Tag Archives: Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

The Dream of the Sleeping Jellyfish

When I saw them I was immediately struck by their shapes. They looked like hundreds of snowflakes lying at the bottom of the mudflats in the Florida Keys’ Tavernier mangrove swamp.

I became preoccupied with them, checking them during different times of day.

“I’ll be there in a few minutes, I’m going to visit those underwater snowflakes.” I told my husband, Ed.

“Are they sea anemones?” I wondered. “Are they some kind of tropical underwater flower?”

I lay prone on the dock, staring. And there I saw it. I saw upside down jellyfish- yes standing on their heads as if they were sleeping. I realized the beautiful geometric shapes, the snowflakes, were their out folded branching tentacles.

How bizarre!

Some of the jellyfish were “breathing,” their heads expanding and contracting, pushing water, while others seemed completely comatose, not moving at all.

A few smaller ones were actually swimming heads-up the way I would expect a jellyfish to!

I took lots of photos while hoping no boat would disturb their slumber.

I read, laughing, when I learned that they are indeed known as Cassiopea, the “upside down jellyfish,” ironically, all part of a symbiotic relationship with algae. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassiopea)

I really fell in love with this snowflake jelly forest. Now, before I go to bed, I often wonder what they are dreaming about.

Perhaps clean water and a healthy sea…

https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/img_1105-1.mov

Documenting SLR and LO-June 2020

Documenting St Lucie River and Lake Okeechobee, Saturday, June 13, 2020

Today’s post includes two sets of photos taken from two different planes: the Supercub and the Baron. The Supercub is the classic yellow “River Warrior” open-air plane, and the Baron is a closed cockpit twin-engine with the distinctive upturned wing-tip. The Supercub can fly low and slow, the Baron can fly higher and faster. Both offer unique perspectives to photograph our waterways. 

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Dr. Scott Kuhns and Steve Schimming shared photos taken from the Supercub in the morning hours of Saturday, 6-13-20. Scott uses a quality Nikon camera thus his photos offer a wider or closer perspective. Thank you Scott and Steve, long time River Warriors and  friends. Their photos reveal the coffee color of the St Lucie following torrential rains.

Canal systems dumping fresh water into SLR  presently is primarily from C-23 and C-24. Good for the S.L. the SFWMD is advocating and the ACOE is allowing the water in the C-44 to run back into L.O. as lake was not in “ecological envelope.” Note: presently there are no discharges from LO into the SLR. ~Image SFWMD

St Lucie Inlet

Confluence SLR/IRL
Looking southt to St Lucie Inlet and Jupiter Narrows
Seagrasses looking bleak

Bird Island
Sailfish Point
Sailfish Point
Crossroads SLR/IRL

Sandbar
Sandbar
Sandbar
Bird Island IRL
Photos Dr Scott Kuhns: Sewall’s Point

II.

This next set of aerials was taken by my husband, Ed Lippisch, and myself the same day, 6-13-20,  a few hours later, closer to noon.  Again, it is important to note the St Lucie area recently experienced particularly heavy rains, only Broward County and parts of Miami- Dade had more. So we can learn about this, I am sharing the most recent Water Conditions Report of the SFWMD for details of all the St Lucie and all south and central Florida. See link under Rainfall Distribution Comparison slide below. 

The first group of photos from Ed and I in the Baron is of the St Lucie River and the second set is of algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee. NOTE THE ACOE IS NOT DISCHARGING INTO THE ST LUCIE AT THIS TIME.

We continue to document and thank all who are working towards projects and ways of life that better water quality in the state of Florida. We know what we need to do! 

https://apps.sfwmd.gov/webapps/publicMeetings/viewFile/25566

 

Sailfish Flats IRL
Exiting St Lucie Inlet looking south along Jupiter Narrows/Jupiter Island
Plume becoming visible
Looking back again into southern edge of SL Inlet

Now back at the St Lucie River and St Lucie Inlet at higher altitude
St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon
Sailfish Point St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon
Plume from higher perspective
Veteran’s Bridge in Palm City looking back to Stuart, note Witham Field and ocean in distance
Circling around- Hobe Sound looking north to St Lucie Inlet.
Heading west over Atlantic Ridge natural area
Approaching Lake O. FPL cooling pond visible.
S-308 at L.O. and C-44 Canal
My brother Todd Thurlow’s website shows that algae in L.O. is now showing on low resolution satellite imagery: Terra, Aqua, Suomi: http://eyeonlakeo.com/LakeO3x7days.html; http://eyeonlakeo.com
algae bloom southern rim
algae bloom like this was basically throughout southern area of lake, but denser in some areas and not so dense in others….
Ed’s palne GPS, present location south L.O.
South Lake O over southern rim
LakeO lapping towards Port Mayaca not FPL cooling pond, this area is by far the most algae ridden

Lake O
Lake O
Lake O
Lots of algae in Lake Okeechobee

MOVIE:

Now after flying west again over Lake Okeechobee algae here as well but more spread out

Another great SFWMD is the most recent Ecological Report as it discusses effects of water quantity and quality on fish and wildlife for all central and S.F.: (https://apps.sfwmd.gov/webapps/publicMeetings/viewFile/25567)

Beautiful -But I See Some Algae at Port Mayaca…

Family friend Scott Kuhns is a great dentist, pilot, and photographer. For years, Scott has been one of our “eyes in the sky,” taking flight over the St Lucie River-Indian River Lagoon -and west out to Lake Okeechobee. 

