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Thankful for Blue Water; Wondering About Our Seagrasses–Summer 2015, SLR/IRL

Aerial confluence of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and St Lucie Inlet with low tide exposed sea grasses looking bleak. (Photo Ed Lippisch; plane piloted by Scott Kuhns 8-20-15.)
Aerial of SLR/IRL. Confluence of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon near St Lucie Inlet with low tide exposed sea grasses looking bleak. (Photo Ed Lippisch; plane piloted by Scott Kuhns 8-20-15.)
Chart showing discharges into the SLR from area canals C-23 and C-24 from rainfall. (From ACOE Periodic Scientist Call 8-18-15. Image courtesy of the SFWMD.)
Most recent chart showing discharges into the SLR from area canals C-23, C-24, C-44 Ten Mile Creek, and “Tidal Basin” –from rainfall. No Lake O. (From ACOE Periodic Scientist Call 8-18-15. Image courtesy of the SFWMD.)
Basin chart, SFWMD.
Basin chart, SFWMD.

As we all know, until last week, it has been raining a lot! Almost daily it seems the grey clouds gather and beat their chests threateningly; most often making good on their promise. This past week was the first time in a long time, my husband, Ed, could get up in the Cub and photograph the river. I will share these photos today.

Following are two sets of photos; the first Ed took on Thursday, August 20, 2015, and the second set were taken by Ed and friend Scott Kuhns, Sunday, August 23, 2015.

The point of the blog is to share the photos, and celebrate our 2015 “clearer waters” near the Indian River Lagoon’s southern inlets, but also to feature the weaker-looking “rain-event, fresh-water plumes.” You may recall the wretched, horrific looking plumes of the Lost Summer of 2013 during the discharges from Lake Okeechobee and area canals? Here is a photo to remind you taken in September 2013:

St Lucie Inlet September 2013 looking north east towards Sailfish Point.
St Lucie Inlet September 2013 looking towards Sailfish Point.(JTL)

2015’s summer rain induced plumes do not include Lake Okeechobee releases, or the other conditions of 2013; this summer’s plumes are not as severe looking as 2013’s as you will see. Thus we have “clear water,” even when there is a lot of rain.

Last, I ask you to note the photos of the seagrasses around the Sailfish Flats area between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point. I am no scientist, but I think they look awful. Recently, I was told having some algae on the seagrasses is good in that when they are exposed during low tide they are protected from the burning sun. That is nice to know. Nevertheless, they look weird. Like there is too much algae; they do not look healthy. They appear grey and sickly. It is obvious they are not recovered yet from 2013 and before.

Aerial confluence of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and St Lucie Inlet with low tide exposed sea grasses looking bleak. (Photo Ed Lippisch; plane piloted by Scott Kuhns 8-20-15.)
Seagrass beds of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon near St Lucie Inlet 8-20-15.

I do not have a “before aerial.” but this photo from the St Johns River Water Management District show up close what healthy seagrasses look like and I do not think ours look anything like this right now.

Photo by Lauren Hall, SJRWMD, showing healthy seagrasses in the IRL. (From Save the Manatee Website)
Photo by Lauren Hall, SJRWMD, “up close” showing what healthy seagrasses should look like  in the IRL. (From Save the Manatee Website)

So here are the photos, enjoy the clearer water thus far this summer, and please stay on the Water Districts and politicians noting that clear water doesn’t mean healthy seagrasses. We have a long way to go!

Sailfish Flats outskirts off Sewall's Point near St Lucie Inlet. 8-20-15. (Ed Lippisch)
Sailfish Flats outskirts off Sewall’s Point near St Lucie Inlet. Beautiful blue waters but odd-looking sea grass beds. 8-20-15. (Ed Lippisch)
St Lucie Inlet with weak plume exiting. 8-20-15. (Ed Lippisch)
St Lucie Inlet with weak plume exiting northerly through jetty with most going south. 8-20-15. (Ed Lippisch)
Sewall's Point, 8-23-15. (Ed Lippisch)
Sewall’s Point, 8-23-15. (Ed Lippisch)
Sailfish Flat between Sailfish Point and Sewall's Point. Here aside Hutchison Island looking southwest. 8-23-15. (Ed Lippisch)
Sailfish Flat between Sailfish Point and Sewall’s Point. Here aside Hutchison Island looking southwest. 8-23-15. (Ed Lippisch)
St Lucie Inlet 8-20-15. (Ed Lippisch)
St Lucie Inlet 8-20-15. (Ed Lippisch)
Weak rain plume exiting SL Inlet with near shore reefs in clear view through clear ocean water. 8-24-15. (Ed Lippisch)
Weak rain plume exiting SL Inlet with near shore reefs in clear view through clear ocean water. 8-24-15. (Ed Lippisch)
View of rain plume hugging shoreline as it leaves St Lucie Inlet along Jupiter Island. 8-24-15. (Ed Lippisch)
View of rain plume hugging shoreline as it leaves St Lucie Inlet along Jupiter Island. 8-24-15. (Ed Lippisch)

