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A Ten Year Calendar View, Discharges to the St Lucie Estuary

A Ten Year View, Discharges to the St Lucie Estuary

Today I share images that help tell the story of the St Lucie Estuary over the past ten years. The first image is from the website eyeonlakeo. My brother, Todd Thurlow, takes data from D-Hydro of the SFWMD and puts it into a format that the average person can understand. 

The chart above shows the “S-80 spillway at St Lucie Locks’ cumulative discharges by CALENDAR YEAR, 2011-2020.”

Scientists use Water Years, May 1 of one year, through April 30 of the next year. This splits up the years making it more confusing to remember or understand. We, as people, live our lives in calendar years. 

We can see by looking at Todd’s chart that 2016’s calendar year is highest overall discharge year with 842,775 acre feet (one foot of water covering one acre) of water going to the St Lucie from what is called “local runoff” (all canals and surrounding areas) as well as discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

How large is 842,775 acres? Comparatively, Martin County is 347, 520 acres. 2020 is 188,723 acre feet and climbing. We are talking tremendous amounts of water! 

In descending order, we see 2016; 2013; 2017; 2018; 2015; 2020; 2012; 2014; 2019; and 2011.  The brown of line of 2020 crests 2015 as when the year is completed, 2020 will more than likely be higher than 2015.

I also wanted to share some very helpful charts I recently requested -in my research- from the South Florida Water Management District.  

This was my request:

“Could you please get me a chart or graph showing discharges to the St Lucie River for 2012-2020 by month. Please present this information from January through December of each calendar year and break it out from S-80 and S-308 and also give a total combined number. Please also note for each of those calendar years, the highest level Lake Okeechobee got that year.” 

To view this information, click on Charts in red below for visuals, and data in red below for numerical charts. As mentioned this information below is from the SFWMD. This compiled information provides great perspective. 

Charts

data

I, as many, participated in yesterday’s Army Corp of Engineers‘ Periodic Scientist Call. During the course of the call, it was alluded that the ACOE may be letting up or halting Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St Lucie Estuary soon. As soon as they do, we will begin to chart calendar year 2021. All things considered, everything in me believes it will be better than 2020! 

 

How to Alleviate the Lake O Destruction to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, SLR/IRL

The chart below provides a good visual of 2016 Lake O releases though the C-44 Canal from S-80 comparing 2016, 2013, and 2015. S-80 discharges include the surrounding man-made basin as well as releases from Lake Okeechobee. This info has been compiled by my brother, Todd Thurlow, http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOLiveData/ via SFWMD. (Automatic updates every 7 days.)

screenshot.jpg
Via TT3

screenshot 2.jpg
Via TT3

In order to fix a problem, you have to know what the problem is…..yesterday’s visual makes clear to all the problem. Don’t be mistaken, this problem although overwhelming, can be greatly alleviated –“fixed.”

In March of 2015, the University of Florida published: OPTIONS TO REDUCE HIGH VOLUME FRESHWATER FLOWS TO THE ST LUCIE AND CALOOSAHATCHEE ESTUARIES AND MOVE MORE WATER FROM LAKE OKEECHOBEE TO THE SOUTHERN EVERGLADES. This was an independent technical review by the University of Florida Water Institute.

(http://waterinstitute.ufl.edu/research/downloads/contract95139/UF%20Water%20Institute%20Final%20Report%20March%202015.pdf)

The 134 document summarizes three things necessary to give relief to the estuaries:

  1. 200,000 acre-feet of water storage within the St Lucie River watershed. (*For C-23, C-24, C-25 and C-44 canal alone—not including releases from Lake Okeechobee through C-44 JTL)
  2. 400,000 acre-feet of water storage within the Caloosahatchee watershed.
  3. approximately 1,000,000 acres of water storage distributed north and south of Lake Okeechobee.

Senate President Elect Joe Negron’s plan for land purchase in the EAA fulfills part of #3. This reservoir would be “dynamic,” meaning that in simple terms it would hold, clean, and move water south to the Everglades. In other words, it would move multiple acre feet over time.

Our St Lucie River is degrading in ways that may not be reversible. We must work for land purchase south of Lake Okeechobee to begin to alleviate the destruction. —We must not just support, but also help Joe Negron. Get ready for Florida’s legislative session 2017.file-page1

News Press: http://www.news-press.com/story/news/2016/08/09/sen-negron-unveils-plan-buy-land-south-lake-o/88454356/

TC Palm, Tyler Treadway: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/health/2016/08/25/expert-sen-negrons-reservoir-plan-needs-more-projects-policies-to-stop-lake-okeechobee-discharges/89563826/

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

*JTL added for clarity