Tag Archives: destruction of St Lucie River

Flight Over the St Lucie Inlet Shows Rain Plume is NOT a Lake O Plume, SLR/IRL


Link to flight video 5-7-17: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtzSmGVy790

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5-7-17: Hutchinson Island along the Atlantic Ocean and confluence of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, blue waters, seagrass not yet revived from 2013 and 2016 Lake O discharges. Photo Ed Lippisch
​My husband’s flight yesterday over the Atlantic Ocean, St Lucie Inlet, and St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is beautiful. But look carefully and you will see a light-colored brownish plume at the mouth of the St Luice Inlet entering the ocean. Finally after months of drought, it has begun raining. And when it rains… (mind you C-44 connecting the St Lucie River to Lake Okeechobee is closed now)  the re-directed run-off of waters from canals C-23, and C-24 of course still flow into our St Luice River/Indian River Lagoon.

These canals organized and built during the 1950s and 60s are part of the Central and South Florida Flood Project that the Army Corp built following the hurricane and extensive south Florida flooding of 1949. The run-off waters from these canals and the local watershed are what you see in today’s video.

As damaging as C-23 and C-24 are (they too must be reworked and redirected) they are not the damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee that throw the St Lucie over the brink as in 2013 and especially 2016 when toxic algae covered extensive portions of the entire St Lucie.

(Photo mosaic from 2016 shows various photos by Dr Scott Kuhns, Rebecca Fatzinger, (wildlife)  JTL/Ed Lippisch, pilot Dave Stone and others.)

In spite of the light brown plume, the short video flight from Jensen to Peck’s Lake shows blue waters near the inlet and mouth of the estuary as it should be, not black water. If Governor Scott does not veto the budget, the reservoir in years to come will help offset the Lake Okeechobee destruction and open the way to truly “send the water south.” #ThankyouJoeNegron

This is very exciting, but believe me, this is no time to let down your guard, as the fight for control of Florida’s waters has really just begun.

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Reef system off Sailfish point is covered in black water, sediment, and nutrient pollution when Lake O is discharging. Here after months of drought, and finally some rains we can see the reefs. 5-7-17, Photo Ed Lippisch
Map SFWMD showing canals and basins. Note S-308 or structure s-308 at Lake O and S-80 down the C-44 canal AKA the St Lucie Canal. Both of these structures have to open to allow water to flow into the C-44 canal to the St Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon. All canals are destructive to the St Lucie/IRL yet it is C-44’s Lake O that puts the St Lucie system in complete and total overload.
DEP C-23:http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c23.pdf

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

DEP C-44 St Lucie Canal connected to Lake O: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-44%20Canal%20.pdf

photo 1 EF reservoir
Slide 1. (Dr Thomas Van Lent, Everglades Foundation, 2015) Reservoir will be located below #1, A-2 area.

Summary of Lake releases for 2016 compared to 2013 and the last big El Nino event (1997-1998), SLR/IRL

Today I am sharing in full Dr Gary Goforth’s ( http://garygoforth.net/resume.htm) note and summary of Lake Okeechobee releases for 2016 compared to 2013 and the last big El Nino event (1997-1998) as presented to Martin County.  Please click on slides for larger view and thank you Dr Goforth for helping us with the numbers.

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….Slide 1

 

From the desk of Dr Gary Goforth regarding slide presentation:

1. More than 113,000 acre feet (36.9 billion gallons) of Lake water (“blackwater”) has been dumped to the River/Estuary during the first 20 days of the 2016 Lake releases; this is equal to 27% of the entire 147-day 2013 event, and 11% of the 1998 event.

2. The 2016 average daily rate of Lake releases is slightly less than the average 1998 rate, and more than twice the 2013 rate.

3. A distinguishing feature of the 2016 event is exceptionally high rates of C-44 Basin runoff in combination with the high Lake releases.

4. The 2016 average daily C-44 Basin runoff rate is 4 times the runoff rate of 1998, and more than twice the 2013 rate.

5. The 2016 average daily rate of combined flows through S-80 is more than the 1998 rate, and more than twice the 2013 rate.

