Tag Archives: documenting the destructive discharges

Road Trip to the Glades, Canal Point, SLR/IRL

My “Road Trip to the Glades” series is meant to be an experience of exploration. Exploration into a world many of us from the Coast have not seen. It is my hope that through learning about the Glades communities we can forge insights and hopefully friendships that assist us in our journey for a solution to Lake O’s discharges, Senate President Elect Joe Negron’s land purchase proposal for 2017, and a restored Everglades including a healthy St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

At this point, as river advocates, we must make clear that we wish to attain these things, not at the expense of the communities of Lake Okeechobee. The best way to begin this conversation is to educate and visit there ourselves, because yes, #GladesLivesMatter.

We begin first our journey driving west from Stuart on Kanner Highway, named for Judge A.O. Kanner. “A.O.” had an accomplished legal and legislative career, and in 1925 was chosen to move to Martin County by longtime friend and colleague, Governor Martin, to get newly founded Martin County “off to a good start.” A note of interest is that “Abram” and his wife Mary were one of Martin County’s few Jewish families.  At the time,  Jews were not allowed to buy in certain subdivisions. But thankfully Kanner was embraced by the Martin County community, and became one of its most respected citizens. He lived in Stuart until his death in 1967. As a legislator, Kanner fought for roads. State Road 76, was the result of his effort to get good roads to the Glades. It is on his legacy that we will drive forward.

IMG_6439.JPG

FullSizeRender 2.jpgDriving west about twenty miles outside of Stuart, we pass Indiantown. We see train tracks, agricultural fields, and wonderful open natural lands such as DuPuis Wildlife Area. All the while the C-44 canal is to our right. An eagle flies overhead. The blue and white clouded sky seems bigger here.

Just a few miles before reaching the Lake we see the looming Port Mayaca Cemetery. In this cemetery are buried in a mass grave 1600 of the 3000 dead from the horrific 1928 Hurricane. A stark reminder of the past, the power of Mother Nature, and how we live dangerously so in a drained swamp. There are graves of others not associated with the hurricane too. Old families. People whose blood and sweat laid the ground for South Florida’s development.  Many of the family plots go back to the 1800s. IMG_6492.JPGIMG_6496.JPG

Getting back into the car and back on Kanner Highway, we drive past sod farms and sugarcane fields. King Ranch has a sign with their brand atop. After about 10 minutes, slowly and with caution we approach Port Mayaca. It is impossible to see Lake Okeechobee herself as a gigantic berm and structure surround her. We do see the ACOE’s S-308, the structure that allows water to enter the C-44 from Lake Okeechobee that eventually flows and destroys the St Lucie River. Strangely, we notice an “advisory” blue-green algae sign prominently displayed while at least four people are fishing in the canal. IMG_6432.JPGIMG_6437.JPGPulling onto the once famous toll road of Connors Highway and going south, we see the berm of Lake Okeechobee. We leave Martin and enter Palm Beach County. Large trucks fill the road. It is nerve-wracking but exciting. Some beautiful old homes stand amoungst thickets of royal palms and tropical vegetation. Roses and honey are for sale if one has the nerve to pull over. IMG_6440.JPG

After about twelve miles we reach Canal Point. Canal Point is not incorporated, but part of Palm Beach County. At this location is S-352 built in 1917, today’s SFWMD’s structure allowing water into the West Palm Beach Canal, Water Conservation Area 1, as well as being used for irrigation.

We take a sharp turn into the Canal Point Recreation Area praying not to get rear ended. Here we can drive on top of the dike and take a look at Lake Okeechobee and across the street. Fishermen fish near the structure. An alligator waits nearby. It’s nice to see some wildlife.

IMG_6448.JPGIMG_6449.jpg IMG_6462.JPGIMG_6459.JPGIMG_6456.JPGIMG_6450.JPGIMG_6471.jpg

A beautiful Baptist church stands among tidy homes. A U.S.Department of Agriculture Research Service Sugarcane Station also sits along the Connor Highway that hugs the lake not too far from S-352.

IMG_6473.JPGIMG_6475.jpgIMG_6478.JPGIMG_6477.jpg

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Sugarcane fields
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Connors Hwy. allowed the Glades to develp
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Homes with dike in background

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Canal Point has about 525 people and the town is very small located between Lake Okeechobee and sugarcane fields.  From what we can see there is also a post office, one elementary school, and a store. Larger, Pahokee is just a few miles away.

