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