Tag Archives: Environment

The Heart of the 1947 Central and South Florida Project, the SFWMD

Everglades National Park, JTL

Sometimes the history of the Everglades is really confusing.  Why, with all of the environmental advocacy, since the 1970s, does the health of our environment remain crippled?  One way to simplify it is to think in terms of before and after the 1947 U.S. Central and South Florida Plan. Of course there is extensive history before 1947, but it was after 1947 that things in South Florida’s water world became culturalized, compartmentalized, and legally defined. Before we talk about this 1947 Central and South Florida Plan, let’s review some important highlights pre-1947.

1. Hamilton Disston begins the drainage of Lake Okeechobee (1881)

2. Governor Napoleon Broward hires U.S.D.A. scientist James Wright who determines that “eight canals would indeed drain 1,850,000 acres of swampland” (1904)

3. The U.S. Congress’ Rivers and Harbors Act  includes significant funds to deepen  the manmade Hamilton Disston connection of the Calooshahatchee River to Lake Okeechobee (ca.1910)

4. The scandal of James Wright (from #2 above) who was deemed “a fraud” for the failure of the land to drain as expected ~causing the slump in swampy real estate sales (1914)

5. The resurgence of confidence in sales and a 1920s real estate boom fueled by advances in soil science, and the success of agricultural start-ups located in Moore Haven, Belle Glade, and Clewiston south of Lake Okeechobee

6.  Land in a defined “Everglades Drainage District” more fully being systematically cut into sections for development with canals draining agricultural fertilizers and other chemicals into the waters of the state (1924)

6. Two very powerful hurricanes causing thousands of deaths and the destruction of property, and thus the state’s “call for a higher dike” (1926 and 1928)

7. The state’s reaction to the hurricanes, the 1929 establishment of the “Okeechobee Flood Control District” for the “Everglades Drainage District” as well as the Federal Government’s Army Corp of Engineers taking over “field operations”around Lake Okeechobee ~including the building of a thirty-five foot earthen dike and ingeniously using navigation funding to build the cross-state-canal, connecting the Caloosahatchee and the St Lucie Estuaries to Lake Okeechobee ~conveniently working as discharge-escapes through those estuaries when “necessary”

So, as we can see, a lot happened pre-1947, but it was what happened after, were things really changed…

In 1947 it rained and rained, and there were two hurricanes. From Orlando to Florida Bay the agricultural and developed lands, that had been built in drained, once marshy, swampy areas, really flooded, and in some places a foot of water sat for months. There was great economic loss.

The crying cow booklet, above, was sent to every member of the U.S. Congress.

The country as a whole was empowered with its post World War II success and prosperity, and with that same determination, the U.S. Congress came to Florida’s rescue…

To fight Florida’s destructive “flood waters” the 1948 U.S. Congress adopted legislation for the CENTRAL AND SOUTH FLORIDA PROJECT, a twenty year flood plan from Orlando to Florida Bay that included the formal creation and protection of the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake O, the Water Conservation Areas, intertwined with thousands of miles of canals and structures to control the once headwaters and River of Grass. HOUSE DOCUMENT 643 – 80TH CONGRESS (00570762xBA9D6)

Next, mirroring the same terminology the United States Government had used (the Central and South Florid Project) the state of Florida created the “Central and South Florida Flood Control District” to manage that CENTRAL and SOUTH FLORIDA PROJECT. A bit confusing huh? A tongue twister. And in a way one could say, at that time, the Central and South Florida Project and the  Central and South Florida Flood Control District “became one.” The overall goal above all other things was flood control. And this marriage of the Central and South Florida Project and the Central and South Florida Flood Control District was successful at controlling the waters, but it also killed the natural environment, thus Florida herself.

This embedded cultural philosophy of “flood control only” was challenged in 1972 with the birth of the national environmental movement, and a consciousness that the natural system that supported Florida’s tourism, quality of life, agriculture, not to mention valuable wildlife,  was in tremendous decline.

As Florida matured came Governor Claude Kirk, a republican,  in 1968, who was advised by environmentalist Nathaniel Reed. Then came Governor Reubin Askew, a democrat. The Florida Legislature, seeing the destruction of the state’s natural resources, passed a very important piece of legislation, the “Florida Water Resources Act,” today’s Chapter 373 in Florida Statures. (http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0373/0373ContentsIndex.html)

This law created five Florida water management districts with expanded responsibilities for regional water resources management including environmental protection not just flood control.

