Tag Archives: Fl

Breaking Ground ~Caloosahatchee River’s C-43 Reservoir

Construction site at the C-43 Reservoir, Hendry County, morning October 25, 2019

The sun’s first light rose over a gigantic crane that was displaying both the American and Florida flags. Gusts burst through the C-43 construction site as the earth slowly warmed, the giant banners flapping loudly in the wind. I smiled to myself thinking, “it really is a new day for the Caloosahatchee.”

Press Release SFWMD awards contract C-43 Reservoir: https://www.sfwmd.gov/news/sfwmds-governing-board-awards-contract-build-caloosahatchee-c-43-west-basin-storage-reservoir

Governor Ron DeSantis would be coming for the groundbreaking of the C-43 Reservoir…

SFWMD C-43 Reservoir (https://www.sfwmd.gov/sites/default/files/documents/lass_portfolio_westcoast_c43res.pdf)

~Confusing for those of us on the east coast, unlike the St Lucie, the Caloosahatchee sometimes needs water. The idea of the C-43 Reservoir is to both reduce the amount of water released from Lake Okeechobee that makes it to the estuary during the wet season and to store water to be released during dry season in order to help maintain an ideal salinity in the upper estuary. Right now, it is often the case that the Caloosahatchee has to “compete” with other interests for water.

With this in mind, on his second day in office, Governor DeSantis called for expediting the important long-awaited reservoir as well as adding a water quality component. People on the west coast are bold to say that DeSantis has done great things for the Caloosahatchee since day one.

Executive Order 19-12 calls for expediting the C-43 Reservoir and calls for a water quality component: (Sec. 1 E & F) https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/EO-19-12-.pdf

SFWMD C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir: http://www.hendryfla.net/SFWMD%20Hendry%20BOCC%20January%202019.pdf

Knowing  I would be traveling in lands unfamiliar, I drove a day early to the C-43 site with Sean Cooley, Communications Director, South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)  and his assisting, Mr. Carter. Thus I was able to tour before and during Governor DeSantis’ visit. It was rare opportunity to learn more about Florida’s west coast.

How would I describe the expericence?

“Emense!”

Let me explain…

Video of going driving up the 45 foot mound to view the site of the C-43 Caloosahatchee Reservoir, 10-25-19.  

Mr Flood points to the construction site outside of the footprint.

 

On Thursday, Mr Phil Flood -SFWMD West Coast Regional Representative – was the first to give me a tour. We drove a truck up a huge mound that was weighing down clay to be used in the reservoir’s surrounding dike. When we got to the top of the 45 foot hill, Mr Flood pointed in every direction: “See that tree line? See the horizon? See the edge of that old packing house? All this all will include the reservoir…”

The wind whipped by; I held my hair out of my face, eyes squinting. I thought about the once natural flow of water from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay. I though about how much things have changed in a hundred years.

“Just like my friend Mr Haddad told me,” I shouted across the way,” we spent a hundred years taking the water off the land and we’ll spend the next hundred years putting it back on…”

Mr Flood broke into his wonderful smile directing my eyes, again, to the horizon.

“The C-43 will be huge!  The lands consists of 10, 500 square acres of former orange groves, will have 19 miles of dam embankment, 15 miles of perimeter canal, 14 major water control structures, 3 pump stations, and 3 bridges.”

“And most important, it will help save the Caloosahatchee!” I replied. We drove back down the giant mound watching the excitement as all prepared for the Governor’s arrival.

Caloosahatchee River: (http://www.sccf.org/water-quality/caloosahatchee-condition-reports)

Footprint

These photos in this post are from both Thursday, October 24 and Friday, October 25, 2019. They were taken as SFWMD staff along with Lane Construction Corporation, a U.S. subsidiary of Salini Impregilo prepared for the groundbreaking ceremony. The was great fanfare! We all know it’s time to fix the water!

JTL with Sean Cooley, Comm. Dir. and Carter Comm. SFWMD. 10-24-19
C-43 location
Welcome!
The construction site was buzzing with energy and excitement
One of many mounds
View of C-43 site from the top of the 45 foot mound. Photo Phil Flood 10-24-19
Looking west 10-24-19
Looking east 10-24-19
Looking in north with construction site below. This area will is not in reservoir’s footprint10-24-19.
Executive Director Drew Bartlett speaks to Phil Flood and others. This shot is looking southerly 10-25-19.

