Tag Archives: estuaries

Last Thursday Shall Be Proclaimed “Water Tower Day,” as Lake O discharges reached the top! SLR/IRL


If the discharge waters of Lake Okeechobee filled up the City of Stuart, Florida. Last Thursday, they would have reached the top of Stuart’s iconic water tower that stands at 134 feet.

 

Stuart, North of Monterey.

Whereas, if the ACOE’s discharge waters of Lake Okeechobee were “filling up the City of Stuart,” last Thursday, October 26, these polluted waters, would have reached the top of Stuart’s iconic 134 foot water tower…

Whereas, once again, our economy and ecology is completed devastated, and high bacteria levels in the water are exacerbated therefrom….We shall remember this day…

We shall, therefore, designate, Thursday, October 26, as “Water Tower Day” and say together: “Lake O discharges have reached the top; this must STOP!”

Stop the Discharges

Yes, to put the Lake Okeechobee discharges into perspective, last Thursday the cumulative 2017 ACOE/SFWMD discharges from S-80 passed 134 “Stuart Feet”. The Stuart water tower is 134 feet tall. See my brother Todd’s cumulative total page below:

St Lucie River Discharges
***
S-80 Cumulative Total 2017: http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOLiveData/2017/

– In the lost summer of 2013, Stuart/Martin County received 284 “Stuart Feet”, 2.1 times the height of the tower.

– In 2017, the gates did not open until September 5. So it took only 52 days to accumulate that same amount of discharges!

– In 2013, the discharges started on May 8 (with the exception of some small pulses earlier in the year). That year, it took 91 days to hit a cumulative “134 Stuart Feet” – on August 7.

In other words, the discharges have been almost twice the rate as they began in 2013. You can see this in the slope of my brother’s graphs in the web page above. This doesn’t really mean a lot though. In 2013 the discharges didn’t really begin to accelerate until mid-July. At that point, the rates of discharge were comparable to what we are getting now.

– At the current average of about 4200 cfs, we would hit the 2013 total of 284 Stuart feet in another 42 days (December 9). If they are saying the discharges could continue for months, this could happen. We could have another record year, even though the disaster didn’t start until September. Maybe they will throttle it back a little or start pulsing again so it won’t be the case. In any event, this is already another lost year…

(This blog post was based on writing and ideas by my brother and contributing blogger, Todd Thurlow, http://www.thurlowpa.com)

* I edited this post from “today” to “last Thursday.” An ever rising story.  🙂 JTL

X. Mascarnas, TCPalm. on-line image.

 

Documenting the Discharges, 10-29-17, SLR/IRL

These aerial photos over the St Lucie Inlet were taken by my husband, Ed Lippisch, Sunday, October 29, 2017, at 1:45pm. 

The number one issue here is the polluted waters of Lake Okeechobee being forced into the SLR/IRL because they are blocked by the Everglades Agricultural Area from going south. 

The ACOE has been discharging Lake O waters into the St Lucie since mid-September. These over-nutrified and sediment filled waters continue to destroy our economy and ecology on top of all the channelized agricultural and development waters of C-23, C-24 and C-25. Stormwater from our yards and streets also adds to this filthy cocktail. 

Near shore reefs, sea grasses, oysters, fish? A human being? Better not have a cut on your hand…Not even a crab has an easy time living in this.

We move forward pushing the SFWMD and ACOE for the EAA Reservoir with these sad photos and the fact that our waters are putrid at the most beautiful time of year as motivation. We will prevail. One foot in front of the other. 

Save the St Lucie! Save the Indian River Lagoon!

Links to ACOE website: See S-80 & S-308, others intesting too. Northern waters should also be cleaned! http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm

Documenting the Discharges 10-22-17, SLR,IRL

Without documentation, there is no record. With no record, there is less chance for improvement.

Yesterday, Ed, Luna, Bo and I continued to document the discharges, right now, coming mostly from Lake Okeechobee.

There are serious signs of stress in the estuary including reports of leisoned fish  that I have posted on Facebook. The rest, from above, we can see for ourselves…

“Keep the pressure on” for the reservoir and for replumbing the great state of Florida.