6. The 2016 maximum daily rate of combined flows through S-80 is less than the 1998 maximum flow, but more than the 2013 maximum flow.

7. The 2016 Lake releases have already contributed more than twice the annual TMDL for phosphorus and nitrogen.

2016 data are preliminary and subject to revision.

I was on the IRL yesterday and travelled from the St. Lucie Inlet to the Ft. Pierce inlet – I saw no pockets of clear water and visibility was only 6 inches – 18 inches. I can’t imagine the sea grasses are getting any sunlight; I certainly didn’t see any sea grasses from the surface.

Gary

 

SLIDE PRESENTATION:

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….Slide 1

Notes: 1. More than 113,000 acre feet (36.9 billion gallons) of Lake water (“blackwater”) has been dumped to the River/Estuary during the first 20 days of the 2016 Lake releases; this is equal to 27% of the entire 2013 releases, and 11% of the 1997-1998 event. 2. The 2016 average daily rate of Lake releases is slightly less than the average 1998 rate, and more than twice the 2013 rate. 3. The 2016 average daily C-44 Basin runoff rate is 4 times the runoff rate of 1998, and more than twice the 2013 rate. 4. The 2016 average daily rate of combined flows through S-80 is more than the 1998 rate, and more than twice the 2013 rate. 5. The 2016 maximum daily rate of combined flows through S-80 is less than the 1998 maximum flow, but more than the 2013 maximum flow. 6. The 2016 Lake releases have contributed more than twice the annual TMDL for phosphorus and nitrogen. 7. 2016 data are preliminary and subject to revision.

 

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1885–When St Lucie River was 20 Feet Deep…St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Rare wood cut map of St Lucie River, ca. 1885, by Homer Hines Stuart.  Image shows water depth in heart of St Lucie River near today's Roosevelt Bridge at 20 feet. (Courtesy of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Rare wood cut map of St Lucie River, ca. 1885, by Homer Hine Stuart. Image shows water depth in heart of St Lucie River near today’s Roosevelt Bridge at 20 feet. (Courtesy of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Homer Hines Stuart Jr., for whom Stuart, Florida is named. (Portrait courtesy of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
Homer Hine Stuart Jr., for whom Stuart, Florida is named. (Portrait courtesy of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)

Some days I get really lucky because people send me cool stuff based on what I wrote the previous day in my blog. Yesterday this happened with both my mother, Sandra Thurlow, Dr Gary Gorfoth and a slew of other comments . I will be sharing some of my mother and Dr Goforth’s insights today.

Yesterday’s blog: (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/06/25/sediment-loads-into-the-st-lucie-river-2015-dr-gary-goforth-slrirl/)

After reading my post on sediment loads in the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and how they have lessened the natural depths of the river/s, my historian mother, sent me the awesome image of a historic wood cut at the top of this post created around 1885 by Homer Hine Stuart Jr., for whom Stuart, Florida is named.

This historic wood cut shows the depth of the St Lucie River at 20 feet in the area of what would become the span for the Roosevelt Bridge.  A contemporary navigation chart below, shows the depth of the water in this area at 11 feet. At least 9 feet of sediment and or —MUCK!

Contemporary St John's waterway navigation map, public files, shows the depth of the St Lucie River at the Roosevelt Bridge at 11 feet.
Contemporary St John’s waterway navigation map, public files, shows the depth of the St Lucie River at the Roosevelt Bridge at 11 feet.

“Jacqui, Your post about sediments made me think of this little map. Homer Hine Stuart, Jr. for whom Stuart is named, had a little wood cut map that was about 4 by 2 1/2 inches and looked like one of those address stamps we use today made. Maps made from the wood cut were used to show his the location of his property and his bungalow “Gator’s Nest” to his family in New York and Michigan. This image was made from a photograph of the wood cut. It is printed is reverse so the writing, etc., isn’t backward. You can see that there was 20 feet of water depth between the peninsulas that would later be connected by bridges. The date of the map would be around 1885.”  –Mom

Dr Goforth also wrote. He tells a sad story mentioning that Stuart News editor and famed environmentalist Ernie Lyons wrote prolifically about the great fishing in the St Lucie prior to the construction of the St Lucie Canal (C-44) in 1923.

