Tag Archives: C-25

Documenting the Discharges 11-19-17, SLR/IRL

Last Thursday on November 16, the ACOE reported they will reduce the amount of water they are releasing from Lake Okeechobee. The Corp had been releasing at a high rate, on and off, since September 20th. New targets are 2800 cfs east and 6500 cfs west.

Photos below were taken yesterday, 11-19-17 by my husband, Ed Lippisch. We will continue to document the discharges from Lake O, and area canals.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we are thankful the discharges are lessened and that the SFWMD and the public are working hard to plan the EAA Reservoir Senator Negron fought for… We the people of Martin County, will not be satisfied until these discharge stop. The river has its hands full with unfiltered discharges draining agriculture and developed lands from C-23, C-24, C-25 and C-44. All must be addressed.

“And where the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes…” Ezekiel 

St Lucie Inlet, Sailfish Point R, Jupiter Island L, and Sewall’s Point and mainland Stuart in distance.
Sewall’s Point
Manatee Pocket
Hell’ s Gate Sewall’s Point to right
C-23 main SLR
Confluence of SLR/IRL at Sewall’s Point’s southern tip
Sewall’s Point
IRL looking towards Sewall’s Point and Stuart. Incoming tide pushes plume waters north into IRL
somewhere looking down…

SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image and was connected to Lake O in 1923. C-23, C-24 and C-25 were built later in the 50s as part of the Central and South Florida Project that over-drianed South Florida causing many of the water problems we live with today.
Atlantic ocean off Jupiter Island, plume water moving south over nearshore reefs
IRL near Sailfish Flats where seagrass forests used to flourish housing many fish…
Hutchinson Island looking to IRL
Roosevelt Bridge SLR
C-23 SLR

Documenting the Discharges, 10-29-17, SLR/IRL

These aerial photos over the St Lucie Inlet were taken by my husband, Ed Lippisch, Sunday, October 29, 2017, at 1:45pm. 

The number one issue here is the polluted waters of Lake Okeechobee being forced into the SLR/IRL because they are blocked by the Everglades Agricultural Area from going south. 

The ACOE has been discharging Lake O waters into the St Lucie since mid-September. These over-nutrified and sediment filled waters continue to destroy our economy and ecology on top of all the channelized agricultural and development waters of C-23, C-24 and C-25. Stormwater from our yards and streets also adds to this filthy cocktail. 

Near shore reefs, sea grasses, oysters, fish? A human being? Better not have a cut on your hand…Not even a crab has an easy time living in this.

We move forward pushing the SFWMD and ACOE for the EAA Reservoir with these sad photos and the fact that our waters are putrid at the most beautiful time of year as motivation. We will prevail. One foot in front of the other. 

Save the St Lucie! Save the Indian River Lagoon!

Links to ACOE website: See S-80 & S-308, others intesting too. Northern waters should also be cleaned! http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm

A Chocolate Ocean; A Black River, A Disgrace, SLR/IRL

Flight over SLR/IRL to view canal C-23, C-24, C-25 and especially present high releases from Lake Okeechobee through C-44 Canal. JTL/EL 10-14-17

Yesterday, I asked Ed to take me up in the plane, once again to document the discharges. In the wake of much rain and an active hurricane season, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon continues to sacrifice its economy, health, and ecosystem for the EAA and South Florida drainage. A standard operating procedure that is outdated and dangerous.

The discharges from Lake O. have been on and off since Hurricane Irma hit on September 20th. Presently they are “on,” and it shows. Right now our river and ocean shores near the inlet should be at available to boaters, fisher-people, and youth, in”full-turquoise-glory.” Instead, the estuary, beaches, and near offshore is a ghost-town along a chocolate ocean and a black river. The edge of the plume can hardly be distinguished as all is dark, sediment filled waters. A disgrace.

ACOE 10-15-17
10-15-17 Lake O is high. This is a threat to those who live south and around the lake.
South Florida’s southern Everglades, 1850 & today. The water that used to flow south now is sent to the ocean and Gulf of Mexico through canals C-44 (SLR) and C-43.(Cal.) (Map courtesy of SFWMD.)
Image showing drainage of S. Florida through St Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. These rivers, that God did not connect to Lake Okeechobee, have been channelized by humans to dump Lake O. This drainage system put in place  in the 1920s does not serve Florida today. Not economically, health wise, or environmentally. We must continue to push to replumb the system the best we can.  (Public image.)

ACOE, Lake O: http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml
S-308 and S-80 connected to both LO and C-44: http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm
C-23,(S97) C-24,(S49) C-25 (S99): http://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/pls/portal/realtime.pkg_rr.proc_rr?p_op=FORT_PIERCE

I told Ed it’s best not to smile for this photo. We look forward to seeing the model and timeline from the SFWMD and ACOE for Senator Negron’s reservoir, and the beginning of turning this century old nightmare.

 

SFWMD basin map for SLR showing canal discharge structures.

 

“Billions of gallons of fertilizer, sewage, and legacy pollution from Lake Okeechobee are spewing into the St. Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon…”

“Right now billions of gallons of fertilizer, sewage, and legacy pollution from Lake Okeechobee are spewing into the St. Lucie River, carrying a new threat of toxic algae. Water managers may say Irma left them no choice, but of course that’s a half-truth…” 

*Previous paragraph shared with permission from Bullsugar.org. Please read the rest of Peter Girard’s post here: (http://www.bullsugar.org/eaa_reservoir_plan_needs_sfwmd_model)

Link: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izaNH73GPoI)

Link:(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMkyBDq-4QE)

All photos/videos  taken off St Luice Inlet September 30, 2017 JTL/EL

Documentation of primary and secondary plumes at St Lucie Inlet caused predominantly from human directed ACOE/SFWMD discharges post Irma and other from Lake Okeechobee & canals C-44, C-23, C-24, C-25. 10am, September 30, 2017. Primary plume out 3 miles; secondary 3 1/2 and not quite south to Peck’s Lake. We must continue to #ReplumbFlorida #forthefuture #forthewildlife #forthekidz #fortheeconomy for our #indianriverlagoon JTL/EL

Irma’s Waters Ravage the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, SLR/IRL

Hurricane  Irma may be gone, but her waters are not. Our now black river and the giant plume off the St Lucie Inlet attest to this. Clean rain that fell in our region during the hurricane is now filthy “stormwater” discharging, unfiltered, through manmade canals C-23, C-24, C-25, and C-44.  Nature did not design the river to directly take this much water; this much water kills.

Every plume looks different, and this one is multilayered with no clear border. Sediment soup, black-brown in color, yesterday it extended out about 2/3 of a mile into a stirred up Atlantic and flowed south, in the rough waves not quite having made it to Peck’s Lake.

Since Hurricane Irma’s rains, area canals dug with no environmental foresight in the 1920s and 50s for flood control, and to facilitate agriculture and development, have been flowing straight into the river. On top of this, in anticipation of the hurricane, three days prior to IRMA the Army Corp of Engineers began discharging from Lake Okeechobee. During the hurricane they halted, and then started up again at high discharge levels reaching over (4000 cfs +/-) this past Friday, September 15th. As Lake Okeechobee rises and inflow water pours in from the north, and is blocked by the Everglades Agricultural Area in the south, we can expect more Lake O discharge on top of the canal releases themselves.

As advocates for the St Lucie River we continue the fight to expedite the building of the EAA reservoir and to create a culture to “send more water south.” In the meantime, we, and the fish and wildlife, and the once “most bio diverse estuary in North America,” suffer…

Links to lake O level and canal flows are below.

Lake Okeechobee level, 9-18-17: 15.50, http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml

S-308 Lake O:http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/plots/s308d.pdf

S-80 C-44 Canal:http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/plots/s80d.pdf

C-23/S-97; C-24/S-49, & C-25/S-50: (click on highlighted S # arrow corresponding to canal to see discharge into river; for instance, C-23 is released through “S,” structure 97, so click on S-97 to see flows for C-23 canal) http://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/pls/portal/realtime.pkg_rr.proc_rr?p_op=FORT_PIERCE

My brother Todd, has complied many other links on his website’s favorites under St Lucie River and ACOE/SFWMD: http://www.thurlowpa.com/news.htm

Post Irma flight over St Lucie River/IRL 9-17-17

SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image. All canals shown here discharge into the SLR/IRL.
The confluence of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon at Sewall’s Point, an area once full of seagrasses and fisheries and formerly considered the heart of “the most bio diverse estuary in North America.”
Waves in plume breaking over offshore reefs; looking north to Hurchinson Island.
Southern edge of plume along Jupiter Island and Jupiter Narrows south of St Lucie Inlet.