This little town has a rich and important history. In the coming days we will learn about Canal Point’s mark on the Northern Everglades of which we are part.

__________________________________________________

Judge A.O. Kanner: http://historicpalmbeach.blog.palmbeachpost.com/1999/12/19/most-respected-judge-of-the-treasure-coast-ao-kanner-nov-2-1893-april-13-1967/

Dupuis Wildlife and Management Area: http://myfwc.com/viewing/recreation/wmas/cooperative/dupuis

Canal Point: http://canalpointfl.com

USDA Sugarcane Field Station Canal Point: https://www.ars.usda.gov/southeast-area/canal-point-fl/sugarcane-field-station/

Aerial Photos, Week of 4-7-15/4-14-15, SLR/IRL. Follow up to ACOE call 4-14-15

4-13-15 Sailfish flats, photo Ed Lippisch.
4-13-15 Sailfish flats, all photos in this post by Ed Lippisch.

This post is a follow-up to the ACOE periodic scientist call on 4-14-15. Photos are from 4/11/15 and 4/13/15.

To summarize for the public, basically on 4-3-15, the ACOE’s pulse release schedule from Lake Okeechobee, that was up to 500 cfs (cubic feet per second)  the previous week, had stopped and gone to 0 in order to facilitate bacteria testing by Martin County in St Lucie River waters.

On 4-10-15, as Lake Okeechobee’s height had gone down, the ACOE stopped releasing from Lake Okeechobee.  Please see link for ACOe’s release schedule of past week:

(http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports/r-s308m.html)

Saturday—-

4-10-15
4-11-15 Plume exiting St Lucie Inlet.
4-11-13 South of SL Inlet
4-11-13 Plume rounding south of SL Inlet
4-11-15, along Jupiter Island
4-11-15, along Jupiter Island’s near shore reefs  to Peck’s Lake.

Monday——

4-13-15 Sailfish flats area between Sewall's Point and Sailfish Point
4-13-15 Sailfish flats and seagrass beds area between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point. Sailfish Point in foreground and Atlantic coast on Hutchinson Island.
4-13-15 Sailfish flats, photo Ed Lippisch.
4-13-15 Sailfish flats seagrass beds  looking south-west, Sewall’s Point peninsula in eastern area of photograph.  photo Ed Lippisch.

Good news that the releases have stopped for now. Nice to see some blue green water. Thank you! For comparison, here is a photo from 3-18-15 at the southern tip of Sewall’s Point looking towards the St Lucie Inlet, while the ACOE was releasing.

ONE MONTH AGO—-

Flying north at convergence  of SLR/IRL at St Lucie Inlet.  (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 3-18-15.)
Flying north at convergence of SLR/IRL at St Lucie Inlet. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 3-18-15.)

_______________________________________

This blog is part of series: “Documenting the Destructive Discharges 2015;” on front page of blog you can search for other entries.

Lake O: (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml)

ACOE Jacksonville: (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm)

Documenting the Destructive Discharges While “Keeping Our Eye on the Ball”-The River, 3-31-15, SLR/ILR

The Crossroads of the SLR/IRL with discharges from Lake O and Area canals. (Photo by Ed Lippisch, 3-30-15, 5:PM.)
The Crossroads of the SLR/IRL as seen during incoming tide with discharges from Lake O and area canals. (Photo by Ed Lippisch, 3-30-15, 5:PM.)

With all the fanfare of President Obama’s visit and the confrontation that seems likely at the April 2nd SFWMD, Water Resources Advisory Board meeting between “Stop the Land Grab” (http://goo.gl/2YVLXTand the River Warriors, it is important to keep our “eye on the ball.” THE RIVER.

Since January 16th of 2015, the ACOE and SFWMD have been overseeing the releases from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. (The ACOE technically oversees this; however, collaboration includes the science of both agencies.)

