On Sunday, before we celebrated Father’s Day with family, once again, my husband and fellow River Warrior, Ed, flew the Baron for necessary time on the engines. As he was walking out the door I asked: “Could you please fly over Lake Okeechobee again? I’m curious about that bloom.”
“OK, but I’m going north first.”
Ed and I have been documenting this year’s algae bloom since May 3rd.
Upon Ed’s return, he told me that this time, the algae bloom appears to be located further north, as well as south. You can see the algae near King’s Bar Shoal-the distinct “island” looking structure, visible now, near mouth of the Kissimmee River.
These aerials are taken from 10,000 feet, much higher than usual, so the effect is different. When you seen the “wrinkles” on the water, that is the bloom.
One day, may there be an algae-free Lake Okeechobee, for future fathers and for future father’s kids.
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.
Because the Baron needs hours on the engine, my husband Ed and I have been up in the sky a lot lately. Sometimes I am with him and sometimes I am not, but through technology we are always connected.
Today I am sharing all aerials Ed took yesterday, 6-17-20, that continue to document a very expansive algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee.
So where exactly is the algae? I can tell you, from the sky, flying over the central and southern part of the lake -at two, to five thousand feet -going two-hundred miles per hours -it sometimes becomes one giant blur of green. Right now, the bloom is visible mostly in the south central (east, west and central) areas of the lake, not in the north.
Seeing the algae depends on lighting and some areas are brighter than others, but when the sun hits the water just right, a sheen is everywhere.
About a mile and a half off Port Mayaca’s S-308 on the east side is the brightest and weirdest of all often displaying geometric formations due to boat traffic through the channel.
The ACOE has been flowing C-44 into the lake at S-308 but this certainly is not the cause of all the algae. Ed and I have years of documentation. The lake is eutrophic. Winds also affect the collection and formation of the algae. For a deeper dive into this you can visit my brother Todd Thurlow’s website EyeOnLakeO.
Here are all photos 6-17-20 with some comment clues and GPS. I have made one comment and then all photos that follow are the same location just a different angle. Use the GPS too. Question? Just ask!
Documenting St Lucie River and Lake Okeechobee, Saturday, June 13, 2020
Today’s post includes two sets of photos taken from two different planes: the Supercub and the Baron. The Supercub is the classic yellow “River Warrior” open-air plane, and the Baron is a closed cockpit twin-engine with the distinctive upturned wing-tip. The Supercub can fly low and slow, the Baron can fly higher and faster. Both offer unique perspectives to photograph our waterways.
Dr. Scott Kuhns and Steve Schimming shared photos taken from the Supercub in the morning hours of Saturday, 6-13-20. Scott uses a quality Nikon camera thus his photos offer a wider or closer perspective. Thank you Scott and Steve, long time River Warriors and friends. Their photos reveal the coffee color of the St Lucie following torrential rains.
This next set of aerials was taken by my husband, Ed Lippisch, and myself the same day, 6-13-20, a few hours later, closer to noon. Again, it is important to note the St Lucie area recently experienced particularly heavy rains, only Broward County and parts of Miami- Dade had more. So we can learn about this, I am sharing the most recent Water Conditions Report of the SFWMD for details of all the St Lucie and all south and central Florida. See link under Rainfall Distribution Comparison slide below.
The first group of photos from Ed and I in the Baron is of the St Lucie River and the second set is of algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee. NOTE THE ACOE IS NOT DISCHARGING INTO THE ST LUCIE AT THIS TIME.
We continue to document and thank all who are working towards projects and ways of life that better water quality in the state of Florida. We know what we need to do!
My husband Ed’s aerials of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon show a positive picture of area waters that in 2013, 2016, and 2018 were black and green with the repeated bruises of Lake Okeechobee’s toxic algae blooms. This is not the case last year in 2019, and so far in 2020. We must celebrate these wonderful times for our waters by enjoying them. Healthy breezes float by, fish are jumping, and a blue lavender sky beckons you…
Most important, sea grasses are recovering. ~Although dormant in winter like the plants in our yards, they bloom forth now; “spring has sprung!” Signs of life are everywhere from pink and orange, protected baby queen conch at the Sandbar, to 9 armed starfish walking about, and even the recent rare sighting of critically endangered Right Whales, ~a mother with her calf swam slowly across St Lucie Inlet. Thank God the water was clean!
We are thankful for these times of bluer and clearer water and we will never give up the fight! Enjoy the the flight and if you can, go visit our beautiful river.
~STARTING OUT AT C44STA/RESERVOIR, WESTERN MARTIN COUNTY, this project cleans water from the C-44 Canal before it enters the SLR
~FLYING EAST OVER THE TOWN OF SEWALL’S POINT and HUTCHINSON ISLAND provides a familiar view of the confluence of the St Luice River and Indian River Lagoon where the water bodies converge to exit at the St Lucie Inlet. Although the upper St Lucie is always ailing from years of damage, the lower St Lucie and Indian River Lagoon is very flushed by the sea. Seagrasses in the area of the Sandbar and Sailfish Flats have been dormant during winter months and are blooming out now-just like plants and flowers in our yards. It will be important to compare these photos to summer to see true recovery.
