Tag Archives: basin runoff

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.

 

 

 

What’s the Difference Between C-44 Basin Runoff and Lake Okeechobee Releases along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon?

The S-80 structure at St Lucie Locks and Dam. C-44 canal in background goes to Lake Okeechobee. (Photo Scott Kuhns, 2013)
The S-80 structure at St Lucie Locks and Dam. C-44 canal in background goes miles to Lake Okeechobee where the S-308 structure is located at the eastern edge of Lake O. (Photo Scott Kuhns, 2013)
Basins whose water runoff flows into the St Lucie River, note C-44 south. (SFWMD, 1999.)
Drainage basins into the St Lucie River, note C-44 south. (SFWMD, 1999.)

The locks are back in the news again. WPTV, “hard working for the river reporter,” Jana Eschbach, broke the story yesterday, that the Army Corp of Engineers did not alert the public that they would be releasing polluted canal, C-44 basin water through the S-80 structure into the St Lucie River. Jana, like most people, feels that the public should be alerted when polluted water will be coming into the estuary in that we swim and fish. She is also concerned the water in the area of Palm City and the Roosevelt Bridge, which has been reported to have high levels of bacteria, will be pushed to the popular Sandbar area.

Video WPTV: (http://www.cbs12.com/news/top-stories/stories/vid_16935.shtml?fb_action_ids=10204339758793609&fb_action_types=og.comments&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582)

This can be confusing. Don’t we just care about lake water? Also, if the locks are open, doesn’t that mean the ACOE is releasing Lake Okeechobee water? Not necessarily, and the basin water can be just as damaging to the estuary and the public. So how does releasing basin or lake water work? 

There are two structures along the C-44 canal which runs along the side of Highway 76 from the South Fork of the St Lucie River, to Lake Okeechobee: S-308 at the edge of  Lake Okeechobee, and S-80, 20 miles or so, east, at the St Lucie Locks and Dam.

This ACOE canal and structure map shows S-308 at Lake O. and S-80 20 miles east.
This ACOE canal and structure map shows S-308 at Lake O. and S-80 along the C-44 inland.

S-80 serves duel purposes. First to release water through Lake Okeechobee, but only if S-308, at the lake, is open first, allowing water into the C-44 canal. Then S-80 lets the water pour into the St Lucie River.

Second, S-80 can be opened just to allow water from the C-44  to flow into the St Lucie River, as the C-44 canal is surrounded by a 185 square mile basin, mostly agriculture, that has been directed to flow into the canal when it rains. Agriculture also uses this water in the C-44 canal to water their crops. To make things more confusing, C-44 can “deliver” local basin runoff in both directions: to Lake Okeechobee and to the St Lucie Estuary. The ACOE decides where the water “needs” to go by opening  and closing the structures of S-308 and S-80.

It must be noted that the  water from the C-44 basin is polluted, as is the water from Lake Okeechobee. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection writes: “…the construction of the C-44 canal has had the greatest impact of the St Lucie Estuary–and nearly all of that impact has been bad, FDEP 2001.) The charts below show how much nitrogen and phosphorus come into the river from the C-44 and other basins. C-44 is the highest.  Phosphorus and nitrogen mostly from fertilizer, feed toxic algae blooms in the hot summer months.

Chart shows amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into the SLR. Note C-44 basin is the highest. (SFWMD, 1995.)
Similar charts shows amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into the SLR. Note C-44 basin is the highest. (SFWMD, 1995.)

photo 3

Fortunately, there is good news due to the help of our local, state and federal governments. The almost 3 billion dollar “C-44 Storm Water Treatment Area/Reservoir” has received first stage fundings and is under construction in Indiantown. It has been since 2011. This reservoir will hold the release water from the C-44 basin and clean it before it is returned to the St Lucie River. This is a huge positive, although it will not stop the releases from Lake Okeechobee.

An educated public is the best defense against the continued destruction of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Thank you for being part of the solution and hopefully, next time, the ACOE opens any structure for any reason, they will alert the public, because here in Martin and St Lucie counties, we want to know!

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Cool video SFWMD C-44 STA/R. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BsC0BoIPJ4)SFWMD (http://www.hdrinc.com/portfolio/c-44-reservoir-stormwater-treatment-area-project)

FDEP C-44 Canal: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-44%20Canal%20.pdf)