Tag Archives: 2015

Blog Break, June Review 2015, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

River, unlabeled. 2007.
River, unlabeled. 2007.

Sometimes  you just need to take a break! I will be “blog-breaking” to spend time with my husband; I will return 7-15-15.

In review, before I stop blogging, thus far 2015 has not been a particularly rewarding year for river advocates— mostly because of  the state legislature’s tumultuous session, their interpretation of Amendment 1, and their refusal to consider the purchase of the US Sugar’s option lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

To top it off, the  ACOE began releasing from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River very early this year, starting January 16th and continuing  until just recently–the end of May. There may be more coming this rainy season….

The ACOE and the SFWMD decided to “dump” because the lake was “too high” to be safe for the Herbert Hoover’s Dike and its surrounding farms and communities.  This is “understandable,” but at great expense to our SLR/IRL economy and ecosystem.

Ironically, ample water supply is now a concern for “users,” such as agriculture, with Lake Okeechobee down to 12.20 feet and rapidly evaporating….((http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml))You may have heard that Miami is already in a drought…on top of this, the Caloosahatchee needs some lake water right now to keep its salinities from going too high but they are not getting it…

It always seems more likely that South Florida will  have a hurricane, and that Lake O could fill up quickly with 3-4 feet in one week, too much to dump fast,  so the agencies prefer the lake lower during summer’s rainy season… There is that chance though—that it won’t rain, and dry conditions will parch our state as occurred in 2006/2007.

DEP drought: (http://www.protectingourwater.org/transcripts/18/))

Wouldn’t that be something? After all that water being released?  South Florida going into a drought? The farm fields dying? The ecosystem and its animals in danger? And people not having enough water?

It  may seem an odd thought, but it is one that is not the “stuff of science fiction”— that one day,  in the future, after an extended drought or a climatic shift, people could be fighting over the billions of gallons of fresh water that is wasted to the Atlantic Ocean through the C-44 basin, the St Lucie River, and Caloosahatchee during storm events…

We need to prepare for this. We must not give up our advocacy. We must keep more of this precious water on the land and going south for the Everglades.

On a positive-personal note regarding the year thus far….

You may have noticed—-

I am enjoying collaborating with my family. To have my mother’s history and most recently my brother’s “flying time capsule maps” to share is very rewarding. I have linked some  of Todd time capsule flights below. They have been very popular!

My brother Todd and I on Ronnie Nelson's dock, Martin County, FL, IRL, ca 1974. (Thurlow Family Album)
My brother Todd and I on Ronnie Nelson’s dock, Martin County, FL, IRL, ca 1974. (Thurlow Family Album)

Todd is six years younger than me as you can see from the photo above. My sister, Jenny, is four years younger. Growing up, Todd and Jenny  were more together, and I was kind of “old.” I was out of Martin County High School where as they attended during the same time. Now, the years seems fewer in between…. 🙂

In closing, thank you very much for reading my blog; I wish you a good couple of weeks enjoying the Indian River Region, and I’ll see you soon!

River, unlabeled. 2007.
“Tranquility”…..Unlabeled photo, Thurlow Files, dated 2007.

Todd’s Videos:

1. The Inlets at Peck’s Lake and Jupiter Narrows. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yO650JyADwQ)

2. Hal-pa-ti-okee Swamp: Port St Lucie and Western Martin County. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2f-e0ul1mY)
3. Bog and Ponds of Martin County, 1940s. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvH5H0TiG5c)
4. The Spoil Islands of the Indian River Lagoon, Martin County (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sODqzQ8EW9o)
5. Capt. Henry Sewall’s Dock, Sewall’s Point, Where Was it Located? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFkL9YgPSmI)

*6. Where did the South Fork of the St Lucie River and the St Lucie Canal Connect? EDD/ACOE 1915-1923 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYI34XZUNYs&feature=youtu.be)

Above: Google Earth/Historic Maps Overlay Flights shared on my blog, created by my brother Todd Thurlow, (http://thurlowpa.com) These flights using Topo and other historic maps combined with today’s Google Earth images flashing between “yesterday and today” give tremendous insight into the water and land changes due to drainage for agriculture and development that have occurred in our region. JTL

 

“Paradise and Hell,” June 2015/June 2013, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Contrast June 21, 2015 and June 28, 2013. St Lucie Inlet, Martin County, Fl. (Photos JTL and EL)
Contrast June 21, 2015 and June 28, 2013. St Lucie Inlet, Martin County, Fl. (Photos JTL and EL)

I hope you and your family had a happy Father’s Day. The water was beautiful this weekend,  so I thought today I would compare some aerial photos my husband Ed and I took this weekend to some we took in June of 2013 during the “Lost Summer.” No wonder we all fight for clean water and fewer discharges from Lake Okeechobee and area canals. What a difference!