Accordingly, the Central and South Florida Flood Control District changed its name, but not its heart, becoming the South Florida Water Management District, we know today…(https://www.sfwmd.gov)

Everglades National Park, JTL

Florida Senate – Water Senators, 2019

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2019 Senate President Bill Galvano, https://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s21, recently assigned senators to their committees.  The new Senate President is following Joe Negron. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Senate.)

Knowing who has been assigned what committees is important. Let’s learn about a couple of “water-senators ” ~those assigned to committees where water will come up. No pun intended.

First, let’s go to the Florida Senate website and click on the Committees Tab. Look around. What titles have something to do with water or the environment? Here you will see a list of committees. Very interesting! Only a few could apply.

(https://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/#com-list )

For sure, when it comes to  purposes of water, under Standing Committees, Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government is key.

 

Who got this position? Wow! Senator Debbie Mayfield has been assigned to be the chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government. She represents Indian River and  Brevard Counties and in earlier years served in the Florida House of Representatives so she knows about all the toxic “Lost Summers,” and the troublesome “brown tide” that affects her area.(https://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/environment/lagoon/2018/03/02/again-killer-brown-algae-responsible-2016-mass-fish-deaths-blooming/381630002/)
When you click on her name you will also see she serves on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the Appropriations Committee. Senator Mayfield is very well versed in water issues not only because she is our Indian River lagoon neighbor, but because as she was an ally of former Senate President Joe Negron in 2018.

Mayfield: https://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/S17

Now, take the time now to click on these links below and see if you happen to know any of the other senators serving on either the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government or the Natural Resources Committee or anything else relevant, perhaps Tourism where water really belongs. Take note of these senators. Do you know anyone who may know them? A friend across the state?

Environment and Natural Resources Committee and the Appropriations Committee: https://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/Show/AEG

Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government : https://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/Show/EN

Now for one more water senator. He who holds the purse strings!  Appropriations Chair, Senator Rob Bradley, another Negron ally from last year. Senator Bradley represents Marion County, a region where there are many nutrient pollution/flow/algae Springs issues and concerns about development and over aquifer withdrawal.(https://www.ocala.com/news/20180114/study-finds-nitrates-not-only-problem-affecting-springs) Bradley is no stranger to water!

Click on his link and see what other committees he is on as well.

Senator Bradley: https://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/S5

Today I am going to stop here.

There are other important positions, but these two featured Senators that have a track record. These are two you can reach out to now, along with your legislative delegation.

Yes! Start building relationships NOW.

If you can’ reach the legislator him or herself, call, write or go to their office and build a relationship with their staff. Like any relationship this takes time, effort, finesse, and multiple visits. Ask for a meeting just to talk about what is important to you as a citizen, no matter your political affiliation. All Florida politicians represent all Floridians.

Here are some tips about Effective Communication and a visual from last year to refresh our memories about how an idea becomes a law.

Advocate for water now! Once legislative session begins, it’s too late!

https://www.flsenate.gov/About/EffectiveCommunication and also a visual about how an idea becomes a law.

Toxic algae under the Evans Crary Bridge, St Lucie River, Sewall’s Point 2016

Florida Water, A Thing of the Past? SLR/IRL

My mother gave me a late birthday present: antique post cards and a bottle once filled with “Florida Water,” a popular tonic sold for health and beauty around the world. Believe it or not, “Florida Water” is still selling across the globe, and has been since 1808 ~for 210 years!

It was poignant to receive such a rare and special gift from my mother because if Murray & Landman began marketing Florida water today, the product would not be so romantic; in fact, the branding  would more look like war.

“Florida Water,” a thing of the past?

Not if we fight to win.

TCPalm reporter Tyler Treadway holds a container of Florida Water in July 2018, Photo by John Moran
Posted on #toxic18, Florida’s new image

LINKS:

Florida Water Cures: http://www.nydailynews.com/making-splash-old-fashioned-florida-water-cures-ails-ya-smells-good-article-1.828293

Florida Water, History WIKI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Water

Florida is Losing it’s Brand:

Graham Brink, Business Columnist: Toxic algae blooms from Lake Okeechobee are a stain on Florida, Tampa Bay Times: https://www.tampabay.com/news/business/tourism/Brink-Toxic-algae-blooms-from-Lake-Okeechobee-are-a-stain-on-Florida-_169667590

Julie Dermansky, Fueled by Pollution and Unsound Policies, Toxic Algae Overtakes Florida Beaches and Waterways,https://www.desmogblog.com/2018/08/02/pollution-policies-toxic-algae-red-tide-cyanobacteria-florida-lake-okeechobee

The Champion Fallen Oak, Nathaniel Pryor Reed, SLR/IRL

Champion oak tree in Angel Oak Park, on Johns Island, South Carolina, National Registry of Champion Oaks page, 2015, https://www.americanforests.org/explore-forests/americas-biggest-trees/champion-trees-national-register/ (Image: B.B. Easton)
Christine Stapleton, Palm Beach Post 2014 https://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/tales-nature-and-power-award-enough-for-legendary-enviro-nat-reed/IGeJCG9mimBDuetearCDvN/
My parent’s fallen oak tree, 2016.