January is very early to start releases, but the lake “is high” for this time of year. Due to releases and evaporation, it is slowly going down and now at 14.04 feet. The goal 13.5 (?) or so, but they won’t say that  because  one must  “be sensitive to water supply” for agriculture and other users…(http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml)

Today, I will share photos by my husband, Ed Lippisch,  that were taken yesterday around 5pm during the onset of an incoming  tide. Ed was piloted by friend Scott Kuhns. Thank you Scott and Ed! 🙂

As mentioned in an earlier blog, the ACOE is PULSE RELEASING and lowering releases into the SLR through S-80 right now in an attempt to help Martin County evaluate bacteria testing that cannot be done during heavy discharges. It is interesting to note that pulse releases mimic nature so that the estuary is not continually pounded, and can recover a bit. Just like during a rain event, the water flow is intense, salinity drops, and then salinity increases when the water lets up. You can see the schedule below.

ACOE pulse release schedule May 26, 2015.
ACOE pulse release schedule May 26, 2015. S-80 is the structure from the C-44 to the SLR letting in water from S-308 at Lake O.

One of the most interesting photos is of Sailfish Point’s marina where the runoff into the SLR/IRL is very apparent. There is always runoff from land into the rivers, yet we must remember the rain takes everything on the land with it: fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, loose sediment….Martin County’s strong fertilizer ordinance rules don’t begin until June 1st, so it is likely that this runoff is full of pollution that like releases from Lake Okeechobee or area canals is not good for seagrasses.

For me the aerials of the seagrasses are most depressing. The once  healthy beds look horrible. One can see they have algae all over them . Maybe I’m  hyperbolizing, but the seagrasses do not look good to me. Having grown up here and swam in these area waters  as a kid when they were lush and full of life—-the present condition is not acceptable.

Anyway,  let’s keep our eye on river and we move through all these politics, and here is a look from above at YOUR RIVER!

1. SLR/IRL Crossroads with Willoughby Creek in foreground looking towards Jupiter Narrows and the SL Inlet.
1. SLR/IRL Crossroads with Willoughby Creek area in foreground looking towards Jupiter Narrows and the SL Inlet.
2
2 Confluence of SLR/IRL off west side of Sewall’s Point.
The Crossroads of the SLR/IRL with discharges from Lake O and Area canals. (Photo by Ed Lippisch, 3-30-15, 5:PM.)
The Crossroads of the SLR/IRL with discharges from Lake O and Area canals making it dark brown. (Photo by Ed Lippisch, 3-30-15, 5:PM.)
4
4. Sewall’s Point looking towards Hutchinson Island, IRL.
5.
5. Unhealthy looking seagrass beds off of Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point.
6.
6. Sad looking seagrass beds seem to have algae on them thus so dark and flat looking….
7.
7. The Sandbar.
8.
8. Sailfish Point and Simpson Island.
9.
9.Sailfish Flats.
10. Martina at Sailfish Point with runoff from land due to rains.
10. Martina at Sailfish Point with runoff from land due to rains.
Another shot of Sailfish Point Marina.
11. Another shot of Sailfish Point Marina.
Long shot of Sailfish Point marina with runoff clearly seen.
12. Long shot of Sailfish Point marina with runoff clearly seen and Ed’s thumb!
SL Inlet with plume on left as incoming tide enters.
13. SL Inlet with plume on left as incoming tide enters.
Hole in the Wall with plume and incoming tide.
14. Hole in the Wall with plume and incoming tide.
15.
15. SL Inlet.
16.
16. Sailfish Point and inlet; north side is clean incoming tide-water. Plume goes south….

 

basins of SLR/IRL SFWMD
Basins of SLR/IRL SFWMD
ACOE/SFWMD discharge most recent discharge chart. Most is from Lake O in this chart as seen in blue.
ACOE/SFWMD discharge most recent discharge chart. Most is from Lake O in this chart as seen in blue.
ACOE S-308 structure showing water released into SLR/IRL from Lake O.
ACOE S-308 structure showing water released into SLR/IRL from Lake O.

ACOE excerpt —Info that goes with the above pulse release schedule; it is from 3-26-14. Another will call will occur today and updates will be considered.

UNCLASSIFIED ACOE

Caveats: NONE

“Based on the current lake levels, tributary hydrologic conditions, and multi-seasonal forecast, 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (2008 LORS) Part D guidance is up to 3000 cfs at Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79) and up to 1170 cfs at St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80). We have considered stakeholders input and recommendation from the South Florida Water Management District.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will be continuing discharges at S-79 at the same level as last week. However, the target discharges are reduced at S-80. The target flows over a 7-day period will be an average of 2500 cfs at S-79 and 500 cfs at S-80 cfs. These discharges will be made in a pulse-like manner (see attached).