ACOE, Lake O: http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml
S-308 and S-80 connected to both LO and C-44: http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm
C-23,(S97) C-24,(S49) C-25 (S99): http://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/pls/portal/realtime.pkg_rr.proc_rr?p_op=FORT_PIERCE

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Lake O is Coming Down, So When Will the Discharges Stop? SLR,IRL

Say No to Lake O

“Say No to Lake O,” this is one of the rallying cries of the River Kidz. If only it were as easy as just saying “no.” According my numbers-man, my brother Todd, the “St Lucie River has taken in more than 86+ billion gallons this year, enough to put Stuart under 111 feet of water. This is only enough to take 6 inches off of the lake.” The west coast is taking most of the lake level reducing water and of course they are screaming “say no to Lake O” too.

Eco-Voice, present west coast advocacy, 10/17.
Realistically, with the Army Corp of Engineers reporting the Lake level at 17.07, today, it will be a few more weeks of releases to get near or under 16 feet. A safer number for the dike and for the people who live in fear of it breeching.  Not to mention the 525,000 of acres of protected sugarcane… http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm

Black Gold, the muck soils south of Lake Okeechobee. (Photo JTL, 2014.)
I do believe the authorities are getting the message, though…so keep screaming. SAY NO TO LAKE O! For everyone!

I think our water culture is changing, and the government is being forced/inspired so they can get reelected and respected…. to improve our water/rivers situation. Just yesterday, I got an email about a woman whose Bascom Palmer doctor notes she has an eye infection in her cornea very possibly from “walking the bridge,” repeatedly over the St Lucie River.

I am not making this up.

These health issues are real. More and more people are realizing this. Lake O and other canal unfiltered pollution must halt.

Here is a blog post I wrote earlier this year where Rob Lord, lawyer, business man, CEO of Martin Health discusses health issues https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/robert-lord/

So it looks like the Lake Okeechobee is going down, but we are still going to get releases for while. (See the info below on my brother’s site.)  Things are still bad, but they are getting better.

~Never stop screaming “Say No to Lake O,” we owe it to ourselves, and to the future.

Hydro. Lake is going down.
_________________________________________________________________

Great information below!

Jacqui,

It looks link the lake is coming back down. See the graph links on my Firm Favorites Page:

SFWMD & ACOE
Lake O Stage Graph Month (http://my.sfwmd.gov/dbhydroGraph/servlet/DbhydroGraphServlet.do?v_report_type=format6&v_period=month&v_end_date=20171003&v_start_date=20170901&v_dbkey=15611/06832/N3466)

It’s hard believe that we have taken 86+ billion gallons this year, enough to put Stuart under 111 feet of water. But this is only enough to take 6 inches off of the lake. The west coast is taking most of the lake level reducing water.

St Lucie River Discharges
S-80 Cumulative Total 2017 | 2016 (http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOLiveData/2017/) (http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOLiveData/2016/)

By the way, I have a new link of my Lake O Satellite imagery page that will actively pull up the last 7 days of low res images from all three satellites:
St Lucie River Discharges
Latest Lake O Satellite Imagery (http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOImagery/)
Click on the “Terra/Aqua/Suomi Last 7 days icon”.

Best regards,

Todd

Thomas H. Thurlow III
THURLOW & THURLOW, P.A.
17 Martin L. King, Jr. Blvd.
Suite 200
P.O. Box 106
Stuart, FL 34995-0106
Phone: (772) 287-0980
Facsimile: (772) 220-0815
Email: todd@thurlowpa.com
Web: http://www.thurlowpa.com

The Blackened, Bubbling St Lucie, SLR/IRL

Guest blog an photos by Geoff Norris,  Indian River Plantation POA Group:

Guest blog an photos by Geoff Norris,  Indian River Plantation POA Group:

These photographs of the Indian River Lagoon were taken on 11 October 2017, between the bridge at East Ocean Blvd, Stuart and north to Indian Riverside Park and Jensen Beach, Florida. The lagoon waters have been polluted for several days with run-off from Lake Okeechobee making the lagoon various shades of brown, orange, red and grey, with dirty scummy foam a feature at the shorelines and also as foamy windrows and wave crests in open water. The St Lucie River is in much the same state.