Nathaniel Pryor Reed 1933-2018

Obituary, Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/nathaniel-reed-leader-in-efforts-to-protect-endangered-wildlife-and-wetlands-dies-at-84/2018/07/13/ae25a46a-86a7-11e8-8f6c-46cb43e3f306_story.html?utm_term=.f87d9c61166c

Moon through the giant oak tree at my parents house, 11-6-14. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch)

The death of elderly Mr Nathaniel Reed, was not completely unexpected. He was like an ancient champion oak, old and beautifully weathered. But the news of his death was shocking, bringing  tears and heartbreak to the many touched by his long branches, and the seeds he spread along the way.

I can never “not remember” Mr Reed. He was always, since my earliest childhood, a figment of my greater imagination and consciousness, an example of what it meant to have a meaningful life and purpose,  to walk and make change in the tainted world of politics, to choose the greater-good over greed, to inspire.

During my Sewall’s Point mayorship in 2011,  I first became active in the environmental community for which Martin County is known. Mr Reed planted the seeds, writing me a note here and there, on his quality stationary; in 2016, he gave the maximum amount to my campaign when I ran for county commissioner, District 1, and in his final years, Mr Reed wrote a Letter to the Editor of the Stuart News of which he sent me a copy.

At that time my student proposed Constitution Revision Commission proposal “A Right to a Clean Environment” was getting clobbered by Affiliated Industries, the Florida Chamber, The Florida Agriculture Coalition, and other powers who had assembled a legal team, including a former Florida Chief Justice to squash this threatening idea.

I was so worn down, and had been working so hard. Mr Reed’s letter and support reinvigorated me and the students. And although the proposal did not make the vote, it made smarter people than me on the CRC and throughout the state think, about how our paradise of Florida has become so polluted, and what we can do for change.

Let’s once again read Mr Reed’s words, at the trunk of the fallen champion oak remembering that we are his acorns, or even his resurrection fern…

Thank you Mr Reed. I am forever grateful. We will work towards your legacy.

Letter: Proposed amendment a brave effort to ensure a clean environment

Dec. 8, 2017

Thank you for the Dec. 1 editorial supporting the right to a clean environment!

The “usual suspects” are opposing the constitutional amendment proposed by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, which would receive strong support from the vast majority of Florida voters, just as they quietly opposed Amendment 1.

The fact that the Department of Environmental Protection and the Everglades Foundation have at last identified every polluter in the vast Okeechobee headwaters is an astonishing feat. The sheer number of polluters is mind-boggling.

The failure to enforce the possibly unenforceable standard (best management practices) shines through the research as testament to the carelessness of our state governmental agencies about enforcing strict water quality standards within the watershed.

There is not a lake, river nor estuary in Florida that is not adversely impacted by agricultural pollution.

As one of the authors of the 1973 Clean Water Act, I attempted late in the process to include agricultural pollution in the bill, but the major congressional supporters of the pending bill felt that by adding controls on agricultural pollution the bill would fail.

Now, 54 years later, fertilizer and dairy wastes are the main contributors to the pollution of the waters of our nation. Algal blooms are all too common even on the Great Lakes.

The “usual suspects” may defeat Thurlow-Lippisch’s brave effort, but you are right: The issues won’t go away!

Lefty Durando’s column clearly states the issues involved in the decades-long struggle to protect the Arctic National Wild Life Refuge. Having been there several times as assistant secretary, I have joined a group of well-known environmentalists, Republicans and Democrats urging defeat of the proposal to open the critical habitat of the coast zone to exploratory drilling. I suspect it is a lost cause, but one worth the fight to preserve the “Serengeti of the North”!

