Tag Archives: CERP

“Eye on the Horizon,” Picayune Strand

Picayune Stand’s story is the story of Florida at its very worst, and at its very best.

In the 1940s and 50s, this 74,000 acres was logged of its giant cypress; in the 1960s, Gulf American Land Corporation “dynamited” canals, and roads were built for “Golden Gate Estates,” a Florida real estate scheme that never materialized. Gulf American sold plenty of swamp land, finally going bankrupt. This most beautiful of places was left  broken and ravaged. Times changed. The public fought for these lands, and in 2000, Picayune Strand became elevated as the first project of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, or CERP. It is almost done…

On April 29, I visited this CERP project held and managed as Picayune Strand State Forest. Its stakeholders include the Florida Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, South Florida Water Management District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Wildlife Commission, and Collier County. It was an inspiring field trip that I will share with you today.

8:00 am

SFWMD Lead Project manager, Joanna Weaver, and I drove for two hours to arrive at our destination in Collier County. Around a picnic table, we met ecologist, Mike Duever; Florida Forest Service biologist, Mike Knight; and Florida Forest Service fire expert, Sean Allen. As we all stood or sat around the table six feet apart, Mr Duever, thoughtfully gave his presentation. I listened intently. I think at first, he may have seen me a “lady from the city,” but I quickly won him over with my knowledge and love of plants and animals. After an excellent hour of intense slides and discussion, we paired off in trucks to take a tour. I was partnered with Mr Duever.-There is north Golden Gate Estates and south Golden Gate Estates. Picayune Strand State Forest is “south Golden Gate Estates” -south of I-75 (Alligator Alley).  North Golden Gate Estates (north of I-75)  is a neighborhood. On the map below, you can see the outlines of the roads now labeled as Picayune Strand State Forest south of I-75. The roads you see north of I-75 comprise the neighborhood of north Golden Gate Estates. The north was developed; the south became Picayune Stand State Forest. -Mr Duever’s handout demonstrates what was on the lands and is now removed, or in the process thereof.  First, logging trams in red; Second, canals in blue; and roads in grey. Mind you the property is 74,000 acres! -This is the back page of Mr Duever’s handout. Blue boxes equal the year/s canals were filled and thus the number of growing seasons for recovering vegetation and trees.  Yellow boxes equal the year/s roads were removed thus also the number of growing seasons. Some areas have had more time to heal than others. -In this handout, note three red squares at the top of the image. These red squares represent the three pump stations that are/will create sheet flow, restoring the hydrology and creating healthy habitat. Miller Pump Station, (far left), must meet flood protection standards for Lipman Farms on the east. This is being addressed now. Lipman Farms granted an easement for the building a protection levee. The entire project must not jeopardize flood protection for northern Gold Gate Estates, thus the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers portion of the CERP project, the gigantic pumps! -Below: Sean Allen of the Florida Forest Service loves his job. “Have you ever seen a panther?” I asked.” Absolutely!” He replies, looking in every direction. Picayune Strand is Panther Mitigation habitat for the state of Florida. This is panther country! 

I was very lucky to be paired up with Mike Duever. He has devoted his life to the restoration of these lands working first with National Audubon, then a long career with the SFWMD. He now works as a consultant for the SFWMD because no one knows the project like he does.

As he calmly took me over the bumpy roads, all the years, all of the ups and downs, all of the successes, all of the disappointments since 2000, I asked: “Are you ever upset that Picayune is not finished yet?”

“Jacqui,” he replied, looking at me with steel violet eyes, “restoration is full of “surprises.” What’s important is to do it the right way.” His glance veered off to the horizon.

By the end of the day, I felt I’d met John Muir himself.

We drove and drove. There were times it was just quiet.

I saw a giant eagle’s nest, deer, blue herons, alligators and beautiful wildflowers. We drove, got out, got in. There were miles of  filled-in canals and roads made one with the earth around them. The forest retuning…

Things weren’t perfect. Mr Duever spoke of an invasion of sable palms and the forestry service explained how the palms act as a middle story between the lower and upper stories, something these lands never had, sometimes promoting out of control wildfires that kill everything.

So much had been accomplished. So much was left to do…

It was complicated. Restoration is complicated. But like Mike Duever taught me that day, it is not about getting rattled by the “surprises,” it’s about the long view. It is about the horizon.

One day, not too far away, all of the giant pumps, not just two, will spread out the “flood waters” creating a sheet flow across the lands during the wet season. All of the trams, and roads will have been removed and the canals will all have been filled, leaving little pools for life to gather. The groundwater will synchronize; the cypress will come in where now willow stands. The wading birds will have thousands of areas to nurture their young. The panther will roam looking for deer and hog and the cry of eagle will echo through the cypress strands.

It will happen. Don’t look down. -Horizon.

-Mike Duever -Too many sable palms endanger the pines and cypress when fire strikes. Many must be removed.-Mr Duever holds a wildflower, Pink-Sabitia -Filled in canal -Removed roadbed. In time, vegetation will grow in.-Some areas of canals are left for water -Wildflowers and uplands-a giant blue bee! -Joanna assesses progress and things yet to come… -The history of Florida is written in these rocks piled high along the canals.-Mike Duever explains that this area was the greatest of the ancient cypress swamp. The willow he says is a precursor for its return. -A young cypress-A pond/canal adjacent to the former cypress swamp expands and contracts with the seasons. It is filled with fishes and gators. Look a snail! Life is retuning…

4:00 pm

-Final visit, the pump stations. Ominous! These things are huge and impressively spotless.

We meet Charles Hendrickson, a wildlife-loving engineer who works for the SFWMD. “I love the nature here. It’s getting to be more and more.” I count 12 alligators near the intake canal and six standing wading birds. He tells me he once saw flamingos! Next, taking his phone out of his pocket, Charles shows me a photograph of hundreds of white pelicans that visited the Merrit Pump Station just days days before. Incredible! As I wave goodbye, I notice Charles looking beyond.

Eye on the horizon…

Update: Picayune Strand/Audubon


C-44 Reservoir/STA Aerial Update -June 2020

C-44 Reservoir and Storm Water Treatment Area (STA) 

After weeks of algae Lake O shots, when my husband, Ed, went up in the Baron on June 17th, 2020,  I looked at him and said: “Could you please also take some photos of the C-44 Reservoir and STA for an update? I need a positive fix.”

Thus today’s photos of the C-44 Reservoir/STA in Martin County, off the C-44 canal near Indiantown, share good news. Most important for me, the pictures reveal that many more of the STA cells are slowly getting filled with water -in December 2019 they started with one as Governor DeSantis pulled the lever. One can see many more cells are now filled. When complete, these cells will cleanse tremendous amounts of nutrient polluted water prior to entry into the St Lucie River. The ACOE projects that construction will be completed by next year. It has been in progress for many years and is a” cooperative” between the ACOE (reservoir) and SFWMD (STA) and a component of CERP

Program: Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP)

“Located on approximately 12,000 acres on the northern side of the St. Lucie Canal in western Martin County, the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area (STA) project will capture local basin runoff…”  ~SFWMD Achieve More Now” 

There are maps and links at the bottom of this post should you like to learn more. Thank you to all over the years and today helping with the completion of the C-44 Reservoir STA as we work to save the St Lucie River.  


Computer Generated Model: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BsC0BoIPJ4

ACOE INFO SHEET:(https://usace.contentdm.oclc.org/util s/getfile/collection/p16021coll11/id/4599)Without

Martin County: “Martin County’s land acquisition efforts, this most critical and important project would not be under construction today.” (https://www.martin.fl.us/land-acquisition)

JTL  Past blog posts

SFWMD FIELD TRIP 2019 (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2019/11/11/a-fly-over-a-field-trip-and-watching-the-governor-activate-the-c-44-sta/)

EARLY FLY OVER 2014 (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/c-44-sta-and-reservoir/)

HISTORY: A LOOK BACK TO THE ORANGE GROVES OF TODAY’S C-44 RESERVOIR 1964 AERIALS: (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/10/29/a-look-back-to-the-orange-groves-of-todays-acoe-sfwmds-c-44-reservoirsta-1964-slrirl/)

Red Balloon with black dot signifies footprint of former orange groves that became the footprint  of C-44 Reservoir STA approx. 10,000 to 12,000 acres

Deadlines for EAA Reservoir and SB10, SLR/IRL

Aerials of A-1/A-2 region of the EAA, JTL/EL 2017

The following is a handout Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic passed out yesterday at the Rivers Coalition meeting. It is created by John Ullman of the Florida Sierra Club and gives clear presentation on what is necessary for the EAA Reservoir and SB10’s success. I am reprinting here as a resource and reference. Getting the legislation passed for Senate Bil 10 was just the beginning. As we know, for the reservoir to come to fruition we must be diligent over the coming years.
Notice the July 1st, 2017 deadline for the SFWMD to”request that the US Army Corps jointly develop a post-authorization change report for the Central Everglades Planning Project to revise the A-2 parcel element of the project.”
Relationships with the District continue to be strained; a nice phone call or email to Executive Director Peter Antonacci or board member would prove helpful. We must rebuild relationships for future success. We all do have a common goal, clean water for Florida.