Looking south off St Lucie Inlet.
South edge of plume looking south towards Jupiter Island.

JTL 9-18-17

Florida’s Flood System Built on 1947 Hurricane Season, Now Irma, SLR/IRL

Florida hurricane of 1947 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgAHv_Z5wqE

As the possibility of a direct hit from Hurricane Irma approaches, I can’t help but reflect.

Looking back, we see that it was the severe flooding and the hurricane season of 1947 that led Florida and the U.S. Government down the track to where we are today through the creation of the Florida Central and South Florida Flood Project, (CSFP).

In 1947, during the United States’ post World War II boom, Florida had a very active and destructive hurricane season. This slightly edited excerpt from the  ACOE’s book  River of Interest does a good job giving a short overview of that year:

 “…Rain began falling on the Everglades in large amounts. On 1 March, a storm dropped six inches of rain, while April and May also saw above average totals. The situation became severe in the summer…

As September approached and the rains continued, the ground in the Everglades became waterlogged and lake levels reached dangerous heights. Then, on 17 September, a hurricane hit Florida on the southwest coast, passing Lake Okeechobee on the west and dumping large amounts of rain on the upper Everglades, flooding most of the agricultural land south of Lake Okeechobee.

George Wedgworth, who would later become president of the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida and whose parents were vegetable growers in the Everglades, related that his mother called him during the storm and told him, “ this is the last call I’ll make from this telephone because I’m leaving. . . . “We’ve got an inch or two of water over our oak floors and they’re taking me out on a row boat.”

Such conditions were prevalent throughout the region. Before the area had a chance to recover from the devastation, another hurricane developed, moving into South Florida and the Atlantic Ocean by way of Fort Lauderdale. Coastal cities received rain in large quantities, including six inches in two hours at Hialeah and nearly 15 inches at Fort Lauderdale in less than 24 hours.

The Everglades Drainage District kept its drainage canals open to discharge to the ocean as much of the floodwater in the agricultural area as it could, exacerbating coastal flooding. East coast residents charged the District with endangering their lives in order to please ag- ricultural interests, but this was vehemently denied…

Whoever was to blame, the hurricanes had devastating effects. Although the levee around Lake Okeechobee held, preventing the large numbers of deaths that occurred in 1926 and 1928, over 2,000 square miles of land south of the lake was covered by, in the words of U.S. Senator Spessard Holland, “an endless sheet of water anywhere from 6 to 7 feet deep down to a lesser depth.” The Corps estimated that the storms caused $59 million in property damage throughout southern Florida, but Holland believed that the agency had “under- stated the actual figures.” The destruction shocked citizens of South Florida, both in the upper Everglades and in the coastal cities, and they demanded that something be done.”

Cover of the “Weeping Cow” book. (South Florida Water Management District)

Well, what was done was the Central and South Florida Flood Project.

Key Florida politicians, and the public demanded the Federal Government assist, and as both the resources and will were present, the project was authorized in 1948 with massive additional components making way not only for flood protection, but for even more agriculture and development. In Martin County and St Lucie County this happened by the controversial building of canals C-23, C-24, C-25 and “improving” the infamous C-44 canal that connects to Lake Okeechobee. This construction was basically the nail in the coffin for the St Lucie River and Southern Indian River Lagoon.

Map showing the Jacksonville District’s initial comprehensive proposal, 1947. (Claude Pepper Collection, Claude Pepper Library, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida)

But before the death of the environment was clear, the Corps developed a plan that would include 1,000 miles of levees, 720 miles of canals, and almost 200 water control structures. Flooding in coastal cities and in the agricultural lands south of Lake Okeechobee would be minimized and more controllable.

Yes, a goal of the program was to provide conservation areas for water storage, protecting fish and wildlife habitat. Although water conservation areas were constructed, conservation of wildlife did not work out so well, and has caused extreme habitat degradation of the Everglades system, Lake Okeechobee, the southern and northern estuaries, the Kissimmee chain of lakes, and Florida Bay.  Nonetheless, this project made possible for over five million people to now live and work in the 18,000 square mile area that extends from south of Orlando to Florida Bay “protected from flooding” but in 2017 living with serious water quality issues.

With problems apparent, in 1992 the Central and South Florida Project was “re-studied” and we continue to work on that today both for people and for wildlife…

Irma many be the system’s greatest test yet…

Yesterday’s Army Corp of Engineer Periodic Scientist Call was focused on saving people’s lives and safety. After the built-system was discussed, Mr Tyler Beck of the Florida Wildlife Commission, and Mr Steve Schubert of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported on the endangered Everglades Snail Kites and their nests at Lake Okeechobee. Like most birds, pairs mate for life. There are presently fifty-five active nests, thirty-three in incubation, and twenty-three with baby chicks…

In the coming days, as the waters rise on Lake Okeechobee, and the winds scream through an empty void that was once a cathedral of colossal cypress trees, Mother Nature will again change the lives of Florida’s wildlife and its people, just as she did in 1947. Perhaps this time, she will give us vision for a future where nature and humankind can live in greater harmony…

Hurricane Irma as a category 5, 2017
Everglades Snail Kite, Florida Audubon
SFWMD basin map for SLR showing S-308 and S-80 along with other structures.
South Florida today…
Florida map 1500s

Links:

1947 Hurricane: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1947_Cape_Sable_hurricane

1947 Hurricane, 2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1947_Fort_Lauderdale_hurricane

Central and South Florida Flood Project full text: https://archive.org/stream/centralsouthernf00unse/centralsouthernf00unse_djvu.txt

Restudy of CSFFP: http://141.232.10.32/about/restudy_csf_devel.aspx

Central and South Florida Flood Project Restudy, 1948Sofia: https://sofia.usgs.gov/sfrsf/entdisplays/restudy/

River of Interest, ACOE, Chapter 2: http://141.232.10.32/docs/river_interest/031512_river_interests_2012_chap_02.pdf

US Fish and Wildlife: The endangered and beautiful Everglades Snail Kite:https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/snailkite.htm

Water Quality Assessment of the St. Lucie River Watershed – Water Year 2017 – DRAFT- Gary Goforth, P.E., PhD. SLR/IRL

Dr. Gary Goforth ready to tour the SLR & Lake O.

It is a journey the state, federal, and local agencies don’t always wish to take–a journey to face the numbers of our watershed…

Today, Dr Gary Goforth (http://garygoforth.net) shares his most recent report, “Water Quality Assessment of the St Lucie River Watershed, For Water Year 2017, DRAFT.”

Mind you, for non-scientist people like myself, a “water year” is reported from May of one year, through April the next year, as opposed to a calendar year.

The full report is linked at the bottom of the post and contains numerous helpful charts. I have just included the key findings below.

Dr Goforth wanted to get the draft assessment out before the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s  Basin Management Action Plan workshop scheduled for this Friday Aug. 25th at 10:00 am at Martin County Building Permits Office, 900 Southeast Ruhnke Street, Stuart, FL 34994, Conference Rooms A & B because this is where the rubber hits the road! FDEP: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/central/Home/Watershed/BMAP.htm)

Reflections in the St Lucie River, JTL

Water Quality Assessment of the St. Lucie River Watershed –Water Year 2017 – DRAFT Gary Goforth, P.E., Ph.D.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who watches the Watchers?)

Key Findings:
1. Over the last water year (May 2016 – April 2017), the surface water entering the St. Lucie River and Estuary (SLRE) in general was of poor water quality. The best water quality entering the SLRE was from the highly urbanized Tidal Basins. The largest source of phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment pollution to the SLRE was Lake Okeechobee discharges. The C-44 Canal Basin contributed poor water quality, and was the only basin demonstrating a worsening in water quality over the last ten years.