During this time the Army Corps of Engineers has been opening the locks at Port Mayaca to discharge water from Lake Okeechobee down the St Lucie Canal to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon estuarine system. Rates vary from 4500 to 5500 cubic feet per second, equivalent to 2.9 to 3.5 billion gallons per day. It has been calculated that this amount of discharge would cover the Stuart peninsula north of Monterey Road with four feet or more of water in one day.

The Florida Oceanographic Society reports for 10 October 2017 that salinities in the Lagoon have been drastically reduced by this lake discharge to between 1 and 3 parts per thousand sufficient to kill many estuarine fish and other plants and animals (normally the salinity would be between about 20 and 25 parts per thousand in this section of the lagoon). The Society has graded the overall health of the Lagoon on either side of the East Ocean Bridge as “Poor to Destructive”. See this link:

https://www.floridaocean.org/uploads/files/Research/Water%20Quality/171005.pdf

The Army Corps of Engineers is aware that they are killing the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon estuarine system by their actions, but consider it more important to lower the Lake Okeechobee level from the current level of 17.2 (feet above mean sea level) to a desired level of between 12 ft and 15 ft.

These are the facts. It is also a fact that politicians have not managed to stop this destruction.

Geoff Norris

A Chocolate Ocean; A Black River, A Disgrace, SLR/IRL

Flight over SLR/IRL to view canal C-23, C-24, C-25 and especially present high releases from Lake Okeechobee through C-44 Canal. JTL/EL 10-14-17

Yesterday, I asked Ed to take me up in the plane, once again to document the discharges. In the wake of much rain and an active hurricane season, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon continues to sacrifice its economy, health, and ecosystem for the EAA and South Florida drainage. A standard operating procedure that is outdated and dangerous.

The discharges from Lake O. have been on and off since Hurricane Irma hit on September 20th. Presently they are “on,” and it shows. Right now our river and ocean shores near the inlet should be at available to boaters, fisher-people, and youth, in”full-turquoise-glory.” Instead, the estuary, beaches, and near offshore is a ghost-town along a chocolate ocean and a black river. The edge of the plume can hardly be distinguished as all is dark, sediment filled waters. A disgrace.

ACOE 10-15-17
10-15-17 Lake O is high. This is a threat to those who live south and around the lake.
South Florida’s southern Everglades, 1850 & today. The water that used to flow south now is sent to the ocean and Gulf of Mexico through canals C-44 (SLR) and C-43.(Cal.) (Map courtesy of SFWMD.)
Image showing drainage of S. Florida through St Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. These rivers, that God did not connect to Lake Okeechobee, have been channelized by humans to dump Lake O. This drainage system put in place  in the 1920s does not serve Florida today. Not economically, health wise, or environmentally. We must continue to push to replumb the system the best we can.  (Public image.)

ACOE, Lake O: http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml
S-308 and S-80 connected to both LO and C-44: http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm
C-23,(S97) C-24,(S49) C-25 (S99): http://my.sfwmd.gov/portal/pls/portal/realtime.pkg_rr.proc_rr?p_op=FORT_PIERCE

I told Ed it’s best not to smile for this photo. We look forward to seeing the model and timeline from the SFWMD and ACOE for Senator Negron’s reservoir, and the beginning of turning this century old nightmare.

 

SFWMD basin map for SLR showing canal discharge structures.

 

Speak Out Tonight, For the “Little-Big Fish,” the Menhaden, SLR/IRL

 

One thing’s for sure, if you don’t have small fish, you won’t have big fish. Being a little fish is actually the most important thing in world. A small fish is a “big fish” we could say, part of it anyway…  As kids, we learn about the food chain and it makes perfect sense. All life is dependent upon another; everything is connected.

https://fizzyjinks.deviantart.com/

I have to say when Cameron Jaggerd contacted me, I had to look up “menhaden” in Wikipedia. I was not familiar with the name. When I saw this fish has many names such as shad, bunker, shiner, and pogy, I recognized it.

All those names, incredible! It is obviously an important fish to many regions, and to many people. In fact, I found an article in The American Naturalist entitled “A Study of the Popular Names of the Menhaden,” noting there are over 35 names!

Cameron invited me to attend today’s public hearing to support this important and underrated fish. I hope you can attend too. I myself have witnessed the beauty of terns catching the smallest of these fish, silver-sparkling, like metal against the sun. So beautiful! So important! An inspiration! We must protect these filter-feeding little-big guys, who clean our waters, and feed the world.