SIERRA CLUB, FLORIDA’S SB10 Blog-by John Ullman
SB10, Important Deadlines:

By July 1, 2017 SFWMD must request that the US Army Corps jointly develop a post-authorization change report for the Central Everglades Planning Project to revise the A-2 parcel element of the project.

By July 31, 2017, SFWMD must contact the lessors and landowners of 3,200 acres of state-owned land and 500 acres of privately-owned land just west of the A-2 parcel. SFWMD must express interest in acquiring this land through purchase, exchange, or terminating leases.

If the US Army Corps agrees to begin developing the post-authorization report, work on the report must begin by August 1, 2017.

SFWMD must report the status of the post-authorization change report to Fla Legislature by January 9, 2018.

SFWMD and Corps must submit the post-authorization change report to Congress by October 1, 2018.*

The House passed the measure with a 99-19 vote; the Senate passed it 33-0.

The Governor signed SB 10 into law on May 9, 2017

Details of SB 10:

• Accelerates the state’s 20-year goal of storing water south of Lake Okeechobee.

• Requires SFWMD to develop a project plan for an Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir that provides at least 240,000 acre-feet (about 78 billion gallons) of water storage by utilizing the A-2 parcel (14,000 acres of state-owned land), land swaps, early termination of leases, and land acquisition.

• Provides for at least two-thirds of the water storage capacity of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) Component G.

• Allows the A-1 parcel to remain a Flow Equalization Basin (FEB) as provided for in the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), or to be utilized for the EAA Reservoir if SFWMD can provide for at least 360,000 acre-feet of water storage.

• Requires SFWMD to include increased canal conveyance improvements, if needed, and features to meet water quality standards in the EAA Reservoir project.

• Provides deadlines for submitting the plan to Congress as a post-authorization change report, which will seek approval of the use of the A-2 parcel in a different manner than was authorized in CEPP.

• If the Corps has not approved the post-authorization change report and submitted it to Congress by October 1, 2018 or the post-authorization change report is not approved by Congress by December 31, 2019, SFWMD must request the Corps to develop a project implementation report for the EAA Reservoir Project located somewhere else.

• Prohibits the use of eminent domain to obtain privately held land.

• Provides for termination of the U.S. Sugar option agreement prior to the October 2020 expiration date if the post-authorization change report receives congressional approval or SFWMD certifies to the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House that acquisition of the land necessary for the EAA reservoir project has been completed.

• Authorizes the use of Florida Forever bonds in an amount of up to $800 million for the costs of land acquisition, planning and construction of the EAA reservoir project.

• Appropriates $30 million from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) to the Everglades Trust Fund, in the 2017-18 fiscal year, for the purposes of acquiring land or negotiating leases to implement or for planning or construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir project.

• Appropriates $3 million from the LATF to the Everglades Trust Fund in the 2017-18 fiscal year for the development of the CEPP post-authorization change report.

• Amends the LATF distribution to include $64 million of additional funding for the EAA reservoir project.

• Appropriates $30 million from the General Revenue Trust Fund to the Water Protection and Sustainability Program Trust Fund to provide a loan for implementation of Phase I of the C-51 reservoir project.

• Appropriates $1 million from the LATF to the Everglades Trust Fund in the 2017-18 fiscal year for the purpose of negotiating Phase II of the C-51 reservoir and provides the LATF as a potential funding source for the implementation of Phase II of the C-51 reservoir.

• Creates the water storage facility revolving loan fund and requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to adopt rules for its implementation.

• Creates the Everglades Restoration Agricultural Community Employment Training Program within the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to provide grants to stimulate and support training and employment programs that seek to re-train and employ displaced agricultural workers.

• Requires SFWMD to give preferential hiring treatment to displaced agricultural workers, consistent with their qualifications and abilities, for construction and operation of the EAA reservoir project.

• Terminates the inmate labor work program on state-owned lands in the EAA.

The post-authorization change report must be approved by Congress by December 1, 2019.*

*If these two deadlines are not met (and no extension is granted), then the SFWMD must request that the Corps initiate the planning for the EAA Reservoir project that will result in a new Project Implementation Report (PIR) and may continue to build CEPP components as planned in the 2014 PIR.

Posted by Jon Ullman, May 2017, Sierra Club blog
Sierra Club Florida website:http://www.sierraclub.org/florida

JTL 6-23-17

Aerials of EAA’s A-1 & A-2, SLR/IRL

Map giving an idea of location of A-1 and A-2

A-1 with A-2 in distance

EAA=Everglades Agricultural Area

A-1 is a Flow Equalization Basin located above Strom Water Treatment Area 3/4 that today is part of a state program for EAA water quality improvement called “Restoration Strategies.”  The A-1 was once was part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan’s EAA Reservoir.

A-2 is to A-1’s  west and is presently in agricultural use but scheduled to become another Flow Equalization Basin as part of the Central Everglades Planning Project coordinated by the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corp of Engineers.


Over the weekend, I asked my husband, Ed, to fly me over the A-1 and A-2. He rolled his eyes as he does when I use “acronyms speak,” saying: “Just tell me where you want to go….and get a map.”

I got my old Florida Atlas & Gazetteer that works just fine…

As Ed drank his coffee, I gave him the plan.


“Well we’re going to fly west over the C-44 Canal and then go south around Lake Okeechobee until we get to Belle Glade and there we are going to follow the North New River Canal south adjacent to Highway 27 until the bend, and the A-1 and A-2 should be just past there….”

Ed looked at me like I was crazy, smiling; I remind him that’s why he loves me and we were off!

Today I am sharing our photos of the area of the A-1.

Sit back and enjoy the flight…


A-1 with A-2 lands in distance


Restoration Strategies:https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/restoration-strategies
EAA Reservoir what was completed before change to FEB:http://www.barnard-inc.com/projects/environmental/eaa-a-1-reservoir-environmental
Senate President Joe Negron’s Reservoir goal:http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-lake-okeechobee-reservoir-negron-20160809-story.html

Why #SupportJoeNegron ‘s EAA Reservoir? Because it Should Have Already Been Built! SLR/IR

Image 1-8-17 at 3.50 PM.jpg
CEPP, 2000.

“A1” Reservoir was never built but rather the A1 Flow Equalization Basin instead

In my opinion, one should support Senator Negron’s controversial land purchase to build an EAA Reservoir, because the Reservoir should have already been built. It is a project that has been expected for almost two decades.

A summary–

Due to water quality lawsuits against sugarcane growers, during the 1980s and 90s, the State of Florida had to build six Storm Water Treatment Areas to clean runoff water using Everglades Agricultural Area land, taking valuable sugarcane out of production. (Orange shows STAs) Unfortunately, the industry brought this upon itself as for many years its water runoff had been polluting Everglades National Park and Tribal Lands.


The problem was so bad, that on top of the Stormwater Treatments Areas, Congress appropriated the beginnings of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Yes, “CERP” has a plan for  “EAA Storage.” A Reservoir, to be the heart of clean water flowing south. (See 4 down left of image below)  CERP (https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/cerp.htm)

Ev. Restoration.gov:

At the beginning of CERP it was determined that the Reservoir/s were to be built near Stormwater Treatment Areas between the Miami and New River Canals. Although they tried, the SFWMD and ACOE never got very far building the Reservoir/s and, you’ll notice “EAA Storage” is still listed on the ACOE calendar of projects, scheduled to begin in 2021. (http://evergladesrestoration.gov/content/cepp/meetings/012512/Recap_EAA_Reservoirs.pdf)

This shows an area of the EAA Reservoir/s proposed between the Miami and New River Canals.

“Why?” You might ask, “didn’t the EAA Reservoir/s get built ?”

ACOE’s IDS or Schedule of Projects: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Ecosystem-Restoration/Integrated-Delivery-Schedule/

Close up of latest ACOE IDS schedule. EAA Storage in white.