These releases will start Friday, 27 March 2015 at 0700 hrs and end on Friday, 03 April 2015 at 0700 hrs.”

________________

ACOE Jacksonville: ((http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml))

SFWMD: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page)

Documenting the Destructive Discharges, SLR/IRL 3-15-15

Flight over Crossroads at confluence of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon with St Lucie Inlet in distance to the right of Sailfish Point. This area has been documented as the central point of the highest fish bio-diversity in North America by Dr Grant Gilmore. (Photo Ed Lippisch and Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 3-15-15.)
Flight over the “Crossroads” at confluence of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon south and east of Sewall’s Point. 700 acres of seagrass between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point has been documented as containing the highest fish bio-diversity in North America by Dr Grant Gilmore. The releases destroy this biodiversity and kill seagrasses.  (Photo Ed Lippisch and Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 3-15-15.)
Very Southern Tip of Sewall's Point 3-15-15. (Photo JTL)
A dark southern tip of Sewall’s Point looking towards St Lucie Inlet, 3-15-15. (Photo JTL)

 

Flying over South Sewall's Point the discharges are seen in their full entirety. Water usually bluish in color is dark brown. (3-15-15)
Flying over south Sewall’s Point, SLR west, IRL east, —looking north the discharges are seen in their full entirety. Water usually bluish in color is dark brown. (3-15-15)

 

Ed  in front of me.
Ed in front of me in Cub with Hutchinson Island in foreground. “Thank you Ed, for helping document the discharges.”

Yesterday, around noon, hours into an outgoing tide, once again, my husband Ed and I flew over the rivers to document the polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee and the area canals pouring into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Today I am going to incorporate the “latest” information I have received:

1. The photos from 3-15-15 throughout this blog.

2. The ACOE press release is from 3-12-15:

ACOE Press Release,  3-12-15.
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE
All,
Corps has decided next pulse release will be the same as last week–2,500
cfs west and 950 cfs east averaged over seven days. More information is
attached.
Please contact me if you have questions. Thanks for your help.
JHC
John H Campbell
Public Affairs Specialist
Jacksonville District, US Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville, FL
Office: 904-232-1004
Mobile: 904-614-9134
Join our online communities: http://about.me/usacejax/
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

3. Florida Oceanographic’s  water quality chart, 3-12-15.

Water Quality chart 3-12-15. (Florida Oceanographic)
Water Quality chart 3-12-15. (Florida Oceanographic )

4. The SFWMD’s “water input” chart, 3-3/3-9-15.)

3-3-15 through 3-9-15.
3-3-15 through 3-9-15.

As you can see above, last week with Lake Okeechobee around 14.7 feet, the Army Crop of Engineers, (ACOE) with the input of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and stakeholder from 16 counties: “decided next pulse release will be the same as last week–2,500 cfs west to the Calooshatchee and 950 cfs east to the St Lucie/SIRL averaged over seven days…(If this is confusing, a useful way to convert is to know that every 1,000 cfs is equivalent to 650 million gallons per day!)

Lake O level ACOE: (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml)

Today the Lake Okeechobee  is reading 14.56 feet. It is going down thankfully and the goal would be 13 feet if the ACOE and SFWMD were allowed to say it…. 

These releases could not come at a worse time, as we are already inundated by area canals and it is the beginning of spawning season, oyster spating season, and the warm weather drawing the public to area waters, like the Sandbar in the photos below.  This year, the ACOE has been dumping since January 16th, very early in the year,  foreshadowing another  possible toxic summer.

In response to these releases, last Thursday, many  of the “River Movement” including the River Warriors, continued their fight for clean water at the SFWMD as hundreds pleaded for US Sugar option lands to be purchase south of Lake Okeechobee in order to, over time, create a reservoir to store, clean and convey water “south” to the water starved Everglades.

The people realize the amounts of water coming into Lake Okeechobee from the Kissimmee River are so tremendous there is no other way to offset the destruction of the estuaries except with a third outlet south of the lake. Activists have been pushing for the this for decades but since the toxic summer of 2013, known as the “Lost Summer” a tipping point has been reached.