Today, Sunday, May 3, 2020, before noon, Scott forwarded these striking photos. He wrote “I can see some algae at Port Mayaca.”

When I first reviewed the impressive photographs -coast to lake- I found it hard to believe, but indeed looking very closely, there is a wisp of algae close to S-308 at Port Mayaca in Lake Okeechobee.

Can you see it? When things are so beautiful, like right now, it’s easy to miss!

Thanks Scott for your continued service “River Warrior” extraordinaire! We will continue to keep an eye on the water as we move closer to hurricane season. 

ST LUCIE INLET, CROSSROADS OF INDIAN AND ST LUCIE RIVERS DIVIDED BY SEWALL’S POINT, ~ALL PHOTOS BY DR SCOTT KUHNS

JUPITER NARROWS & ATLANTIC OCEAN SOUTH OF ST LUCIE INLET

C-44 CANAL at ST LUCIE LOCKS AND DAM, S-80

S-308, CONNECTION OF C-44 CANNAL to LAKE OKEECHOBEE 

VERY TIP of S-308 with ALGAE WISPS SLIGHTLY VISIBLE, BUT DEFINITELY THERE

INSIDE STRUCTURE S-308, PORT MAYACA LAKE OKEECHOBEE ALONG C-44 CANAL. S-53 ON ANOTHER CANAL. ALSO FPL COOLING POND SURROUNDED ON WEST BY WHAT APPEARS TO BE SUGARCANE FIELDS

REMNANTS OF THE ORANGE GROVE THAT IS NOW THE C-44 RESERVOIR AND STA.

SLR basins. SFMWD. You can see FPL cooling pond just northeast of S-308.

 

Beauty After the Storm

If you live in Martin County, you may have experienced a short lived violent storm this past Sunday, April 26th, 2020. In south Sewall’s Point, early afternoon, the winds exploded in a crash of falling branches, rain, thunder, and hail! Under the deafening sound of our metal roof, Ed and I stood on the porch in amazement, looked at each other and said, “well at least it’s raining,” as presently drought conditions cover much of the state. 

The following day, Ed took wing taking these aerial photographs. They are a good example of “local runoff.” No Lake Okeechobee thankfully! Lake O too though looked beautiful after the storm as displayed at the end of this aerial series. Somehow, it always seems most beautiful after the storm…

L-R: ST LUCIE RIVER, SEWALL’S POINT, INDIAN RIVER LAGOON, HUTCHINSON ISLAND, ATLANTIC OCEAN, by Ed Lippisch 4-27-20

INDIAN RIVER LAGOON, ST LUCIE COUNTY, HUTCHINSON ISLAND ~NOTE ST LUCIE POWER PLANT AND SAVANNAHS ON MAINLAND TO WEST

A SHINING LAKE OKEECHOBEE at S-308 PORT MAYACA

Documenting the Discharges, 3-17-19

*Please note all comments become public record.

1.Ed and the Super Cub 2019. Our “eye in the sky” since 2013.

2.Tip of South Sewall’s Point looking north to Hell’s Gate. Witham Field, Stuart, west.

We continue to document the discharges…

Yesterday, 3-17-19, my husband, Ed, flew the Super-Cub over the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon ~ twenty-one days after the ACOE started discharging from Lake Okeechobee on February 24, 2019.

When Ed arrived home, I asked, “So how was it?”

“Brown,” he replied.

“Like dark coffee brown, or kind of like that weird mixed greenish-brown?”

He looked at me, and smiled. “Jacqui, it was brown.”

“OK, I said, I’ll take a look at your photos.”

So here are the photos from Ed’s flight from Witham Field in Stuart, over Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island, then out west  to S-80 to see the “Seven Gates of Hell” where you can see the one gate discharging now at an average of 250 cubic feet per second, down from an average of 500 cubic feet per second. As you can see from the SFWMD chart below, there has been other runoff locations as well, but the majority is from Lake Okeechobee.

ACOE Press Release: 3-14-19, ACOE, showing decision to go to 250 cfs to SLR/IRL. ACOE says they are “pulse releasing,” however, these are not the “pulse releases” we are familiar with during prior discharge destruction events, as the number never goes to 0, it just goes up and down. https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/1784910/corps-to-continue-lake-o-release-plan-with-minor-adjustments/

Thank you to my husband Ed, for showing us that right now, the river is brown.