The Reservoir/s did not get built because Gov. Charlie Crist’s proposed an idea of US Sugar’s to purchase all of United States Sugar Corporation’s land. This did not work out, induced a halt to the building of the Reservoir, and caused great discord with the Water Management Districts and the state Legislature.  The Great Recession also made the full purchase very difficult.(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/08/us/08everglades.html)(http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2009-09-11/news/0909100559_1_everglades-restoration-reservoir-construction-reservoir-project)

Then on top of the US Sugar and the Recession situation, a Federal law suit that had been dragging on for years was settled and really changed things for the Reservoir/s. In 2010, Governor Rick Scott, “negotiated” a long-standing EPA law suit agreeing that the state of Florida would build more water quality projects to clean sugarcane runoff in the EAA that continued to destroy fauna and pollute Everglades National Park. This “fix” became known as “Restoration Strategies.”(https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/restoration-strategies)

Restoration Strategies supplanted CERP’s unfinished EAA Reservoir, building a Flow Equalization Basin instead. Mind you, a shallow treatment area is not a true Reservoir.(https://www.northstar.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/SFWMD-EAA-A-1-Flow-Equalization-Basin.pdf)

Now for one last thing…

Just recently, in December of 2016, Congress authorized CEPP. CEPP consist of  six components of CERP mentioned earlier. One of CEPP’s components is the “EAA Reservoir.” This sounds great, but….

CEPP, if appropriated, will not build a Reservoir but yet another Flow Equalization Basin to be located right next to Restoration Strategy’s “A1 Flow Equalization Basin.” This new Flow Equalization Basin will be called the “The A2.” (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Ecosystem-Restoration/Central-Everglades-Planning-Project/)

So in conclusion, neither Restoration Strategies nor CEPP will provide the Reservoir that was underway before everything changed in 2008, nor will their water come close to adding up to “a Reservoir.”

Supporting Joe Negron’s land purchase of 60,000 acres is the ground work for building a Reservoir that should have already been built!


Support the completion of the EAA Reservoir!


  • file-page1.jpgThe ACOE has EAA Storage on their construction schedule for 2021. By 2021 the estuaries will surly be dead.file-page1-2

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/)

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)

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.)


CERP and Everglades Restoration:( (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)

Where Do We Go From Here? St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

After the SFWMD killed the EAA US Sugar Lands option,  where do we go from here? (Map Everglades Foundation, River of Grass 2008.)
Since the SFWMD killed the 46,800 acre EAA US Sugar option, where do we go from here? (Map Everglades Foundation, River of Grass 2008.)

Foot stepping on a roach, stock photo, internet.
Foot stepping on a roach, stock photo, internet.

I likened it to watching someone step on a roach. It was terrible. With the a motion from Kevin Powers, the South Florida Water Management District just squashed it.

Last Thursday, on May 14th 2015, the SFWMD, with absolutely no mercy at all, killed the option land contract to purchase 46,800 acres from US Sugar Corporation. This option land purchase has been the greatest hope for local environmentalists, the River Warriors, the Everglades Foundation, and many others to lay ground for a future that would not discharge so much fresh, polluted, water from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

The hope was that a reservoir could be built on this land to then store, clean and convey water south to the Everglades.

Video of SFWMD meeting 5-14-15, Kenny Hinkle (http://youtu.be/_q220dk5I2g)

Well, it’s dead. No use bemoaning the situation. Let’s brush ourselves off and keep going. Even though the SFWMD killed this option, there are still others.

The best thing to do now is to “read up” and get smart about at what is “on the books” because a reservoir in the EAA is on the books as part of the Central Everglades Restoration Plan known as CERP. It may not be as good as the 46,800 acre option, but it would be something… And we must enlist Senator Joe Negron as he is our only Indian guide. ((http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s32)) To include a land purchase for this reservoir, whether it be in the Everglades Agricultural Area or not, through bonding of Amendment 1 monies is our war plan.

Negron’s idea is to crank up talking to scientists and experts on the best property currently available to build a reservoir. We need about 50 to 60,000 acres, as set out in the 2000 CERP…

The dysfunctional 2015 Florida State Legislature is not a great horse to bet on, but we have no other choice. Let’s saddle up and move on. 

Park Service easy guide to understanding basics of CERP, the Central Everglades Restoration Project, 2000: (http://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/upload/CERPFSLoResSecure.pdf)

SFWMD EAA Reservoirs in CERP, 2003: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/alt_formulation_eaa_reservoirs_10-03-2003.pdf)
SFWMD (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/pg_grp_sfwmd_sfer/portlet_prevreport/volume1/chapters/v1_ch_7a.pdf)

ACOE Central and South Florida Restudy, CERP: “Roadmap or Roadblocks,” (http://www.ucowr.org/files/Achieved_Journal_Issues/V111_A12Central%20&%20Southern%20Florida%20Project%20Comprehensive%20Review%20Study%20Road%20Map%20or%20Roadblock%20for%20the%20Future.pdf)

According to CERP, Moving water south requires storage in the EAA
According to CERP, moving water south requires storage in the EAA


TC Palm, Tyler Treadway: Negron Won’t Give Up:(http://www.tcpalm.com/franchise/indian-river-lagoon/health/negron-to-pursue-money-for-land-south-of-lake-okeechobee-despite-death-of-us-sugar-option_66776672)

There are many lands that could be used for storage in the EAA.(NOAA Satellite map)
There are many lands that could be used for storage in the EAA…(NOAA satellite map)

The River Kidz’ Second Edition Workbooks are Here, Our Mission’s Quite Clear! SLR/IRL

River Kidz' Second Edition Workbook, presented by Marty the Manatee is here!
1.River Kidz’ Second Edition Workbook, 2015, presented by Marty the Manatee, is here!

River Kidz is a division of the Rivers Coalition: (http://riverscoalition.org)

2-2-15: ELECTRONIC COPY via TC Palm: http://shar.es/1oqnzM


The first verse of the River Kidz’ Song, written by River Mom, Nicole Mader, and the River Kidz goes:

“The River Kidz are here; Our mission’s quite clear; We love our river and ALL its critters; Let’s hold it all dear…”

The rest of this wonderful song can be found on page 36 of the new workbook below.

After over a year of creative preparation, and community collaboration, the River Kidz’ 2nd Edition Workbook is here!

After long contemplation this morning, I decided to share the entire booklet in my blog; but as WordPress, does not accept PDF files, I have photographed the entire 39 pages! So, not all pages are perfectly readable, but you can get the idea.

The really cool thing about this workbook is that it was written “by kids for kids,” (Jensen Beach High School students for elementary students). The high school students named the main character of the book after Marty Baum, our Indian Riverkeeper.  The students had met Mr Baum in their classroom (of Mrs Crystal Lucas) along with other presenters and field trip guides like the Army Corp of Engineers, South Florida Water Management District, and politicians speaking on the subject…

The books will be going into all second grade public school classrooms and many private school classrooms beginning in February of 2015. Teacher training  will be underway this February at the Environmental Studies Center in Jensen: (https://www.facebook.com/escmc?rf=132947903444315)

River Kidz will make the booklet available to everyone. Some will be given away, and some will be used to raise money at five dollars a booklet. To purchase the booklets, please contact Olivia Sala, administrative assistant for the Rivers Coalition at olivia@riverscoalition.org —-Numbers are limited.

In closing, enjoy the workbook and thank you to Martin County, Superintendent, Laurie J. Gaylord for encouraging the workbook and for her  beautiful  letter in the front of the booklet. Thank you to Martin County School Science Leader, Valerie Gaylord; teacher, Mrs Crystal Lucas; Mom, Mrs Nicole Mader; Sewall’s Point artist, Ms Julia Kelly; Southeastern Printing’s Bluewater Editions’ manager and River Dad, Jason Leonard; to River Kidz founders Evie Flaugh and Naia Mader, now 14/13; years old–they were 10 and 9 when this started,—- to the Knoph Foundation, and the Garden Club of Stuart, and to the hundreds of kids, parents, students, businesses, politicians, state and federal agencies, and especially to Southeastern Printing and the Mader Family who made this concept a reality through education, participation. (Please see page 34 below.)

Thank you to all those who donated money for the workbook campaign and to River Kidz over the years, and to the Stuart News, for Eve Samples’ column, and reporter, Tyler Treadway, for including the River Kidz in their “12 Days of Christmas” for two years in a row.  River Kidz is grateful to everyone has helped…this is a community effort!

River Kidz is now in St Lucie County and across the coast in Lee County….

Remember, all kids are “River Kidz,” even you!

—-The workbook is in loving memory of JBHS student, Kyle Conrad.








































Understanding “Approved” vs. “Appropriated,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon


Approve and Appropriate. What’s the difference? Isn’t the government working on fixing the Everglades? (Public image.)