The goal is to save the St Lucie/S. Indian River Lagoon, the Caloosahatchee, and the Florida Everglades! Call to action video here: (https://vimeo.com/119495955)

The Crossroads off of Sewall's Point. (Photo 3-15-15, JTL)
The Crossroads off of Sewall’s Point looking towards the Jupiter Narrows and the SL Inlet. (Photo 3-15-15, JTL)
Murky greenish water could be seen in the area of the Sandbar and some remaining sickly looking seagrass beds were visible. (Photo JTL.)
Looking towards Stuart and S. Sewall’s Point, murky greenish water could be seen in the area of the Sandbar and some remaining sickly looking seagrass beds were visible. (Photo JTL.)
Off Sewall's Point.
IRL and SLR waters between S. Sewall’s Point, Sailfish Point looking at the “Sandbar.” (Photo 3-15-15, JTL.)
St Lucie Inlet, 3-15-15. (Photo JTL)
St Lucie Inlet. Plume going over “protected” near shore reefs.” 3-15-15. (Photo JTL)
Plume exiting St Lucie Inlet over near shore reefs just over a mile offshore. (Photo 3-15-15,  JTL)
Plume exiting St Lucie Inlet over near shore reefs just over a mile offshore. (Photo 3-15-15, JTL)
Plume dispersing in ocean. (3-15-15, photo JTL)
Plume dispersing in ocean. (3-15-15, photo JTL)
St Lucie Inlet near Sailfish Point 3-15-15. (Photo JTL)
Plume at St Lucie Inlet near Sailfish Point (foreground) and Jupiter Island in distance,  3-15-15. (Photo JTL)

 

Documenting the Destructive Discharges, Speak Out! 3-9-15, SLR/IRL

Confluence of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon between Sewall's Point and Sailfish Point, Hutchinson Island, 3-8-15 showing releases from Lake Okeechobee and area canals. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Confluence of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point, Hutchinson Island, “The Crossroads,” 3-8-15 showing releases from Lake Okeechobee and area canals. (Photo Ed Lippisch)

Usually, my husband, Ed, does not like it when I ask him to “do things”…like take out the trash or blow leaves off the driveway. But he always likes it if I ask him to go up in the plane. He did so yesterday, and was able to visually document the polluted discharges pouring into our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Yes, once again.

The Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE), and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) agreed to have the Army Corp start releases this year on January 16, 2015 at 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) through S-308 into the C-44 canal which is attached to the South Fork of the St Lucie River, and then in turn is connected to the Indian River Lagoon “my town,” Sewall’s Point.

Exhausting isn’t it?

The ACOE is now discharging at a rate of “950 cfs.” This rate goes up and down. It is going up because Lake Okeechobee is not going down…

SLR basins. SFMWD, 2015.
This SFWMD basin map also shows S-308 at Lake O, the C-44 canal, S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam, SLR/IRL.

Today I will share Ed’s photos and show how to “see” how much the ACOE is releasing at S-308. (Structure 308) which is located at Port Mayaca, in Indiantown, Martin County.

Ofcouse, there are discharges from area canals C-44, C-23, C-24 and C-25 as well, but today for simplicity’s  sake, I will focus on the lake discharges today, which in my opinion, are the worst of all anyway—because they are not at all “ours.”

So—–

You can search “Jacksonville, ACOE” or just go to this link: (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm). You can then very quickly check two things: Lake Okeechobee’s level and how much the ACOE is dumping at S-308 from the lake.

To do so, after accessing the site, go to “Current Lake Okeechobee Water Level” at the top left:  Always one day behind or so, the latest date reported is 3-7-15– Lake O is at 14.71 feet. Then go back to the main page to the last link: “Port Mayaca Lock, S-308 Spillway.” View by date; the last date shows 873 cubic feet per second (cfs)  being discharged. 

Front page of ACOE Lake O website, 2015.
Front page of ACOE Lake O website, 2015.
3-9-15 Lake O level   14.71 feet NVGD. (A certain amt of feet above sea level>)
3-9-15 Lake O level 14.71 feet. NVGD.
S-308 report shows 8 cfs on 3-8-15 going into C-44 or SLR.
S-308 report shows 873 cfs on 3-7-15 going into C-44 or SLR.

 

Here are some more photos Ed took yesterday, 3-8-15, of the SLR/IRL.