ACOE, Periodic Scientists Call, 3-12-19, http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm

 

3. Approaching the SL Inlet, algae covered remaining seagrass beds

4.Sandbar formation inside of SL Inlet

5.Blurry but shows boats at the Sandbar and that weird green brown color

6.Sailfish Point and SL Inlet algae covered remaining seagrass beds

7. Ernie Lyons Bridge, IRL with SL inlet and Hutchinson Island in distance

8. S-80 along C-44 Canal or the Seven Gate of Hell, boats going through locks, “250” cubic feet per second coming though

The following phots are of Caulkins Water Farm, a former orange grove that died due to citrus greening that now holds water from the C-44 Canal. This is a wonderful thing! As local ag-man Mr. Hadad, told me once, “Jacqui we spent 100 years taking the water off the land, and we’ll spend the next 100 years putting it back on.” The later photos are of S-80 again with view of C-44 canal leading west to Lake O.(https://www.facebook.com/CaulkinsWaterFarm/)

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The following photos are when Ed headed back to Witham Field going once again over the St Lucie Inlet over the Atlantic Ocean. You can see the water looks blue north of Sailfish Point north of the inlet with nearshore reefs visible. Plume is also visible south of St Lucie Inlet. Also in photos is the winding Jupiter Narrows and St Lucie River in the area of Stuart and Rio. You can see Langford Landing with scraped orange soil and docks built into river still under construction since 2015.

Thank you to my husband Ed, our eye in the sky!

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A Better Water Future for all Children of South Florida, SLR/IRL

Governor Ron DeSantis and JTL at FloridaOceanographic in Stuart, Florida, Thursday, Feburary 21, 2019 : https://www.wptv.com/news/region-martin-county/stuart/gov-desantis-to-make-announcement-in-stuart-thursday

As you may have heard, on Thursday, February 21, 2019, I was appointed to the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board, by Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis.

Of course, I am very excited!

Today I wish to share my written comments of this very special day. Please note, just as when I served on Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission 2017-2018, this blog and all comments now fall under Florida’s public records laws.

Our river journey continues!

_______________________________________________________________

“…What an honor! 

Thank you Governor DeSantis! Thank you everyone who is here in spirit today, everyone who has been part of this journey to save our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. I will begin with some words from our beloved Ernie Lyons, who worked as the editor of the Stuart News for many decades leading the charge to save our river:   

“What men do they can undo, and the hope for our river is in the hundreds of men and women in our communities who are resolved to save the St Lucie.”

Yes, there have been many before us, but in 2013’s LOST SUMMER  we continued Ernie Lyons’ passion through TC Palm, the River Warriors, and the River Kidz. 

And it was the River Kidz that really gave us a new perspective…

We as adults, know, there are many things we disagree on, but there is one, we do not, for sure. We wish a better water future for all children, of all communities, in South Florida. 

This goal unifies us all. 

When I was a kid, and Stuart was not very populated, my friends and I used to build forts on the edge of the St Lucie River. The giant Australian Pines had fallen with their twisted roots exposed, and we played for hours pretending we were pirates on a ship. We’d splash in the water and drop anchor. We’d try not to cut our feet on sharp oyster beds as we retrieved our gold, or get stung by a stingray when we were catching a fish in the thick seagrasses.

Today such a thing is not possible. There are few oysters, little seagrass, and sometimes the water is toxic. Yes toxic. Can you believe it? Toxic water.

Generation after generation we have ignored the science and the signs. In our excitement to develop cites and towns and build the greatest agriculture empire on earth, waterbodies across South Florida have become “impaired.” Some no longer healthy: the St Lucie River, the Indian River Lagoon, Lake Worth, Lake Okeechobee, Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay, the Caloosahatchee, and numerous creeks and rivers like the New River and the Miami, are now not much more than dead canals. 

It is said: “For what profits a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his own soul?”

The soul of Florida is water!

I believe that with the leadership of our new governor, and people like Congressman Brian Mast, former Senate President Joe Negron, and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuzez, who I know from serving on our state’s Constitution Revision Commission, and others, we will lay the groundwork to give Florida back her soul.

I don’t know if you have had a chance to read it word for word, but if you have not, you must. This incredible executive order recently given by Governor DeSantis, number 19-12 actually reads, as he quotes President Theodore Roosevelt: 

“….A primary mission of my tenure is to follow in the words of President Theodore Roosevelt by having Florida treat its natural resources as assets, which it must turn over to the next generation, increased and not impaired in value.”

I shall do all I can to serve with honor, our new governor, and to leave all children of all South Florida a better water future.” 

~Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 

Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order 19-12: https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/EO-19-12-.pdf

TCPalm:https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/health/2019/02/21/florida-governor-ron-desantis-appoints-jacqui-thurlow-lippisch-sfwmd-board/2767276002/

River Kidz art contest 2013

Stuart to Chokoloskee; EAA Reservoir Between…

 

Pin is location east of EAA Reservoir area; Stuart is blue dot, and Chokoloskee is next to Everglades City on lower west coast.

The day began with smoke, smoke off the sugarcane fields.

Yesterday, Ed and I took a flight from Stuart to Everglades City, passing Chokoloskee and photographing the EAA Reservoir lands along the way. It is huge out there in the “Everglades,” seemingly endless. The easiest way to get one’s bearings is to look for the Miami and New River Canals that run south of Lake Okeechobee. Highway 27 parallels the New River Canal; where the red balloon is located above is the area east of where the EAA Reservoir will be constructed. For more specifics see link (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/a-1-aerial/)

For Ed and I the flight, although hazy, was an opportunity to learn to recognize from the air Water Conservation Area 3, just south of the EAA Reservoir Area. The water conservation area lands are not located in Everglades National Park, but water quality is protected.

“To me these are the Everglades,” Ed said looking down.

“They are but they aren’t,” I replied. “They are part of the Central and South Florida Project, they are not natural; they are controlled. When they are too full from EAA water, the water from Lake O is not allowed to go south. If too full, from rain, or otherwise the animals can drown. Trapped on the tree islands raccoon, and deer, and panther together. Terrible.”

“Why can’t the water just flow south,” Ed asked.

“Lot of reasons, people like to say it’s because of an endangered bird, but its bigger than that, mostly because we have chosen to make it that way, and powerful entities keep our legislature from changing it in spite of what the voters say.” (SFWMD Constraints: https://apps.sfwmd.gov/SystemConstraintsDataApp/)

Ed did not reply.

We looked forward to what appeared to be little hills. The cypress domes of Big Cypress National Park reflected in the sunlight, and I could see “end of the earth” Chockoloskee right next to Everglades City in the distance. Pretty…

I can understand why people like to live down there so far away from everything. But they too can not escape our problems ~not with water.

WCAs: https://archive.usgs.gov/archive/sites/sofia.usgs.gov/virtual_tour/controlling/wca.html

Water Conservation Area 3: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Conservation_Area_3

Big Cypress National Preserve: https://www.nps.gov/bicy/index.htm

Chockoloskee: https://www.florida-everglades.com/chokol/home.htm

Cape Seaside Sparrow:
http://www.wlrn.org/post/controversial-bird-should-everglades-restoration-hinge-single-species

https://sofia.usgs.gov/projects/atlss/sparrows/ibsemabgeer00.html#fig1

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/seaside-sparrow

Water Conservation Areas

IMG_5873.jpg
Smoke rises over sugarcane fields southwest of Martin County near the Palm Beach Canal

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Smoke, canals, sugarcane fields

 

IMG_5880.jpg
Belle Glade, FL south of Lake Okeechobee

img_5882
Ed asked what this is. Not sure flooded fields, mining?

IMG_5886.jpg
Flowing Highway 27, the A1 on west side begins to show. Now a Flow Equalization Basin this land was once the Tailman Sugar Mill and is located on the east side of where the EAA reservoir is to be constructed.

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Looking west of A1 towards A2 where EAA Reservoir is to be built

IMG_5889.jpg
A1 from another position

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The North New River Canal to Ft Lauderdale now follows Highway 27. It once was in isolation as people used the canal to get to and from Lake O from the mouth of the New River

img_5897
Water Conservation Area 3 (WCA3) lies under A1 and A2 area; although not part of Everglades National Park, it’s water quality is protected:

Continue reading Stuart to Chokoloskee; EAA Reservoir Between…

Ron DeSantis: Protecting Florida’s Environment on Day 1

Yesterday, I called in for the final conference call of Governor-elect Ron DeSantis’ Transition Advisory Committee on the Environment,  chaired by our own, Congressman Brian Mast. It was very, very interesting. Highlights of the call were recorded by TC Palm’s Ali Schmitz:

https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/politics/2018/12/28/desantis-transition-work-agriculture-limit-pollution/2424629002/

https://desantistransition.com/governor-elect-ron-desantis-announces-transition-advisory-committee-on-the-environment-natural-resources-agriculture/

As a member of the public, I was able to listen-in on the call ~this one focusing on Agriculture, and make my recommendation.