Of course other than “history,” rain has a lot to do with discharges into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and it has not been raining too much lately— thus the blue waters rather than the ugly dark brown plumes. It is important for all of us to understand why our paradise sometimes turns into a disgusting toxic mess so we can keep working for policy to change this problem.

The first and worst part of the problem lies in southern Martin County—the C-44 canal built by the Flood Control District of the era and later the Army Corp of Engineers to connect Lake Okeechobee to the South Fork of the St Lucie River. This canal was connected in 1923 for agriculture and transportation. So now, not only is there the agricultural lands’ runoff from the C-44 basin that pours into the river, but also the periodic often huge releases from Lake Okeechobee. In spite of claims that this lake water is “only 30%” of total discharge water coming into the estuary, when it comes it is tremendous, filthy, and always a killer.

I think a decent metaphor would be that one could drink alcohol all time (from the C-23, C-24, C-25) and have problems like an alcoholic but function, however, if one downed two bottles of gin in a short period of time, one would kill oneself. Lake Okeechobee and its periodic huge slugs are death each time for our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Canals in Stuart, C-23, C-24, C-25 built in the 50s and 60s. C-44 connected to Lake Okeechobee constructed in the 1920s.
Canals in Stuart, C-23, C-24, C-25 built in the 40s, 50s and 60s. C-44 connected to Lake Okeechobee constructed in the 1920s.

Next we must recognize the other problem-part of our canal system in the northern region…

After a tremendous hurricane/storm and flooding (because we are a swamp….)  in 1947 the state of Florida and the federal government worked to appropriate monies for the Central and South Florida Flood Project  which created the plumbing system we know today for all South Florida.

The part “we got” was the building of canals C-25, C-24 and C-23. The state and federal government acted like this was “just for flooding” but it wasn’t. It was also to allow for more agriculture and development in the region by draining the lands. (Mostly citrus and development of Port St Lucie).  These canals were built and “improved” throughout the 50s and 60s and expanded the water being drained into the St Lucie River by about five times!

So now water from Okeechobee and St Lucie counties, and even water that had been flowing north into the St Johns River, through Indian River County and beyond— drains into the St Lucie River! (The headwaters of the St Johns River started flowing north in the marshes west of Sebastian and Vero—they have been directed to the SLR…)

Crazy isn’t it?

You know these “guys” —these politicians and business people, knew they were killing the river. They were just so driven by the pay-off of citrus/agriculture and cheap lands to sell….that they didn’t care…The river dies slowly so many of them did not see the “close to total death” —what we see today…but they knew what they were doing.

There were those who objected trying to protect the river’s  fishing industry and wildlife….But their voices were not enough to stop the train….sound familiar?

Drainage changes to the SLR.
Drainage changes to the SLR. Green is the original, natural, watershed,. Yellow and pink show the expanded drainage to the SLR/IRL. St Lucie River Initiative, Letter to Congress 1994.

The map above shows the “expanded watershed” in yellow and pink going into the St Lucie River. This is why I very much object also when I hear “how 70-80%” of the water polluting the St Lucie “is from our local watershed.”

Like we are supposed to feel responsible?  Most of it’s  not local!!!!! Plus it is the SFWMD’s job to oversee these canals. FIX THEM!

The moral of the story though is that the “local watershed” does not exist anymore….

“Wealth (agriculture and development) at the expense of the environment….” The story of our state.

Of course the grand irony is that we all came here for the “environment” ….the water, the fishing, the wildlife, the beauty…..

So here we are in Martin County living in a world where the pendulum swings between “paradise and hell.”

Paradise is not what it used to be, but it is still here. We saw some of it this past weekend…And we could bring back more if we really tried….If we want it, our job is to get more of the water coming into the St Lucie River/IRL back onto the land, going south, and returned or held north, and not draining or being released  into our watershed.

Sounds reasonable doesn’t it? Well, the problem is we don’t have 30 years….or 50 years….like “the plan” (CERP) calls for now….(http://www.evergladesrestoration.gov)

There is alway hope we could do it faster. We must make hope a reality….all of us.

As newspaper man and famed environmentalist Ernie Lyons said: “What men do, they can undo…..and the hope for our river is in the hundreds of men and women in our communities who are resolved to save the St Lucie…” (Ernest Lyons, Editor and reporter, Stuart News)

This weekend I think we were all inspired! 🙂

Comparison 2015 and 2013 Atlantic shoreline with nearshore reefs, Jupiter Island south of St Lucie Inlet. (JTL)
Comparison 2015 and 2013 Atlantic shoreline with nearshore reefs, Jupiter Island south of St Lucie Inlet. (JTL)

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September 2013
September 2013–plume as it exits St Lucie Inlet.
Another aerial 2013- plume along Jupiter Island.
Another aerial from September 2013- plume along Jupiter Island that had exited the St Lucie Inlet.

 

If “Off With Their Heads” is Not an Option, What is? Documenting the Destructive Discharges 2015, SLR/IRL

Reenactment of canon fire at the Castillo, St Augustine, 2015. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Reenactment of canon fire at the Castillo, St Augustine, 2015. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Flying north at convergence  of SLR/IRL at St Lucie Inlet.  (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 3-18-15.)
Flying north at convergence of SLR/IRL at St Lucie Inlet. Brown polluted-sediment water of Lake Okeechobee fills the estuary turning a usually blue/green area dark brown. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 3-18-15.)
Standing at the St Augustine Bride over the Matnazas River. (Photo Ed Lippisch 2015)
Standing at the St Augustine Bridge over the Matnazas River. (Photo Ed Lippisch 2015)

My photos of dark waters of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon were taken on Wednesday, 3-18-15 as my husband, Ed, flew us to St Augustine for a Thurlow Family trip my mother organized, in “America’s oldest city.”

Seeing the destructive view of the discharges on our way north was not a good visual, but before we’d left St Augustine, I had learned that their river, very much like the Indian River Lagoon, is named “The Matanzas” meaning “River of Slaughter” in memory of Spain’s Don Pedro Menendez ‘ and his men’s decapitation of the shipwrecked colony of French Huguenots  in 1565. During the massacre, the river “ran with blood…” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matanzas_River)

Today our river runs with death as well, albeit a different kind…but we do not live in an age where if you are trying to displace someone, or don’t support their belief system, you chop their heads off….So what then can we do other than try to entice our dear government, to purchase land south of Lake Okeechobee to store, clean and convey water south the Everglades?

We can ask them to “document” what is happening….That sounds reasonable.

I have been reading the book: “Conservation in Florida, It’s History and Heros” by Gary L. White. Originally “the Department of Natural Resources,” the precursor to today’s  Department of Environmental Protection, did what it could to protect resources rather just be in charge of permits to destroy such.

I think until the Department of Environmental Protection removes the word “protection” from its name, it still has an obligation to “protect” which also means to “document.”

Seagrasses—fish species—-coral reefs and fish species–oysters—-marine mammals—birds—-aquatic plants——–all that is being lost….

It’s pathetic that the agency is not doing this already. Documenting loss forces state and federal agencies to “do something.” Otherwise, the destruction just continues and everyone “forgets” life was ever there. We owe this to future generations if nothing else.

If you agree, would you please contact the “Department’s” new Secretary, who is a cabinet member of Governor Scott. Please ask him if the agency could document what is happening here is the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon or maybe “protect” it in some way since that word it is still in their name….

Jonathan P.  Steverson DEP Secretary: 850-245-2011. Mr Tom Frick is in charge of Environmental Restoration for our part of the state; his number 850-245-7518. (http://www.dep.state.fl.us

You can reference what Florida Oceanographic states on its website: (http://www.floridaocean.org)

In the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon area, several “protected areas” are now bing impacted, including two “state aquatic preserves:”

“1. The Indian River Lagoon National Estuary,” running from south of Ft Pierce to Jupiter Inlet that is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA,) as well as an Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA,) “Essential Fish Habitat for Seagrass.” 2. Another area being impacted by the Lake Okeechobee discharges is the “St Lucie Inlet State Preserve Reefs, and Nearshore Reefs” nominated by NOAA for “National Marine Sanctuary Designation.” 