 

Below, Cameron gives great insight and teaches about the history and politics of tonight’s public hearing. His contact info is below.

Hi Jacqui,
My name is Cameron Jaggard and I work on public policy, specifically fisheries management, at The Pew Charitable Trusts. I am based in North Palm Beach and grew up on the southern stretch of the IRL. I am contacting you because there is an important public hearing scheduled for October 10 6pm at the Melbourne Beach Community Center that I thought you’d want to attend. This hearing, the only one in the South, will help decide the fate of “the most important fish in the sea,” also known as Atlantic menhaden or pogy.

After several years in the making, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has released menhaden draft Amendment 3 for public comment. The ASMFC will accept written comments until October 24 at 5pm and oral comments at the hearing. Final action will occur this November in MD. Here is the official announcement http://asmfc.org/uploads/file//59c18611pr37MenhadenDraftAm3_Hearings_Revised2.pdf. I have setup a Facebook event for the hearing here https://www.facebook.com/events/1260348224093315/?ref=br_rs . A flyer is attached.

With strong encouragement, the Commission could decide to leave hundreds of millions more menhaden in the ocean to grow abundance and provide for predators, such as tarpon, king mackerel, and osprey, or, without it, they could stick with the current single-species approach and likely take hundreds of millions more out of the ocean for fish meal, pet food, and other products. Issue 2.6 Reference Points – Option E of draft Amendment 3 is the option that gets us to this 21st century approach as soon as possible and as such, enjoys broad support from conservation groups (e.g. Audubon, Earthjustice, Wild Oceans, FWF), fishing organizations (e.g. IGFA, ASA, CCA, TRCP, Anglers for Conservation), and the best available science. As a matter of fact, Stony Brook is currently championing a PhD sign-on letter in support that currently has over 100 signers. This piece from Ed Killer last week gives a nice local take on what’s at stake http://www.tcpalm.com/story/sports/outdoors/fishing/2017/09/28/most-important-fish-sea-discussed-oct-10/711709001/

This hearing is a rare and important opportunity for you, your family, and friends to affect change that could have widespread, positive impacts for menhaden, their predators, and the people who depend on them. I heard the big commercial menhaden fishery had 150-200 folks turnout at hearings up north last week. This will be the only hearing in the South, vey important.

Also…I was trying to think of how you could best relate the story of menhaden to your readers. Some thought bubbles I came up with during this brainstorm are below. Seems there are some clear parallels between menhaden and the IRL. Specifically, that we want management of water and management of menhaden that benefits all, not just a select few businesses. Maybe these thoughts will provide some useful inspiration for your story or maybe not.
· Menhaden might not be well known outside of the fishing world, but their plight should be familiar to all those who have fought for the health of the Indian River Lagoon. Much as Florida’s water management has been shaped by Big Sugar, menhaden have been at the mercy of the commercial menhaden reduction fishery, which nets and vacuums menhaden out of the sea to be ground up and processed, like sugar cane, into ingredients for everything from cosmetics to pet food.
· This one-sided approach has produced very clear benefits for these special interests, while leaving everyone else who depends on healthy estuaries and plentiful menhaden in the lurch.
· Now, a proposed rulemaking, known as Amendment 3 to the…, could flip the tables and see to it that an important public trust resource is managed to the benefit of all.
o With your support, Amendment 3 could put much needed restraints on the commercial menhaden fishery to ensure we leave enough menhaden in the ocean to provide for the predators and people that depend on them from Florida to Maine.
· If you support this equitable approach to managing our precious natural resources, I encourage to attend the menhaden hearing today, October 10 6pm at the Town of Melbourne Beach Community Center and make sure to speak in favor of “Reference Points Option E.” Please also submit a written comment in support of “Reference Points Option E” to comments@asmfc.org with the subject “Draft Amd. 3” by October 24, 2017. For more information on Amendment 3 please visit http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/compass-points/2017/08/31/fate-of-most-important-fish-in-the-sea-hangs-on-commission-decision

FAQ:

 

(1) What’s happening?
The state officials that set rules for menhaden commercial fishing along the East Coast, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, will decide at a November 13 meeting in Baltimore how to move forward a new management model for this important fish. While fisheries managers throughout the country are starting to set catch limits for forage fish like menhaden in a way that leaves enough in the ocean for predators to eat, it will make history if menhaden are managed this way. That’s because menhaden is the biggest fishery by volume on the East Coast, and third in the country, after Alaska pollock and Gulf menhaden.

