-C-25, Taylor Creek, Ft Pierce, FL July 20, 2013 Jacqui & Ed Lippisch
This aerial photo is an old one. Taken in July of 2013, it became one of the “poster-photos” in the fight to fix the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. This photograph is not of Lake Okeechobee water, but the polluted runoff of C-25, Ft Pierce, St Lucie County.
Yesterday, the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board approved the purchase of 1,583 acres to create a reservoir and storm water treatment area for the the C-25. This means, that over time, this horrible looking sediment-pollution plume will be lessened or even disappear. Good for the Indian River’s seagrass! Good for the hard working residents!
When the modern River Movement began, brought on by the “Lost Summer of 2013,” the entire focus was on the discharges destroying the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon from Lake Okeechobee. The St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon deals with a “two-front war.” The C-Canals (C-44, C-23, C-24, C-25) and often toxic Lake Okeechobee that is discharged through the C-44 Canal along with basin run-off.
What ensued will make the history books:
~The people united against the Cyanobacteria laden Lake Okeechobee discharges that are considered the worst of all the discharges, and pushed for the EAA Reservoir, with the help of Senate President, Joe Negron, and others. The reservoir was approved by Congress in 2018. This was an amazing feat. The EAA Reservoir is ready to go under construction, and will allow more water to go south to the Everglades and less water to be discharged to the St Lucie and Calooshahatee estuaries. This was the first and most important goal.
So now, with that in place, (and continuing to fight for its completion), it is time for the River Movement to expand to the next level of destruction, the C-Canals. Although the betterment of these canals has been part of CERP since the beginning, they are just now seeing their day. All of them fall under the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan category, “Indian River Lagoon South,” and there are four of the them in our region: C-44, C-23, C-24, C-25. “C” stands for Canal.
Remarkably enough, the C-44 Reservoir, in Indiantown will go on-line next week as the 1st major CERP project completed and as the first component of “Indian River Lagoon South.”
Because of the ACOE moving forward, in the near future, other C-Canal projects will be completed: 1.C-23 and C-24, done together through the C-23/24 North and South Reservoirs, and the C-23/24 Storm Water Treatment Area; and 2. there is now land for the C-25 Reservoir and Storm Water Treatment Area. (Top of image.)
It is impressive that since 2019, not only was the first construction contract awarded for the EAA Reservoir – and that the SFWMD is building the EAA Storm Water Treatment Area, but that also from 2019-to present, the Army Corp of Engineers is “in design” on C-23/C-24 and, yesterday, the SFWMD bought land for C-25. This is all costing millions of dollars!
I know all of these numbers get confusing. The bottom line is that almost all is in place to to heal our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. (EAA Reservoir; C-44 Reservoir, C-23/24 Reservoir and now even C-25 Reservoir.)
Now we just have to get it all to the finish line.
This will take about ten years so long as all goes well and LOSOM’s outcome is palatable. I will talk more about this in another post.
In closing, for long-working Martin County Commissioner, Sarah Heard, I must mention the last and perhaps most important part of Indian River Lagoon South. The “Natural Lands” component. ~for the birds and other creatures. Part, like Allapattah Flats, is complete but there is more to acquire. See list below.
For now, please try to learn the C-Canals if you don’t know them. We will all need to know them for the the next chapter of the St Lucie River/ Indian River Lagoon!
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.
Today’s blog is a review of something we have been talking about for a long time now. Something that is in the news once again. The C-44 Storm Water Treatment Area and Reservoir, a component of the Indian River Lagoon South, CERP project.
Today we will break down this project into chucks so we can understand what is happening, and what has already happened, and clarify some terminology.
The term “C-44” can be confusing as C-44 is a canal but is applied to others things and used as a “nickname” for an entire, multi-layered project. First, the C-44 is a canal that was built from 1915 to 1923 by the flood control district of the era and later by the Army Corp of Engineers. This canal has dual purposes. It allows water from the C-44 basin to run into and be released into the North Fork of the St Lucie River, and it allows overflow water from Lake Okeechobee to be released into the North Fork of the St Lucie River. “All this water” plasters the bottom of the estuary with silt and pollution from surrounding lands, in this case mostly from agricultural runoff.