2. It was estimated that stormwater runoff from agricultural land use contributed more flow and nutrient pollution than any other land use, even contributing more flow than Lake Okeechobee discharges.

3. The annual Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) progress reports produced by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection continue to indicate water quality conditions in the tributaries of the SLRE are better than they actually are. Examples of flaws in the BMAP assessment process include the omission of Lake Okeechobee pollution loads, the use of simulated data instead of observed data, the inability to account for hydrologic variability, and the inability to assess individually each of the major basins contributing to the SLRE.

4. An alternative to the assessment approach presented in the BMAP progress reports was developed and used to evaluate water quality conditions of major inflows to the SLRE and to assess progress towards achieving the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) load reduction goals. This alternative approach uses observed data, includes Lake discharges, accounts for hydrologic variability, and is applied to each of the major basins contributing pollution loads to the SLRE. For WY2017, observed nitrogen loads to the SLRE exceeded the Phase 1 BMAP target loads (adjusted for hydrologic variability) by 77 percent. Observed phosphorus loads exceeded the Phase 1 BMAP target loads (adjusted for hydrologic variability) by 53 percent.

5. The largest single source of total nitrogen, total phosphorus and sediment load to the SLRE was Lake Okeechobee discharges. In addition, total phosphorus concentrations in Lake Okeechobee discharges to the SLRE remained almost four times the lake’s TMDL in-lake target concentration of 40 parts per billion (ppb). In 2017, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) reported that phosphorus loading to the lake from surrounding watersheds was almost 5 times the Lake’s TMDL of 105 metric tons, yet staff acknowledged the agency does not enforce permits that set numeric limits on phosphorus discharges to the lake[1] (SFWMD 2016, SFWMD 2017). Unfortunately, despite the continued and well-publicized pollution of the lake, the Florida legislature in 2016 enacted a water bill that pushed back deadlines for achieving the lake’s TMDL by decades (Ch. 2016-1).

6. The best water quality entering the SLRE during WY2017 was observed in the highly urbanized Tidal Basins, with concentrations of 97 ppb and 819 ppb for TP and TN, respectively. Each of the remaining source basins, except the C-44 Canal Basin[2], exhibited a slight improvement in nutrient levels compared to their base periods, however, collectively these WY2017 loads did not achieve the alternative BMAP Phase 1 load target (Figures ES-1 and ES-2). The C-23 and Tidal Basins met the alternative BMAP Phase 1 target for TP, while the C-23, C-24 and Tidal Basins met the alternative BMAP Phase 1 target for TN. The predominantly agricultural C-44 Canal Basin exhibited poor nutrient conditions, and in fact, continued a trend of deteriorating nutrient conditions compared to its 1996-2005 base period. As a whole, the water quality entering the SLRE remains poor, although a slight improvement over the 1996-2005 period was observed.

FULL REPORT below: the complete report can be seen/downloaded from Dr Goforth’s website under “Estuaries and Lake Okeechobee:” http://www.garygoforth.net/DRAFT%20-%20Water%20Quality%20Assessment%20of%20the%20SLRW%20-%20Water%20Year%202017.pdf

Dr Goforth’s website:(http://garygoforth.net)

Army Corp of Engineer Structure S-80 releases water from Lake Okeechobee in the the C-44 Canal that leads to the St Lucie River. JTL
Lake Okeechobee.
basins of SLR/IRL SFWMD

 

Aerials of Our Rain Stained Lagoon, SLR/IRL

Recently, it seems to rain almost every day!

TCPalm’s Elliott Jones reported this morning that Stuart has received a whopping 11.30 inches of rain just so far this month! (The average being 7.14.)

Although due to the recent drought, the ACOE/SFWMD are not dumping Lake Okeechobee through Canal C-44, canals C-23, C-24, C-25, and areas along C-44, as well as our own basin, are draining right into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Very little of this water is cleansed before it enters and thus is damaging to the eco system. Next time you see water draining through a grate in a parking lot, think about this. Remember too that before the major canals were constructed the 1900s, the river received less than half the water it gets every time it rains today.

IMG_5231.JPG
SLR at “Hell’s Gate” looking at Sewall’s Point, Sailfish Point and the St Luice Inlet
photo drainage basin
Drainage changes to the SLR. Green is the original watershed. Yellow and pink have been added since ca.1920. (St Lucie River Initiative’s Report to Congress 1994.)

The aerials below were taken 6-13-17 by my husband Ed Lippisch and pilot Dave Stone. It is important to monitor the river all of the time so we can view changes.

“Rain stained” we are; please remember not to fertilize during the rainy season. The birds on Bird Island will appreciate it! (http://befloridian.org)

Canals

TC Palm, Elliott Jones, 6-19-17
Bird Island, IRL east of Sewall’s Point
Bird Island
IRL St Lucie Inlet and Sailfish Point
Sailfish Flats, IRL
Crossroads, confluence SLR/IRL off Sewall’s Point
Spoil Island off Sailfish, bird also roosting here!
Sick looking seagrass beds in IRL looking south towards Jupiter Narrows
SL Inlet near Sailfish Point, no black plume but darker colored waters
Jupiter Island’s state park at St Lucie Inlet
Sailfish Point
St Lucie Inlet looking south
inlet again
Clear ocean water at jetty, St Lucie Inlet
Looking back to St Lucie Inlet mixed colored waters but not black as with Lake O water releases
St Lucie Inlet between Jupiter Island’s state park and Sailfish Point
inlet again
Looking north to SL Inlet
Jetty
Hutchinson Island and Sailfish Flats in IRL. Sewall’s Point in distance.
Parts of the Savannas near Jensen , IRL and Hutchinson Island in distance
Savannas State Preserve Park

Canals draining water into SLR/IRL after rain events:

C-23 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c23.pdf

C-24 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c24.pdf

C-25 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c-25.pdf

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

Chasing Tarpon! SLR/IRL

Chase with a tarpon he recently caught and released, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon region. Photos courtesy of  Chase’s iPhone, 5-24-17.

Happy 17th Birthday to Chase! If you don’t already know him, Chase is one of Stuart’s leading sports fishermen, in any age category. This photo is of a recent catch of my favorite fish, the beautiful and unforgettable, “Silver King Tarpon.”

Since Chase was thirteen years old, when we ran into each other, he would share photos of his fishing expeditions. I always stood there, mouth wide open…”Are you kidding me?” I would ask. He would just smile with his wide, blue eyes saying it all:” THIS IS NO FISH STORY…

In 2015, Chase and I,  together with many others tried to save a pigmy whale that had beached at Stuart. Chase loves the outdoors and has respect for all of the water’s creatures.

Yesterday,  in Jensen, I ran into Chase celebrating his 17th birthday with family and friends.

Perhaps it is his mother’s wonderful name, “Cobia,”  that inspires her son! 🙂

If you are a reader of my blog you know, the ancient, acrobatic, and historic tarpon is my favorite fish as it was the original sports fish of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, until its numbers were destroyed by canals, C-44, C-23, C-25 and C-25. Had these canals not been allowed to decimate our river, Tarpon would still be King, not the famous off-shore Sailfish….

Thank you Chase for sharing and inspiring us all! We know you have a great future ahead of you!!!! I can’t wait ’til you have your own show!!!!!!

Chase w/Tarpon . What a beautiful fish!
Chase w/Tarpon!
Tarpon Fishing in the St Lucie River/S. Indian River Lagoon ~ by famed artist or the time, Kent Hagerman, 1893-1978. Image courtesy, Sandra Henderson Thurlow archives.