–officially agree to or accept as satisfactory:
“the budget was approved by Congress”
synonyms: accept · agree to · consent to



—-devote (money or assets) to a special purpose:
“Congress finally did appropriate money to the Everglades C-111 project after 15 years…”
synonyms: allocate · assign · allot · earmark · set aside · devote

Sometimes, when I finally “get” something, I cannot believe it took me so long to understand. This has certainly been the case over the past six years when it comes to money, and projects, to help save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon as part of the Central Everglades Restoration Project— known as CERP. (http://www.evergladesplan.org/about/about_cerp_brief.aspx)


SAVE THE WATER; SAVE THE SLR/IRL and EVERGLADES! (Waterfest art, 2nd graders, City of Stuart 2013)
SAVE THE WATER; SAVE THE SLR/IRL and the EVERGLADES.  (Waterfest art, 2nd graders, City of Stuart 2013.)

Although the projects for CERP were “expected” to take 30 years, 15 years has passed, and not one of the projects is fully completed. The kids that made the poster above may be grandparents by the time a couple of the dozens or so projects, that are necessary to fix the Everglades SLR/IRL, are completed.

Today, I thought I’d share this post just in case you are a bit confused by this long time line, like me.

I think another aspect of difficulty in “understanding” all of this is that many projects are written about, and talked about, in the press,and by the state and federal agencies, as if they are “under way,” when they are really not, or its just  government officials arguing over projects that may never be.

As all things in life, understanding this “mess,” may help us to overcome it.

Today’s lesson:

So, there are two words you will often hear: 1.”approval” and 2. “appropriate.”

Just because something is “approved,” does not mean it is “appropriated,” because in the world of government, “appropriate” means GETTING THE MONEY TO DO THE WORK, and “approval” just means a bunch of people at one point agreed something is a good idea.

Just like in a small town, a commission may agree the town needs new street lights, and advertise this in their newsletter, but the commission  may never, over time, actually do what is necessary for the staff to buy the lights and get them installed–like giving the staff the money. This is complicated by election cycles every two, to four, to six years! New people may not agree with the previous monetary decisions that were “approved.”

Water and money....
Water and money….

Let’s apply this to the US and State Government:

In the year 2000, the US Congress “approved,” the Central Everglades Restoration Project to help fix the messed-up south Florida Everglades system that was created mostly in the 1950s and 60s after a big flood in 1947. Stakeholders celebrated at the time, that the “over drainage,” dying estuaries, and the drying up of the Everglades would be fixed, but this situation is still not fixed enough to make a huge difference….Also, all the people that were in Congress in 2000 are mostly gone, and there are different priorities now.

Nonetheless, today, the Army Corp of Engineers/South Florida Water Management’s shared website on CERP reads:

“The Plan was approved (by Congress) in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2000. It includes more than 60 elements, will take more than 30 years to construct and the current estimate in Oct 2007 dollars is $9.5 billion for projects ($11.9 overall including PLA and AAM).”

OK if you read this, you would think this might mean it was “approved” so it is going to, or is being done. This is not the case because the money needed to construct and complete these projects has not been APPROPRIATED (set aside.)

The streetlights were never purchased and put up!

The scenario becomes even more complex in some instances as the State of Florida may be bound by contract to also give money or “cost share.” And if the US Congress has not given their “approved” part yet, the State can’t really get going and give its part. Sometimes the State moves ahead anyway……

Anyway, so everybody is grumpy, and fighting, and it’s a big mess.

So the bigger question is after 15 years:

Even though we all have our hopes up that the US Congress will APPROPRIATE the money for the CERP project to help fix the Everglades and St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and people worked very hard to achieve this we must think…

—-If we are true to ourselves, viewing history, we see a situation, like a bad relationship,  where someone promises you something, but never gives it to you…you keep hoping but it never happens….

—-Finally, after many years, you start to realize that although you have a “promise,” YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO GET IT!

(Or that it is unlikely anyway, or that you will be dead if you ever get it….)

Not a fun realization, but such is life…so do you stay in the relationship or break it off? Or maybe just become less dependent?

So here we are…..and there is some light now…

In closing…

Although the state of Florida cannot afford to fix the Everglades all by itself; it is too expensive, in the billions and billions of dollars. With the advent of Amendment 1 passing by 75%,  there may be some ability for Florida to do this.

But that is another blog, for tomorrow!


River Kidz Naia and Kiele Mader in front of the White House, 2013.)
River Kidz Naia and Kiele Mader in front of the White House, 2013.)


Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD; Purchasing optional lands would start the process of having enough land south of Lake Okeechobee to store, clean and convey water south. (SFWMD map, 2010)


CERP in depth, the project that may never actually occur, or will occur very, very, very slowly: ACOE/SFWMD (http://www.evergladesplan.org/about/rest_plan_pt_03.aspx) 

What are Our Options for “Sending it South?” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon


Chronology of Water Management Changes map. Reconstructed pre-drainage landscapes, source, McVoyet al., 2011. Presentation of Robert Johnson with words added: "Water Started Flowing South 2014."
“Chronology of Water Management Changes” map. Reconstructed pre-drainage landscapes, source, McVoyet al., 2011. Presentation of Robert Johnson, Director of South Florida Natural Resources Center at Everglades National Park,Everglades Coalition, 2015. (With words added: “Water Started Flowing South 2014, JTL”.)

After the horrendous “Lost Summer of 2013,” and public outcry, more water has been sent south to the Everglades by the Army Corp of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District in 2014/15 than in the past ten years. But we are still drowning…

Hanging over our heads is the fact that Lake Okeechobee is at 15.04 feet today, and chances are that to prepare the lake for a predicted El Nino rainy winter/spring, the ACOE is going to “have to” start releasing water soon. Although it’s being worked on right now, the system is not even close to being able to hold the ocean of overflow-lake water and “send it south….” plus we are handcuffed by 10 parts per billion phosphorus goals.(http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/derivation_wqbel_stas_toc_4-20-10.pdf)

With this in mind, the Everglades Coalition’s 30th Annual Conference (http://evergladescoalition.orgwas a whirlwind; its theme “Send it South: Water for America’s Everglades.”

Let’s begin, by looking at some water/land maps and think about the big picture.

The image below is a “simplified chronology of water management changes,” and shows the canals and structures that waste water to the ocean destroying our precious estuaries. This map was shared by Robert Johnson during the coalition meeting. It made a big impression on me, because it gives historical perspective, is simple, and is clear.

Chronology of Water Management Changes map. Reconstructed pre-drainage landscapes, source, McVoyet al., 2011. Presentation of Robert Johnson with words added: "Water Started Flowing South 2014."
Map again from above to review.

The red lines are canals that drain lake Okeechobee. We know them well: the Caloosahatchee (C-43); the Miami: the North New River: the Hillsboro: the West Palm Beach; and our own St Lucie (C-44). The grey shows the Herbert Hoover Dike built around Lake Okeechobee in the 1930s after the terrible hurricanes of the late 1920s; the Eastern Protective Levee is also in grey, on the far right, and basically is like a giant underground wall between the Everglades and eastern coastal development; the Everglades Agricultural Area Levee System, which I think is the grey line depicting a structure built south and almost around the Everglades Agricultural area; the Water Conservation Area Levees (WCAs-areas where water slowly travels south after being cleaned in Storm Water Treatment Areas (STAs) above them) are the grey lines around the WCAs; and last on this chart, the South Dade Conveyance System…

There are other canals as well. Thousands of miles of them….

These canals make our lives a living hell along the Indian River Lagoon, and must be re-plumed, but we must note that they also have allowed South Florida to rise above the poverty of our ancestors, and to develop some of the world’s most “productive” sugar and vegetable farms. Too bad they had to build their riches south of Lake Okeechobee blocking the flow of the lake! Also, much of this drainage system has allowed  development of the east coast of south Florida, inside the Everglades’ boundary which is in yellow on the map above and red below.

The red line, shows were development has “crept into the Everglades.”  This is obviously a problem for sending water south. Therefore, whatever is created to “send more water south,” must be created so as to avoid destroying lives or property.

West of the red lines shows the edge of what was once the Everglades in South Florida. Development has crept and continues to creep over this edge. (Photo/map courtesy of Chappy Young,/GCY Surveyors, 2014.)
West of the red lines shows the edge of what was once the Everglades in South Florida. Development has crept and continues to creep over this edge. (Photo/map courtesy of Chappy Young,/GCY Surveyors, 2014.)

So narrowing this down to “our” needs, how does one build a way to send more water south? And aren’t we already doing that? Let’s look at the projects being built first before we conclude our goals for more storage.

