Tag Archives: cfs

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.


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)

Dumping From Lake O–Understanding Acre Feet and Cubic Feet Per Second, Indian River Lagoon

Structure S-80 releasing water into the C-44 canal which flows into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, 2013.
Structure S-80 releasing water into the C-44 canal which flows into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, 2013.(Photo Dr. Scott Kuhns.)

I believe the awful situation regarding the consistent degradation of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon by the Army Corp of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District could be helped if we would learn to “speak their language.”

Communication is particularly difficult for the public during dumping of polluted Lake Okeechobee water through the C-44 canal into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.  (Which may start again any day now…)

Let’s learn some “releasing terminology” in case we don’t speak it that well….

When the ACOE/SFWMD starts dumping, there are two major terms: CFS and ACRE FEET that are good to know.

1. “CFS” means “cubic feet per second.” This is a “RATE of discharge representing a volume of 1 cubic foot passing a given point during 1 second of time.”

2.  An ACRE FOOT, the second term,  is a VOLUME of water “that covers one acre at a depth of 12 inches.”

Obviously, higher CFS numbers translate into higher ACRE FEET numbers. But what do these numbers mean?

Easily put, for the St Lucie River, none of it, if dumping, is “good.”

For reference, during the “Lost Summer” of 2013, the highest CFS discharge I heard reported was up to 7000 cfs during the very height of the releases. Usually, it was lower,May-October, ranging from about  200 to 4000 cfs.

Now acre feet.

According to Robert Johnson, Director of South Florida Natural Resouces Center at Everglades Nation Park, who presented at the Everglades Coalition last week, —-NOT during 2013, but ON AVERAGE, “800,000 acre feet of water from Lake Okeechobee flows per year towards the southern estuaries.”

Mind you, the larger Caloosahatchee on the west coast takes the majority of that water. I am no expert, but I think I can safely say, they usually take closer to 2/3 the water the water the St Lucie does.

Can you do the math? I need my calculator! AG! Over 200,000 Acre feet for sure going towards the St Lucie and over 500,000 going towards the Caloosahatchee.

In the end, no matter what, the numbers are staggering! Truly mind-blowing. 800,000 acre feet, would need 800,000 acres to hold 800,000 acre feet of water at 12 inches.  The EAA is 700,000 acres….

So, let’s learn to speak the language and communicate our wishes! And take a look at the handout below. It’s a good one!

This sheet was shared at the Everglades Coalition Conference's session "Beauty and the Beast: Lake Okeechobee and the Herbert Hoover Dike." 2015
This sheet was shared at the Everglades Coalition Conference’s session “Beauty and the Beast: Lake Okeechobee and the Herbert Hoover Dike.” 2015


After I wrote the above blog, Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic contacted me, so I wrote another post relating to the above post. It is here should you wish to read it: (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/01/15/water-water-everywhere-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)