Tag Archives: Lake Okeechobee

Don’t be Fooled by Beauty; Our Barren River… SLR/IRL

My husband, Ed, took these photos of the Indian River Lagoon at the St Lucie Inlet on 2-28-18, just a few days ago. They are certainly beautiful enough to sell real estate…The turquoise water is so pretty one could easily overlook the sand desert below the surface waters.

Enjoy the blue water, but know that especially since 2013, our seagrass beds have been decimated by black sediment filled waters and toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Seagrasses are the nursery for all sea life, especially the baby fish. These beds need time to reestablish if they ever will.

True beauty has something to offer, not just “surface water.” Keep your eye on the lake and fight against any coming releases this summer so we can get life back in our dear dead river.

Lake O level, ACOE: http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml

The Importance of Seagrasses, FWC: http://myfwc.com/research/habitat/seagrasses/information/importance/

Signs of the Times, SLR, IRL

When I was a kid, many of Stuart’s older restaurants had signs. Some locals may recall Jake’s on US1, or still today, Harry and the Natives in Hobe Sound. There are certainly others, nevertheless, there seem to be fewer restaurants with funny signs hanging on the walls than when I was a kid.

Thus it was awfully refreshing when Ed and I were at Lake Okeechobee this past Monday and I forced him to drive north, close to the rim, on the Old Conners’ Highway to J&S Fish Camp. He was hemming and hawing the whole way, thinking I didn’t know where I was going, but I did. When we finally got there, after driving about four miles north of Port Mayaca, we had a beer in the Tiki Bar, read the collection of signs, listened to an awesome old jukebox playing our favorite songs, and laughed so hard we felt like we were young again.

With all of the development in Florida right now, and 26,000,000 people expected to live here by 2030, places like this become even more wonderful.

That they are “one in a million” is just a sign of the times….

Connors Hwy: http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/land-boom-and-bust-conners-highway

J&S Fish Camp: http://www.jandsfishcamp.net

The following excerpt is from the Visit Florida website and tells the story the wonderful J&S Fish Camp and some of the others.

Camped Out  http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/things-to-do/florida-fishing/circling-lake-okeechobee-fishing-camping-and-history.html

Campgrounds outnumber lodgings along Lake Okeechobee, drawing visitors outdoors. Wayne McSwain, who was raised in Belle Glade, remembers camping along the shoreline of Lake Okeechobee. “You camped along this canal, because there were a lot of trees here,” he said, pointing down from his perch atop the Herbert Hoover Dike, “and you came out here and swam every day, and water-skied… and you didn’t worry about the alligators at all.”

McSwain’s father ran the grocery store on the road to Torry Island, along the way to Slim’s Fish Camp. “It was (started by) the Corbins,” McSwain said. “A lot of people from out of town came over here for fishing.” To get to Slim’s, you cross one of the last remaining manually operated swing bridges in the United States. “I was 14 or 15 when Slim let me turn the rod to make the bridge pivot out of the way,” McSwain said. “It was fun for me, and I bet he got paid for it, too.”

Camping along Lake Okeechobee has changed since McSwain’s youth. With construction of the dike, a key protective barrier given the seasonal threat of water-intensive hurricanes, away went the views and the easy access. Still, the lake draws campers all year. They settle into fish camps, bring RVs for the winter to the campgrounds lining the eastern shore and hike into primitive campsites along the Florida Trail. The one campground with a view of the blue horizon was briefly known as Pahokee State Park. “The land still belongs to the state,” said McSwain, “but they’ve leased it out to campground operators for the past 30 years or so.” It’s now Lake Okeechobee Outpost KOA with a lakefront pool and restaurant.

At J&S Fish Camp, regulars crowd the bar at 10 a.m. “We know we’re the oldest fish camp around the lake,” said manager Ted Miller. “The cabins were built for the people who worked building the dike.” For the price of “a beer and a stay in a cabin,” the murals of alligators and lakeshore came from an artist’s brush, and the 1930s cabins took on tropical hues. Lake levels affect business dramatically. “When the locks are open,” said Miller, “we have fishermen come in for boiled peanuts and a beer and to have a look.”

Documenting the Discharges, 12-4-17, SLR/IRL

12-4-17, ca. 2:45 pm, photos: Ed Lippisch & Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

The Army Corp of Engineers has lessened but not stopped Lake O discharges that started September 20th, 2017 just prior to Hurricane Irma. Perhaps as the discharges have gone on at such a high rate for a comparatively long time,  the plume has had a chance to extend its territory. In yesterday’s photos, the dark, filthy plume is reaching clearly south beyond the exclusive Town of Jupiter Island.

Yesterday was a beautiful day, but the river and ocean waters of our entire region were ugly, possibly contaminated. How are we to enjoy our property and lives here?