There are many projects on the books to help with sending water south: some include CERP (http://www.evergladesplan.org/about/about_cerp_brief.aspx) and CEPP…(http://www.evergladesplan.org/docs/fs_cepp_jan_2013.pdf), in fact parts of the Tamiami Trail are being raised right now, but according to many experts at the coalition, one thing is missing, enormous amounts of LAND. Land would help these projects come into being. There must be land to hold some of the tremendous amounts of water, and to clean it. Also realistically, the above projects will take generations to complete. Land purchase or no land purchase. 

One thing  is for sure, more land south of the lake would help the situation tremendously. As even a five year old can see, lack of lands south of the lake is the true disconnect. But where is there that much land and what are our options?

Below is a map of “Option 1,” and “Option 2”, lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area, lands that US Sugar agreed to sell in 2008. These lands remain for sale.

Perhaps US Sugar rather not sell these lands anymore. In 2008 they were going broke, but today, ironically after an infusion of cash from the South Florida Water Management District that was given to buy the paired down 26,800 acres  purchased, and since the economy has improved since, US Sugar is thriving again.

But a “contract is a contract,” and thus there remains a contract allowing for the state of Florida to buy the option lands.

General consensus for many  at the Everglades Coalition meeting was “buy the lands” with the new Amendment 1  (http://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Water_and_Land_Conservation_Initiative,_Amendment_1_%282014%29monies starting with Option 1 because it is less expensive than Option 2, and can be traded for other lands, and because the option expires in October of 2015. The second option expires around 2020.

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass

Would purchasing these slow everyone down even more, taking moneys  and energy away from other projects?

Hmmmm? Maybe, but according to some very seasoned River/Everglades Warriors, it is worth it.

At the Everglades Coalition meeting Nathaniel Reed, Maggie Hurchalla, Mary Barely,  former governor Bob Graham, and Mark Perry gave the group a “call to action” to purchase these option lands. It is a lofty goal and one that would change the game forever.

But there is not much time, and the legislature is in committee meetings “now.” (January through Feburary) and convenes (starts) March 3, 2015,  and then ends in May! A rabbit race!

There is not a second to spare.

So long story short, there may be options as far a purchasing the sugar lands, but there is no option when it comes to advocating for such. Should this be your goal, you must start today! Start writing and calling below and thank you for being a part of history!

Governor Rick Scott: (http://www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/email-the-governor/0)

House of Representatives: (http://www.myfloridahouse.gov)

Florida Senate: (http://www.flsenate.gov)

Senate site for future Amt 1 lands purchasing: (http://www.flsenate.gov/Media/PressReleases/Show/2159)

Finding Out How Much Discharge is Killing Our SLR/Indian River Lagoon and Where it’s Coming From

C-44, C-23 and C-24 basin runoff discolor the waters of the SLR/IRL while exiting the St Lucie Inlet 7-19-14. (Aerial photo, Ed Lippisch.)
C-44, C-23 and C-24 basin runoff discolors the waters of the SLR/IRL while exiting the St Lucie Inlet 7-19-14. (Aerial photo, Ed Lippisch.)

All Photos were taken 7-19-14 and are showing C-44 basin runoff along with C-23 and C-24 runoff into SLR/IRL. (Photos by Ed Lippisch.)
All Photos were taken 7-19-14 and are showing C-44 basin runoff along with C-23 and C-24 runoff off. Pictured are Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point  along the SLR/IRL. Water exits at the St Lucie Inlet going mostly south to Jupiter Island over nearshore reefs. The plume is significant but not as large as the summer of 2013 when the ACOE was releasing from Lake Okeechobee as well. (Photos by Ed Lippisch.)

The river looks awful right now as the photographs taken Saturday, 7-19-14, by my husband show. Why? They are not even discharging from Lake Okeechobee…yet.

We have terrible problems with our local canals and adding the Lake discharges on top of it is a crime. The state, federal and local governments are working slowly to improve the situation through CERP (Central Everglades Restoration Project) projects but improvement is very expensive and cumbersome.(http://www.evergladesplan.org/pm/projects/proj_07_irl_south.aspx)


The C-44 Storm Water Treatment Area/Reservoir the governments are working on now will cost millions of dollars and store only some of the discharges from the C-44 we are getting today. But there must be more. We must learn more. We must keep pushing and helping our governments move along.

The best way to do this is to know how to read the information on water discharges yourself.

Last summer, when the discharges from Lake Okeechobee threw our already ailing river into toxic status, Boyd Gunsalus, one of the the leading scientists (and certainly coolest) at the South Florida Water Management District, showed me how to find the water discharge statistics, and  today, in case you do not know, and are interested, I am going to show you.


This link (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm) of the ACOE at Lake O. will show you the level of the lake, and whether the ACOE is releasing from the C-44 canal, and or Lake O.

Go to the site above and on the right hand side you will see, St Lucie Lock, S-80 Spillway. Click on it. A chart will come up arranged by dates. (The data is always one day behind.) Look for FLOWS CFS (cubic foot per second) in the 3rd column. Today’s is 260 cfs. : 20JUL14  14.46  0.58  260 0. 00  270  0.0 7 30.07  1018. 2 0.00

Now go back to the same link and look at, Port Mayaca Lock, S-308 Spillway. Click on it. Again look for 3rd column, FLOWS CFS.. Today reads “0.” The gates from the lake to C-44 are not open. 20JUL14  13.55  14.40  0 0.00  270 0.0  9 30.04  1017.3  0.33  0.00

Now if both S-80 and S-308 are open you have to add the numbers together to know how much total cfs are coming into the SLR/IRL. And to figure out how much water is coming in just from the lake, subtract the S-308 number from the S-80 number which will always be larger.

To learn how high Lake O. is go back to the link, go to the chart and hit CURRENT LAKE OKEECHOBEE LEVEL. Today it is 13.66 feet. “Current Lake level is: 13.66 (ft-ngvd)”


OK, now for C-23, C-24 and C-25.

Now, go to this link, the SFWMD’s web site: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page) 1. Look for the tab “Managing and Protecting Water;” look under and to the left of this tab for a small title reading “Scietists and Engineers,” click on this and go to LIVE DATA. 3. Go to the top link “Water Conditions-Regional Realtime Data, Status of Water/ Control Gates.” 4. Go to FT PIERCE and click right on the Ft Pierce link. A confusing chart will come up.

Look for these things:

1. S-49. S-49 is the opening for C-24.

2. S-97. S-97 is the opening/gate for C-23

3. S-99. S-99 is the gate for C-25.

Mind you C-23 and C-24 run into the St Lucie River’s north fork and main area and C-25 dumps directly in the IRL at Taylor Creek close to the Ft Pierce Inlet. So C-25 is not coming through the SLR and St Lucie Inlet like the rest of the sludge but it is important to know C-25 too as it is heavily destructive to the IRL.

OK, if you have been able to follow me so far. Once you open the SFWMD pages and get to FT PIERCE and see the weird chart, find the corresponding gate numbers I gave you above, and click on the the second row’s PLOT little box and arrow. Once this opens up, you will see a chart corresponding to discharges that looks like a wave or like boxes. The hight of the box or wave corresponds to a number on the left side of the chart. For instance: Today, S-49 (or C-24) is 450 cfs; S-97 (or C-23 ) is around 350cfs; and S-99 (or C-25) is around 100 cfs.

(I know there are a duplicate gates sometimes but I ignore them and  just read  one. They seem to say the same thing.)

Now to add up the cfs for “today:”  C-23=350; C-24=450; C-44 at S-80 =260; S-308 from lake, 0. Today’s total incoming discharge water is around 1060 cfs cubic feet per second coming into the St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon.

Last week it was twice or three times this much. The discharges occur after it rains, long after and then finally slow down like they are now.

I do hope this has been helpful and that your head is not spinning or that you can save the links and instructions and try it when you have time. Call me if you have questions and want to learn, 772 486 3818.

It is important for the public to keep up with this and let the ACOE and SFWMD know we are watching what they are doing, so one day I don’t have to choke when I see the tab “Managing and “PROTECTING” water.


C-25 Canal/Taylor Creek Impacts the “Best of the Best” of Our Indian River Lagoon


Aerial photo of C-25 canal carrying what DEP and SFWMD district note as "nutrients and agriculture chemicals to the Indian River Lagoon." (Photo Ed Lippisch, July 10, 2014.)
Aerial photo of C-25 canal depositing what DEP and SFWMD note in their Eco-Summary literature as “nutrients and agriculture chemicals into the Indian River Lagoon.” (Photo Ed Lippisch, July 10, 2014.)

Ed and I returned from California on July 9th and within 24 hours he was up in his plane and took these photos of C-25’s Taylor Creek outlet in Ft Pierce releasing excessive rain water runoff into the Indian River Lagoon. Still recovering from the three hour time difference, I gladly stayed home!

C-25 runoff into IRL. (Photo Ed Lippisch 7-10-14.)
C-25 runoff into IRL. (Photo Ed Lippisch 7-10-14.)

The C-25’s  canal outfall, although not connected to Lake Okeechobee, is one of the most dramatic and heartbreaking sites of our Indian River Lagoon’s destruction as it releases very close to the Ft Pierce Inlet so the difference in the water color is extreme. C-23, C-24, and C-44 releasing into the St Lucie River are probably quite similar, however, because the St Lucie River is dark in color and not close to an inlet to the ocean–the brown on brown water does not give the same effect as C-25’s brown on blue.

C-25 canal in Ft Pierce. (Photo Ed Lippisch 7-10-14.)
C-25 canal in Ft Pierce. (Photo Ed Lippisch 7-10-14.)

During last year’s heavy releases from Lake Okeechobee by the ACOE, my husband Ed and I flew up to Ft Pierce and flew the entire length of the C-25 canal which attaches  to the C-24 canal, which in turn attaches to the C-23 canal. The water can be”made” to go in any direction by the South Florida Water Management District for agriculture purposes or otherwise. So water from C-23 or C-24 could theoretically be moved into C-25 and visa versa.

So anyway, Ed and I were taking a video for Dr Edie Widder of ORCA who is studying the water issues of the area. The ride was so bumpy and windy I became very sick which is not unusual for me in airplanes.

“Ed can you turn around?” I think I am going to puke.” I muffled through the microphone.

“Sorry babe, we’re in for the long haul with this wind; we should just  follow the canal in this direction and ride it out….”

At that point my jacket  in the back storage area flew out of the Cub and I envisioned it going over Ed’s face and us crashing, but it did not, and instead floated to the ground below. I held my stomach wondering what the person or cow who saw the jacket fall to the ground thought, hoping it did not land on someone’s windshield.

That trip, along the C-25, C-24 and C-23 back to Stuart was the worst ride of my life and I got sick many times while looking over mostly acres of orange fields and other agriculture. I saw some cows and then development as we got closer to the coast.  I really just remember that is was acres and acres of land.

In the wind, the trip took over an hour from Ft Pierce, inland, south, and then back to  the east coast of Stuart. The map below shows how the canals are connected and you can see the path we took–like a giant tall open rectangle.

Canal and basin map SLR/IRL. (Public)
Canal and basin map SLR/IRL. (Public.)

There is great literature on the C-25 and from what I have read the state agencies have been aware of the destruction caused by the canal for many years.

The ECO SUMMARY written by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection 1998, unfortunately, mostly still applies today, as the Indian River South Plan, has not come into being yet. The Indian River South Plan is a component of the Central Everglades Restoration Plan or CERP, that was approved by Congress around 2000. This plan would and hopefully will, one day, acquire lands, to hold water so it doesn’t just run untreated into the lagoon.

C-23, C-24 and C-44 are part of this IRL Plan as well, and as we know we have been fortunate this year and in recent past years to have been appropriated partial monies by our US Congress, the state of Florida and Martin County to build the C-44 Storm Water Treatment and Reservoir system–they are building it now.

But back to the C-25 the Eco-Summary. This link  below interestingly states:

“The C-25 Canal was created as past of the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project (1950/60s) and discharges into the Indian River Lagoon…The section of the lagoon currently impacted by discharges from C-25 comprises one of  the best remaining segments of the lagoon, namely the area just north of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution to the Ft Pierce Inlet…Thus C-25 potentially impacts the best of the best.”

“C-25 delivers a greater volume of water and thus a great net pollutant load that the other major upper east coast drainage canals C-23, C-24, and C-44. ( A surprise to me.) C-25 has been shown to transport pesticides, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and heavy metals into the estuary as well as offshore…”

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

As you would expect, the C-25 is an “impaired” water body and was determined as such by the Department of Environmental Protection in 2003. Yet the IRL, from Vero to Ft Pierce Inlet, has been designated by the state as  a protected Aquatic Preserve since 1975.  

Did I just write that?

An impaired canal full of heavy pollutants has been running into an Aquatic Preserve?

 Yes, I just wrote that. This is the truth. 

This to me is even more heartbreaking than the photo. To know  “we” have known the situation since the 1970s really and have not fixed the issue is a crime. We are all guilty as it is we that direct the course of our government.

So please don’t forget:

“The power of the government is derived from the consent of the governed….”Let’s keep pushing our elected officials and be prepared ourselves to do what it takes to fix this mess! 

Thank you for reading my blog and for caring about our rivers.


Department of State/Impairment C-25 Canal: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-25_Impairment.pdf)

IRL Aquatic Preserve Vero to Ft Pierce: (http://www.liveoakproductiongroup.com/AquaticPreserve/indian_river_south.html) 

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

SFWMD: Indian River Lagoon South Project/CERP: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/common/pdf/irl_south_042804.pdf)

The Fallout of CEPP/the 4th Seminole War of Florida and the Indian River Lagoon

The delay of CEPP, the Central Everglades Planning Project may end up symbolically being the beginning of Florida's  4th Seminole War.
The delay of CEPP, the Central Everglades Planning Project, may end up symbolically being the beginning of Florida’s 4th Seminole War as people fight for water to move south. (Photos public.)

I really did not want to write about the failure of the Central Everglades Planning Project, CEPP,  as I have been trying to forget about it. The whole thing is so depressing to me.  However, last night, before I went to bed, my husband said,  “Dan thinks you should write about what’s going to happen now that CEPP did not make it into the WRDA bill…” So, I had a long series of nightmares, now it’s morning, and for Dr Daniel Velinsky, I will do the right thing, and try to write this piece.

First some history.

It is well documented that Florida’s three Seminole Wars were the longest, bloodiest, and most costly of all the Indian wars fought by the United States, fought on and off between 1814 and 1858.  In the end, no treaty was signed and the few hundred remaining native peoples hid in their well known Everglades swamp to resurrect themselves as today’s Seminole,  Miccosukee, and unaffiliated Independent Seminole Tribes.


They never surrendered and today their successful 1980s/1990s law suit against the Federal Government and the State of Florida requiring the polluting of Everglades Agricultural Area run off water onto their lands, to be reduced from sometimes over 300 to 10 parts per billion/phosphorus, in my opinion, is a key reason, along with its tartiness and other issues, why CEPP was not included in the Water Resources Development Act, WRDA, bill by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

I can hear the D.C. ACOE  now: “Even if we had the designated land, the mass of water could not be sent south—it’s too dirty. We need so much more land to clean it.  So we’ll build all this structure but we won’t be able to send but a dribble of water south…Florida has to lessen the water quality requirements or …”

Well first of all, I say “kudos” to the Seminole  and Miccosucci for holding the state responsible for cleaning up its water, even if it is an”impossible” number to achieve under present circumstances. I’d say in the karma department, “we had it coming.”

So now what do we do? Well in my opinion a type of war is going to start, and I liken the people of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon to the “Fourth Indian War Warriors.” We will not surrender.

The failure of CEPP to pass will historically be the beginning of this war. And like the Indians of the 1880s, we were indirectly lied to, and part of it was our fault for believing what we were told, knowing the facts of history.

We all watched and participated along with the South Florida Water Management District and the Jacksonville Army Corp of Engineers for three years, putting full concentration of resources and creativity– forcing dedicated staff from both agencies to produce a document, CEPP,  that the US Army Corp of Engineers more than likely knew, would never make it. So now,  “they” want us to continue rallying for another two years for next WRDA bill. “Oh sorry maybe it will be seven years….”

I don’t think so.

Guess what? The people are tired of waiting. They put their money on the state and federal governments’ horse, and our horse wasn’t  even allowed to run.

Do you feel the chain pulling and digging into your neck? I do.

This tactic is not new, and honestly I think it is simply part of a dysfunctional federal and state government. Let’s look back.

In the 1990s governor Lawton Childs had the state halt the famous water quality law suit and actually “laid down his sword” in a courtroom-how courageous, but look where we are now; in the mid 2000s Charlie Christ’s “Sugar Land Deal” was downsized due to the Economic Crisis of 2008 and other politics; before that, Jeb Bush started the “Acceler8 Program to quickly complete eight of over 60 Central Everglades Restoration Plan’s (CERP) projects. The SFWMD, functioning under the governor, worked diligently like they did recently for CEPP–the eight projects  were not completed; and since 2011/12, under the Rick Scott administration, the entire focus was on CEPP, which also would have bundled  some of the CERP projects to begin “moving faster” and to “move the water south.” After years of laser like dedication, for now, the project is “dead.”

Florida has water quality and quantity issues brewing like a hurricane, and our Indian River Lagoon area will be the eye in November of 2014, as former governor Charlie Christ runs against Governor Rick Scott. The race would have been messy anyway, but now it is going to be war as the different sides  configure how to “send the water south” with out CEPP.  Start thinking about how you want to send the water south or stored, and “never, never, never give up.”


History Florida WQ Law Suit:(http://www.peer.org/assets/docs/fl/08_14_8_epa_losing_water_quality_cases.pdf)

Seminole Tribe: (http://www.semtribe.com)

Miccosukee Tribe: (http://www.miccosukeetribe.com)



The Irony of History, Drainage Districts to Saving Water, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Canals C-23, C-24 and C-25 were built as part of the Central and South Florida Control Flood Control Project. The project started in the 1940; however these canals were built in the 50s and 60s.
Canals C-23, C-24 and C-25 in St Lucie County were built in the 50s and 60s and are all connected. C-23 and C-24 release into the north fork of the St Lucie River leading to the S. Indian River Lagoon, but C-25 releases straight into the southern central Indian River Lagoon near Taylor Creek, close to the Fort Pierce Inlet.  These canals were built as part of the Central and South Florida Project of the 1940s that came into existence after a very large flood of central and south Florida. (Photo, Jacqui Thurlow Lippisch, 2013)

One of the things that is hardest for me to comprehend is that my ancestors worked as hard, if not harder, to get the water off the land as I am, trying to keep in on…

According to an article shared by my mother, historian Sandra Thurlow, by Charles S. Miley a newspaper man in Ft Pierce, “prior to the 1920s floods were a common occurrence in the area particularly in the back-coutry.”

The article discusses how a demand for drainage  began to develop  among land owners  as the growing of pineapples was no longer profitable and the people turned to citrus. In 1915 citizens in the area of Ft Pierce “held court” forming the North St Lucie River Drainage District. The headline in the News Tribune paper of 1921 read: ” Drainage of 75,000 Ares of Rich Land Now Under Way.”

I can just see it, “Sam, I think it’s time to form a flood district and utilize our lands.” Go forward just shy of 100 years and the conversation is : “Joe, I think it’s time we get the Army Corp to stop dumping this lousy water into the St Lucie River, ruining my riverfront property values.”

The North St Lucie River Water Control District is still in place today and was created, as all drainage districts of its time,  under the provisions of Chapter 298, Florida Statutes, commonly referred to as the “General Drainage Law of Florida.” Today the NSLRWCD falls under the authority of the South Florida Water Management District that historically began really as the Central and South Florida Project, C&SFP.

In 1945 there was massive flooding throughout central and south Florida so the state and its residents called for federal assistance. Sound familiar? It may if you recall that the Hurricane of 1928 caused an even more extreme reaction and the Herbert Hoover Dike was built around Lake Okeechobee by the Army Corp of Engineers. Thus our federal partnerships today. The one that we complain about all the time…Ironic, isn’t it?

ft pierce drainage maap

The green area is the NSLRWCD’s boundaries; the orange are is the Fort Pierce Farms Drainage District,  since 1976 under the South Florida Water Management District.

So, I drifted a bit, but I was talking about the Central and South Florida Project. This large project was formed after the great flood of the 1940s and three huge canals  were built during the 50s and 60s as part of this plan: C-23, C-24 and C-25. I drove over them for years with my parents as a kid and had no idea what they really were, I never learned about them in school, and I was 40 years old before I decided I needed to figure them out…


Map of canals system, Matin/St Lucie Counties.

I have not even mentioned the C-44 also known as the “St Lucie Canal” that is further south. This canal drains the basin lands around  it as well as being a dumping ground for “overflow waters” of Lake Okeechobee.

The South Florida Water Management’s web site says that after C-23, and C-24 were built, the north fork of the St Lucie River drained lands approximately four times its natural drainage size! That is not even counting C-44 and Lake Okeechobee. Oh, and by the way in 1892  we opened the St Lucie Inlet  permanently too.

We are living a  world very different than Mother Nature created. From what I’m told she’s moody and a bit irritated. I think I’ll keep working on getting her some of her water back!


History SFWMD: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/nr_2009_0312_60anniversary_1949.pdf )

1988 SFWMD document documenting plans to hold water in the SRL/IRL area, this plan is still under way as part of CERP (Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan): (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/pg_grp_tech_pubs/portlet_tech_pubs/dre-265.pdf) 

Sun Sentinel Story Flood of 1945, Florida: (http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1990-09-09/features/9002130092_1_lake-okeechobee-water-hurricane)

ACOE, C&SFP History: (http://www.evergladesplan.org/about/restudy_csf_devel.aspx)

ACOE’s Refusal of CEPP, and the Future of the Indian River Lagoon

Topographical map of EAA shows elevations. CEPP would  move some lake water south, rather than through the northern estuaries.  Through canals in the EAA to other structures this water would be cleaned and then directed to the Everglades. The ACOE refused to sign off on CEPP 4/22/14.
Topographical map of EAA showing elevations. CEPP would move  approximately 15% of Lake Okeechobee’s overflow water south and build a basis for future increases, rather than sending all water through the northern estuaries. By means of canals in the EAA and other structures, this water would be cleaned and then directed to the Everglades. The ACOE refused to sign off on CEPP 4/22/14. (Map courtesy of INTER-MAP via Kevin Henderson)

CEPP=Central Everglades Planning Project, 2014,( contains elements of CERP); CERP=Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan of 2000.

To every action, there is a reaction, and in the case of the ACOE refusing to sign off on CEPP, the reaction here in Martin, St Lucie, and Lee County across the state certainly will not be “good.”

Mind you there is a Jacksonville ACOE, who works with “us”  and then the ACOE in DC. They are the same but different…

Let’s start at somewhat of the beginning so we can get a grip on this always terribly confusing, multi-layered attempt to fix our estuaries and restore the Everglades.

Around 2000, long before I was involved with the River Movement directly, a group of Florida stakeholders, including environmentalists, the agriculture industry, tribes, utilities, users,  and government agencies miraculously agreed on something called CERP, or the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.  This plan consisted of at least 68 projects to “fix the Everglades.” It was historical and celebrated by all. Congress approved and eventually appropriated some funds that would be shared in costs with the South Florida Water Management District, (SFWMD) towards “CERP.”

Now, 14 years later, some work has been done, but not one of the 68 projects has been completed.

OK now we move to 2010, 2011… still in the sinkhole of 2008 Great Recession, the SFWMD, the local ACOE Jacksonville team, and the stakeholders decide sitting with “nothing” is not an option and determine to do something unprecedented and “speed things up.” They work like crazy, often being criticized by those same stakeholders, to package some of the CERP ideas into CEPP (the Central Everglades Planning Project) to sell to the DC ACOE and Congress again, in a different form, and get things going.

Although often behind, the Jacksonville ACOE appears to almost meet their deadline of 18 months and finally, two weeks ago the SFWMD is able to sign off on cost sharing (not an easy task and not all supported the move) on the local Jacksonville  ACOE completed CEPP project— which of course has to meet every Tom, Dick and Harry regulation you can possibly imagine. A neurotic situation for sure.

So yesterday, Earth Day, the Washington D.C. ACOE office refuses to sign off on CEPP, saying they need more time to review the documents they have had since last August.

As of yet,  no official statement has been given, but the local press and the Everglades Foundation’s Eric Eichenberg  call the move “a staggering failure of duty and responsibility.” I would imagine the main concern here is that the Water Resources Development Bill (WRDA) that only comes around once every 5-7 years these days, must include CEPP for it to be funded (appropriated) by Congress. Now it seems CEPP will certainly not make the deadline, which is really “now.”

So is there hope? We all know, that “it’s not over until its over,” and until the WRDA is officially closed, perhaps some political miracle could  ensue. Is it likely? I would doubt it. But I do not know.

What I do know is that Florida has been really dependent on the Federal Government since 1933 when the Florida Legislature and the people of Florida convinced the US Government to build the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee and the ensuing flood control projects over the years to protect the important growing agriculture industry south of the lake and thousands of people who were allowed to build and develop inside the Everglades’ historical flow area, especially south from Palm Beach to Dade counties. At this time there was no thought of the estuaries.

So in many ways we want our cake and to eat it too….”protect us from the waters of Lake O but don’t hurt the estuaries….” Something is going to have to give.

