Tag Archives: 2021

This is the Life

On Saturday, June 5, 2021, Ed took me for a ride in the Maverick. Sometimes I am fussy, refusing to go if the waves are too big or the wind is too strong. But on Saturday, conditions were perfect.

It was a beautiful day, and I was grateful. I was grateful that the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon was not a toxic soup this year. I was grateful for the small amount of life in the river. Ed and I  put in at the Jensen Beach Boat Ramp and it was crowded. Resident wading birds were there waiting to see if someone would throw them a fish. I noticed, thankfully, the county had put up a sign since the last time Ed and I had visited. Once Ed and I got beyond the docks and out into the Indian River Lagoon the wind picked up and I held on tight! I Suddenly it seemed we were weaving in and out of other boats. I kept yelling “Be careful of manatees!”

“I’m in the channel!” Ed replied, looking at me  incredulously.

First we visited Boy Scout Island between Sewall’s and Sailfish Points as I wanted to check out the seagrass or lack thereof. It was growing! There were different kinds, one like a feather, (Johnsons) the other like a thick hair (Shoal). I saw blue crabs and hundreds of small snails. I was so happy to see this. I remember other times recently when there was not one bit of life. Still, it hurts that I have to “be happy” for such a small banquet of what I experienced in my childhood.

“If we can just hold off Lake Okeechobee releases…” I thought and was pleased the ACOE has done so for most of this year. Lake Worth Lagoon and the Caloosahatchee have not been so lucky.

Here, the rains began in late May and the river’s a little darker, not the turquoise blue you sometimes see. Nonetheless, the water looked good and and many families were enjoying themselves. Ed anchored being careful of grasses. I took a walk while he fished. Together we photographed the area.

-Boy Scout Island lies between Sewall’s and Sailfish Points near the Sailfish Flats and St Lucie Inlet -Seagrass beds slowly recovering  just off Boy Scout Island 6-5-21 -Excessive sargassum weed and macro-algae not as welcome to see a budding seagrasses-Head  of horseshoe crab – maybe molted. Good sign they are still here! -Thousands of snails leaving paths in the sand-A small hermit crab took someone’s shell. A nice one! -Little snails up close-Hand sized hermit crabs, old friends. Once there were thousands. We held races on the beach.-Boy Scout Island is a mangrove island with tidal areas for wildlife. We visited at low tide.Next, Ed and I got back in the boat and jutted through the Crossroads, me holding on for dear life again, -Ed in his glory! Spray on our faces! We arched off around the sea of boats onto a large sandbar close to the St Lucie Inlet.

It was a great adventure anchoring and then walking in the waist high water to the sandbar. I felt like I was a kid again roaming around, looking for shells, breathing in the clear air, lost in the happiness of the experience. We found quite a few fighting conch, pin shells, and clam like creatures all alive inside their shells! But no queen conch. Ed decided to go check that the anchor still held.

I wandered around losing track of time. I don’t think think there is anything more I love than this. I collected shells. Looked in holes. Birds rested and hunted for food. I even saw an osprey catch a fish in the lagoon’s shallow waters. The cloud formations were unbelievable.

When I finally returned to the boat, Ed was asleep. What a classic!

“This is the Life.”

This is the life indeed!-Pin shell and mollusk-Fighting Conch – orange in color -Tiny bit of seagrass and macroalge -Ed sleeps, Sandbar, St Lucie Inlet 

 

Day 35 ~Discharges to St Lucie Stop, April 10, 2021

Documenting the Discharges 2021

On Friday, April 9, the Army Corp of Engineers announced it would halt discharges to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon on Saturday, April 10. The Corp has been discharging from Lake Okeechobee since March 6th. Today Lake Okeechobee sits at 14.14 feet. Please read above link for details.

These aerials were taken by my husband, Ed Lippisch, yesterday, Saturday, April 10, 2021 at approximately 1:30 pm during an outgoing tide, from 3000 feet over the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and 1500 feet over Lake Okeechobee and the C-44 Canal.

There have been documented reports of algae near Port Mayaca at Lake Okeechobee as well as on the the west coast -April 8. Ed’s photos from April 10 reveal some algae in C-44 canal near the railroad bridge just inside the S-308 structure, but none was visible in Lake O near S-308 from the altitude of the airplane.

Ed, myself, and the River Warrior crew will continue flights documenting the visual condition of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Always watching. Always sharing.

When we are not flying, you can follow along  electronically via my brother Todd Thurlow’s website eyeonlakeo. 

J&E

-Sandbar and barren (no visible seagrass) Sailfish Flats area of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Visually, water is a mixture of blue and brown, mostly transparent, near St Lucie Inlet. -Discharges exiting St Lucie Inlet over nearshore reefs. It will take a few days for the river to clear up. -At Lake Okeechobee, Port Mayaca, S-308 Structure to C-44 Canal leading to St Lucie River-C-44 Canal at railroad bridge just inside S-308 structure. Algae visible on right side. -C-44 at St Lucie Locks and Dam S-80 Structure AKA “The 7 Gates of Hell.”

Information:

Florida Oceanographic Society  WQ Report “B” March 31-April 7, 2021

SFWMD Operations Position Statement April 6-April 12, 2021 Ops_Position_Statement__Apr_06_Apr_12_2021

Todd Thurlow’s website EyeonLakeO 

To learn more and sign a petition to stop the discharges:  RiversCoalition.org 

15 Days After the Discharges~2021

Ed and I continue to  document the discharges by air – “a picture speaks 1000 words…” ACOE continues discharging from Lake Okeechobee at 500 cubic feet per second as reported last week and week before.  Lake Okeechobee is going down, and today, 3-22-21, sits at 14.79 feet.