Having served on the Constitution Revision Commission in 2018, I am especially drawn to the importance of government structure. DeSantis’ originally posted environmental policy statement listed Accountability for Water Quality. Right now, many Floridians wonder “who is charge,” who answers for our present lack of water quality? Some even think, understandably so, that it is the Army Corp of Engineers. It is not. Under the law, the state of Florida is responsible for water quality, but with “three cooks in the kitchen,” (DEP, Water Management Districts, and Dept of Agriculture) this is difficult. So with my time on the call, I asked for centralization of enforcement of water quality standards and a strong Lead Agency:

CENTRALIZE THE ENFORCEMENT OF WATER QUALITY STANDARDS. A Majority of water quality regulation is currently housed at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). However, certain water quality standards and monitoring reside within the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) which is overseen by the Commission of Agriculture. DeSantis will work with the Florida legislature to move all components of water quality regulation within the Executive Branch to DEP. This will increase uniformity and ensure that the Secretary of DEP, who is accountable to the Governor, has the tools necessary to meet the water quality standards that Floridians deserve. ~DeSantis for Governor website Sept. 2018.

As we all know, the inauguration is January 8th, 2019. Very exciting! Congratulations Governor DeSantis! And awesome that Congressman Mast is by your side!!

Before we get too excited, let’s not forget…

Today, I will post the website of Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis on the environment so we can remember what was promised and hold the governor and all members of the Transition Advisory Committee on the Environment accountable for next four years. Looking forward to a governor who will protect the environment on day one!

Website links:

GOVERNOR-ELECT RON DESANTIS

https://rondesantis.com/issues/

https://rondesantis.com/environment/

Looking Back, St Lucie River ~Rain and Algae 2018

Even though the water in yesterday’s photo looked gorgeous, lest we forget, here are some images of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon area during a rainy and cyanobacteria ridden 2018.

Ed and I didn’t start taking pictures until were motivated…

In March 2018 there was a tremendous rain event. (https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/flood-control/managing-high-water)
My homemade rain gauge showed over 27 inches in just a few days along the coast!

You’ll see that after the rain event, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon looks terrible even with out Lake Okeechobee discharges. This is caused by directed water runoff from C-23, C-24, C-25, C-44 and “local” coastal runoff.  Naturally, the river never took all this water. Humans made it this way, and we must fix it.

SFWMD canal and basin map.

Soon after the torrential rain, the Army Corp of Engineers made things even worse and started dumping from Lake Okeechobee through the C-44 Canal into the St Lucie River by opening up the gates at S-308 and S-80.

My husband, Ed,  first flew over Lake O on June 1st,  just by chance. At this time, he spotted algae on the lake and took a photo.  Ironically, the next day, the Army Corp started dumping from Lake Okeechobee on June 2nd!

The algae or cyanobacteria (http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/bacteria/cyanointro.html)
that was festering in the Lake began to show up almost immediately thereafter in the St Lucie River that has also become  a “nutrient porridge.”

The rest unfortunately is history. 2018  was bad, but in my opinion not as awful as 2016 when the ocean was totally green: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/bathtub-beach-algae/

After another long, hot summer, the Army Corp finally stopped discharging in the fall~October 5th… Take a look at the photos and remember to enjoy the blue water when it is here, but NEVER FORGET! Only though looking back, will we have the determination to change the future.

Major rain event in March 2018.  Rain filled this vile up many times!

SLR IRL following major rain event in March 2018. This is runoff from C-23, C-24, C-25, C-44,  and “locally” from developed areas along the river and uplands made to drain into river. JTL

Following rain event in March 2018. A brown Atlantic.

Following rain event in March 2018, the SLR/IRL ~Scott Kuhns

Following rain event in March 2018 Sailfish Flats between Sewall’s and Sailfish Points ~Scott Kuhns

June 5th. A very dark plume moves south along Jupiter Island, just days after ACOE begins dumping so this is a combination of all pollution/runoff  waters…

LAKE OKEECHBEE DISCHARGES ADDED

Ed in the Cub after plume photo

Algae as photographed/spotted by Ed in Lake O on June 1st 2018.

City of Stuart, June 9 2018.

Rio near Central Marine, week of June 12, 2018

Photographing a manatee in the algae along seawall by Mary Radabaugh

Mary Radabaugh manages Central Marine with her husband. JTL

Mary found a dead baby manatee floating in the putrid water shortly after LO discharges.  MR

LAKE O: Week of June 16th, June 25th, and July 22nd. Cyanobacteria (blue green algae) blooms and then subsides. ~All the while, this water is dumped into the St Lucie River by the Federal Govt.; the water quality is terrible and this the responsibility not of the Feds but of the State of Florida.

Algae is now very visible in Lake O, June 16, 2018 JTL

June 25, 2018 Lake O, near S-308, Port Mayaca.  JTL

C-44 canal leading to SLR from Lake O.

C-44 canal leading from LO to SLR.

Satellite view LO bloom on June 24, 2018. ~At its height.

By July 22, 2018 the bloom in the LO is lessening, JTL

August 29, algae would come and go, throughout the SLR. Here near Overlook Drive JTL

September 4, algae still “coming and going” ~2018 Snug Harbor, Stuart.  Photo by my uncle, Dale Hudson

October 5, the ACOE stops dumping from Lake O. The blooms stop almost right away but the damage remains….