THESE LAST PHOTOS ARE OF FT PIERCE INLET. FT PIERCE INLET GETS WATER FROM C-25 WHICH DOES NOT DISCHARGE INTO THE ST LUCIE BUT DIRECTLY INTO THE IRL JUST OUTSIDE OF THE FT PIERCE INLET AT TAYLOR CREEK. C-25 IS NOT SHOWN ON THE CHART AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS POST FOR THE ST LUCIE RIVER. C-25 CAN ALSO RELEASE WATER FROM THE C-23 AND C-24 CANALS IF THE SFWMD DIRECTS SUCH. SEE CANAL MAP BELOW.

Canal and basin map SLR/IRL. (Public)
Canal and basin map SLR/IRL. (SFWMD)
Ft Pierce Inlet takes water from C-25 not shown on the above chart. This water exits directly into the IRL at Taylor Creek and Marina. 8-23-15. (Ed Lippisch)
Ft Pierce Inlet takes water from C-25. This water exits directly into the IRL at Taylor Creek and Marina. 8-23-15. (Ed Lippisch)
Ft Pierce Inlet 8-23-15. (EL)
Ft Pierce Inlet 8-23-15. (EL)
Ft Pierce Inlet. Angle has a lot to do with color revealed. 8-23-15. (EL)
Ft Pierce Inlet. 8-23-15. (EL)

Thank you to my husband Ed Lippisch, friend Scott Kuhns for these photos. Also thank you the ACOE and SFWMD for sharing their chart information.

 

 

 

Comparing Color Change, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Confluence of SLR/IRL at Sewall's Point. "The Crossroads." 7-22-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Confluence of SLR/IRL at Sewall’s Point. “The Crossroads.” 7-22-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)

Of course when it rains the waters of the St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon get darker due to runoff into the river. But unless it keeps raining, the water will clear up. The government likes to call this water “storm water.” This is all of the water that flows into the river from people’s yards, roads, agriculture fields, etc….

Lately it seems to me, our recent storms, like yesterday, and a few days before have concentrated  right along our coast. I am not certain, but I looked on the South Florida Water Management District’s website and it did not appear that C-23, C-24 and C-25 were open or if they were it was not a lot.  To check C-44 you have to go to the ACOE website; it is definitely not open. So I think most of what we are seeing right now in our river is runoff from the lands closest to the coast not necessary connected to canals. You can see a basin map below.

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 50s and 60s. C-44 connected to Lake Okeechobee constructed in the 1920s.

So anyway, the photo above with the murky-grey colored water was taken yesterday 7-22-15;  it was an outgoing tide; and it was around 11AM. Thank you Ed!

Today, I will share some of Ed’s photos and then compare others from when there was some rain, and the  ACOE was dumping into our river JUST FROM LAKE O, and others from very rainy times when dumping from Lake O and the area canals of C-23, C-24, C-25 and C-44 by ACOE/and SFWMD was “constant.”