Previous Posts:  

Day Before the Discharges, March 5, 2021

7 Days After the Discharges

Information: 

~Most recent ACOE Periodic Scientist Call, 3-10-16: Periodic_Scientists_Call_2021-03-09

~SFWMD 3-16-21: Ops_Position_Statement__Mar_16_22_2021

~Florida Oceanographic Society  WQ Report, 3-11-21/3-17-21

Aerials taken over St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon on 3-21-21, 12.30 pm, incoming tide,  over St Lucie Inlet and Sailfish Flats between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island, Martin County, Florida. One can see the effects with sediment cloud discharging into Atlantic Ocean and darkening waters. Nonetheless, salinity conditions are safe for oysters and Florida Oceanographic has water quality at a B-. Please read information section above for details.

See you next week. 

J&E 

Aerials 3-21-21 E&J Lippisch

 

 

 

 

Day Before the Discharges, March 5, 2021

Yesterday, Friday, March 5, 2021, around 3:30pm, my husband Ed and I, took a flight over St Luice River/Indian River Lagoon. We knew we needed to document because word on the street had been that there was a good chance, with Lake Okeechobee over 15.00 feet, and rainy season approaching, the SFWMD and ACOE would soon be recommending a special HAB DEVIATION-discharging to the estuaries. Since 1948, the two agencies have worked together to manage the Central and South Florida System

In any case, when Ed and I heard the announcement 4:48pm, less than an hour after arriving home from our flight, -that the ACOE would open S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam from Lake Okeechobee- “tomorrow, March 6th,” we were speechless. 

“Wow. Thank God we got up in the plane,” I said to Ed. 

Today, I offer our St Luice/Indian River aerials as a visual day-before-discharges baseline.  Of course I am terribly disappointed. Ed keeps telling me I need to cheer up. I doubt that  I will, but I can say that  I am grateful that now water will also start going south, and that natural resources are being taken into consideration by the agencies. Unfortunately, there are not so many natural resources left. 

~As we have since 2013, Ed and I will continue to document the discharges. 

Please read the ACOE March 5, 2021  announcement to begin Lake O discharges to the estuaries.

For the technical, please read the SFWMD Operation Position Statement March 4, 2021: Ops_Position_Statement__Mar_02_08_2021

SFWMD image: C&SFFCP’s canals to the St Lucie. The western C-44 and Lake Okeechobee had no historic connection the the St Lucie River. The first five photos were taken in the area of the St Lucie Inlet over Sailfish Flats between Sewall’s and Sailfish Points. The flats presently are devoid of seagrasses. -Looking east over the St Lucie/Indian River estuary from Stuart to the Atlantic Ocean.-Looking south to Jupiter Narrows of the Indian River Lagoon. The St Lucie enters around the peninsula of Sewall’s Point. -St Lucie Inlet and “Crossroads/” Where the St Lucie and Indian River meet and exit the St Lucie Inlet.  -Close up of St Lucie Inlet and Crossroads.-Looking north, up the Indian River Lagoon.  -Jupiter Narrows looking south over Peck’s Lake. Note a controlled burn in Hobe Sound in the distance. -North fork of the Loxahatchee River lies in Hobe Sound and Jupiter just south of the St Lucie River. -Circling back over the St Lucie Inlet near St Lucie Inlet State Park on Jupiter Island. Here you can clearly see the waters that lie between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point at the Crossroads of the SLR/IRL. -Looking west over Sewall’s Point and Witham Field towards Stuart one sees the north and south fork of the St Lucie River and the Indian River Lagoon on the west side of the peninsula. Look hard and you will see the straight line of the C-23 canal-the boarder of Martin and St Lucie Counties.

SLR/IRL up to 7000 feet

~Documenting the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon. Sewall’s Point, Ed and my home, lies between the St Lucie & Indian River Lagoon. My husband, Ed Lippisch, flew high, up to 7000 feet, to take photos of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and S-80 (St Lucie Locks and Dam), on Sunday, February 21. The pictures were taken around 2:45pm on a very windy day. (Thus I declined an invitation!) Ed basically made a big circle. 

I am including all 52 photos as each one presents a slightly different perspective. Ed flew from the Crossroads and inlet of the SLR/IRL west to S-80 along the C-44 canal. There he saw no discharges coming through the gates from either the C-44 basin or Lake Okeechobee. Most recently, the ACOE halted discharges on January 9th, 2021 after 3 months of discharging. The river is starting to recover in appearance, but not soul.

Today, Lake Okeechobee is at 15.42 feet.

Tomorrow at 3pm the ACOE will hold a media call to announce their operational decisions for the coming week/s. James Yochem, spokesman for the Corp, has shared the following media advisory. The public usually does not speak on these calls but can listen-in. 

MEDIA ADVISORY:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will conduct a briefing with interested media representatives regarding water management for Lake Okeechobee and south Florida. The media briefing will be held Feb. 25 at 3 p.m.

Please join the call using this information:

US Toll Free    844-800-2712
Access code     199 453 9583

If you are asked for an attendee ID number, dial #

It is very important that we are paying attention to “all things river”and “speaking up for the St Lucie” when possible as we approach wet and hurricane seasons. 

Thank you Ed for the recent aerials!

~To view Ed’s photo essay documentation prior to this one on February 3, 2021, see Milky Waters!

~To review what happened to the St Lucie in Toxic 2016, see Too Unthinkable.

About Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch