discoloration
Beechcraft Baron, Ed Lippisch, August 21, 2021, 3:30pm
-Looking towards Stuart over Sewall’s Point, SLR/IRL. Sailfish Point Marina left corner.-Sailfish Flats- note shades of seagrasses but no lush meadows-brown coloration -Over Atlantic-Indian River Lagoon lies east of Sewall’s Point, St Lucie River lies west -Various views
-One can see river’s proximity to Witham Field in Stuart. These photos show darkness of St Lucie due to stormwater runoff off lands and canals C-23. C-24, and C-44. No Lake O discharges.
-St Lucie Inlet
-Stuart Sandbar with many boaters. Water is dark with stormwater and canal runoff but remains to recreational standards.
-West now over S-308, Port Mayaca, Lake O – no visible algae from altitude of 1500 feet. Satellite images do show algae on west and middle of lake. SEE my brother Todd’s website EYEONELAKEO for all info. -Although water looks good at St Luice Inlet at an incoming tide, the estuary is suffering from too much input. Read Florida Oceanographic’s update for details.
Today, August 22, 2021 Lake Okeechobee is at 14.39 feet. This recent TCPalm article by Ed Killer gives insights based on a recent media conference with Col. Kelly of the ACOE.
Aerial SLR/IRL near St Lucie Inlet, courtesy Dr Scott Kuhns, 8-11-21.One of the difficult things about trying to keep an eye on the St Lucie River’s health is that destructive forces are coming from so many directions. It’s basically a “three front war.” During and after heavy rains, water is water pouring in, unfiltered, from the northwest, C-23, C-24, and C-25, and also from the southwest through C-44. When things are really bad, and the lake is high, the ACOE can discharge Lake Okeechobee as well. Some may consider this a two front war as Lake O and C-44 basin water are discharged through the same canal (C-44) but as they are separate “animals,” I consider it three.
So in recent weeks, as the rainy season has arrived, C-23, 24, and C-25 have been discharging stormwater runoff form the northwest, and now that C-44 is lower than Lake O (14. 38 feet), the ACOE’s operation is discharging C-44 too. Not yet, has the ACOE started discharging from Lake Okeechobee.
If you have been out on the river you have probably noticed the color is darker and it is going to get even darker as C-44 basin runoff also enters the river.
There are CERP projects set to improve these situations, the C-44 Reservoir and the C-23/24/25 Reservoirs. The C-44 Reservoir will be on line by the end of this year so long as when the ACOE starts filling it up this October, all goes well. The C-23/24/25 are in design and if the economy holds out and our advocacy continues should be done by 2030 or a couple of years before. This is great news! Also the EAA Reservoir, that will accept waters form Lake Okeechobee sending south, should break ground this year and is slated to be complete by 2028. The SFWMD is already well into building the storm water treatment component as the local partner in all of these projects. Thus relief is on the horizon, but until these all up and running, it’s the same old —-.
Below is a slide from the most recent SFWMD Governing Board Meeting on August 12. Mr Glenn’s slide shows how much runoff was entering the St Lucie. The number is 2432 cubic feet per second daily flow. Over 1400 or 2000 is “off the cuff” considered “destructive.” And now C-44 basin is coming in on top of this. This began through S-80 this Saturday, thus the C-44 runoff is unaccounted for in this slide.
We can look at my brother, Todd Thurlow’s, website and see in real time (almost) how much C-44 water is entering the St Lucie. Yesterday, when I texted Todd at 11pm it was 1049.18 acre feet on 8/14 and 1043.31 acre feet on 8/15. Sorry to be going from cfs to acre feet, but the bottom line is -this is a ton of water that never entered the St Lucie before the canals were dug. These canals are what is what is killing our river as they carry agricultural fertilizers and pesticides together with all the pollution coming from our yards: septic tank effluent, fertilizer, pesticides-FDOT road runoff too!
These aerial were taken from the SuperCub by Dr Scott Kuhns last Wednesday, August 11, 2021, and this is before Saturday when S-80 began discharging to the St Lucie for the C-44 “basin.” Bottom line, the St Lucie is now in a two front war against the northern and western canals, let’s fight for it not to become three. #NoLakeO to the St Lucie. Compare what the river looked on July 28, 201 and as the rains began.