East side of Sewall's Point, 3-8-15 showing St Lucie River.  (Ed Lippisch)
West side of Sewall’s Point, 3-8-15 showing St Lucie River. (Ed Lippisch)
West side of SEwall's Point, 3-8-25. (Ed Lippisch)
East side of Sewall’s Point, 3-8-25 showing Indian River Lagoon. (Ed Lippisch)
Southern tip of of Sewall's Point at Crossroads. (3-8-15.) (Ed Lippisch)
Southern tip of of Sewall’s Point showing SLR in foreground and IRL in background. 3-8-15. (Ed Lippisch)
Known as the "Crossroads" this area off of Sewall's Point is the confluence of the SLR/IRL. The St Lucie Inlet is just off of the the tip of S.Hutchinson Island and is known as Sailfish Point. 3-58-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Known as the “Crossroads” this area off of S. Sewall’s Point is the confluence of the SLR/IRL. The St Lucie Inlet is just off of the tip of S.Hutchinson Island and is known as Sailfish Point and is blocked in the far upper right of this photo. 3-8-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Confluence of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon between Sewall's Point and Sailfish Point, Hutchinson Island, 3-8-15 showing releases from Lake Okeechobee and area canals. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon near Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point, Hutchinson Island. “Crossroads.” (Photo Ed Lippisch)
inlet
SL Inlet in distance, 3-8-15.  (EL)
3-8-15. IRL. (EL)
3-8-15. IRL. East of Sewall’s Point. (EL)

When Ed got home, he said I was lucky I did not go up with him as it was windy which means bumpy…He also said the plume looked different from what we have seen before. It looked “chalky” as is seen in these two photographs below and extended about two miles off shore and further south of the St Lucie Inlet.

I am no scientist, but I would imagine this is silt/suspended solids in the water as everything is “stirred up” from the wind. Suspended solids falling on and smothering our reefs….

Plume off St Lucie Inlet, 3-8-15. (EL)
Plume off St Lucie Inlet, 3-8-15. (EL)
Plume another view 3-8-15, 3-8-15.
Plume another view 3-8-15. (EL)
Map showing reefs in Marin and Palm Beach counties. The reef in MC is directly impacted by the discharges from Lake O. (map courtesy of state.)
Map showing reefs in Marin and Palm Beach counties. The reef in MC is directly impacted by the discharges from Lake O. (map courtesy of state.)

 

In closing, I must thank my husband for the photos, and I must point something out.

This area around Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point, this “confluence” of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, in the not too distant past, has been documented as the most bio-diverse estuary in North America  (Dr. R. Grant Gilmore, senior scientist with Estuarine, Coastal and Ocean Science, Inc., (ECOS)(http://www.floridaoceanscouncil.org/members/bios/gilmore.htm).) 

The map below allows us to see where these precious seagrass beds are/were located. The map above shows where our “protected” near shore reefs are located just outside the St Lucie Inlet where the discharges go out to sea. These reefs are the northern most “tropical reefs” on the east coast of Florida…

SFWMD seagrass map, 2015.
SFWMD seagrass map, 2015.

I think it is a truly a sin that the ACOE and SFWMD year after year discharge onto these productive sea grass beds and near shore reef habitats that are the breeding grounds for thousands of fish and sea creatures. Its loss is felt all the way up the food chain, including “us.”

Where is the Department of Environmental Protection? Where is the Florida Wildlife Commission? Where is NOAA?

Not to mention, last year a designation of  “Critical Wildlife Area,” —the first in 20 years for Florida—for 30 plus species of nesting and resting  protected birds, was established on “Bird Island,” located  just 400 feet off south Sewall’s Point….”Now” is right before nesting season’s height. Where will the birds find food when the seagrass beds are covered in silt and the water is so dark they can’t really see? Chances are these releases will continue.

Don’t our state agencies have a duty to protect? Don’t they have a voice or has it been muffled? Not a word? Not a peep. Where is our governor? Isn’t this money? Isn’t the productivity our of waterways linked to our businesses? Our real estate values? Where is our local delegation? Have we all become numb to this destruction? Beaten down and manipulated so long we that have no reaction?

It breaks my heart.

Our state and federal government entities responsible for “protection” especially should hang their heads in shame.

If nothing else “speak out” about how bad it is. Recognize the loss. Address the “constraints,” killing this ecosystem and local economy. Take leadership!

Be true to our heritage. We are the United States of America. Be brave. Speak out!

_________________________________________________

Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us) 

Florida Wildlife Commission: (http://myfwc.com)

NOAA/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: (http://coralreef.noaa.gov)   (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/)