“… the St. Lucie River and Estuary was known as the “Giant Tarpon Kingdom” before the Lake Okeechobee discharges began in 1923; after the Lake Okeechobee discharges began the muck from the Lake despoiled the clear waters and drove the tarpon offshore, and the area was recast as the “Sailfish Capital of the World” (Lyons 1975: The Last Cracker Barrel).

Thankfully, Dr Goforth gives an idea to fix and or improve the accumulation of muck sediments into the St Lucie River:

One effective means of reducing the sediment/much discharges from the Lake would be the construction of a sediment trap just upstream of the St. Lucie Locks and Spillway. This simple approach has worked well in other areas, most recently in West Palm Beach on the C-51 Canal just upstream of the Lake Worth Lagoon (see attached fact sheet). By deepening and widening the C-44 canal just upstream of the locks/spillway, a large portion of the sediment would settle out of the water in a relatively contained area before entering the River; with routine dredging, the material can be removed and spread over adjacent lands… —(perhaps using lands along the canal purchased by Martin County and SFWMD?). —-Dr Gary Goforth

Muck Removal using sediment trap, Lake Worth Lagoon, shared by Dr Gary Goforth.
Muck Removal using sediment trap, Lake Worth Lagoon, C-51, shared by Dr Gary Goforth.

Kudos to Dr Goforth’s ideas. Kudos to my mother’s history! Let’s get Governor Rick Scott to work and get to work ourselves too!  We can do it. Together, we can do anything. 🙂

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MUCK THEMED PHOTOS:

Muck coats the bottom of our beautiful river but determination coats our hearts. We and future generations will continue to fight to save our  St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!

 

Muck from St Lucie River, 2014.
Muck from St Lucie River, covering oysters, 2014.
Rob Moir teaches Hannah Lucas about muck at the River Kidz GET THE MUCK OUT event,  March 2014.
Jim Moir teaches Hannah Lucas about muck at the River Kidz GET THE MUCK OUT event, March 2014.
Muck Buster, River Kidz 2014.
Muck Buster, River Kidz 2014.
Photo of Stuart News article where Kevin Powers of the SFWMD shows Gov. Rick Scott some muck that is located at the end of Power's dock in Stuart. 2014. (Photo Stuart News)
My close up photo of front page Stuart News article where Kevin Powers of the SFWMD shows Gov. Rick Scott a shovel full of muck from around Power’s dock in Stuart. 2014. (Photo Stuart News)
Mark Perry and I display our "muckstaches" for Florida Oceanographics fundraiser/awareness raiser, 2015.
Mark Perry and I display our “muckstaches” for Florida Oceanographics fundraiser/awareness raiser, 2015.
River Kidz GET THE MUCK OUT campaign and bumper sticker, 2014.
River Kidz GET THE MUCK OUT campaign and bumper sticker, 2014.

83 Years of Asking the State and Federal Governments to “Close the Gates,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

South Florida Developer headline 1931, "Locks in Canal Closed; Fishing to be Benefited. (Newspaper courtesy of historian Sandra Thurlow.)
South Florida Developer headline 1931, “Locks in Canal Closed; Fishing to be Benefited. (Newspaper courtesy of historian Sandra Thurlow.)
Written minutes from a Martin County Commission meeting in 1931 asking  the ACOE to close the locks and  the importance to its citizens.  (Photo Martin County archives.)
Written minutes from a Martin County Commission meeting in 1931 asking the state to close the locks, mentioning  destruction to the river, and the importance to fishing industry. (Photo Martin County archives.)