There are two structures along the C-44 canal that release the water: structure 308 (S-308) at Lake Okeechobee, “Port Mayaca,” and S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam in Tropical Farms.
Believe it or not, the canal can “run in both directions, dumping water to the lake or to the St Lucie. The ACOE is in charge and works together with the South Florida Water Management District to manage this canal that is part of Florida’s history for “water supply” of agriculture and “flood control” for agricultural lands that later became populated by people other than just farmers…..
So the “C-44 STA/R.,” as I will call it, has been in the works conceptually since the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan or CERP that was agreed on by stakeholders in 2000. There are/were 68 project components of CERP, none are 100% complete. C-44 STA/R is part of “Indian River Lagoon South” a part of CERP that got a jump-start in 2007 and moved up on the list of 68.
Why haven’t all these projects been approved and funded? In the insane and fickle world of federal and state politics there is never a guarantee. So the ACOE and SFWMD live in a state of flux as do we, the public. This is why we must fight so hard, elect the right legislators, and “never give up.”
In 2011, after a couple of false starts the ACOE held a groundbreaking for the C-44 STA/R project. This was a happy day. I was mayor of the Town of Sewall’s Point at the time and participated in the groundbreaking event. This was Contract 1 and there are many components to this contract, but the most visible one is the building of the INTAKE CANAL from C-44 canal into the interior of the lands where the STA and Reservoir are to be built.
As you can see from this breakdown the project below, C-44 STA/R has multiple “contracts.” This is why we keep hearing about it “again and again.” The chart below is very helpful in understanding a timeline of the contracts. Each is funded separately. For fun, I have also included some pictures of the 2011 groundbreaking event. You can see how many people involved are not “here” anymore….
OK so now fast forward to 2013. A year that rings like torture for those of us who lived here in Martin and St Lucie Counties during that time. It was the “Lost Summer” when the waters of Lake Okeechobee and C-44, C-23, C-24, and C-25 just about killed us and did kill our economy and the St Lucie River Southern Indian River Lagoon. It was during this time that Governor Rick Scott and the state legislature put 40 million towards “the C-44” to speed up construction of the STAs. This was wonderful cooperation between state and federal agencies. Entities that sometimes are at odds. This cooperation shined light on the agreed importance of improving water quality in the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon system, a yes…it WAS an election year! 🙂
There were also other local politicians that were very vocal and helpful during this 2013 time. Florida Senator Joe Negron; Congressional Representative Patrick Murphy, there were others too like Senator Bill Nelson; Senator Marco Rubio even visited- and others….the public though was what really shined as they rallied and advocated on behalf of the river.
Now we are hearing about C-44 STA/R in the news AGAIN. So what are they talking about now? They are talking about the next part of the “contract sequence,” or phase…this time to build the reservoir as seen in light blue below. This is where the water will be held before going to he STA to be cleaned before again being released into the canal and then the river….
So as you can see, the building and funding of the C-44 STA/Reservoir is not an event but rather a story. “Reaching the finish line” includes many chapters….Considering so many other Everglades Restoration projects are not even close to getting this kind of attention and funding is something we must appreciate and be proud and thankful for.
What we must also understand is this is just the beginning and will not alone fix our water problems. In a bad year maybe 1.5 to 2 million acre feet— (one foot of water on one acre of land) ——-of water goes into Lake Okeechobee from the Kissimmee River alone. This amount of water is basically unfathomable. Picture all the water that used to be on the lands of central Florida each wet season before we drained them and straightened the Kissimmee River….not to mention “Disney”….
And since the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) south of Lake Okeechobee blocks the flow of water south to the Everglades this water is redirected to the St Lucie River/IRL and to the Calooshahatchee. The C-44 STA/R is meant to clean water from the C-44 basin alone. A reservoir of 50,600 acre feet will help the C-44 basin problems but not the releases from Lake Okeechobee. Only an outlet south of the lake, and a tremendous amount of storage can do that. —-So in essence, our race has just begun…