Former Blog post explaining the story of  Stuart’s focus from “Tarpon to Sailfish: “He Shall Be King Again! The Silver King of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/st-lucie-river-tarpon-club/

Tarpon Links:

Fishing Stuart,Tarpon: http://www.fishingstuart.com/floridafish/tarpon.php

FWC, Tarpon:http://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/tarpon/information/facts/

Tarpon Facts:Tarpon:https://www.tarponfish.com/tarpon-facts/

Florida Museum, Tarpon: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/fish/discover/species-profiles/megalops-atlanticus/

Bonefish/Tarpon Trust: https://www.bonefishtarpontrust.org

CANALS:

Canals in Martin and St Lucie Co.: C-23, C-24, C-25 constructed in the 50s and 60s. C-44 connected to Lake Okeechobee, the worst,  constructed in the 1920s. These canals, assisting agriculture and development, destroyed the “fishing grounds of presidents” from the early 1900s, the famed St Lucie River. In the 30s and 40s the offshore Sailfish was marketed and Stuart became known as the “Sailfish Capital of the World” as so many of the tarpon and other fish of the river had declined. The tarpon was forgotten as the original main game fish of the St Lucie River. May he rise again! JTL

Beautiful Ft Pierce, Coming of Age, SLR/IRL

_MG_3069.JPG
Ft Pierce Inlet, Ed Lippisch, February, 2016

Our Indian River Lagoon neighbor to the north, Ft Pierce, was recently voted as one of Florida’s “most affordable beach cities.” I have always loved Ft Pierce, and felt like it was underrated. Growing up in Martin County I was aware of its history and some shortfalls, but Martin County has its fair share too.

These aerial photos were taken recently by my husband Ed Lippisch and his friend Scott Kuhns. They show the beautiful turquoise  water the area usually experiences. Yes, Taylor Creek is attached to the C-25 canal and at time spews dark, polluted water primarily from draining agricultural fields, but work is slowly being done to improve the situation. As we can see from some of the photos, seagrass has suffered in this area from repeated poor water quality too.

In the mid 1800s the area was called Edgartown, famous for an oyster cannery and fishing village. It was later named for a lieutenant colonel and fort of the Seminole Wars. Ft Pierce was incorporated 1901.

One thing the area can consistently brag about is its usually beautiful water. Certainly a better bet than the St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon in Martin County. As one the most affordable beach towns in Florida, maybe it’s time to take out our checkbooks…

Photos show Ft Pierce around the IRL, Taylor Marina, the Ft Pierce Inlet, and C-25.

icon_maps_st_lucie basin canals
SFWMD canal and basin map. C-25 canal is the northern most canal in the image.

DEP C-25 at Taylor Creek: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/FPF_C-1_Impairment.pdf

https://smartasset.com/mortgage/americas-most-affordable-beach-towns

http://www.cityoffortpierce.com/220/St-Lucie-County-Regional-History-Center

“History, Encyclopedia Britanica: Fort Pierce, city, seat (1905) of St. Lucie county, east-central Florida, U.S. It is situated on the Indian River (a lagoon connected to the Atlantic Ocean by inlets), about 55 miles (90 km) north of West Palm Beach. The fort (1838–42), built during the Seminole Wars, was named for Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin K. Pierce (brother of President Franklin Pierce), who commanded a detachment. Permanent settlement began around the fort site in the 1860s, and the small fishing village of Edgartown and an oyster cannery were also established. In 1901 these entities were incorporated as the City of Fort Pierce. Pineapple growing was an early factor in the city’s economic growth that was later replaced by citrus farming.”

https://www.britannica.com/place/Fort-Pierce

Overcoming the Propaganda of U.S. Sugar Corporation in the Stuart News, SLR/IRL

US Sugar ad, Stuart News, May 1, 2016.
US Sugar ad, Stuart News, May 1, 2016.
Full page ad 5-1-16 US Sugar, Stuart News.
Full page ad 5-1-16 US Sugar, Stuart News.

It’s easier to communicate your message when you have billions of dollars, but it is not a limiting factor if you don’t…

Today, I will share a “Draft Report” from Dr Gary Goforth. This report is a response he has created specifically to U.S. Sugar Corporation’s May 1st full- page ad in the Stuart News entitled: “The Water That Ends Up In Our Local Waterways.”

This is one of multiple full-page ads U.S. Sugar Corporation has run in the local Martin County paper over that past months trying to “educate” our citizenry. Why are they spending so much money doing this? Why all the propaganda? Because they know that though our advocacy for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, we are changing the course of human events. For the first time, many people and some important politicians and are looking at South Florida and saying “It needs to be re-plumbed…..”

Dr Goforth (http://garygoforth.net) is no stranger to these water issues, nor to the controversy and ability to manipulate the numbers complicated by the historic and supportive relationship between those doing business in the Everglades Agricultural Area south of the lake and today’s South Florida Water Management District. Thus the intertwined propaganda.

So here we go, each idea is presented on a separate slide. You can click the slide to enlarge if you need to. Thank you Dr Goforth!

DRAFT COMMENTS ON U.S. SUGAR AD—G.GOFORTH 5-4-16

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Full page ad 5-1-16 US Sugar, Stuart News.
Full page ad 5-1-16 US Sugar, Stuart News.

(http://www.ussugar.com)

1856 pre drainage
1856 pre drainage

A Look Back in Time at the Altering Landscape of Dredge and Fill, SLR/IRL

Dredge and fill, public photo, 2015.
Dredge and fill, public photo, 2015.
Attached is a multi-image of the area in the 1887 NOAA map, the 1925 shot (partially), 1940, a 1958 NOAA map, 1970 and today.
A multi-image of the area in the 1887 NOAA map, the 1925 shot (partially), 1940, a 1958 NOAA map, 1970 and today by Todd Thurlow.

Link to video:(https://youtu.be/hsDmPmRWLRE?list=PLDaNwdmfhj15bmGNQaGhog9QpkQPAXl06)

Today’s blog is a full expansion of the 1925 aerial photo I wrote about last Friday.

My brother Todd took this photo creating a time line flight of 1925 and 1940 views of the Sailfish Flats, the Indian and St. Lucie Rivers, and the St. Lucie Canal (C-44).

Todd’s video is a history lesson in “dredge and fill” which was very common throughout all south Florida and the United States until national laws in the 1970s required more scrutiny and often no longer allow such due to heavy impacts and damages on waterways and the natural environment.

Our Martin and St Lucie County canals dug by the ACOE and water management entities C-44, C-23, C-24, C-25 are dredge and fill. Sailfish Point, Sewall’s Point, and Indian River Plantation, just to name a few, have large portions that are dredge and fill. The dike around Lake Okeechobee and the work abound the FPL plant in Indiantown by Barley Barber Swamp are dredge and fill. At the time, it was “how it was done.” People did not foresee the ramifications to the environment or to people living in these areas in the future.

The land was our Play Doh…

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1925 aerial by Bob Higgins shared by Sandra H. Thurlow. SLR/IRL

I know you will learn a lot and enjoy watching Todd’s video. The link is above.

—My questions to Todd after I saw the video included:

Jacqui: “So Todd, what are the white lines on the edge of Stuart, Rocky Point etc…more piled white sand? Looks like Jupiter Island was smaller at one point…across from Sailfish…

So how in the world did they dig out the Sailfish Point Marina and what about the straight marina of Sailfish Point that was already there from the days of Mr Rand? Also what about the FPL Pond in Indiantown? Where do you think they put that fill? Holy cow! That’s a lot of fill!

(I have adapted Todd’s words after checking concepts with him so I could present info in a simple manner.)

Todd:  “The lines on the edge of Rocky Point were probably a beachy shoreline. With it being more open water at the time and more exposed to the inlet; I’m sure there was more of a beach there. That shoreline matches perfectly the shoreline shown on the early NOAA maps – even before the inlet was there.

With respect to Jupiter Island, you are probably referring to all the spoil that was piled up at the entrance to the Great Pocket – some of that was put there when I was in middle school. The main part of Jupiter Island is more to the east and is now gone – and earlier connected to Hutchinson Island. The old Gilbert’s Bar Inlet was south of that point.

The marina on Sailfish Point was dredge fill. We have some aerials of it in the making. As was the case in areas of Sewall’s Point, the sand dug to build  small marinas or  subdivisions was piled on the land (Archipelago, Isle Addition) to make the land higher or to create completely new lands.

As far as the giant FPL pond, they probably just dug with a dragline and used the fill to make the dike around the outside of the pond and also to build up the land around FPL.”

Hmmm?