The SLR/SIRL estuary,coastal-ecosystem and habitat has been documented by Dr Grant Gilmore, formerly of Harbor Branch, and others to be “the most bio diverse estuary in North America with habitat for more than 4,000 species of plants and animals, including 36 endangered and threatened species.”

–Where is the protection for these areas? Where are the agencies that are charged with enforcing these protections? 

2.
2. IRL and SLR converge at Crossroads by St Lucie Inlet then IRL runs north between starting at Sailfish Point and Sewall’s Point. This area has been documented as the most bio diverse marine environment in North America.
3.
3. Sailfish Point
4.
4. Sailfish Flats
5.
5. Sailfish Flats
6. Jensen Beach Bridge
6. Jensen Beach Bridge

 

My nieces look over the Matanzas River from the Lighthouse in St (Photo Jenny Flaugh 2015) .
My nieces look over the Matanzas River from the Lighthouse in St Augustine. (Photo Jenny Flaugh 2015) .

 

Why Restoring the Kissimmee River is not Enough to Fix Lake Okeechobee and Save the Estuaries, SLR/IRL

Lake Okeechobee is tremendous in size. One cannot see across to the other side. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, S.Engebretsen pilot, 2014.)
Lake Okeechobee is tremendous in size. One cannot see across to the other side. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, S. Engebretsen pilot, 2014.)

The first time I ever saw Lake Okeechobee, I was fourteen years old. I was visiting River Ranch, at Yeehaw Junction, with my friend Vicki Whipkey, and her family. Jay Brock, who was by far the smartest of any of us kids there that summer vacation, and my first real “crush,” recommended we go see sunset on the lake. I don’t remember how we got there, but we did.

Once we arrived, the sun was starting to fall. The horizon was miles away, and the water went as far as the eye could see in all directions.

“It looks like the ocean, not a lake.” I said, taken aback.

Jay, spouted off some statistics saying something like: “The lake is about 730 square miles; 35 miles long; and up to 25 miles wide. It is the largest lake entirely within a state in the United States of America; it is half the size of Rhode Island.”

I wondered how he know all this stuff, and we sat there watching the sunset.

I wondered if I would have my first kiss at this beautiful, but almost eerie, “ocean of a lake.” It never happened…

I never really forgot Jay Brock, and we remained friends throughout our lives.

I never, never, ever, forgot Lake Okeechobee.

Years later,  an adult, I started going back to Lake Okeechobee in my forties when I started to become concerned about the releases from the lake into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. I wanted and needed to see it through “adult eyes.”

—-I have flown over the lake with my husband and his friends many times;  I have entered the lake by boat; and I have driven 30 miles west with my niece Evie, on Highway 76, until arriving at Port Mayaca.  No matter how I have gotten there, every time I see the lake, I have the same experience I had at fourteen years old, I am completely “overcome by its size.”

 

At the edge of Lake Okeechobee, 2015. (Photo by Ed Lippisch.)
At the edge of Lake Okeechobee, 2015. (Photo by Ed Lippisch.)
Lake Okeechobee by plane. (Photo JTL.)
Lake Okeechobee by plane 2014. (Photo JTL.)
Lake Okeechobee by boat. (Photo Ed Lippisch 2009.)
Lake Okeechobee by boat. (Photo Ed Lippisch 2009.)

Yesterday, Governor Rick Scott pledged Amendment 1 monies to the Everglades, but not for buying the US Sugar option 1 lands south of Lake Okeechobee,

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010.)

stressing the completion of projects C-44, C-43 and the Kissimmee River. (http://www.flgov.com/2015/01/27/gov-scott-announces-5-billion-over-20-years-to-restore-the-everglades/)

Aerial photo of positron of restored Kissimmee River. Note discolored filled in C-38 canal juxtaposed to winding restored oxbows. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2014).
Aerial photo of portion of restored Kissimmee River. Note discolored filled in C-38 canal juxtaposed to winding restored oxbows. The  Kissimmee is long but in its altered state, cannot hold all the extra water now stored in Lake Okeechobee and then released into the SLR/IRL and Caloosahatchee Estuaries. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2014).

