Today my husband, Ed, is going to take you on a flight south along the Atlantic Coast from the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon in Martin County, to the Port of Miami. As we know, the coastline becomes more and more developed as one flies further south. Bright blue skylines of houses and condos morph into shadowy silver skyscrapers, and cargo ships. Expansive greenery slowly disappears…
I, probably like you, know people who grew up in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, or Palm Beach County who have moved to Martin County to get away from the over-development and traffic nightmare of “down south.” Many tell stories about things changing “overnight,” and no longer recognizing the place they called home.
The “Martin County Difference,” its slow development, is not by accident. Many throughout the years have fought to keep our area less traversed than the rest of South Florida. One thing is for sure, if you want to keep it, you have to fight for it, or otherwise it will be going, going, GONE…
Ed’s tour-view, from the air, really makes the comparison hit home.
(Please see map of cities passed in flight, and 28 photos or slide show below.)
I am having technical problems with this post; long up-loading and off links. I do apologize and will get worked out. Jacqui
Today we will get a science lesson and see some new shocking photos…
Eutrophication: (Ecology.) (of a lake) characterized by an abundant accumulation of nutrients that support a dense growth of algae and other organisms, the decay of which depletes the shallow waters of oxygen in summer.
Today’s blog shares new aerial photos by Dr Scott Kuhns taken 6-22-16 of the extensive blue-green algae cyanobacteria bloom on the western side of the C-44 Canal being sent through S-80. The photos show a condition caused by mixture of polluted Lake Okeechobee and C-44 agricultural basin water filled with an overabundance of nitrogen and phosphorus primarily from decades of intense agricultural farming north, south and around Lake Okeechobee. Scientists have documented this condition of “eutrophication” since the late 1960s and predicted it would worsen unless serious corrections were put in place.
These nutrients, now out of control, feed algae blooms and have caused the eutrophication (or overabundance of algae growth) of Lake Okeechobee. The St Lucie River is now experiencing this due to our manmade connection to the lake. Our agricultural canals of C-44, C-23, C-24, and C-25 are culprits too. The giant releases from the lake and canals make our river fresh and seeded with algae water. Sometimes growing toxic.
The bloom on the west side of S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam was first documented by local activist this time in late May. The ACOE has been dumping since January 29, 2016. The river is now almost entirely fresh. Perfect for blooms.
Yesterday the St Lucie River went up in algae with multiple reports throughout the entire river from Palm City, Rio, Stuart, Jensen, and Sewall’s Point. Could there be a correlation considering the bloom started in the eutrophic lake ? How could there not be.
Dr Kuhns’ comment?
“Ridiculous!!! What does it take?”
We should not be connected to the lake. Agricultural canals should be redirected. There must be storage to treat this algae water. It should not be sent into our estuary destroying property and the environment.
Today I will share aerial photos of the Manatee Pocket area around Sandsprit Park taken yesterday by my husband, Ed Lippisch, and a short written update by Dr Gary Goforth dated 6-12-16.
Manatee Pocket lies close to the St Lucie Inlet just across from Sewall’s Point. It once was the mecca for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon commercial fishing business. The Lake Okeechobee discharges continue having started by the Army Corp of Engineers January 29th of this year and are approaching the level for all of 2013. Lake Okeechobee yesterday was reported to stand at a very high for this time of year 14.77 feet—-There is no end to discharges in sight for the St Lucie River. Conditions are very bad and the state and federal government are stuck in a pattern that is killing our quality of life and economy.
There must be a better way…
For the St. Lucie, the 2016 Lake discharges: – exceeded 133 billion gallons (compared with 136 billion gallons for 2013) – dumped more nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment than the “Lost Summer” of 2013 – dirtier than 2013 (higher concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus and suspended sediment) – have exceeded the nitrogen and phosphorus TMDLs for the C-44 Canal by 600% For the Caloosahatchee, the 2016 Lake discharges: – have exceeded 302 billion gallons (compared with 456 billion gallons for 2013) – are dirtier than they were in 2013 for nitrogen and phosphorus
One of my favorite aerial photographs from my mother’s history books on Martin County is of the infamous Hugh Willoughby flying over the St Lucie River at Sewall’s Point and Willoughby Point. In more familiar terms for boaters, this location is known as “Hell’s Gate” due to the bottle-necking of the rushing tide.
Mr Hugh de Laussat Willoughby, one of the “early birds” of aviation, and a resident of Sewall’s Point, (http://earlyaviators.com/ewilloug.htm) had the idea of locating the New York Yacht Club at the southern tip of the peninsula as envisioned in the map below. It is difficult to see in the aerial, but the insignia of the New York Yacht Club is on the side of the biplane.