Aerials August 11, 2021, Dr Scott Kuhns
Crossroads SLR/IRL-South Sewall’s Point-Looking south towards Jupiter Narrows-St Lucie Inlet with plume but still able to see nearshore reefs north of inlet-St Lucie Inlet with plume but plenty of blue water-note this is prior to C-44 basin runoff-St Lucie Inlet
LAKE OKEECHOBEE same day. Algae visible in lake off Port Mayaca and S-308 structure-View of S-308 no algae visible from this altitude-Close up of water near S-308. See GPS below.
RAIN RAIN RAIN
Friday night, August 13, 2021, my rain-gage in South Sewall’s Point overflowed! More the 7 inches of rain fell in about three hours causing flash flooding in Martin County, FL. These rains are now exiting our canals.
Viewing Algae on Recent Flights Across Lake Okeechobee
My husband, Ed, flew twice recently over Lake Okeechobee on his way to Lee County from Martin County. Once on August 8, and again on August 10, 2021. I asked Ed to snap a few photos to document what the lake looked like from the air. In the images below you can see Ed’s flight path and pictures taken. As Ed says, “the lake is lighting up,” his expression for algae growth. To see daily, easy to find and easy to read satellite Lake O algae images, please view my brother’s website eyeonlakeo. We continue to document Lake Okeechobee and to fight its destructive discharges. On call since 2013, there is no giving up!
ACOE Power Point Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM)
This pdf file is being shared for those who may not have attended yesterday’s web meeting. Please see link in blue below for power point slides as presented by Col. Andrew Kelly on August 9, 2021. This is process is for a new Lake Okeechobee operating schedule moving beyond “CC.” I know it is confusing. But reading the slides will help!
Friday night, August 6, 2021, Ed, Luna, Okee and I spent the night on Adrift, after meeting up with “Cinnamon Girl,” the craft of Dutch and Mary Radabaugh. Their name may ring a bell as Dutch and Mary were the face of Central Marine during the infamous toxic algae outbreaks of 2005, 2013, 2016 and 2018. Fortunately, there is no blue-green algae bloom in the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon today as they ACOE has not discharged from Lake Okeechobee since April 10, 2021 due to algae sitting at the gate of Port Mayaca.
As mentioned in my previous blog post, the rains have begun, rainy season is upon us, and although stormwater runoff and C-23/24 are tainting the river brown, it is remains beautiful and safe so Ed and I decided to take Mary and Dutch up on their offer to meet and anchor in the IRL near Boy Scout Island. We had done this two years ago. How time flies!
It turned out to be a wonderful weekend and we got to observe. The seagrasses were no where close to as thick as they were in 2019, but they were there, and and recovering. Macroalgae coated everything. This is disappointing but is happening across the entire Indian River Lagoon due to nutrient conditions. Nonetheless, thankfully, at low tide the wading birds were abundant. We also saw manatees, sea turtles, stingrays, snook, hermit crabs, one large conch and hundreds of shiny minnows. I was impressed! I think there is no more beautiful place that the Indian River Lagoon at sunrise or sunset. Glorious…
We must remain vigilant.
Lake Okeechobee reached 13.87 feet over the weekend, eyeonlakeo, thus the C-44 canal with its surrounding runoff will start flowing to the St Lucie once the lake achieves 14 feet. So is the operation of the Central and South Florida System. This will certainly affect the clarity of our waters. Thankfully there is still #NoLakeO.
I share these photographs to document and to celebrate a good year thus far in 2021. Let’s continue “Riverlution” to keep it that way!
-St Lucie River -headed southeast into Indian River LagoonIndian River Lagoon. There’s Cinnamon Girl! -Ed with Luna going to say “hi!”-Dutch with Holly-Okee stays inside Adrift. She likes sitting on maps.-IRL at sunset, silvery. -After a peaceful night’s sleep under the stars, Okee awakes to watch a golden sunrise-Sun’s up! Time to paddleboard and check out the conditions. JTL, Mary, Dutch and Ed. -Ed takes a break-Water brownish from rain and canals C-23/24. Greenish in bright light. -Mangrove island in the area known as the Sandbar. Many birds roosting! Mostly ibis. -Bare bottom with a some seagrasses surrounding mangrove island and sandbar area. Mary noted in 2007 this area had very lush seagrasses that have since been destroyed by Lake O discharges. Today there are sprigs. -Water looking greenish in bright light -Ed checking out the conditions and happy as a clam-Macroalgae (below) coats everything ground and seagrasses- not good. Many believe this system is replacing seagrasses through out the IRL. Water quality is key to keeping seagrasses! After our journey out we return to Cinnamon Girl. There are visitors!-Nic Mader and I relax. Nic is a dolphin specialist. Bottlenose dolphins like all creatures of the IRL are intricately connected to the seagrass habitat and the life that grows there.-Getting some exercise-Rains are beautiful falling in giant sheets from the sky! -Nic paddles towards home while looking for dolphins.
-Mary Radabaugh is a very good photographer always carrying her camera. She captured these images. The roseate spoonbills and American egret were on the sandbar along many other wading birds. Wonderful to see! Watch the link below (in red) to watch a manatee video Mary took as well.
What a place of beauty. The St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon was once considered “the most bio-diverse estuary in North America.” Let’s continue to fight to regain that status! We are on our way back. Such a stunning, special place! Thank you for getting us on the ground out to see. We love you Cinnamon Girl!
Ed, Scott, and I, part of your River Warrior team since 2013, continue to visually document the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon by air. Although due to algae at the gates of Port Mayaca the ACOE’s lake schedule has not subjected the St Lucie River to Lake Okeechobee discharges since April 10, 2021, the rains and stormwater runoff from surrounding lands and canals C-23, C-24 are flowing. I know I am not an official keeper of rain, however, the rain gauge in my garden has displayed significant rain over Sewall’s Point in the past weeks. See ACOE & SFWMD recent official documents below.
Today I will share aerials from Dr Scott Kuhns. A view from the Super-Cub. These aerials reflect a visual change in the water color due to the rain. The water is darker and contains sediment, and all other that runs off roads and lawns, and agriculture fields out west. Sometimes over a million acre-feet of discharge a years can come from C-23 and C-24 alone! We do not need any Lake O discharges on top of this. C-44 runoff (see canal map at end of this blog post) is probably on the way as when the canal level is lower than the lake it is usually made to flow in our direction. Right now the lake is at 13.87 feet. Two tropical systems are being watched. Hopefully, we will not have a hurricane! The river over all has been looking great! Seagrasses slowly returning. Better fishing reports.
It is important we stay on top of things. Continue to advocate! Learn all you need to know about #LakeO on my brother Todd’s website eyeonlakeo.
Dr Scott Kuhns, SLR/IRL, yesterday, August 5, 2021 at 10:00 am. Note Atlantic remains blue in color and St Lucie Inlet as well but there is a plume. The estuary and Crossroads of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon-they are more impacted. The final photo of St Lucie Locks and Dam’s S-80 structure is inland and thank goodness remains closed! Thank you Dr Scott Kunhs for being our eye in the sky and longtime River Warrior documenter!
It’s fun having a mother who is the “history lady” because if I ask a question, it’s answered. Recently I ask her why the address of the South Florida Water Management District was 3301 Gun Club Road, West Palm Beach, Florida, 33406. It always kind of hits me as I exit from I-95 onto GUN CLUB ROAD before our governing board meetings. Mom answered: “That’s of course because the Gun Club used to be located in the western lands after it was moved from its original location two miles north of the famous Royal Poinciana Hotel. So originally it was located along the Lake Worth Lagoon. In those early days, all revolved around Henry Flagler’s creations.” “Were they hunting animals? Killing them all?” I asked. “Jacqui I think it was more ground birds and skeet shooting. As seen in the photo, there was an audience. All was part of the extensive social life of the wealthy during the Florida boom of the early 1900s.”
Interesting! So what’s going on today along Gun Club Road? The Gun Club is long gone, the airport has expanded and now the SFWMD sits on this road.
A lot is happening that is helping Nature, not shooting at it. Today I’d like to share some photos of recent Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Projects as the SFWMD is the local sponsor to the Army Corp of Engineers. They share the costs 50/50.
1.~Picayune Strand: July 9, 2021, water flowing south to restore thousands of acres of land in Collier County for the very first time. Photo SFWMD. This project was pushed forward with the help and passion of Governing Board member Col. Charlette Roman.