December 8, 2018 the river looks “normal” again near Sewall’s Point but it is not. JTL

Blue Water on Christmas Day, 2018

What should be normal, was a gift on Christmas Day, blue water in the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. The peninsula of Sewall’s Point shone like the gem it is surrounded by aquamarine on both sides: the St Lucie River on its west, and the Indian River Lagoon on its east…

Feeling like the Bahamas, rather than the toxic-sludge we had to endure ~coming mostly from Lake Okeechobee this past summer, 2018, and yes, remember 2016, and 2013….the destruction must stop!

As 2019 edges into the picture, we will once again have to give everything we have to fight for clean water and encourage our state and federal government to support legislation “sending the water south.”

Seeing these beautiful blue waters once again is certainly encouraging. Now to keep the Army Corp and South Florida Water Management District at bay long enough, as projects proceed, and allow our precious seagrass beds to return so baby fish can once again hide, swim, and grow to maturity in these waters; once christened the “most bio-diverse in North America.”

Thank you to my dear husband, Ed, for these photos all taken 12-25-18. And from both of us, “Merry Christmas!”

Sewall’s Point lies between the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon

Sailfish Flats between Sewall’s and Sailfish Point. Seagrass remains bleak after years of discharges from Lake O, and other area canals

St Lucie Inlet opening to the Atlantic Ocean between Sailfish Point and the southern end of St Lucie Inlet State Park on Jupiter Island

Another angle of St Lucie Inlet area

Remnants of once lush sea grass beds off Sewall’s Point

Another angle: Evan’s Crary and Ernest Lyons Bridges on far right

A great shot of the now pathetic seagrass beds. This area was once considered “the most bio-diverse in North America,” with approximately 700 acres of healthy seagrasses in this area between Sewall’s and Sailfish Points

Photo below as a comparison ___________________________________________________________________________

NEVER FORGET! Town of Sewall’s Point, Martin County Florida, 9-2013 surrounded by polluted waters released from Lake Okeechobee. Even the ocean brown! Similar years were 2016 and 2018 both with cyanobacteria blooms along shorelines. This awful sediment, and nutrient filled water is dumped on us by our federal and state government and is a health hazard.

Leadership, Florida House of Representatives, Water in Mind 2019

Recently, the Florida House of Representatives announced its committee appointments made by new House Speaker Jose Oliva. Today, I will note those appointed to environmental committees which, of course, function in the dark ages, bound together with agriculture. Advocates should know these key players and build relationships now, and during the committee process that beings January 8, 2019 ~not once Legislative Session begins in March. Too late!

So here we go…

The really all-powerful Speaker of the House is Jose Oliva who will reign from the end of 2018 to 2020. He is from Miami Lakes and is C.E.O. of Oliva Cigar Co. Read about him below and the committees and representatives over which he has great influence. Congratulations to him on attaining this leadership role that very few achieve.

Speaker 2018-2020, Jose R. Oliva: https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/details.aspx?MemberId=4534

Committees of the HOR: https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Committees/committees.aspx

Speaker Oliva’s environmental appointments are below with an article or two giving background on each appointee. Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee Chair, Rep. Holly Raschein is from Key Largo and a Health Care Special Projects Manager. Vice-chair, Rep. Rick Roth is from West Palm Beach and his heritage is linked to a multi-generational family-farm in the Everglades Agricultural Area. Holly has a track record supporting environmental issues such as the EAA Reservoir and Rick works for the environment within the goals of the EAA Environmental Protection District and the 1994 Everglades Forever Act.  Read below about both representatives and what they have to say.

Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee: https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Committees/committeesdetail.aspx?CommitteeId=3003

Rep. Holly Raschein: https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/details.aspx?MemberId=4562

Holly Raschein :https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/florida-keys/article213189389.html

Rep. Rick Roth:https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/details.aspx?MemberId=4648

Roth Farms: https://www.rothfarms.com/roth-farms-history/

Rick Roth:https://www.farmprogress.com/vegetables/heritage-success-rick-roths-roots-go-lot-deeper-muck-soils

Interestingly, Holly Raschein also serves on the Subcommittee for Agriculture as  and  Natural Resources as vice-chair to, chair, Chuck Wesley, a College  Administrator from Newberry (near Gainesville). Rep Wesley notes that “sustainable agriculture and the environment are some of his top goals.” You can read what he wrote in an op-ed for below. All this sounds good. But what does that really mean? Our job is to hold all of these politicians accountable. 

Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee: https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Committees/committeesdetail.aspx?CommitteeId=3024

Rep. : https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/details.aspx?MemberId=4655

Chuck Clemons: https://www.gainesville.com/opinion/20181001/chuck-clemons-my-record-shows-support-for-agriculture-environment

Yes, it is important we know and communicate with who is in charge. I hope you will reach out to all of them through letter best, but email, or phone call helps too.  I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Thank you for reading my blog in 2019. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2019 will bring…

For more information on Florida House of Representatives go here https://www.myfloridahouse.gov. Look at their calendar, see when committees meet, follow what they are reviewing and call, write their office to let them know how much you love Florida and that water is key!

Since 1970, Lake O reported as “Sick”-dying of eutrophication

eu·troph·i·ca·tion
/yo͞oˌträfəˈkāSH(ə)n/
noun
  1. excessive richness of nutrients in a lake or other body of water, frequently due to runoff from the land, which causes a dense growth of plant life and death of animal life from lack of oxygen.

    6-16-18  Lake O cyanobacteria bloom, JTL

Although once known for her great life and beauty, modern-day Lake Okeechobee, has been dying for years…

Since the early 1970s, scientists were forecasting the imminent demise of the huge lake due to the tremendous influx of fertilizers and waste (oddly termed “nutrients”), especially from the Kissimmee River. The river had been channelized  in the 60s, made straight, for flood control and the “benefit” of creating more agricultural lands. This was done by none other than the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and, of course, supported by Florida politicians.

All of these problems were one of the reasons that Florida politicians reversed course and took action in the 1970s to do something for the environment.  According to the book River of Interests “during the 1972 legislative session, the Florida Legislature passed several land and planning measures, including an authorization of a major study on eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee.

Although, I could not find any of the original reports of the Florida Department  of Environmental Regulation, (the original name of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection – God forbid we say the word regulation!), I did come across the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Eutrophication Survey of 1977.

It is interesting to read, as if we are watching the soap opera General Hospital, where one can come back after many years and the same plot is playing out. In our soap opera episode today, most glaringly shown by non-point pollution still causing over 95% of the contamination. (https://www.epa.gov/nps/basic-information-about-nonpoint-source-nps-pollution)

Nonetheless, there have been positive changes in the characters!

A huge thing that has changed is that the Belle Glades sewage treatment plant, that once discharged into the Hillsborough Canal and was back pumped into Lake O, ~approximately 1/3 of the year, no longer does. This is no surprise. When I was a kid in Stuart in the 70s, there were still houses along the Indian River Lagoon that discharged sewage directly into the river! GROSS!

So I guess the plot has changed bit, but not enough yet to save Lake Okeechobee. We need to change the channel and do what we have known we need to do since I was ten years old…

Me, my sister Jenny, and me brother Todd in the 1970s…

You can read the full 1977 report at this long link below:

https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyNET.exe/9100D2F8.TXT?ZyActionD=ZyDocument&Client=EPA&Index=1976+Thru+1980&Docs=&Query=&Time=&EndTime=&SearchMethod=1&TocRestrict=n&Toc=&TocEntry=&QField=&QFieldYear=&QFieldMonth=&QFieldDay=&IntQFieldOp=0&ExtQFieldOp=0&XmlQuery=&File=D%3A%5Czyfiles%5CIndex%20Data%5C76thru80%5CTxt%5C00000013%5C9100D2F8.txt&User=ANONYMOUS&Password=anonymous&SortMethod=h%7C-&MaximumDocuments=1&FuzzyDegree=0&ImageQuality=r75g8/r75g8/x150y150g16/i425&Display=hpfr&DefSeekPage=x&SearchBack=ZyActionL&Back=ZyActionS&BackDesc=Results%20page&MaximumPages=1&ZyEntry=1&SeekPage=x&ZyPURL

Book River of Interests, ACOE: http://141.232.10.32/docs/river_interest/031512_river_interest_2012_complete.pdf

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

Implementing Amendment 9: Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoors Workplaces 

~2018 Constitutional Amendments, Florida Division of Elections: https://floridaelectionwatch.gov/Amendments
~2018 Amendments, Florida Division of Elections, Amd. 9 Results by County: https://floridaelectionwatch.gov/ContestResultsByCounty/900009
~Ballotpedia Amendment 9 2018: https://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Amendment_9,_Ban_Offshore_Oil_and_Gas_Drilling_and_Ban_Vaping_in_Enclosed_Indoor_Workplaces_Amendment_(2018)

For me, the best thing about Election Day 2018 was the passage of Constitutional  Amendment 9. But that will not be the end of it. Now it is the job of the state legislature to implement the amendment and for us to keep watch that they do.

Hmmm?

Implement?

What does that mean?

Basically, this means that the language that makes up the ballot amendment must be put into the Florida Constitution and “implemented,” or fulfilled.  To be “implemented” the ballot language that composes the amendment must be inserted and followed.