It’s now October 25th, waiting for the Governor and First Lady to arrive!

People gather waiting for the Governor and First Lady
It’s almost time!
Get ready!
Is everything just right?!
Look Governor!
JTL, Shannon Estenoz, Ellin Goetz, Daniel Andrews

Governor DeSantis speaks!

Governor and First Lady DeSantis surrounded by guests

 

Office of Gov. DeSantis: https://www.flgov.com/2019/10/25/governor-ron-desantis-breaks-ground-on-embankments-and-canals-to-complete-caloosahatchee-c-43-west-basin-storage-reservoir/

History Helps Us “See,” Septic to Sewer Conversion, SLR/IRL

Aerial of Lighthouse Point Feb. 8, 1965, Ruhnke Collection, Thurlow Archives.

At my request, my mother has been sharing historic real estate photos. Regarding today’s aerials, it seems the perfect time to broach the controversial subject of “septic to sewer.”

When I first saw the photographs of Lighthouse Point, I said “What is that?” I thought the land had been created by fill, but then realized it was natural lands filled and dredged. This practice was very common before the 1970s and happened at various locations throughout Martin County, but was more prevalent in destinations like Ft Lauderdale and Cape Coral. Wherever this land use was completed, early photographs allow us to see how strange, how vulnerable,  how naked, the land looks. And we can see its connection, like a sponge, over the surrounding waters…

Let’s take a closer peek at this 1965 photo of Lighthouse Point in the St Lucie River. In 1965, developers had no concerns about nutrient pollution, and every property of course had its own septic tank.

Lighthouse Point/Seagate Harbor 1968, Ruhnke Collection, Thurlow Archives

Fortunately, in the 2000s, Martin County did help residents of Lighthouse Point and neighboring Seagate Harbor, convert from septic to sewer, along with other “hot-spot” communities, as documented in this outstanding presentation by former Martin County Ecosystems Manager, Deborah Drum.

http://riverscoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/DDRUM-Rivers-Coalition-June-2017.pdf

Red ballon shows Lighthouse Point/Seagate Harbor neighborhoods in Palm City
See yellow dots, slide from Deb Drum’s presentation of completed projects.

But there is more work to do.

As we know, Septic to Sewer is one of those subjects people passionately fight over as we try to understand why our waterways have become so impaired. This was the case in my own hometown of Sewall’s Point.

Famous for the first strong fertilizer ordinance on Florida’s east coast in 2010, a year of my mayorhood, The Commission flipped this environmental streak, and last year, when I was off the commission, following much back and forth and very poor communication, ~in spite of heroic efforts, but a totally exhausted, confused and furious public, decided not to work with Martin County for a partial sewer conversion. The backlash to this is far-reaching.

I agree that most of Sewall’s Point is not dredge and fill, but some is, and with out a doubt, old septic tanks in flood zones along the Indian River Lagoon are not a good idea.

In Sewall’s Point, and all Martin County residential areas we can “feel better about ourselves” as we know that  Agriculture is the primary nitrogen and phosphorus polluter into our waterways, (and they need to get to work!) by about 88% according to Dr Gary Goforth. (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/phosphorus-loading-by-land-use-what-fdep-isnt-telling-us-gary-goforth/) Nonetheless, this does not mean we should act too self-righteous to change out ourselves.

As we all begrudgingly work to lessen nutrient pollution (nitrogen and phosphorus) into our waterways, it is helpful to look backwards as we plan for the future. Thanks mom for sharing your photos; history helps us “see.”

Links:

What is nutrient pollution? EPA https://www.epa.gov/nutrientpollution

Martin County Sewer Conversion: https://www.martin.fl.us/SeptictoSewer

City of Stuart Sewer Conversion: http://cityofstuart.us/index.php/en/sewer-expansion/sewer-expansion-maps

Scientific paper: Earth Sci 2017 estimation of nitrogen load from septic systems
to surface water bodies in St. Lucie River and Estuary Basin, Florida, Ming Ye1 • Huaiwei Sun2,1 • Katie Hallas3: http://people.sc.fsu.edu/~mye/pdf/paper62.pdf

Sandra Henderson Thurlow, local historian: http://www.sandrathurlow.com

The Intertwined History of Stuart and Belle Glade, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Bridges across the St Lucie River, ca. 1920. (Photo archives Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Bridges across the St Lucie River, ca. 1920. The swing span (metal span) of the auto bridge was moved to Torry Island, Lake Okeechobee in 1938. (Photo archives Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Location of Torry Island, Belle Glade, Lake Okeechobee where the St Lucie Bridge was moved to ca. 1940.
Location of Torry Island, Belle Glade, Lake Okeechobee where the St Lucie Bridge was moved to in 1938..