For almost four years, Senator Joe Negron has been pushing for less involvement of the ACOE. Whether one likes Senator Negron or not, I agree with his philosophy.  Congress/ the US ACOE is no longer supporting the dredging of our state inlets which they did for almost 100 years, and they most likely not going to support the restoration of the Everglades and the betterment of the estuaries through changing our pluming system and sending more water south. After 14 years of of begging, and celebrating crumbs, you’d think we’d get the message.

Is this the Jacksonville local ACOE’s fault? Not really as the Federal Government is simply terribly dysfunctional so it is hard for the ACOE to do its job, plus they are broke.

In conclusion, yes, we have to finish what’s been started, and I recognize the difficulty of “us” fixing our own problems, however; if we really take a hard look in the mirror, there may not be a choice but to try.


ACOE CEPP: (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Portals/44/docs/FactSheets/CEPP_FS_September2013_508.pdf)

SFWMD/ACOE  CEPP: (http://www.evergladesplan.org/pm/projects/proj_51_cepp.aspx)

St Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon-We’ve Really Mucked it Up…

Muck from the St Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon 2006. (Photo credit, Bob Voisenet,Rivers Coalition)
Muck from the St Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon. (Photo credit, Bob Voisinet, Rivers Coalition, 2006)

It has been described as “black mayonnaise,” and if you’ve ever stepped into parts of the St Lucie River or Indian River Lagoon it may have sucked you down, like quicksand. Muck is as deep as 12 feet or more in some areas and is one of the primary reasons that the St Lucie River, part of the Indian River Lagoon, was declared “impaired” by the state of Florida in the early 2000s.

According to the the Department of Environmental Protection, due to the area’s development, agricultural industry and the building and discharge from canals and Lake Okeechobee, muck sediments into the the St Lucie River have increased causing thick deposits to accumulate.

These muck sediments  are contaminated with pesticides, and metals that “may be toxic to indigenous species.”  The turbidity and algal blooms the muck sediments support have contributed to the near elimination of once abundant seagrasses,  decimation of oysters and outbreaks in fish abnormalities. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/SLE_Impairment_Narrative_ver_3.7.pdf

In 2004, with the help of then Senate President, Ken Pruitt, Kevin Henderson of the St Lucie River Initiative, published a study for the SFWMD entitled “Final Report: Characterization, Sources, Beneficial Re-Use, and Removal of Marine Muck Sediments in the St Lucie Estuary.”

This extensive and excellent report concluded that there really are no “beneficial uses” for muck. Because of its high salt content  it cannot be used as fertilizer and the cost of transporting it is often “cost prohibitive.”  Nonetheless, based of this study the county and district were able to coordinate the plans or execution  of muck removal from area creeks, such as Poppleton, Kruegar, Frazier and Haney.

For those of you really into this, it is worth noting that slow moving government policies such as SWIM, Surface Water and Improvement Management, CERP, Central Everglades Restoration Project as well as the Indian River Lagoon Restoration Plan, also deal with muck sediment removal.

There is hope, manatees came back to Kruegar Creek once it was cleaned and the muck sediments of some of the creeks went to build brims at Witham Airfield and “lined” the land fill. Mr Henderson’s report is a reference for all of us and the basis for future improvements.

Also,  right now,  in the central lagoon they are very close to getting monies from the state for muck removal in their area due to their area senator, Thad Altman’s involvement on  Senator Joe Negron’s “Subcommittee on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee.”

As depressing as the river situation is,  in the 1970s laws were created to halt destruction of submerged and coastal lands, like here in  Sewall’s Point where once developers and the local government could  just decide to “create a marina or make subdivisions out of mangrove filled spoil islands. It is a slow go, but in some ways we have been, and we are making  progress. 

I’m about mucked out, but in case you’d like to learn more about muck, this Saturday at 10am in Sewall’s Point, the River Kidz are tie-dying t-shirts with river muck and colors. They named their project: “Get the Muck Out!”  Scientists will be speaking; we will be teaching;  and we will be screaming GET THE MUCK OUT! Please join us.

“Golden Handcuffs, our Federal/State Partnership”

C-44 STA Groundbreaking 2011, a Federal/State partnership
C-44 STA Groundbreaking 2011, a CERP project

In 2000, after many years of compromise and work, the stakeholders of WRAC, or the Water Resource Advisory Committee, of the SFWMD, “agreed” on a monumental Everglades restoration project called CERP, or the Central Everglades Restoration Project. This accomplishment, and that it was, was approved and celebrated through the WRDA bill signed by our federal government, with the State of Florida, giddy, cheering on.  Unfortunately, only one of the 60 projects of CERP, Spreader Canal 111, has been completed in fourteen years. Moving forward with projects is  torturously slow. Time goes on, people, positions, the economy, and politicians change; and we forget…http://www.evergladesplan.org/about/rest_plan_pt_01.aspx

To overcome this molasses like state/federal partnership, in 2011, the SFWMD and the ACOE came up with CEPP, fast tracking of some of the components of CERP, “to move more water south…” The goal was to complete the study and recommend to Congress in 18 months. http://www.evergladesplan.org/docs/fs_cepp_jan_2013.pdf  This goal was accomplished but another Federal WRDA bill and a final OK, presently “await.”

Absolutely,  Florida’s government has its problems, but in essence, the fast tracking stopped as soon as CEPP got to the Federal Government causing the  people of Florida to wonder what is happening and continue fighting at home.  Recently, our state government complained that “the feds” have not come forward with their promised share, and “being credited” it is an issue.  Also, you hear about “cost sharing,” a complicated arrangement where the  state cannot outspend the feds or visa versa. So if the feds don’t move forward after the state has spent money, the State has to just wait, and wait,  and wait…

On its most basic level, the state and federal arrangement is a relationship of sorts. CERP/WRDA is a contract, kind of like a marriage or business document.  In the end, if both parties don’t  contribute, things go sour. The biggest  problem for us in this relationship is that we are so dependent on the Federal Government and their money, ironically, just like the Sugar Farmers are dependent for their price limits through the US Farm Bill. And just like the Farm Bill, WRDA  is so intertwined other other things/dependencies  that have nothing to do with the original contract, that we can’t pull away, we can’t let go. We are handcuffed waiting for the money…

So the years go by, and a child grows up and votes and serves our county and has children before another Everglades CERP project is built.  I say our best chance of throwing off the golden handcuffs and  saving the Everglades and our dying estuary, the St Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon, is truly educating our youth on the faults and dreams of our system. They certainly can come up with something better.

So Much Water, One Day, a Third Outlet South of the Lake, a “Flowway…”

Flow-way South

A flow-way south of one kind or another is the only way the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries will survive. Lake Okeechobee is 730 square miles and it is necessary to take the lake down by three to four feet during rain event. No reservoir will do enough…


At Senator Joe Negron’s IRL Senate Hearing in August, I made a statement about eminent domain. If one listens carefully, I stated that there is an option to purchase the lands south of the lake, and if that is not enough to send water south, then “take” the rest.

This seems wise considering water is the “new oil” and many parts of our state do not have enough, and yet the ACOE is dumping 1.75 billions gallons of fresh water to tide a day, on average, through the the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.

Any way one looks at it, the only long term solution for the St Lucie River and the Caloohasatchee, and for a thirsty and growing state, is a “flow way south.” And the only way to ever achieve this is through purchasing the sugar lands that are on the table today at an agreed price of $7400 per acre. Tomorrow will be too late.

The first rule of real estate is to “buy low and sell high.” Right now at $7400 an acre, the lands south of the lake could be purchased “low.” Just this year the land market is starting to go up. Time is of the essence. In the future, these lands will be too expensive to purchase.

It seems counter intuitive for the state to buy when it feels poor.  But if the price is right there is no other option to achieve one’s goal. This is how investors make money or government entities achieve big item tickets like under grounding power lines or buying lands. Smart governments, governments serving their voters responsibly, think ahead.

So, 48,600 acres would cost the state $359,640,000. 153,000 acres would cost $1,132,200,000. An enormous sum, yes, but within the state’s reach with land prices still suffering from the Great Recession.

It is also good to keep in mind, that once this purchase is made into a flow way it achieves more than saving the estuaries. It will recharge the aquifer for millions of  south Floridians; it will restore Everglades National Park; it will provide jobs to thousands of people; it will help create a future for tourism and for our children who are watching our every move.

Please tell the Governor that the  purchase of the sugar lands south of the lake is an investment, not a waste. Write to Governor Scott at 400 S Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida, 32399; emails at rick.scott@eog.myflorida.com and/or call him at 850-488-7146. The option to buy at $7400 expires on October 12th. Time is of the essence…