Amendment 9 was made up of two parts. During the Constitution Revision Commission process,  I had sponsored Proposal #91 Prohibiting Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling, and Commissioner Lisa Carlton had sponsored Proposal #65 Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoors Workplaces. These two proposals made it through the arduous CRC committee process and then were “bundled” by the CRC Style and Drafting Committee relating as “Clean Air and Clean Water.” Thus on the ballot, married, what were P#91 and P#65 composed a new whole: Amendment 9 ~ Prohibiting Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoors Workplaces.

As everyone who followed the election knows, the #RoadToTheBallot wasn’t easy, and Amendment 9 was criticized unmercifully by the press, and even went before the Florida Supreme Court. In the end, the court supported the bundling  and the people of Florida did too. The voters read, studied, and decided for themselves, Clean Air and Clean Water in Florida is very, very important. The required 60% passage was exceeded;  the amendment passed by 68.92%!

See how your county voted here: https://floridaelectionwatch.gov/CompareStateToCounty/900009

The people  have spoken and now the state Legislature must do its work and implement the amendment by placing  the ballot language into the Florida Constitution.  See the language that comes off the Florida Division of Elections website below.

Prohibiting Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling will go into Article II and Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoors Workplaces will go into Article X. See a copy of the full Florida Constitution and all its articles here: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3

There have been times in the past,  as with Amendment 1 2014,  Florida’s Water and Land Conservation Initiative, where the state legislature did not follow the intent of the language once it was in the constitution. They interpreted it rather to benefit the state power structure. Some say this is partially because the  language  was vague and a court case was brought to try to clear up the amendment’s interpretation by the state legislature.

https://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Water_and_Land_Conservation_Initiative,_Amendment_1_%282014%29

Thankfully, the language of  both P#91 Prohibiting Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling and  #65 Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoors Workplaces are legally solid, specific,  and should not leave any cracks open to be perverted by the state legislature. Nonetheless, we must keep a very watchful eye, as when it comes to Florida’s Legislature there is always the chance for corruption…

Read this article below to see why….

What do they say? “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely….” And who is the most powerful of all? The State Legislature!

New push for offshore drilling as Florida awaits recount results

FLORIDA POLITICS, STAFF REPORTS
November 15, 2018, 4:02 pm
http://floridapolitics.com/archives/281341-offshore-drilling-recount

CRC Commissioner List: http://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners.html
CRC Web-site: http://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners.html

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 River of No Return, Idaho

Boundary Creek, Middle Fork/Salmon River, Idaho. Photo courtesy of Jeanne Gasiorek.

I am back from the “River of No Return,” and before I return to writing about the toxic algae crisis, I’d like to share my experience…

Camping? Are you kidding me?! I had not been camping since my parents took the family to Boy Scout Island to see the full moon over the Indian River Lagoon ca. 1978. Five nights, six days camping and rafting in Idaho with friends, the Wigleys, was great fun, but I am certainly aware that I am in no condition to survive in the wilderness!

Let’s remind ourselves – Where’s Idaho? Far out west, just east of Washington and Oregon, and just west of Montana and Colorado. Although a different world, dealing with fires not hurricanes, we do have a connection. We both have federally protected scenic rivers.

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River, A.K.A. the “River of No Return,” was one of the first eight rivers to be protected under the federal Wild & Scenic Rivers Act in 1968: (https://rivers.gov). In Florida, we have two designated Scenic Rivers: Indian River Lagoon neighbor, the Loxahatchee River,  and the north central Florida’s Wekiva River: (https://www.rivers.gov/florida.php). Only a handful of U.S. rivers hold this special, protected status.

The Middle Fork of the Salmon with clean, clear water, challenging rapids, and spectacular mountain and desert scenery flows free for 104 miles. Nonetheless, due to dams along the connected Snake River, the salmon, for which the river is named, are far and few between compared to the pre-gold rush times when the native Shoshone “Sheepeater” people could “walk across” this river of salmon.

There is much talk in Idaho about removing dams, and of course a huge conflict with stakeholder farming entities. Sound familiar? Whether is the Florida Everglades’ River of Grass diversion to the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers, or Hells Canyon Dam in Idaho, people are looking for ways to undo some of what has been done to kill the rivers of the United States. Water is meant to flow, and when it does not, eventually sickness sets in, not only for wildlife and fauna, but for people too. It was Stuart’s famed environmentalist and Stuart News editor, Ernie Lyons, who said it best: “What people do, they can undo…” and this I believe is our journey, everywhere.

Since pictures speak louder than words, I will stop here, and say that even though the river was beautiful, and I was super excited to sees two bears, mountain sheep, eagles, and a plethora of other awesome animals – the most memorable experience I have no photo of, ~just a memory~ of endless stars in a black velvet sky with the Milky Way so thick and bright I felt like I could touch it, that I was it…

Remembering that we all are but a flicker in the grand scale of time, and most certainly, part of something much greater than ourselves.