Nathaniel Reed, Hobe Sound

Links:

The Right to a Clean Environment Should Be Written Into Florida’s Constitution, JTL, Stuart News: https://www.tcpalm.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/10/26/right-clean-environment-should-written-into-florida-constitution-guest-column/802410001/

News, Bruce Ritchie, Politico: Affiliated Industries Prepares to Fight a Right to a Clean Environment: https://www.politico.com/states/florida/story/2017/11/22/industry-to-fight-proposed-constitutional-amendment-for-clean-healthful-environment-122148

Resurrection fern

Is it Time to Address South Florida’s Greatest Taboo? “Shared Adversity,” SLR/IRL

LAKE OKEECHOBEE REGULATION SCHEDULE (LORS) http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Portals/44/docs/h2omgmt/LORSdocs/2008_LORS_WCP_mar2008.pdf

The second she said it, I was at full attention. This past Tuesday, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Director, Ms. Rae Ann Wessel, spoke on the Army Corps of Engineers Periodic Scientists Call. In seven years of listening, in seven years of agency and public comment, I had never heard, seriously, and scientifically, someone address South Florida’s greatest taboo.

Ms Wessel said something like this:

Part of the LORS (Lake Okeechobee Release Schedule 2008)  addresses “shared adversity.” Lake Okeechobee is approximately 470,000 acres. Would it be possible to put the water the Corps plans  to release from the lake over approximately 484,000 acres of  crop lands just south of the lake, rather than into estuaries? The Caloosahatchee algae situation is already at its absolute worst…

You could hear a pin drop…

Wessel was recommending options to the Army Corps and stakeholders regarding the ACOE restarting discharges to the estuaries. Since the previous week’s call, due to NOAA images showing 90% of the lake covered in cyanobacteria blooms, and crisis of algae in both estuaries, the Governor and other powerful politicians asked the federal agency to temporarily stop discharges considering all options before discharging, once again.

Just the previous day, before Wessel’s comment, after viewing the putrid algal mess in the Caloosahatchee, Gov. Rick Scott called for a State of Emergency encompassing seven counties.

Some history, earlier this year, the Caloosahatchee was almost begging the South Florida Water Management District and ACOE for water, but was denied. Now the Caloosahatchee is receiving so much water, with algae to boot, that they are experiencing a toxic summer similar to what the St Lucie experienced in 2016. The Caloosahatchee has had it especially tough this year.

The elephant in the room, or perhaps better described as the Tyrannosaurus rex in the room, is that with Lake Okeechobee over 14 feet, and the fact that we are now approaching the most turbulent part of hurricane season, the ACOE “has to start releasing again,” like now! And everybody knows this.

Therefore, Rae Ann was looking for options, for sharing adversity, and this was fair as the Calloosahatchee has bore most of the adversity this year. She wasn’t talking about flooding the cities in the EAA, she was inquiring about flooding the fields, by less than a foot of water that would evaporate quickly at that extension and depth, maybe stressing but not killing the crops. Sugarcane in particular, is a hardy and durable crop for intermittent periods of water.

Shared adversity… Certainly, the estuaries have have their “fair” share…

So why does the ACOEhave to dump to the estuaries? Why is it taboo to talk about flooding the fields? Because although the 2008 LORS talks about shared adversity the EAA is federally protected by an older and more important document. 

The ACOE in not a teacher picking favorites, they are the military taking orders from Congress.

The federal “law,” connected to the Central and South Florida Project (http://141.232.10.32/about/restudy_csf_devel.aspx) is complex, but perhaps best explained by sharing an excerpt from the book, River of Interests, by the Army Corp of Engineers. Page 35, discusses the 1948 Central and South Florida Project, what it did, and requires of the ACOE.(http://sccf.org/downloadable-files/5b465bf85f38152b048d1cce.pdf)

First, the Corps would build a levee from northwest Palm Beach County to the south of Dade County along the east coast, thereby preventing flooding from the Everglades to the coastal communities. Second, the Corps would modify control facilities and levees around Lake Okeechobee in order to create more water storage, and it would increase the discharge capacity from the lake in order to prevent flooding. Third, the Corps would create three water conservation areas in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties for water storage. Fourth, the Corps would construct canals, levees, and pumping stations to protect 700,000 acres of agriculture south of Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach, Hendry, and Glades counties, known as the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). Fifth, the Corps would build canals and water control structures to handle drainage in Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, and St. Lucie counties.

This bolded section is the key, this is why Rae Ann Wessel’s question rung so loudly in the silence of the ACOE call. For the ACOE, it is “understood,” that no matter the case, even with LORS, and in spite of “shared adversity,” that 700,000 acres of agriculture fields, south of Lake Okeechobee is to be protected from flooding destruction.

But as we all know, nothing lasts forever.

