Tag Archives: Greg Orvac

Port St Lucie’s New Mayor, a Friend to the SLR/Indian River Lagoon

Greg Orvac
Greg Oravec, PSL’s new mayor. Treasure Coast a Council of Local Governments meeting 12/14. Photo JTL.

(http://www.oravecformayor.com/)

Greg Oravec, Port St Lucie’s new mayor, is a friend to the Indian River Lagoon. Although many of us know him already, as he is the former city manager of PSL, we need to get to know him even better. We need to make him a close ally. He has qualities and desires to help us improve the health of the SLR/ IRL and to work together between Martin, St Lucie and Indian River counties, as well as between the state and federal government.

Mayor Oravec graduated magna cum laude from University of Miami’s honors program in “Marine Environmental Systems.” According to Greg’s bio, as a kid he “grew up fishing and building forts.”  Greg loves and appreciates our “good nature….” Today, Greg and his wife are raising three children and want their children to have access to clean water and an healthy outdoor environment too.

Mayor Orvac
Mayor Oravec

So how can Mayor Oravec help us?

Well, in terms of Martin and St Lucie counties, we don’t always think about it, but a tremendous portion of the runoff into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is from St Lucie County. Thank God they are on sewer and not septic for all but 22,000 of their residential properties… This runoff  is primarily because of canals C-23 and C-24. These two canals were built as part of the Central and South Florida Project in the 50s and 60s to drain the lands mostly of St Lucie County for agriculture (citrus) and for development. These two canals release untreated agricultural and urban runoff  into the north fork and central area of the St Lucie River. In case you don’t know, C-23 is the dividing line between St Lucie and Martin counties, but of course the river knows no boundaries….

Basin
Basin and canal  map SLR

For us today, it is important to note that St Lucie County with 250,000 residents is now the 9th largest city in Florida! And it is only going to get bigger with a projected 450,000 plus people by 2050. This is a negative but also a positive, in that St Lucie County and especially the City of Port St Lucie now have significant political power due to this population growth. They are a giant part of the key to getting what we want: more water moving south; no releases from Lake Okeechobee; and the clean up and water storage of excess polluted runoff of canals C-23, C-24 and C-25 into the SLR/IRL.

In fact, the first time I was ever invited to Port St Lucie County to learn about all the city  had been doing over the past few years to improve water quality was when I was mayor of Sewall’s Point in 2012 and Greg invited me up to PSL as their city manager. He showed me maps of McCarthy Ranch and the C-23 canal that were part of planning for the city’s water supply, growth,  and to clean the polluted water of C-23, along with other impressive local projects.

I have to say, honestly, Greg is one of the most polite yet determined people I have ever met. A true gentleman and a driven man of service. I ask everyone to welcome him and to make him a friend. Email him and congratulate him! Go out of your way to get to know him. Invite him to a Rivers Coalition or River Warrior meeting. Attend a PSL city commission meeting and “speak up!”

It is a rare day, to have such a person as Greg holding the reigns of Port St Lucie.

If you check out his website you will see that he dedicated an entire page to the Indian River Lagoon, stating as part of his goals: “to preserve our natural areas, especially the Indian River Lagoon.”

(http://oravecformayor.com/ourriver.html)

You can email Mayor Greg Oravec at his new official email : mayor@cityofpsl.com

Believe me, we need him more than ever; there is lots of work to do in PSL, but we sure do look forward working together on regional, state and federal issues to help save our shared resource, quality of life, and economy builder, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!

Mo
Mayor Oravec and Comr. JTL at the TCCLG meeting. We were trying to get the IRL in the background, but there was too much light!

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C-23 DEP
(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c23.pdf)
C-24 DEP
(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c24.pdf)

Thank you to Diane Hughes of Martin County’s Ecosystem and Restoration Division, who helped me with numbers for this post.

Using Water From C-23 for PSL Future Water Supply, McCarthy Ranch, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

McCarty Ranch is located in St Lucie County and will be the future water supply for the City of Port St Lucie.

McCarty Ranch is/was located in St Lucie County and will be the future water supply for the City of Port St Lucie.

The first time I heard about McCarty Ranch was from, at the time, City Manager Greg Orvac. It was 2012 and he invited me up to Port St Lucie to see all the wonderful work they were doing building areas to clean water run off and to learn about how the city was planning for its future water supply.

I was told that the idea of McCarty Ranch was that the city would  build a water treatment plant to withdrawal the polluted agriculture tainted water in the C-23 canal before it gets to the river, hold it, treat it, and use it.

“Wow,” I thought. “This is wild, I have heard of things like this in other areas of the state, but right here at home?”

This is great news about cleaning the filthy C-23 canal water that is one of many canals along with Lake Okeechobee releases killing our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c23.pdfbut there is also a tang of future “water wars” in this scenario as cities jostle for securing their future water supply.

Port St Lucie recently has become the 9th largest city in the state of Florida and has approximately 250,000 residents. By 2060 or so, they expect 400,000 or more. Three years before I was born, in 1961, a handful of residents petitioned the legislature for the fish camp area to become a city…

By looking at the Google map above, one can see that McCarty Ranch is located just above the C-23 canal east of Gatlin Boulevard. The C-23 canal is the “county line” between Martin and St Lucie Counties. I do not really know the details, and I think the city and county are still arguing over details in spite of a front page article in Scripps Newspapers today, but one would think the city will either have to also annex some of the lands below the McCarty piece or just have giant pipes connecting it to the C-23 through a small connected parcel. Either way, I am sure over time it will occur. They will build what they need to remove by South Florida Water Management District, (SFWMD), permit, water from the C-23 canal and use it for their citizens.

You may be thinking, the McCarty name rings a bell because you know or because  I recently wrote a blog about Dan McCarty awhile back. The blog was about how I stumbled upon a grave in Palms Cemetery along Indian River Drive that read: “Governor Daniel McCarty.”

Yes, the ranch belonged to this prominent St Lucie County, former 1800s pineapple, then ranch and citrus family.

If you have the time to listen to the first video link below, there is a fascinating video interview with Mrs Peggy McCarty Monahan, the granddaughter of Charles Tobin McCarty, talking about her father, the brother of Dan, the governor, saying to her when she was a young girl:  “Water is gong to be an issue, water is going to be the most important thing…”

Through these words he was telling her that one day the ranch’s proximity to the City of Port St Lucie would make it ideal for water storage and supply. Many of these old time ranchers preached this theme to their children knowing we had worked so hard to get the water off the land and one day we would be trying to put it back on…

Apparently there are lakes and mined areas on the property for water storage; I am unsure if the original McCarty idea included drawing water from C-23 canal; it very well could be, as C-23 was built in the 50s and 60s and waste tremendous amounts of water to tide in order to drain the surrounding lands for agriculture and development.

C-23  is one of the dirtiest canals dumping into the St Lucie River; it will be good to remove some of the water before it gets to the river but will there ever be a day when it takes too much or Martin County wants that water too?

Sounds far-fetched for sure, but all I know is that stranger things have happened along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Who would have though Port St Lucie would one day be projected to have over 400,000 people?

Aerial of what was to become the City of Port St Lucie, 1957. (Photo Ruhnke/Thurlow collection, courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
Aerial of what was to become the City of Port St Lucie, 1957. (Photo Ruhnke/Thurlow collection, courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)

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Interview with Peggy McCarty Monahan and PSL Strategic Plan for Water Supply McCarty Ranch: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ez_K6vFKt6Q)

Port St Lucie Web Page McCarty Ranch: (http://www.cityofpsl.com/parks-recreation/parks/mccarty_ranch.html)

Port St Lucie: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_St._Lucie,_Florida)