The St Lucie Canal connecting Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River was constructed at the request of the state of Florida, the US Federal Government, and the local Martin County Chamber of Commerce, by the Army Corp of Engineers from 1915-1928. As this antique newspaper article of the Florida Developer above shows, by 1931 the Martin County Commission was already asking the state of Florida to close the gates and reporting clear evidence of the destruction of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

I must thank my mother, historian Sandra Thurlow, for sharing this information and the photos in this post. She transcribed the 1931 article from the Florida Developer, a Stuart paper of the era. It reads:

South Florida Developer, November 6,

1931, LOCKS IN CANAL CLOSED; FISHING TO BE BENEFITED

Job of Checking Water Movement Was Completed Saturday TO KILL HYACINTHS; Fishermen Look For Decidedly Good Fishing the Winter

The east locks of the St Lucie Canal were closed Saturday, after being open nearly two years. In that time the level of Lake Okeechobee has been reduced from 18 to 14 feet. 

The work of closing the locks began Friday morning under  the direction of engineers for the Okeechobee Flood Control District. When they finished the job Saturday night, water continued to pour over the dam about as fast as before, in spite of the fact that the level of the canal had been raised 7 feet. 

This morning the crew went to the west end of the St Lucie Canal to close the locks there and thus check the flow of water from the Lake. 

The closing of these locks is regarded as highly important to the people of Stuart and adjacent communities, primarily because  as long as they remain open, the ingress of water from the Lake made the St. Lucie River fresh, driving out the salt water fish and bringing in hyacinths. With the water cut off from the Lake, it is expected that the St Lucie River will again become salt and this should bring back the fish and kill the hyacinths. Fisherman say it will take about 30 days for the effects of the is change in water to be felt, but they are exultant that this change had come about in time to promote good fishing in local waters.  

The minutes from the Martin County Commission meeting in 1931 also shown above are a bit harsher. The minutes state:

Be it resolved that the Board of County Commissioners herby instruct the Clerk to write the Trustee of the Internal Improvement Fund petitioning that they closed the gates at the Lake end of the St Lucie Canal until April 15, 1931, for the reason that the constant  discharge of a large volume of dirty fresh water into the St Lucie River has killed all the shell-fish, driven out salt water fish from the river, filled the river with hyacinth and polluted the St Lucie River as to completely take away its attractive features and ruin its commercial value to our community.

According to local Everglades SLR/IRL expert, Dr Gary Goforth,  (http://garygoforth.net/resume.htm), 1931 was the first year the amount of water released from Lake Okeechobee in to the St Lucie River was documented. Although there is no documentation of the releases that occurred prior to 1931, in 1931 it is documented that 1,414,414 acre feet of water was released from the lake into the river. This is over three times as much as was released into the SLR from Lake Okeechobee in 2013, (419,951 acre feet.)

The historic photos below document and show local people taking the water hyacinth issue into their own hands.

Downtown Stuart in 1931 showing over abundance of water hyacinth in SLR.
Downtown Stuart in 1931 showing over abundance of water hyacinth in SLR.(Thurlow collection.)
South Fork of the St Lucie River, hyacinth removal,     Rod and Gun Club-effort to solve problem with herbicide and dynamite, 1949.( Thurlow collection.)
South Fork of the St Lucie River, hyacinth removal, Rod and Gun Club-effort to solve problem with herbicide and dynamite, 1949.( Thurlow collection.)
SLR filled with hyacinth, near Treasure Island. (Thurlow collection.)
SLR filled with hyacinth, near Treasure Island. (Thurlow collection.)

On August 3rd at 10AM the people of Martin and St Lucie counties, on behalf of their government, will ask one more time for the state to close the gates from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

As we have seen this summer, we have enough problems with our own local runoff that has been expanded since 1931 to include the building of C-23, C-24 and C-25 as well as  the widening and deepening of C-44 for its enlarged “local” runoff. Things must change, we have known this for a very long time. Finally there are enough of us to make a difference.

Hope to see you at the rally and may the state and federal government know that we will never stop asking, some would say demanding, that the ACOE, through the federal government  and the state of Florida “close the gates!” 

river rally 2014