THESE PHOTOS  IMMEDIATELY BELOW FROM yesterday 7-22-15 in the area of Sewall’s Point. They show grayish-murky waters from storm water coastal runoff but green-blue shines through…

Confluence of SLR/IRL at Sewall's Point. "The Crossroads." 7-22-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Confluence of SLR/IRL at Sewall’s Point. “The Crossroads.” 7-22-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Sailfish Flats 7-22-15. Photo Ed Lippisch.
Sailfish Flats looking towards Sewall’s Point. Hutchinson Island in foreground. 7-22-15. Photo Ed Lippisch.
Runoff plume as seen over St Lucie Inlet 7-22-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Runoff plume as seen over St Lucie Inlet 7-22-15. Jupiter Narrows on left and S. Hutchinson Island. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Reffs off Hutchinson Island. north of SL Inlet 7-22-15 St Lucie Inlet.
Reefs off Hutchinson Island. north of SL Inlet 7-22-15 St Lucie Inlet so appear clear. (Photo Ed Lippisch)

THIS PHOTO BELOW IS FROM July 14th, 2015,  a week ago.  It had not recently rained and my yard was bone dry.  It was an incoming tide. Sewall’s Point and confluence of SLR/IRL appears very “blue.” It is beautiful although seagrasses and the benthic community are still “recovering.” Blue does not mean the river is “healthy,” but BLUE IS GOOD.

Sewall's Point SLR/IRL from the air 7-14-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Sewall’s Point looking north SLR/IRL from the air 7-14-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)

THIS PHOTO BELOW IS DATED  May 18th 2015. This is the tip of South Sewall’s Point looking towards the St Lucie Inlet and Jupiter Narrows. Sailfish Point is under the wing. It was not raining much at this time in March of 2015, but the ACOE/SFWMD was dumping from Lake Okeechobee because the lake was “too high.” The river looked brown and gross.

 

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. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 3-18-15.)

Ironically, now we appear to be on the verge of a serious “water shortage”….too bad there isn’t a place to store this water somewhere north and/or  south of Lake O….that the ACOE and AFWMD dump during the dry season trying to get the lake down in case there is a hurricane….The agriculture community could use that water now as could the Everglades, Miami/Dade, wildlife etc…..the C-44 STA/Reservoir is wonderful and we are thankful but it is only for C-44 BASIN RUNOFF not Lake O.

THIS PHOTO BELOW IS SEWALL’S POINT’s west side, IRL, looking north with the confluence of the SLR/IRL in foreground. This  was September of 2013 during some of the highest releases from Lake O and C-23, C-24, C-25 and C-44. This is when the river was toxic and there were signs not to touch the water. It is very dark brown. Too dark.

Looking north toward Sewall's Point on east/left. The Sailfish Flats are to the right/east as is Sailfish Point. (September 2013.)
Looking north toward Sewall’s Point on east/left. The Sailfish Flats are to the right/east as is Sailfish Point. (September 2013.)

THIS DISGUSTING SHOT BELOW is of the St Lucie Inlet with Sailfish Point foreground. This photo was also taken in September 2013 during very high discharges from Lake O especially and the C-23, C-24, C-25 and C-44. Yes. It was raining! And certainly coastal storm-water runoff not going into canals as seen in the photo at the beginning of this blog was also included. It was all horrible, but the biggest single overdose during this time was from Lake O.

September 2013
September 2013, St Lucie Inlet JTL.

At this time our river was almost black in color and had a strange consistency due to all of the sediment and pollution in the water. During this year of 2013 our river lost about 85 percent of its seagrasses and ALL of its oysters.  The releases lasted from May through October. Salinity was way down and 0 in some places. Algae blooms, toxic in nature, were documented from Palm City to Stuart to Sewall’s Point. The Sandbar at the mouth of the inlet was posted as a health hazard area by Martin County. Real estate sales were lost and animals were absent; it was a true state of emergency as filed with the state by many local governments.

We live in a state of unbalance.

South Florida is a swinging pendulum of too much water and not enough water. It makes no sense. We waste water, yet we encourage more people to come to South Florida when do often don’t have enough as it is because we are dumping it all…

We want things to be like they were in 1970 and 80….

We want to be the sugar and vegetable basket for the world, and have everyone move here… Well no matter how much sugar we produce, or how many houses we build, “we can’t have our cake and eat it too.”

We need more storage south and north of Lake Okeechobee. If we can engineer to send a camera to photograph Pluto 2.7 billion miles away,  can’t we fix things here at home?

Well, unless we can figure out how to live on Pluto, we are going to have to—

Pluto 2015 as photographed by NEW HORIZONS spacecraft.
Pluto 2015 as photographed by NEW HORIZONS spacecraft.