When viewing the aerials below, please note the blue, sapphire-colored water just on the edge of the discharge plume. Yes, of course all estuaries put forth darkened fresh water after a rain event, and Ed and I could see this occurring just south at Jupiter Inlet. Nonetheless, the black, gigantic plume that we repeatedly endure for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon due to discharges from Lake Okeechobee is an aberration.

Please let’s all  support Joe Negron and the public’s work to build the EAA Reservoir; clean & send the water south!

Lake O discharges: http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm
Looking south along the southern most area of Jupiter Island.
Looking north along Jupiter Island-dark ocean waters. Jupiter Narrows an extension of the IRL on left.
Plume -looking north along Atlantic coast
Edge of plume; note clean sapphire colored water juxtaposed to dark Lake O/canal plume
Another angle, Jupiter Island,  looking south-blur due to wind and camera movement
Back at St Lucie Inlet
IRL, note bare bottom. This area is known as the Sailfish Flats and once had hundreds of acres of seagrass beds.
The Sandbar, a popular weekend recreational area for boaters, especially families, surrounded in dark Lake O discharge waters. This is a health issue.
Barren Sailfish Flats
Sand bottom with no seagrass between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point. An area once teaming with life.
The Crossroads — no seagrass beds just sand bottom
IRL looking north
St Lucie River near St Lucie Inlet dark as coffee
North of St Lucie Inlet the plume covers near shore protected reefs as it does south of the inlet.
The plume as viewed from under the wing of the Cub
Plume edge: The tainted water we are given by our government; the blue –the water we should have by God & Nature.


Documenting the Discharges 11-8-17, SLR/IRL

A lone sailboat is a sea of blackness, confluence of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, once considered the most biodiverse estuary in North America and full of seagrasses, a nursery for the ocean..
I am very fortunate to have a small army of people helping me document the  Lake Okeechobee discharges this year. Presently, it  is the tremendous rate of government sponsored discharge from Lake O that is destroying the regions’ economy and ecology, right before our eyes, ~once again.

Friends of my husband, pilots Dave Stone and Scott Kuhns, took these aerials yesterday, 11-8-17 around 5 pm. When I asked Scott about the plume, he relayed that it went 15 miles south almost all the way to Jupiter Inlet, and since there is also rain driven, fresh, dark- stained water flowing out of the Jupiter Inlet (not over-nutrified, black-sediment water from Lake O) there was no clear delineation of blackened plume to aqua ocean water, like usual–rather, the waters are all dark….

“How far did the plume go east from the St Lucie Inlet?” I asked. “From the coast, as far as the eye could see…”

End of plume, near Jupiter Inlet
Another angle end of plume near Jupiter Inlet
Up close of a boat in the plume. Look at the sediment! Covering what once was seagrasses and killing our near shore “protected” reefs.
Plume in black water. Brown on black. The ocean? You’d think it was an oil spill.
Plume as seen at mouth of St Lucie Inlet near multi million dollar homes in Sailfish Point.
Plume at mouth of St Lucie Inlet on south side as seen against Jupiter Island’s state park/Jupiter Narrows.
A lone sailboat is a sea of blackness, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, once considered the most biodiverse estuary in North America and full of seagrasses, a nursery for the ocean.
Plume exiting St Lucie Inlet
The north Jetty at the St Lucie Inlet with plume waters going into the Atlantic Ocean. The plume goes east for many miles.

http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm–cfs over 4000 has been going on for weeks. A total blowout.

Lake O is connected to the St Lucie through the C-44 canal.
*Lake O level:http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml

*The ACOE has been discharging from Lake O since Hurricane IRMA hit on Sept 2oth, 2017. The rate of discharge has gone up and down, however increasing over recent weeks. Word is the St Lucie could be dumped on for many more months, possibly through the end of the year. So don’t count on taking your visiting relatives out fishing this holiday season even though you moved here for the water. This ecological disaster is finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel as Senator Joe Negron, alongside the public, and “River Warrior” groups, particularly Bullsugar, has pushed so hard  that the SFWMD and ACOE are finally working  towards building an EAA Reservoir that will begin the long journey of changing water drainage culture in South Florida, and “sending the water south.” Please get involved and learn more by viewing this SFWMD EAA RESERVOIR website:https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/cerp-project-planning/eaa-reservoir

*Thank you to the people, and the children, groups such as the C4CW, Rivers Coalition, grandparents’ HOA email chains, leadership at Martin Health System, and to the those working for the agencies trying to help the St Lucie. As the River Kidz say: 

“Adequate Provision” is not enough, Strengthening Florida’s Constitution, SLR/IRL

St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, (Photo Jenny Thurlow Flaugh)

Florida’s constitution is important, not only because it is the ultimate law of the state, but because it sets the people’s values before the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. These words are a reference in times of question and must be clearly written on the side of the citizen.