So we live in an environment altered by our forefathers, and now we are experiencing unintended consequences to the health of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. We must assist the next generation in understanding the past so that we and they can create a better water future. And that we can!

Link to Friday’s blog that inspired Todd’s video: (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/12/18/a-1925-view-of-the-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon-slrirl/)

Official Seals of Martin County and Stuart, Both Sailfish–where’s the River? SLR/IRL

Martin County seal.
Official seal of Martin County, sailfish and sun.

Official seals are as ancient as Mesopotamia. Whether ancient or modern, seals symbolize what is important to us and  how we see ourselves. Throughout history, seals are often recreated to represent new perceptions and values. All seals, of every era, hold great historic importance. Let’s take a look at the seals of Martin County, Florida, and its surrounding municipalities.

Recently my mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, gave a presentation at Indian River State College. I was intrigued by the early seal of Stuart and its changes throughout the years.

I was also struck that the St Lucie River, the original reason people moved to our area, was removed in favor of the sailfish and ocean sometime in the 1970s or 80s. I was also struck that the Railroad was so prominent, and today we are fighting it. —-Today the prominent symbol is a sailfish. A sailfish is certainly a wonderful and attractive symbol, however, it seems repetitive in that both Martin County and the City of Stuart use the sailfish.  View both seals below.

Martin County sailfish.
Martin County sailfish.
City of Stuart sailfish.
City of Stuart sailfish.

Let’ s reflect. Stuart became the sailfish capital of the world in the 1930s and 40s, very cool,  but Stuart was originally named “Stuart on the St Lucie ” for the river….Stuart became a city if 1914; Martin became a county in 1925.

In any case, how much do we promote sports fishing since it is the symbol of both the city and the county? The sports fishing industry a huge money-maker and is directly related to the health of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. If the river is sick, and the polluted canal plume waters from C-23, C-24, C-25, C-44 and Lake Okeechobee are belching off our inlet, it is more difficult for the sailfish to have a successful spawning season.

Why isn’t the river at all represented anymore?

It’s all tied together— the river and the inlet ocean area…partially due to the degradation of our waterways we are really no longer truly the “Sailfish Capital of the World.” How can we become the sailfish capital of the world again?

How can we honor our sailfish history and have an eye for a better water future? Is it time for updated seals? Should Stuart and Marin County both be sailfish? What do you think? I  suppose the most important questions are: “What is most important to us today, and what do we really stand for?”

Stuart City seal 1914 with East Coast Railroad Bridge over the St Lucie and docks. (Image shared by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
Stuart City seal 1914 with East Coast Railroad Bridge over the St Lucie River and docks. No auto bridge. Image shared by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
City of Stuart seal showed the railroad and an auto bridge in 1978. Seal taken from city stationary. Courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
City of Stuart seal showed the railroad and an auto bridge over the St Lucie River in 1978. Seal taken from city stationary. Courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
City of Stuart seal changed to sailfish sometime after 1978. (SHT)
City of Stuart seal changed to sailfish sometime after 1978. (Sandra Henderson Thurlow)

Here are some other seals of Martin County’s incorporated cities and towns:

Town of Jupiter Island, palm tree and wavy waters.
Town of Jupiter Island, palm tree and wavy waters, 2015.
Town of Sewall's Point seal brown pelican and satin leaf, 2015.
Town of Sewall’s Point seal brown pelican and satin leaf plant unique to its hammock, 2015.
The Town of Ocean Breeze does not appear to have an official seal but this image is displayed often, 2015.
The Town of Ocean Breeze does not appear to have an official seal that I could find, but this image is displayed often, 2015.

 

 

Seals, Emblems, History: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seal_(emblem))

October’s Plume? St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Aerial of plume along Jupiter Island south of St Lucie Inlet, at 1500 feet, 10-10-15. Photo Cam Collins.
Aerial photo of plume from C-44; C-23, C-24, Tidal Basin, and 10 Mile Creek, along Jupiter Island south of St Lucie Inlet. Photo taken at 1000-1500 feet on 10-10-15 through a green glass canopy. Jupiter Narrows, part of the Indian River Lagoon, is visible west of Atlantic Ocean. Photo Cam Collins/Pilot Ed Lippisch.

Today I will be sharing aerial photos of the recent plume along Jupiter Island south of the St Lucie Inlet, taken this past Saturday, October 10th at 9:34 am. These photos are courtesy of friend Mr. Cam Collins. My husband, Ed, took Cam up in an acrobatic plane, the Extra 300, a plane I have not flown in yet. Doing “Half-Cubans” and “Loops” over the Atlantic Ocean is not my favorite way to see the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon….

Typically I am sharing photographs taken in the Legend Cub, an open aircraft; most photos  are taken at around 500 feet. Cam’s photos are taken at about 1000-1500 feet, thus there is a much broader perspective. The effect is  powerful.

I was surprised to see the giant plume considering the major rain event from tropical activity occurred on September 17th, 2015, over three weeks ago. Out of curiosity, I went back and looked at the ACOE Periodic Scientists Call information to review what the release numbers from C-44, C-23, C-24, the Tidal Basin, and Ten Mile Creek have been. No Lake Okeechobee so far. This is what I found:

8-25-15/8-31-15 was reported at 1985 cfs (cubic feet per second)

9-8-15/ to 9-14-15 was reported at 2108 cfs

9-15-15/9-21-15 was reported at 5877 cfs (rain event)

9-22-15/9-28-15 was reported at 2311 cfs

9-29-15/10-5-15 was reported at 1418 cfs.

Cubic feet per second is very hard to understand. For reference, I can share that at the height of releases from Lake O during 2013, the cfs were between 5000 and 7000 cfs at S-80. (http://www.midtel.net/~dccinc/sample_graph.html)

SFWMD discharge chart.
SFWMD discharge chart via ACOE  10-6-15.

So I wonder how long it takes the discharge water to travel through the St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon and out of  the St Lucie Inlet? September 17th’s rain event was three weeks ago? It seems that water would have passed through by now…..what water is the water in Cam’s photographs? Is October’s plume September’s water? If you have an idea, please write in.

——In any case, thank you Cam and thank you Ed. We will continue to document the discharges, Lake O or otherwise, that are killing our St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.

SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image.
SFWMD canal and basin map. These canals have expanded the basin of the SLR/IRL 5 times or more its natural water flow. (Florida Oceanographic Society)
Cam Collins, 10-10-15.
Cam Collins, 10-10-15.
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To get involved, advocate, and learn about St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon issues please attend a Rivers Coalition meeting: (http://riverscoalition.org)

Canal and agency info:

South Florida Water Management District: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page)

Army Corp of Engineers, Lake O: (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm)

Canal C-23: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c23.pdf)
Canal C-24: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c24.pdf)
Canal C-25: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c-25.pdf)
Canal C-44: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-44%20Canal%20.pdf)

Recycled Inspiration, The Words of Ernest F. Lyons, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

What a wonderful world. Sunset on the St Lucie River, photo by Jenny Flaugh, 2009.
What a wonderful world! Sunset on the St Lucie River, photo by Jenny Flaugh, 2009.

The words of Ernest F. Lyons, famed fisherman, environmentalist, and veteran editor of the Stuart News, can be used over, and over, and over again…

Lyons grew up in Stuart in the early 1900s and witnesses first hand the destruction of his beloved St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. In the 1940s and 50s, for “flood control” and EAA interests, he watched St Lucie Locks and Dam, C-44, and S-80 be “improved,” by the ACOE and SFWMD—-destroying fishing grounds that will never be replaced…He witnessed canals C-23, C-24 and C-25 be constructed to scar the land and pour poisonous sediment from orange groves and development into the North Fork and central estuary.

But even amongst this destruction, Lyons never stopped seeing the miracle of the world around him. And no where did life continue to be more miraculous than along his beloved river.

This week so far, I have written about things that bring light to the destruction of our rivers, I must not forget that in spite of this destruction, beauty and life still exist….To do our work as advocates for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon we cannot become negative, we must be inspired….one of the best ways to achieve this is to recall the work and words of our forefathers….to “recycle inspiration.”