(2) What’s the timing?
Now is the chance for the public from Maine to Florida to influence the outcome. Until October 24, the Commission is inviting comment on menhaden management from the public in every state through in-person hearings, and emailed or written comments. This hearing is the only one in Florida. ASMFC has asked comments be submitted to comments@asmfc.org with the subject line Draft Amd. 3 . Pew has an action alert for people to submit a comment http://advocacy.pewtrusts.org/page/13431/-/1?_ga=2.234760734.140280769.1505740197-721074420.1504012946 .

(3) Why do people here care?
Menhaden (also called bunker and pogy) are prey for many species that people care about. Recreational fishermen want to see plentiful menhaden in the water for tarpon, king mackerel, billfish and more to eat; same goes for birders looking for eagles and ospreys and whale-watching tourists and residents looking for humpbacks close to shore.

(4) Who can I talk to?
I can arrange a time for you to speak with Pew’s Joseph Gordon, who leads the Mid-Atlantic ocean conservation team and can give you the national context for this issue; here’s his latest Pew blog on menhaden. A member of Joseph’s team will be at each hearing and can help you find people to talk to there, so let me know if you’d like to be in touch with him.

(5) Are there any visuals?
Great visuals are out there on menhaden and their predators. In the last few summers, videos showing these species feasting on menhaden (see this shark video and this humpback video as examples) are popular.

(6) What’s interesting about menhaden?
Many people may not have heard of menhaden, because they don’t end up as seafood in this country. Commercial fishing for menhaden is mostly a “reduction” fishery that grinds them into pet food, fertilizer and fish oil; about a quarter of menhaden caught end up as bait for other fishermen to use. Despite menhaden being one of the country’s biggest fishery by volume, there were no catch limits at all until 2013. While the menhaden population seems to be growing, it is still at near-historic lows. It was much larger in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, before hitting lows in the 1990s and 2000s.

Best Wishes,
Cam

Cameron Jaggard
Principal Associate, U.S. Oceans, Southeast |
The Pew Charitable Trusts | c: 202-590-8954 |
e: cjaggard@pewtrusts.org | pewtrusts.org
Twitter: @Coastal_Cam

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Working info on the species from ShrimpnFishFlorida.com http://www.shrimpnfishflorida.com/bait_fish_identification.html

Menhaden
Shad, bunker, shiner, pogey, and no telling how many other names, are all describing the menhaden (Brevoortia patronus). They grow to approximately one foot and are very similar in appearance to the freshwater shad, but are not the same fish. Menhaden are extremely oily, which is why they have been commercially netted for so many years for the oil and meal that can be produced from them. They are many people’s “secret” bait for almost all species, using them alive, dead, or cut. They should be hooked just like all the other baits that I have written about so far — For trolling, hook them through the nose; for bottom fishing, through the nose or over the anal fin; and as cut bait, they should be cut diagonally and hooked over the top of the cut surface.
Menhaden are plankton filter feeders and can only be caught with a cast net since they won’t bite a hook. Sometimes when you see bait “striking” or rolling on the surface, it is a school of menhaden making surface slurps of minute surface food items. We used to be able to spot menhaden inside Tampa Bay in the summer time by the oil slick that will form over a large school. They also have a very distinctive smell if you are downwind of them. They are a very fast moving fish, and usually by the time you see them on your fish finder, they have moved far enough away from the boat so that you cannot net them. We try blind throws of the cast net in the area where we can see them flipping on the surface; this usually will produce bait. Menhaden are also very intolerant of low dissolved oxygen and will die quickly in a poorly aerated live well. Still, they are five star on my list of baits.
Just as a note, if you have never seen live menhaden, many of them have a small critter that comes crawling out of their mouths when they die. This is quite a surprise the first time you see it. It appears to be some sort of shrimp or crab that looks like a mantis shrimp and must live inside the mouth or gill area without hurting the menhaden. I don’t remember seeing this written about in any of the fish books, but surely some biologist somewhere has seen this.