The yacht club never materialized as the market crash of the late 1920s and following depression of the 1930s dashed that dream. Today many local pilots fly over the St Lucie River at this same location to photograph a different dream. –By showing the devistation, inspiring a dream for our state and federal agencies, of clean water…
Would Mr Willoughby ever have imagined his paradise would be one of controversial pollution? Never in a thousand years….
This year, the ACOE has been discharging from Lake Okeechobee since January 29th 2016; in 2013 they released May through October, and in 2014 nothing…
May the photographs or today’s ailing river inspire change, and may the spirit of Mr Willoughby keep adventure and love alive in our hearts—and the wind— ever at our backs.
The first time I ever laid eyes on Lake Okeechobee, I was eleven years old. I remember thinking that I must be looking at the ocean because I could not see across to the other side. Just enormous!
In spite of its magnificent size, over the past century, Lake Okeechobee has been made smaller–around thirty percent smaller– as its shallow waters have been modified for human use–pushed back, tilled, planted, diked, and controlled. Today, it is managed by the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corp of Engineers. Sprawling sugar fields, the Everglades Agricultural Area, (EAA), canals, highways, telephone poles, train tracks, processing facilities, a FPL power plant, and small cites surround it.
S-308, (the “S” standing for “structure), opens easterly into the St Lucie Canal, also known as C-44, (Canal 44). About twenty miles east is another structure, S-80, at the St Lucie Locks and Dam. It is S-80 that is usually photographed with its “seven gates of hell,” the waters roaring towards the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and the City of Stuart, but it is actually S-308 that allows the waters of Lake Okeechobee “in” from the lake in the first place.
Such a fragile looking structure to be the welcome matt of so much destruction…a sliver unto an ocean. So strange…
Today I will share some aerial photos that my husband took on Friday, May 13th, 2016 at about 700 feet above the lake. I asked Ed if from that height he could see the algae bloom so much in the news last week even though over time blooms migrate, “bloom” and then sink into the water column, becoming less visible but still lurking.
“Yes.” He replied.
” It’s harder to see from that altitude, and it depends on the light, but it’s still visible. It’s green in the brown water. The lighting shows were it is. You can see a difference in texture about 100 yards west of S-308. It is not right up against the structure, but further out. Boats are driving through it leaving a trail. It’s appears that is slowly being sucked in to the opening of the S-308 structure , like when you pull the drain out of the sink….”
TC Palm’s Tyler Treadway reported on 5-13-16: “The lake bloom was spread over 33 square miles near Pahokee, the South Florida Water Management District said Thursday. The Florida Department of Health reported Friday the bloom contains the toxin microcystin, but at a level less than half what the World Health Organization says can cause “adverse health impacts” from recreational exposure.”
Pahokee is south and west of Port Maraca and S-308. (Florida Trails)
Today I will share an historic aerial photo along Willoughby Creek together with a brief history lesson by my mother. Following, there are recent Google Map photos to compare…Stuart is still “paradise,” but sometimes I wish I were born 100 years ago. 🙂
“Jacqui, I came across this in my computer and thought it might be interesting for you to see. The date is Feb. 26, 1949. You can see Marvista… I think the house in the middle is the one that became Lee Rasch’s home. Patty Irons Child’s mother, Marge Irons was Lee’s second wife. The house at right was originally “Lagunita” built by Hugh Willoughby, Sr. (There is a big write-up on it on page 158 of the History of Martin County.) It later became a small hotel-like place call “Inlet Tides.” Both of the structures on the right side have been demolished… I am sure you know that Marvista was built by Hugh Willoughby, Jr. in 1924-25.”
—-Sandra Henderson Thurlow, Historian
You may have to “look” a bit, but if you do you will find Marvista and Lagunita today.
Today we look back in history….but you have to look….
These historic photographs are marked “Fairchild Aerial Surveys, Inc.”
According to Mr. John H. Canada, president, Ocean Naval Architects, the year was 1925. You may recognize one of the images as it was used in a former blog post discussing the piled up sand of the C-44 canal. From 1915 to 1925 the government was connecting the canal from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. A big mistake!
These photos below were originally sent to my mother, historian, Sandra Thurlow, by Mr John Whiticar. In their discussion, it is noted that one can see farming where Indian River Plantation is today (The Marriott); one cannot see an Intercostal Waterway–no spoil islands off Sewall’s Point; there was no development on Rocky Point; and most interesting for me, looking at the photo this time: today’s Martin County Golf Course, part of yesteryear’s “Sunrise Inn,” sits right there “in the middle of no where” in 1925. Those were the days!