Although Ernie Lyon’s work was first read on the pages of the Stuart News, my mother historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, has clipped old pages, been in touch with Ernie’s children, and transcribed many of Lyon’s columns as part of the work of Stuart Heritage. Stuart Heritage helps keeps our rich “river-heritage” alive. After all, our founding name was “Stuart on the St Lucie.”

Recycle symbol.
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Ernest Lyons copy of column, ca 1950.
Ernest Lyons– copy of column, ca 1950.Copied from old Stuart News paper. Sandra H. Thurlow.

“What a Wonderful World”

I get an indescribable “lift” from the habit of appreciating life.

All of us, even the most harried, have moments when we are fleetingly aware of the glory that surrounds us. Like moles that occasionally break throughout their tunnels, we infrequently  catch a glimpse of the natural beauty and awesome majesty outside the corridor within which we have bound ourselves.

And pop back into our holes!

The habit of appreciation—–the cultivation of the sense of awareness—are forgotten roads to enrichment of personal experience. Not money in the bank, or real estate, or houses, or the exercise of power are true riches. By the true tally, the only value is “how much do you enjoy life?”

All around each of us are the wonders of creation—the shining sun, a living star bathing us with the magic mystery of light…we look to the heavens at night and wonder at the glittering  panoply of suns so distant and so strange,  while accepting as commonplace our own.

We live in a world of indescribable wonder. Words cannot tell why beauty is beautiful, our senses must perceive what makes it so.

What we call art, literature, genuine poetry, and  true religion are the products of awareness, seeing and feeling the magic which lies beyond the mole-tunnel view.

One man, in his mole-tunnel, says he is inconsequential, a slave to his job, of dust and to dust going. Another, poking his head our into the light, realizes that he is a miraculous as any engine, with eyes to see, a mind which to think, a spirit whose wings know no limitations.

The mole-man is bound to a commonplace earth and a commonplace life. He lives among God’s wonders without ever seeing them. But those who make a habit of appreciation find wonder in every moment, and every day, by the sense of participation in a miracle.

They see the glory  of the flowers, the shapes and colors of trees and grass, the grace of tigers and serpents, the stories of selfishness or selflessness that are written on the faces men and women. They feel the wind upon their faces and the immeasurable majesty of distances in sky and sea.

And in those things there is the only true value. This a wonderful  world. Take time to see it. You’re cheat yourself unless you appreciate it.—–E.L. 
Ernest F. Lyons: (http://www.flpress.com/node/63)

Stuart Heritage Museum: (http://www.stuartheritagemuseum.com)

The Myth of Local Runoff, St Lucie River/IRL “Rain Event,” 9-16-15

St Lucie Inlet and Sailfish Point area after approximate 7-10 inches of regional rainfall in area 9-16-18. Photo taken on 9-23-15, Ed Lippisch.
St Lucie Inlet and Sailfish Point area after approximate 7-10 inches of regional rainfall in area 9-16-15. Photo taken on 9-23-15, Ed Lippisch.

“From 7 a.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday, the heaviest rainfall was reported at the Savannas Preserve State Park in southeastern St. Lucie County, with 7.67 inches. Next highest in 24-hour rainfall, according to the Weather Service, was 6.87 inches at Hobe Sound.” —-from article y Elliot Jones, TCPalm, 9-17-15

SFWMD showing releases through canals recently. Note spike after recent rainfall.
SFWMD chart showing releases through canals recently. Note spike after recent rainfall.

Today I will share aerial photos of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon taken by my husband, Ed, on 9-23-15. I asked Ed to document the after effects of the tremendous rainfall event in the region from September 16th  through the 17th, 2015. After reviewing his photos, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon has dark waters, this is evident, but first, let’s set some things straight….

We hear a lot about “local runoff,” however, it is becoming more and more understood, there is no such thing as “local runoff” for the St Lucie River/IRL…. The canals that dump into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon are regional canals that have been “plumbed” over the past 100 years to drain and dump waters off the lands from as far away as western Martin County, Okeechobee County, and even what used to be the north flowing waters of the St Johns River in Indian River County! Then when things are really bad, since the water can’t flow south, “they” dump the overflow waters of Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River to boot.

The poor St Lucie River is inundated with “everyone’s water” not just “its own.”

Drainage changes to the SLR. Green is the original watershed. Yellow and pink have been added since ca.1920. (St Lucie River Initiative's Report to Congress 1994.)
Drainage changes to the SLR. Green is the original watershed. Yellow and pink have been added since ca.1920. (St Lucie River Initiative’s Report to Congress 1994.)
SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image.
SFWMD canal and basin map. The St Lucie’s natural basin as seen above in green has been very much enlarged by  the C-44 canal built in the 1920s —with expanded basin and often Lake O overflow; also C-23, C-24 and C-25 were built  ca. 1950 to drain lands in St Lucie County for orange groves/agricultural development  and land development by General Development Corp and others.

It is critical that we study and understand what happens in our area after a huge rain, with or without the “extra-extra killing waters of Lake Okeechobee.” Why?  Because maybe, just maybe, if the SFWMD, ACOE, as well as state and federal politicians will see how much the river is already suffering, they will do all they can, “not to kill it more.”

So here are Ed’s photos, taken one week after the rain event. It takes the water coming in through the canals some time to move through the St Lucie River;  I imagine a lot had already exited the St Lucie Inlet. The 23rd was the soonest Ed could “get up in the air.”

I am thankful to my husband, as for me going up in that plane? It is really amazing to be flying,  but also very stressful. Somehow to me it seems God only meant for birds to fly….

At least with the Cub, I feel like if something ever happened, over the ocean anyway…. we could just jump out!

2013.
2013 Ed Lippisch/Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.
St Lucie Inlet at Sailfish Point. 9-23-15.
St Lucie Inlet at Sailfish Point. 9-23-15.
Crossroads, Sewall's Point and Sailfish Flats. 9-23-15.
Crossroads, Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Flats. 9-23-15.
St Lucie Inlet 9-23-15.
St Lucie Inlet 9-23-15.
Water in Jupiter Narrows very close to St Lucie Inlet. 9-23-15.
Water in Jupiter Narrows very close to St Lucie Inlet. 9-23-15.
Unusual in that plume was flowing north and south. Here north at Sailfish Point 9-23-15.
Unusual in that plume was flowing north and south. Here north at Sailfish Point at SL Inlet. 9-23-15.
Northerly movement of plume. 9-23-15.
Northerly movement of plume. 9-23-15.
Sailfish Flats of SLR/IRL confluence as seen from ocean over Hutchinson Island. 9-23-15.
Sailfish Flats of SLR/IRL confluence as seen from ocean over Hutchinson Island. 9-23-15.
Heading back...9-23-15.
Heading back…9-23-15.
On the way back to Witham Field. Sewall's Point Crossroads 9-23-14.
On the way back to Witham Field. Sewall’s Point Crossroads 9-23-15.

TCPALM article on rainfall: Subscription may be necessary to view, (http://www.tcpalm.com/news/local-news/weather/rain-likely-to-continue-friday_95415704)

Rain, Flooding, Drainage/Building a Better Future for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

 

Riverview and South Sewall's Point Road flooded in the Town of Sewall's Point 9-17-15 (JTL)
Riverview and South Sewall’s Point Road flooded in the Town of Sewall’s Point 9-16-15 (JTL)

When I was a kid growing up in Indialucie, named so as it is located between the Indian River Lagoon and the St Lucie River….it flooded a lot. We kids loved it. We would  play and play! Just like kids did in the Town of Sewall’s Point when it rained so hard the past couple of days. I was told yesterday by Pam Hopkins, water quality specialist, at Florida Oceanographic that their gauge showed 8.5 inches!

Kids play in the retention pond in Sewall's Point. (Photo Simone McPhee)
Kids play in the retention pond in Sewall’s Point, 9-16-15. (Photo courtesy of Simone McPhee)

Rain is not the problem. It’s the drainage…

Florida was drained so agriculture and development could flourish. But we have literally outgrown the plumbing system of the 1920, 30s, 40, 50, 60, and 70s….we must begin to  think anew.

Rain events like the past couple of days allow us to clearly see the problem and to be creative in thinking about solutions. —-One thing is clear, when Lake Okeechobee’s water is added on top of such events, “not only are we flooded, but we are drowning.”