Few people realize that a little piece of Stuart history sits on Torry Island near the City of Belle Glade. Belle Glade of course sits south the man-made southern shore of Lake Okeechobee….I didn’t know about the bridge connection either, until I visited my mother last week.

When I got to her house, she handed me what appeared to be a gold leaf yearbook, but when I looked closer it read: “Florida Trails to Turnpikes 1914-1964, Florida State Road Department.” Page 216 was marked:

“The old original bridge across the St Lucie River had been built by E.P. Maule in 1917 with a twelve-foot-wide roadway swing span across the navigation channel. We moved that swing span of barges down the St Lucie Canal and down Lake Okeechobee to Torry Island. Should you cross from the mainland over the canal onto Torry Island today, you would cross on the old swing span of th abridge that originally went across the St Lucie River.”

“Wow that’s cool mom. Like you always say, we’re all connected.”

“Your father and I visited not too long ago. The Corbin family has been manning the bridge for generations. It’s a fascinating story that you should know about.”

A short history is explained here:

“The story of the bridge’s origins flow smoothly from Corbin… The 1928 hurricane that ravaged the Glades set in motion the chain of events that would bring the bridge to Belle Glade. The storm destroyed the original dike that surrounded the lake. To build the replacement dike, the federal government spooned out a canal, separating Torry Island from Belle Glade, and used the dirt for the dike. The new canal, called the Okeechobee Waterway, needed a bridge. In 1938, state contractors built the Point Chosen Bridge, replacing a pontoon bridge with a swing bridge that was built in 1916 and relocated from the St. Lucie River near Stuart. The bridge consisted of the movable portion and wooden trestles on each end.” Associated Press article, 2009.

The Corbin family has manned the swing span for many generations. Photo of a photo shared by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
The Corbin family has manned the swing span for many generations. Photo of a photo shared by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

“Very interesting. Do you have any pictures of your and dad’s field trip ?”

My mother disappeared and was back within minutes:

....
….Torry Island, Belle Glade, Lake Okeechobee.
.....
…..the bridge at Torry Island
...
…plaque
....
….Bridge at Torry Island with swing span
I took this of your dad with Lake Okeechobee behind him but it was not taken at Torry Island. The Lake just blended with the sky." Sandra Thurlow
I took this of your dad with Lake Okeechobee behind him but it was not taken at Torry Island. The Lake just blended with the sky.” Sandra Thurlow

“Thanks mom”…..as I read more about it, I learned that the bridge’s name, “Point Chosen Bridge,” was chosen because there used to be town named  “Chosen” located there. Chosen was one of the original towns along the shores of Lake Okeechobee. It was destroyed in the 1928 hurricane. So the bridge swing span from Stuart was chosen to rest at Chosen. Wow. An intertwined history  indeed….

Chosen:(http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/chosen)
Ghost Town (http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/fl/chosen.html)

Florida Trails to Turnpikes, 1964.
Florida Trails to Turnpikes, 1964.
Transcription via Sandra Thurlow from Florida Trails and Turnpikes 1964 about the St Lucie swing span being moved to Torry Island.
Transcription via Sandra Thurlow from Florida Trails and Turnpikes 1964 about the St Lucie swing span being moved to Torry Island.
Article, undated via Sandra Thurlow.
Article, undated via Sandra Thurlow.

Associated Press article on the Point Chosen Bridge at Torry Island and the Corbin family who has worked the bridge since 1938 : (http://www.tbo.com/lifestyle/states-oldest-swing-drawbridge-spans-history-72863)

City of Belle Glade (http://www.bellegladegov.com)

Belle Glade: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belle_Glade,_Florida)

Historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow:(https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/08/06/the-contributions-of-the-history-lady-sandra-henderson-thurlow-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)