Just like other laws of our great county, some do, indeed over time, become outdated for the times. Things change. Among other issues, in 1950, when the Central and South Flood Project law was structured and voted upon to protect the crops in the EAA as part of flood control  2.81 million people lived in Florida. Today, 20 million people reside here. In the old days, the discharges did not have the impact as they do today, the rivers were healthier, and the Lake, it wasn’t so polluted. But now, seventy years later, water quality, pollution, and human health issues have risen to a point of question. “In emergency situations”, is discharging cyanobacteria water from Lake Okeechobee into the now heavily populated areas along the estuaries to prevent flooding of the Everglades Agricultural Area in the state’s best interest, or is it archaic, like the T-Rex in the room?

It might be time to re-evaluate South Florida’s greatest taboo.

s.wordpress.com/2018/07/img_2525.jpg”> Caloosahatchee algae bloom 7-6-18, photo courtesy Dave Stone.

[/caption]Links:

What is the Everglades Agricultural Area: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everglades_Agricultural_Area

Gov.Rick Scott State of Emergency proclamation: https://www.flgov.com/2018/07/09/gov-scott-issues-emergency-order-to-combat-algal-blooms-in-south-florida/

SCCF: (https://fortmyersbeach.news/rae-anne-wessel-of-sanibel-captiva-conservation-foundation/)

What are the ACOE Periodic Scientists Calls? Former blog post 2014: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/03/06/the-acoes-periodic-scientists-call-and-the-indian-river-lagoon/

Masses of Algae Pressing the Gates; Will ACOE Discharge Tomorrow? SLR/IRL

6-24-18, (Sunday)

I am posting this, not because I want to but because I have to. I much rather be enjoying the day instead of once again sitting at my computer. But time is of the essence.

This morning I read a comment by TcPalm reporter, Ed Killer, on Facebook stating the ACOE’s pulse release schedule for the St Lucie River.

Ed KillerThe Corps gave me this today

Sat- 0
Sun- 0
Mon- 1270 cfs
Tues- 2000
Wed- 2100
Thu- 1650

If this is true, and with Ed Killer posting, I believe it is, the ACOE will start releasing again Monday, 6-25-18. I did not know this until I read his post.

Today, my husband Ed and I were flying other people over Florida as usual, and during our flight I took this video expecting maybe some algae in C-44 but instead also found the gigantic bloom against the gates of S-308 in Lake Okeechobee leading into C-44/SLR.

So I wrote on Facebook:

I am so over this, but cannot fail to report. According to Ed Killer ACOE will start discharging from Lake O tomorrow in spite of Governor’s Emergency Order. Look at this algae mess waiting at gates of Port Mayaca. Write ACOE’s LTC Jennifer Reynolds and politely ask for ACOE to wait and to have DEP test again: jennifer.a.reynolds@usace.army.mil (JTL-S-308 video taken 6-24-15 at 12pm) #toxic2018

As Monday is tomorrow, and I fly to DC with the River Kidz tomorrow, I am posting this now. I truly believe considering the circumstances, that the ACOE should refrain from discharging at S-308 or S-80. And the state’s FDEP (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) should have this water tested, again, as bloom has changed.

To just dump this on the people of Martin County along the St Lucie River is a crime.

Respectfully,

Jacqui

PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO

The recognizable shape of S-308 the entrance to C-44 and the SLR. Lake O’s connection to the river—obvious massive algae bloom at gates.
Bloom as satellites show is throughout and scattered in lake. This shot is looking more towards middle of lake in southern area.

Entrance to Caloosahatchee on west side of lake and near Clewiston Bloom is all through lake.

The Algae Comes From the Lake, Documenting the Discharges, 2018, SLR/IRL

Since my husband, Ed, accidentally spotted an algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee, while running new engines on the Baron, I have posted many photos on Facebook and the word is out.

Nonetheless, for purposes of documentation, I am going to post some of the photos again on my blog for historical purposes and for those who do not use Facebook.

~Ed noticed the “lines of algae” in the lake on June 2, two miles or so northwest of Port Mayaca, the day after the ACOE started discharging from Lake O into the St Lucie River. Absolute chance, fate, or a tip from above, however you decide to look at it.

Since this time others have documented on the ground and DEP should be testing for toxicity.

So, after seeing the bloom on Friday, Ed went back the following day on Saturday in windy conditions so I stayed home–in the yellow plane, the Cub, getting more pictures of bloom, looking about the same but more dispersed from rain perhaps. These photos at lower altitude also include drainage structures around the lake, as well as the destruction of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon at Sewall’s Point and the St Lucie Inlet.

Photos will continue to be taken as we once again, document the discharges, and once again have seen first-hand, like we did in 2016, without the warning of our government, that the algae that contaminates the St Lucie River starts in Lake Okeechobee.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Sunday, June 3, 2018