Whether it is the overflow waters of Lake Okeechobee, runoff from area canals, or “local flood waters,” such experiences highlight the need for storage, as fresh water is a resource and should not be wasted.

I have used the basin/canal map a lot recently as it applies to just about everything.  Here you can see the drainage system draining the lands into the SRL/IRL; of course there is other local infrastructure drainage such as street “gutters,” drains, and underground piping that do not show up on this map. In any case,  the goal is to “get the water off the land as soon as possible” and drain it to the lowest point, the river……

Well that has got to change.

SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image.
SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image.
South Sewall's Point Road 9-16-15....(JTL)
South Sewall’s Point Road 9-16-15….(JTL)
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BELOW, HUTCHINSON ISLAND, FLORIDA OCEANOGRAPHIC AREA/PUBLIX

Video of storm water going into local drainage system:(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTN51n6ICMI)

 

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A flooded Publix parking lot on Hutchinson Island....
A flooded Publix parking lot on Hutchinson Island….
Oil atop the water from parking lot and street. This all drains into the river.
Oil atop the water from parking lot and street. This all drains into the river.

To get the current conditions of drainage from canals around Lake O excluding C-23, C-24, and C-25 see this ACOE link; also the drainage from around the coastal area like Stuart, Sewall’s Point etc…is not shown here but estimated in other models.
Current Conditions report ACOE drainage: (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports/StatusDaily_files/slide0178.htm)

ACOE J-ville, C-44 (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm)

SFWMD shows canals C-23, C-24 and C-25 but it is deeply imbedded and hard to find: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page)

Trying to Understand “Water Classifications of the State,” SLR/IRL

 

Sunrise over Florida's "Waters of the State," SLR/IRL region.
Sunrise over Florida’s “Waters of the State,” SLR/IRL region.

The more I learn about water, “the more I learn what I don’t know”…Federal laws….state laws…and local governments living with the “sins of the fathers,” —just trying to keep up…

Because I taught eighth and ninth grade for so many years, it is my training to try to break down complicated information, so that it can be understood on a basic level and shared. Obviously, I am no expert on water law so please chime in!

Today’s lesson? CLASSIFICATION OF FLORIDA SURFACE WATERS

Classifications and designated uses of water by the state of Florida are required by the Clean Water Act of the United States. “The act requires that the surface waters of each state be classified according to “designated uses.” Florida has six classes with associated designated uses, which are arranged in order of degree of protection required.” DEP

From FAQ DEP 2012.
Classification, Waters of the State, FAQ Fl. Dept. of Environmental Protection, 2012.

(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/watersheds/assessment/faq.htm)

The classes are:

Class I: Potable Water

Class II Shellfish Propagation or Harvesting

Class III Fish Consumption, Recreation, Propagation and Maintenance of a Health, Well-Balanced, Population of Fish and Wildlife

Class III-Limited the same Class III but “with limited physical/habitat conditions…

Class IV Agriculture Water Supplies

Class V Navigation, Utility and Industrial Use.

I wonder what category the St Lucie River/ Indian River Lagoon falls under? This is not easy to find on-line. Let’s guess….Look at the chart above closely….

What do you think?

My guess would be Class III-Limited, but I don’t know. I could not find it “for sure” on-line.

Looking at the chart and reading the DEP website, it sounds like all waters of the state of Florida are “Class III” regular “unless otherwise specified….”

—–Finding a simple list of class designations for waters of the state is not easy. This download is what I found and it does not make sense.

(https://www.flrules.org/gateway/readFile.asp?sid=0&tid=3294816&type=1&File=62-302.400.doc)

Now to complicate the issue, certain classes of water that are listed as Class III or otherwise can also be listed separately as “Outstanding Waters of the State,” or as “Aquatic Preserves.” How can this be?

—–For instance, the North Fork of the St Lucie River is listed as an “Aquatic Preserve” and “Outstanding Water” of the State. Also the Indian River Lagoon has parts, including parts in St Lucie and Martin Counties, that are also Aquatic Preserves. This doesn’t make sense to me. These bodies of water have been designated as “protected” since the 70s but they are not protected with canals dumping pollution into them. We all see that! 

SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image.
SFWMD canal and basin map.C-24 dumps pollution into North Fork of SLR, C-23 dumps into main area of SLR, C-44 dumps into South Fork, and C-25 into IRL near Ft Pierce. The North Fork of the SLR and parts of the IRL are Aquatic Preserves/and or Outstanding Florida Waters…..this makes no sense.
Aquatic Preserves of the IRL as shown in DEP's IRL Management Plan draft June 2014.
Aquatic Preserves of the IRL as shown in DEP’s IRL Management Plan draft June 2014.

Now I am going to share some photos of the Southern Indian River Lagoon, (an Aquatic Preserve), that my husband, Ed, took last Sunday, September 13th. The photos are of the C-25 canal which is dumping into the Indian River Lagoon in Ft Pierce. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it makes sense to dump pollution into an aquatic preserve, no matter what class the waters are.

To be fair, I must mention that I recently received an email from Mr Glenn Henderson, the senior grants writer for St Lucie County. He noted that a blog reader sent him the shocking photographs of C-25 recently published.  Mr Henderson noted that he and others are working together with the St Lucie Issues Team to get a grant from the state for the San Lucie storm water detention project. The San Lucie is  an old subdivision that has dirt roads, few swales and no structures to hold stormwater — and it’s less than a mile from the IRL. This is one of the many things running into the lagoon.

Thank you Glenn and everyone!  And the state? “Let’s get back to class!”

Algae fills C-25 as this water is dumped into the IRL in Ft Pierce, an aquatic preserve. (Photo Ed Lippisch 9-13-15)
Algae fills C-25 as this water is dumped into the IRL in Ft Pierce, an aquatic preserve. (Photo Ed Lippisch 9-13-15)
C-25 9-13-15 (EL)
C-25 9-13-15 (EL)
C-25 9-13-15 (EL)
C-25 9-13-15 (EL)
C-25 9-13-15 (EL)
C-25 9-13-15 (EL)

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US Clean Water Act:(http://www2.epa.gov/laws-regulations/history-clean-water-act)
Classification of Waters, DEP (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wqssp/classes.htm)(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wqssp/ofw.htm)

Aquatic Preserves: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/indianriver/plan.htm)
(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/programs/aquatic.htm)

North Fork of the St Lucie River Aquatic Preserve Management Plan (http://www.floridadep.org/coastal/sites/northfork/pub/NorthFork_Plan_2009.pdf) (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CZIC-qh90-75-f6-g57-1984/html/CZIC-qh90-75-f6-g57-1984.htm)

Outstanding Florida Waters: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wqssp/ofw.htm)

JTL blog “Our Deadly Canals” photos 9/2/15:(http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/09/04/update-our-deadly-canals-and-the-kiss-of-death-lake-okeechobee-slrirl/)

Reaching the Finish Line, C-44 Storm Water Treatment Area/Reservoir, SLR/IRL

View of new intake canal and lands to be used for C-44 STA/Reservoir. C-44 canal in foreground. (Photo 2014, JTL)
View of new intake canal far right and lands to be used for C-44 STA/Reservoir. C-44 canal in foreground. Near Indiantown.(Photo 2014, JTL)
Intake canal for C-44 STR/R.(JTL)
Intake canal for C-44 STA/R.(JTL)

Today’s blog is a review of something we have been talking about for a long time now. Something that is in the news once again. The C-44 Storm Water Treatment Area and Reservoir, a component of the Indian River Lagoon South, CERP project.

Today we will break down this project into chucks so we can understand what is happening, and what has already happened, and clarify some terminology.

The term “C-44” can be confusing as C-44 is a canal but is applied to others things and used as a “nickname” for an entire, multi-layered project.  First, the C-44 is a canal that was built from 1915 to 1923 by the flood control district of the era and later by the Army Corp of Engineers. This canal has dual purposes. It allows water from the C-44 basin to run into and be released into the North Fork of the St Lucie River, and it allows overflow water from Lake Okeechobee to be released into the North Fork of the St Lucie River. “All this water” plasters the bottom of the estuary with silt and pollution from surrounding lands, in this case mostly from agricultural runoff.