Right now, in Article II, Section 7, (a) “Natural resources and scenic beauty,” the Florida constitution reads: 

(a) It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. Adequate provision shall be made by law for the abatement of air and water pollution and of excessive and unnecessary noise and for the conservation and protection of natural resources.
Because this language is vague, ( what is adequate provision? ), and case law is sparse, these words become “overruled” by Florida Statute that clearly gives “permit holders” standing over citizens, and of course the environment making the present environmental protections in the state constitution “inadequate.”

Florida Statues, Chapter 403. 412. e.) reads:

No action pursuant to this section may be maintained if the person (natural or corporate) or governmental agency or authority charged with pollution, impairment, or destruction of the air, water, or other natural resources of the state is acting or conducting operations pursuant to currently valid permit or certificate covering such operations, issued by the appropriate governmental authorities or agencies, and is complying with the requirements of said permits or certificates.”

So a citizen is not at liberty to sue if a polluting entity is causing environmental destruction that is acting or conducting operations pursuant to a currently valid permit protected by a state agency. And if someone attempts to sue anyway, they have no real standing in a Florida court of law.


~But, what if a sinkhole spanning 45 feet opened at a Mosaic phosphate fertilizer facility leaking 215 million gallons of “slightly radioactive water,” but this news did not get to the people who have wells in the area for weeks?

~What if the Army Corp of Engineers, and the South Florida Water Management District knew they were discharging billions of gallons of toxic algae from Lake Okeechobee into a community’s river making some citizens sick, yet there was no discussion, warning, or health notices posted until the entire ocean ran green?

~What if an entity could withdraw so much water from a spring or aquifer that….

What if, is now reality.

Yes, permit holders should be “protected,” nonetheless, having a valid permit should not be a right to infringe on the health, safety, and welfare of Florida citizens. Florida citizens and their environment co-exist. When necessary, citizens should have the right to fight for a clean and healthy environment.

We all know that many of Florida’s waters are “growing greener,  and more toxic.” This was recently reported by TCPalm’s Jim Turner:

“The 2016 report from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection shows a mixed bag for the state’s waters, with many trending toward more-frequent toxic algae blooms, fueled by rising nitrates from farm and residential fertilizers, sewage, pet waste and other human-related sources.”

Florida’s “impaired” waters are growing, not decreasing. More springs, rivers and lakes are in horrible condition. We see it. Like it or not, the only way to ensure an “adequate” future for Florida’s citizen’s and her waters is to find a way to create acceptable language giving people a constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment.

CRC - 2017P 23By Commissioner Thurlow-Lippisch
       thurlowlj-00038-17                                      201723__
    1                         A proposal to amend                       
    2         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution to
    3         establish that every person has a right to a clean and
    4         healthful environment.
    6  Be It Proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission of
    7  Florida:
    9         Section 7 of Article II of the State Constitution is
   10  amended to read:
   11                             ARTICLE II                            
   12                         GENERAL PROVISIONS                        
   13         SECTION 7. Natural resources and scenic beauty.--
   14         (a) It shall be the policy of the state to conserve and
   15  protect its natural resources and scenic beauty. Adequate
   16  provision shall be made by law for the abatement of air and
   17  water pollution and of excessive and unnecessary noise and for
   18  the conservation and protection of natural resources.
   19         (b) Those in the Everglades Agricultural Area who cause
   20  water pollution within the Everglades Protection Area or the
   21  Everglades Agricultural Area shall be primarily responsible for
   22  paying the costs of the abatement of that pollution. For the
   23  purposes of this subsection, the terms "Everglades Protection
   24  Area" and "Everglades Agricultural Area" shall have the meanings
   25  as defined in statutes in effect on January 1, 1996.
   26         (c) The natural resources of the state are the legacy of
   27  present and future generations. Every person has a right to a
   28  clean and healthful environment, including clean air and water;
   29  control of pollution; and the conservation and restoration of
   30  the natural, scenic, historic, and aesthetic values of the
   31  environment as provided by law. Any person may enforce this
   32  right against any party, public or private, subject to
   33  reasonable limitations, as provided by law.
Proposal #23 was a public proposal. It was created by Traci Deen and her students at Barry University. I sponsored their publicly submitted proposal #700450. There were other proposals also on the “rights of environment/nature” topic including 7000672 by Richard Silvestri; 7000216 by Trevor Tezel; 700739 by Richard Grosso; —submitted to Article 1, Declaration of Rights, 700558 a Florida Environmental Bill of Rights by Paul Laura;  and the Rights of Nature submitted independently by Mr. David Hargrove. Thank you to all and the many others!
If you have any ideas or would like to comment, please write me directly at jacqui.lippisch@flcrc.gov or at this blog post.

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a member of the Constitution Revision Commission 2017/18

*This proposal will go before the Judicial Committee on November 28 and if it makes through that committee it will go through the General Provisions committee. You can write committees here to support or express concerns:


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