These aerials were taken by my husband, Ed Lippisch, on August 27, 2023 around 12:15pm. Other than an operational burp from Lake Okeechobee through C-44, it’s canals C-23 and C-24 which drain Port St. Lucie, Allapattah Flats, as well as our Tidal Basin – that are causing the present discoloration and decline in water quality. On a good note, though impaired, seagrass beds are visible near the Sandbar and algae is no longer seen from 1000 feet at Port Mayaca.
Helpful Charts – Where are We with L.O. Discharges 2023
The discharges have gone on for a long time. The ACOE with the support of the SFWMD began discharging to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon on January 22, 2023 as the level of Lake Okeechobee had jumped four feet when Hurricane Ian ground through southwest Florida last September.
Then strangely algae appeared in Lake Okeechobee in February, very early in the year, and the ACOE halted and restarted discharges three times as the Colonel was uncomfortable with the visual amount of algae at S-308 in Port Mayaca. Then the weather got cooler and the the algae visually subsided and the ACOE continued the goal of getting the lake down for the next hurricane season for the lake operation schedule. For a hundred years the water that once flowed south from Lake Okeechobee has been increasingly blocked and redirected to the northern estuaries even though once there was a serious ACOE consideration in the 1950s of a third outlet south of the lake, “Plan 6.”
Today I share charts and information that is easy to understand as we enter the fourth named month of discharges. Will they stop? We have been fortunate in that the weather this year has been very dry and the lake is receding. For water managers according to the recent SFWMD Water Resource Form, current projections still have then lake between 13.5 and 14 feet on June 1st. But it seems so dry. Grass is brown and people are watering their lawns like crazy. Wouldn’t it be ironic if we go into a drought and we wish we had the water later? It has happened before. Mother Nature holds the highest cards in this poker game.
-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