I am thankful for this, but disappointed; I am thankful Governor Scott has the Everglades and local projects in his budget recommendation for the 2015 Legislative Session. Nonetheless, I recognize that our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon problems will never be fixed until there is land and eventually a reservoir south of the lake to store, clean, and convey water south— a flow way of sorts to move that water south….

Simply put, the Kissimmee cannot hold all the water; and the C-44 STA/Reservoir will not hold lake water, but rather local runoff. (http://www.tmba.tv/broadcastanimation/everglades-restoration/everglades-restoration/)

THERE IS TOO MUCH WATER. SOME MUST GO SOUTH. WE NEED A COMBINATION AND THE OPTION 1 LANDS EXPIRE THIS OCTOBER, 2015.

Let’s think a minute. Let’s review, and contemplate about what we can still do to politely convince our governor and legislature. There is still time.

Florida Oceanographic Society quotes 1.5 or so million acres feet coming out the Kissimmee River into Lake Okeechobee in 2013, (not our worst of years), with approximately 300,000 acre feet being released to the St Lucie/IRL and 660,000 acre feet being releases to the Caloosahatchee. The rest going to sustain the Everglades Agriculture Area south of the lake, and a smaller portion yet trickling to the dying Everglades.

So even if the Kissimmee holds more water, it won’t hold enough water. The water is meant to go south….

I wonder if the governor or Adam Putnam have any grandchildren who might be able to explain this? 🙂

Remember that the Governor’s recommendation is just that. It must be approved by the legislature. We still have time to make our voices heard and to ask for one thing to be added. ——one thing that would really help hold the tremendous and over-pouring waters of Lake Okeechobee, —-a lands purchase and a reservoir south of the lake. Then the senate, the house and the governor can duke it out….it’s not over yet!

What did Winston Churchill say? “Never, never, never, —-never give up!” 🙂

Senate Site for Comments on Amd. 1 monies: (http://www.flsenate.gov/media/topics/wlc)

 

EAA below Lake Okeechobee. (Public map.)
EAA below Lake Okeechobee. (Public map.)
Historic flow from lake Okeechobee. (Map Everglades Foundation.)
Historic flow from lake Okeechobee. (Map Everglades Foundation.)
Today's flow from Lake Okeechobee. (Image Everglades Foundation.)
Today’s flow from Lake Okeechobee east and west through the estuaries.  (Image Everglades Foundation.)
My niece Evie stands at the manicured edge of the east side of Lake Okeechobee at Port Mayaca. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 2013)
My niece Evie stands at the manicured edge of the east side of Lake Okeechobee at Port Mayaca. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 2013)
Lake O. 730 square miles and was once 1000 square miles....
Lake O. 730 square miles and was once 1000 square miles….

 

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. These option lands could store some of the water now stored in Lake Okeechobee and released to the estuaries. (SFWMD map, 2010)

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Lake Okeechobee: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Okeechobee)

 

 

 

 

Understanding Our State Legislature, and How to Make it Work for the Indian River Lagoon

Understanding our state legislature and how to make it work for the Indian River Lagoon.
Understanding our Florida state legislature and how to make it work for the Indian River Lagoon.

As usual, I  will be talking today about something I certainly don’t totally understand, but have gotten glimpses into, and therefore want to share…

The state legislature and how it works is very confusing. It  is a much larger, shrouded, party-oriented, moodier animal– to say the least, and meetings are not as easy to attend as local county or city commission meetings here at home.

So, how can we begin to approach and understand the legislature and all of its moving parts, in order to get what we want for our ailing St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon?

Let’s start out with the very simple…

First, even though the formal legislative session does not start until March 3rd, the state legislature is holding committee meetings now. We must communicate with the legislature now, while they are in committee meetings, and not wait until “session.” Waiting until session is too late. The whole process is fast and furious and during session there is no time to “talk.”

The dates I  have from my Florida League of Cities information packet for the 2015 Florida Legislative Committee (and they are subject to change, ) are  as follows:

Legislative Interim Committees: January 5-9; 20-23.

Legislative Interim Committees: February 2-5; 9-13; and 16-20.

March 3rd Legislative Session Convenes (begins)

May 1st is the last day of Regular Session.

So politicians are in meetings this week, right now! In order to find out what committees are meeting and where, you have to visit their webistes….we will talk about this in a minute.

Second, who is on what committees, and who are “our” state legislators?

There are many committees and figuring out what bill will be in what committee during session or when they are meeting is not easy, but basically for the “Indian River Lagoon” I try to keep track of two committees: 1. the “Senate’s Natural Resources and Conservation Committee” and 2. the “House’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.” (Gulp, don’t ask me why natural resources is together with agriculture as it seems sometimes the two have competing interest.)

The website for the Senate is: (http://www.flsenate.gov)

And the website for the House of Representatives is: (http://www.myfloridahouse.gov)

It is important to know that the president of the Senate this year is Andy Gardiner and the speaker of the house is Steve Crisafulli. Both of these gentlemen represent parts of Brevard County which is on the INDIAN RIVER LAGOON! Maybe you could write them a note….? 

Now, go to both sites and look up “committees,” finding the two I mentioned above. Next, go to “calendar” and determine the dates and what rooms in which the committees will be meeting.

From what I understand, you can fill out a form on-line to speak in one of these meetings; the problem is you could drive all the way to Tallahassee and then the committee chair may decide to cancel the meeting  or not allow you much time to talk. Committee chairs are very powerful positions and are determined at the beginning of each legislative session. Nonetheless, look up the chairs of the two Natural Resource Committees. Do you know them? Do you know somebody who knows them? 

OK, now, third, is a good time to talk about “our legislators” also called our “legislative delegation.” Let’s find out what committees our legislators are on this year. Then let’s write and congratulate them! This is a good way to start a relationship. To get anything at all, you have to build a relationship. This can be done! They want to hear from you!

Also, don’t just contact them when you want something. Stay in touch regularly. Tell them what you are doing, send them a summary of what you as an activist or your organization is doing. Start by looking up the assistant of the legislator and contacting this person. Over time, try to get an appointment with the legislator. Be diligent; be positive; be polite; keep going back….Don’t give up! Invite them places; invite them to your rallies!

From my recollection, our Martin/St Lucie/Indian River area legislators are:

Senators: Joe Negron and Denise Grimsley:  To learn about them go to (http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators) and search by last name  to see their committee appointments and if they are chairing a committee.

Representatives: Gayle Harrell; MaryLynn Magar; Larry Lee; and Debbie Mayfield. Look them up alphabetically and find out what committees they are on: (http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/representatives.aspx)

This is a lot of work, but if you don’t know anything about your legislators how can you ask anything from them or make a good impression?

Interestingly, you will note many of them, do not serve on the Natural Resource or Agriculture and Natural Resource Committees. (I believe Larry Lee and Debbie Mayfield are the only ones I have seen over the past years….) Nonetheless, as bills move through committees our delegation can give input…if you communicate with them that is. If you don’t, don’t expect your voice to be heard.

The biggest thing that will be affecting the Indian River Lagoon this session besides Senator Negron following through on his Senate Select Committee on the IRL and Lake Okeechobee commitments will be how the legislature decides to deal with the passing of Amendment 1. for lands acquisition.

Just last night, Ted Guy, of the Rivers Coalition, sent out an email stating the Senate was now taking comments on their website from the public on how to utilize Amendment 1, the Water and Land Legacy Amendment, and that a new committee had been formed on its behalf.

Amd. 1. (http://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Water_and_Land_Conservation_Initiative,_Amendment_1_%282014%29Go here to make a comment: (http://www.flsenate.gov/media/topics/wlc)

St Petersburg article on this website: (http://www.saintpetersblog.com/archives/173843)

So, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but go ahead, stick your feet in the cold, cold water; let’s warm things up, and be the voice of the Indian River Lagoon!

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I must thank Mrs Kathy Till of the Florida League of Cities for her advocacy training and insights: (http://www.floridaleagueofcities.com)

 

 

El Nino, Indian River Lagoon

During an El Nino, ocean  water along the equator is warmer and thus there is more rain. (Public photo)
Generally speaking, during an El Nino, ocean waters are warmer and thus there is more rain. (Public photo)

Last night, my husband, Ed, walks into my office, sneaks behind me, looks at my computer screen with an El Nino water pattern photo on it, and says jokingly: ” What are you now? The weatherman?”

I look at him with a wry smile:”No, I’m not the weatherman; I am going  to write about El Nino in my “Indian River Lagoon” blog tomorrow. I think the ACOE could start dumping into the St Lucie River soon. There’s a connection with El Nino, and it’s a terrible way to possibly start the new year.”

Ed leaves the room laughing…”Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch- weatherman!”

Well, Ed did make me laugh for the moment; but today, I am not laughing.

From what I have witnessed over the past few weeks, before I had a wonderful holiday break, as I hope you did, the scientists on ACOE Periodic Scientist Conference for Lake Okeechobee and the Estuaries, were alluding to releasing water from Lake Okeechobee to the estuaries. I have been thinking about this the entire break. This could happen, or not happen. And although the reasons are many and multi-layered, let’s start with a simple question.

“What is an El Nino?”

Apparently the word which literally means “Christ Child” (Little Boy) is derived from Spanish-speaking fishermen who noticed that sometimes, around Christmas, ocean waters get warmer, thus the name. Because the warmer waters are not as nutrient filled as the cool waters, this radically affects fishing, and bird life, as well as weather patterns—causing more rain during the winter season.

The opposite of El Nino, the cooler system, is La Nina, or (Little Girl.) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Niño)

So, during the recent ACOE Periodic Scientist calls, that I sit in as an elected official, most recently on December 23, 2014, NOAA reported that there is a 65% chance that there could be an “El Nino” this winter. (http://www.elnino.noaa.gov/) Thus the projections for rain this winter are “high.”

For scientists from the Army Corp of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District tying to manage Lake Okeechobee, (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm), this affects how they will manage the lake.  The lake is now at 15.20 feet. This is almost a full foot higher than last year and high in general for this time of year. Usually at this time of year one would hope that the lake is going down so it will be ready to hold the waters of the next rainy season… 

All things considered, now the ACOE/SFWMD might dump to “make room.”  You’ve got to be kidding me?

Why can’t the ACOE  send this lake water south?

According to them and the charts below, they can’t because they already sent so much water south in 2014. Sending water south is good. More water was sent south in 2014 than in many, many years before. Still….

Hmmm…. So am I supposed to feel OK about this? No.

It’s kind of like understanding why you are going to get beaten. You may understand, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less….

Also, one other thing they don’t mention is that the Storm Water Treatment Areas and Water Conservation Areas south of the lake are reserved first for the Everglades Agriculture Area’s (EAA) water….

In my opinion, this is not right….

It is also not right that the estuaries repeatedly get destroyed. We must fight on.

So take a look at these slides and “understand,” but may it give us ammunition to fight harder as part of our new year’s resolution for 2015, and definitely, not to accept our plight.

ACOE/SFWMD summary at last Periodic Scientist Call,
ACOE/SFWMD summary at last Periodic Scientist Call, 12-23-14.
ACOE/SFWMD chart from PSC showing how much water they "could" have sent the SLR...
ACOE/SFWMD chart from PSC showing how much water they “could” have sent the SLR…12-23-14. Blue what LORS allowed. Red what they sent this year.
LORS Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule chart
(LORS 2008) Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule chart. Although the ACOE’s chart “tells” the ACOE that they can send the SLR 1170 cfs of water, and has for months, the ACOE has been sending 0.

Happy New Year. Happy 2015. 2014 was “progress” because of you. So let’s keep learning, and pushing for a third outlet south of the lake, and lands to hold that water, so one day in the future, we don’t have start the new year with an ax over our heads.

Below is the last message from the ACOE, regarding the next Periodic Scientists Conference Call, so tomorrow, will be an “epiphany.”

12-24-14: “The next periodic scientist call will be 6 January 2015 at 2:00 PM. We anticipate continued discussions regarding Lake Okeechobee levels, weather forecasts to include El Nino conditions, and dry season lake release strategy.” —ACOE

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 Previous blog post explaining what the ACOE Periodic Scientists Conference Calls are: (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/03/06/the-acoes-periodic-scientists-call-and-the-indian-river-lagoon/)