~FLYING SOUTH ALONG ST LUCIE INLET STATE PARK, JUPITER ISLAND and then swinging north we see Hutchinson Island’s Bathtub Beach, being restored AGAIN, the 1876 House of Refuge where the mother Right Whale and calf were just a couple of weeks ago, and the nearshore reefs VISIBLE and not under black green toxic water.
Between the rain and the FAA’s Presidential Temporary Flight Restrictions, it has been difficult this Florida winter to get photos of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Luckily, yesterday, there was an opportunity to get up in the air!
Ed took Florida Oceanographic https://www.floridaocean.org Executive Director, Mark Perry, and board member, Dr Gary Goforth up for a ride. Mark wanted to check on the seagrasses and near shore reefs. Gary – the restored Kissimmee https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/kissimmee-river as he was very much part of this success that is still underway. As it was quite windy and I have a delicate stomach, I stayed on the ground. I didn’t want to ruin the outing asking for an air-sick bag!
Today, I share some rare photos of the St Lucie River after being “Lake Okeechobee discharge free” for almost one year. As you can see, her seagrass beds still need a few more years to recover, but rhizomes and grasses are back in some areas, ~but not what we want- historic “all.” The ocean waters were very turned up so it was hard to see the reefs, but the water sure was blue and for that we are beyond thankful!
Ed and I and the River Warrior Community will continue to document and fight for the continued health of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!
Rarely have I seen my husband with such determination, and he’s very determined all of the time…
To get his multi-generational Bahamian friend, fishing guide, Justin Sands of Marsh Harbor, a cooler of 16 hamburgers, some buns, mustard and ketchup, and a bag of tomatoes…
Ed told me he would be flying into Treasure Cay dropping off the Vaughns, president and vice-president of Operation 300, the group in Stuart, Florida, that is doing great things for the relief effort. Ed would be greeted by Stephen Leighton who along with his brother, John, are masterminding Operation 300’s coordination. Ed had hoped to get a ride to Marsh Harbor from Treasure Cay to meet Justin, about 26 miles away. That did not happen.
“Why didn’t it happen?” I asked Ed when he got home.
“Jacqui, there’s nothing left there. The beat-up cars they have, have no gas….or very little. The car they were lucky enough to have, ran out of gas.”
So after dropping off the Vaughns and not being able to get a ride, Ed asked Steve Leighton if in the course of his work, could he please deliver the hamburgers. Ed flew back to Stuart, and then something happened that could only happen today.
With Ed now back in Florida, and Steve and Justin with very limited communication service —Stephen in Treasure Cay, and Justin in Marsh Harbor—-the three, via text messaging, and an app called WHATSAPP, coordinated the 16 hamburger drop-off.
Stephen then sent Ed a picture of Justin and he standing amidst Marsh’s destruction- red cooler in tow. Delivery achieved! Later that evening Justin sent Ed a picture of the prepared hamburgers.
When Ed shared the photos, my eyes filled with tears…
Friendship and determination are something that Dorian cannot destroy.
Other photos shared by Stephen Leighton, Operation 300, 9-18-19
Yesterday, 3-17-19, my husband, Ed, flew the Super-Cub over the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon ~ twenty-one days after the ACOE started discharging from Lake Okeechobee on February 24, 2019.
When Ed arrived home, I asked, “So how was it?”
“Brown,” he replied.
“Like dark coffee brown, or kind of like that weird mixed greenish-brown?”
He looked at me, and smiled. “Jacqui, it was brown.”
“OK, I said, I’ll take a look at your photos.”
So here are the photos from Ed’s flight from Witham Field in Stuart, over Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island, then out west to S-80 to see the “Seven Gates of Hell” where you can see the one gate discharging now at an average of 250 cubic feet per second, down from an average of 500 cubic feet per second. As you can see from the SFWMD chart below, there has been other runoff locations as well, but the majority is from Lake Okeechobee.
Thank you to my husband Ed, for showing us that right now, the river is brown.
The following phots are of Caulkins Water Farm, a former orange grove that died due to citrus greening that now holds water from the C-44 Canal. This is a wonderful thing! As local ag-man Mr. Hadad, told me once, “Jacqui we spent 100 years taking the water off the land, and we’ll spend the next 100 years putting it back on.” The later photos are of S-80 again with view of C-44 canal leading west to Lake O.(https://www.facebook.com/CaulkinsWaterFarm/)
The following photos are when Ed headed back to Witham Field going once again over the St Lucie Inlet over the Atlantic Ocean. You can see the water looks blue north of Sailfish Point north of the inlet with nearshore reefs visible. Plume is also visible south of St Lucie Inlet. Also in photos is the winding Jupiter Narrows and St Lucie River in the area of Stuart and Rio. You can see Langford Landing with scraped orange soil and docks built into river still under construction since 2015.