There are two structures along the C-44 canal that release the water: structure 308 (S-308) at Lake Okeechobee, “Port Mayaca,” and S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam in Tropical Farms.

Believe it or not, the canal can “run in both directions, dumping water to the lake or to the St Lucie. The ACOE is in charge and works together with the South Florida Water Management District to manage this canal that is part of Florida’s history for “water supply” of agriculture and “flood control” for agricultural lands that later became populated by people other than just farmers…..

SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image.
SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image.

So the “C-44 STA/R.,” as I will call it, has been in the works conceptually since the Comprehensive  Everglades Restoration Plan or CERP that was agreed on by stakeholders in 2000. There are/were 68 project components of CERP, none are 100% complete. C-44 STA/R is part of  “Indian River Lagoon South” a part of CERP that got a jump-start in 2007 and moved up on the list of 68.

Why haven’t all these projects been approved and funded? In the insane and fickle world of federal and state politics there is never a guarantee. So the ACOE and SFWMD live in a state of flux as do we, the public. This is why we must fight so hard, elect the right legislators, and “never give up.”

An overview of C-44 STA/R can be read about here:(http://www.martin.fl.us/web_docs/eng/web/EcoSystem_Restoration_and_Management/Water_Quality/Indian_River_Lagoon_South_Fact_Sheet.pdf)
Martin County and the public have done a great job supporting the SFWMD and advocating for the C-44 STA/R. As reporter, Tyler Treadway, stated in his recent Stuart News, article: “The C-44 project began in 2007 when the South Florida Water Management District spent $173 million and Martin County kicked in $27 million through a special 1-cent sales tax to buy and clear 12,000 acres for the facility.”

In 2011, after a couple of false starts the ACOE held a groundbreaking for the C-44 STA/R project. This was a happy day. I was mayor of the Town of Sewall’s Point at the time and participated in the groundbreaking event. This was Contract 1 and there are many components to this contract, but the most visible one is the building of the INTAKE CANAL from C-44 canal into the interior of the lands where the STA and Reservoir are to be built.

You can read about this here: (http://www.army.mil/article/61750/Corps_Awards_Contract_for_Construction_of_C_44_Reservoir_and_Stormwater_Treatment_Area/)
(https://www.pandj.com/project/c44-reservoirsta-project-contract-1-intake-canalproject-acess-road-canals/)

As you can see from this breakdown the project below, C-44 STA/R has multiple “contracts.” This is why we keep hearing about it “again and again.”  The chart below is very helpful in understanding a timeline of the contracts. Each is funded separately. For fun, I have also included some pictures of the 2011 groundbreaking event. You can see how many people involved are not “here” anymore….

Breakdown of Contracts, C-44 STA/R.
Breakdown of Contracts, C-44 STA/R.
Sign for groundbreaking, 2011.
Sign for groundbreaking, 2011.
Conceptual rendering 2011 event.
Conceptual rendering 2011 event.
ACOE Col. Pantero and Lt Col. Kinade, 2011. (Photo JTL)
Unidentified gentleman, Lt Col. Kinard, and Col Pantano. 2011. (Photo JTL)
Agency leadership, groundbreaking 2011.
Agency leadership, groundbreaking 2011.
Martin County Commissioners, 2011.
Martin County Commissioners, 2011.
Local and regional leadership, 2011.
Agency, regional leadership, and local leadership pose for the camera, groundbreaking, 2011.

OK so now fast forward to 2013. A year that rings like torture for those of us who lived here in Martin and St Lucie Counties during that time. It was the “Lost Summer” when the waters of Lake Okeechobee and C-44, C-23, C-24, and C-25 just about killed us and did kill our economy and the St Lucie River Southern Indian River Lagoon. It was during this time that Governor Rick Scott and the state legislature put 40 million towards “the C-44” to speed up construction of the STAs. This was wonderful cooperation between state and federal agencies. Entities that sometimes are at odds. This cooperation shined light on the agreed importance of improving water quality in the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon system, a yes…it WAS an election year! 🙂

You can read about Gov. Scott here: (http://www.flgov.com/gov-scott-announces-40-million-commitment-to-speed-up-critical-water-treatment-project-2/)

Sewall's Point confluence of SLR/IRL 2013. (JTL)
Sewall’s Point confluence of SLR/IRL 2013. (JTL)
Toxic alge SLR, photo Mary Ratabaugh 2013.
Toxic algae SLR, photo Mary Ratabaugh 2013.
Plume along Jupiter Island, Lost Summer 2013. (JTL)
Plume along Jupiter Island, Lost Summer 2013. (JTL)
The people rally for the river! (Stuart Beach) 2000 people docuemtned. (Sevin Bullwinkle)
The people rally for the river, Stuart Beach. Over 2000 people docuemtned. (Sevin Bullwinkle, 2013.)

There were also other local politicians that were very vocal and helpful during this 2013 time. Florida Senator Joe Negron; Congressional Representative Patrick Murphy, there were others too like Senator Bill Nelson; Senator Marco Rubio even visited- and others….the public though was what really shined as they rallied and advocated on behalf of the river.

Now we are hearing about C-44 STA/R in the news AGAIN. So what are they talking about now? They are talking about the next part of the “contract sequence,” or phase…this time to build the reservoir as seen in light blue below. This is where the water will  be held before going to he STA to be cleaned before again being released into the canal and then the river….

STA is in light blue on left.
The reservoir is in light blue on left. The canal and storm water treatment area is in blue. The water is pulled out of the C-44 canal as seen in bottom of image.(ACOE)
C-44
Palmar on far bottom right is part of the water quality component of the C-44 STA/R as seen on north side of C-44 canal.(ACOE)
....
….

Read about this next contract sequence that just came out in the news here: (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/NewsReleases/tabid/6071/Article/616981/corps-awards-indian-river-lagoon-south-construction-contract.aspx)

So what is all of this going to look like when it is done, and when might it be done? This chart shows the end date as 2020.

YouTube TMBA video/artist’s and engineering’s interpretation of final product:

Link: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BsC0BoIPJ4)

Breakdown of Contracts, C-44 STA/R.
End date 2020…(ACOE)

So as you can see, the building and funding of the C-44 STA/Reservoir is not an event but rather a story. “Reaching the finish line” includes many chapters….Considering so many other Everglades Restoration projects are not even close to getting this kind of attention and funding is something we must appreciate and be proud and thankful for.

What we must also understand is this is just the beginning and will not alone fix our water problems. In a bad year maybe 1.5 to 2 million acre feet— (one foot of water on one acre of land) ——-of water goes into Lake Okeechobee from the Kissimmee River alone. This amount of water is basically unfathomable. Picture all the water that used to be on the lands of central Florida each wet season before we drained them and straightened the Kissimmee River….not to mention “Disney”….

And since the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) south of Lake Okeechobee blocks the flow of water south to the Everglades this water is redirected to the St Lucie River/IRL and to the Calooshahatchee. The C-44 STA/R is meant to clean water from the C-44 basin alone. A reservoir of 50,600 acre feet will help the C-44 basin problems but not the releases from Lake Okeechobee. Only an outlet south of the lake, and a tremendous amount of storage can do that. —-So in essence, our race has just begun…

This satellite photo shows water on lands in 2005. One can see the lands in the EAA are devoid of water. This water has been pumped off the lands into the Water Conservation Areas, sometimes back pumped into the lake, and also stored in other canals. (Captiva Conservation 2005.)
This satellite photo shows water on lands in 2005. One can see the lands in the EAA are devoid of water. This water has been pumped off the lands into the Water Conservation Areas, sometimes back pumped into the lake, and also stored in other canals. (Captiva Conservation 2005.)

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CERP and Everglades Restoration:(http://141.232.10.32/pm/projects/project_list.aspx) (http://www.evergladesrestoration.gov)

ACOE 2014 Completed Work Review: (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/NewsReleases/tabid/6071/Article/486920/corps-completes-first-construction-contract-for-indian-river-lagoon-south-proje.aspx)

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