Tag Archives: Lost Summer 2013

Why A 4-Year-Old Can Tell You That Our Fertilizer Ordinances are Working, SLR/IRL

"Be Floridian. Don't Fertilize." Photo adapted from Beauty of Nature photos sent to me by Anna Marie Wintercorn, 2015. (http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s?__biz=MjM5MjE0NTQ4Mw==&mid=200115697&idx=6&sn=74ffa17c3f3374553c6261be656fbb15&scene=1&from=groupmessage&isappinstalled=0#rd)
“Be Floridian. Don’t Fertilize.” Photo adapted from “Beauty of Nature” photos sent to me by Anna Marie Wintercorn, 2015.*

The “Be Floridian” program was born over a decade ago of the Tampa Bay area. This program has many elements, but most noteworthy is that “strict” fertilizer ordinances evolved collaboratively along the counties and cities of Florida’s “southerly” east coast.

Today, Tampa Bay has more seagrass than it did in the 1940s. This is in spite of the area’s high population. Certainly, they have different issues than we, and “no Lake O,” but the goal is clear: “if they did it there; we can do it here…improve our waters.”

On Florida’s east coast, in 2010,  the peninsular Town of Sewall’s Point, my community,  was the first to implement in a strong fertilizer ordnance. With the 2011-2013 melt down of the Indian River Lagoon due to super-algae blooms killing approximately 60% of the northern/central lagoon’s seagrasses, and the toxic “Lost Summer” of excessive dumping from Lake Okeechobee and area canals along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, communities all along the Indian River pushed their governments to implement strong fertilizer ordinances. —Making a statement that they were “fed-up” with dead waters, and were willing themselves to put “skin in the game.”

In case you don’t know, there are variations, but basically a “strong fertilizer ordinance” is one that does not allow fertilization with phosphorus and nitrogen during the summer rainy/hurricane season.

Recently there was an article in the “Stuart News” asking the question of whether or not these strong fertilizer ordinances are “working” along the IRL. The expert on hand replied it is “too soon to tell…”

I beg to differ, and here is why.

Of course they are working.

A four-year old can tell you they are  working.

Ad in Stuart News. Martin County has a strong fertilizer ordinance and is now promoting the BE FLORIDIAN program here in Martin County. Dianne Hughes and Deb Drum deserve applause for these great ads, 2015.
Ad in Stuart News. Martin County has a strong fertilizer ordinance and is now promoting the BE FLORIDIAN program here in Martin County. Dianne Hughes and Deb Drum deserve applause for these great ads, 2015.

I use this analogy a lot when discussing Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades Agricultural Area’s 700,000 acres south of the lake blocking the natural flow of water from the northern estuaries to the Everglades.

In spite of the sugar and vegetable empires south of the lake trying to convince us that it is water from Orland and the Kissimmee River killing our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, any four-year old studying the River Kidz program will point to the area directly south of the lake as biggest problem forcing the water up and out the estuaries rather than allowing it to flow south as nature intended…We need a third outlet south of the lake. There is too much water to hold it all north. End of story. I don’t need a study to tell me this. I know it. A four-year old knows it. You know it.

Back to fertilizer….last night it rained hard here in Sewall’s Point. My rain gauge says two inches. Seemed like more than that. If my yard had been fertilized of course that fertilizer would have gone into the gutter and down the drain and into the Indian River Lagoon. You can go out and watch this from my driveway.

It must be noted that until the ACOE and SFWMD (collaborating at the direction of our government) stop dumping from the lake and out over expanded canals, we will never know our “area’s” levels of phosphorus and nitrogen.

For example, the ACOE began releasing into our SLR/IRL this January and just stopped a few weeks ago, so if a scientist had done her or her study recently, they would be measuring nutrients that came into our river from “other places” too.

But we, here, are doing our part and can feel good about this…keeping our house in order will help push order in the houses of the state and federal governments that are presently quite un-orderly.

Enforcement? Let’s focus on education. As we can see. It’s working! Five years ago people weren’t even aware that fertilizer was an “issue.”

As a sidebar before I close, I recently had the pleasure of meeting Mr Woody Woodraska who headed the SFWMD in the 1980s before it was  under the anvil of the governor and the state legislature. The topic of visiting Cuba arose. My husband Ed and I will be visiting Cuba this fall with our church, St Mary’s.

Mr Woodraska said: “Oh, you are going to love it..”

In the course of telling his story visiting as a competitor in the Ernest Hemingway competition, he alluded to Cuba’s long repressed economy and how this kept fertilizers, via the agriculture industry, from ruining  Cuba’s waters, fish and wildlife. Thus overall, Cuba’s waters are healthy and beautiful today.

We here in Florida, on the other hand, have developed every piece of land right up to edge of every river, some with septic tanks, and torn out the native plants and replaced with plants that we must fertilize; agriculture is a corporate producer going through literately tons of fertilizer every day; canals not only to drain our land, but  we build houses along them; a turf grass industry flourishes in South Florida that sells 25% of all turf-grass in the WORLD; wonderful universities, like my alma mater and family connected University of Florida, do research and watch the industry’s back to “keeping our economy rolling!”

Yeah…rolling right over our fish, and our wildlife, and over ourselves as we see our own economy suffering from dirty waters.

Whew. I need a cup of coffee.

Sorry to be so opinionated, but I just can’t stand it. Fertilizer that is. In fact I have a file on my computer called DEATH BY FERTILIZER. Here are some pictures; thanks for reading my rant, have a good day, and I will not say “happy fertilizing!”   🙂

Grass going right over edge of canal....photo DEP.
Grass going right over edge of canal….photo DEP.
Ag runoff DEP photo.
Ag runoff from fields into canals DEP photo.
An ad running on the west coast of Florida in the area of Lee County, put together with the collaboration of interested parties and local governments, 2014. (Shared by former council lady Marsha Simmons, Bonita Springs.)
An ad from the west coast of Florida, 2014.
When it rains hard all runoff from yards goes into the SLR/IL taking fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides with it. This kills seagrasses and animal life. (JTL)
When it rains a lot all runoff from yards goes into the SLR/IL taking fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides with it. This kills seagrasses by supporting algae blooms Animal and fish suffer. (JTL)
Ad west coast near springs.
Ad west coast near springs.
Ad on bus west coast or Gainesville.
Ad on bus west coast or Gainesville.
River Kidz protest Florida legislature's trying to outlaw local governments from creating stricter fertilizer ordinances than the states. 2012. (Nic Mader)
River Kidz protest Florida legislature’s trying to outlaw local governments from creating stricter fertilizer ordinances than the states. 2012. (Nic Mader)

 

RK artwork  2011. Save the dolphins. Fertilizer is not good for their skin or for the fish they eat.
RK artwork 2011. Save the dolphins. Fertilizer is not good for their skin, or seagrasses needed by the fish they eat.

BE FLORIDIAN: (http://befloridian.org)

MARTIN COUNTY’S FERTILIZER ORD. (http://www.martin.fl.us/portal/page?_pageid=73,4448073&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL)

The National Research Council’s book “Clean Coastal Waters, Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution,” National Academy’s Press, 2000, is the best book I have read on this subject. It can be ordered on line.

*Photo of Flamingo, source: (http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s?__biz=MjM5MjE0NTQ4Mw==&mid=200115697&idx=6&sn=74ffa17c3f3374553c6261be656fbb15&scene=1&from=groupmessage&isappinstalled=0#rd)

Holiday Strength, Camaraderie, and Solidarity for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

River Warrior Solidarity Fish in many colors!
River Warrior Solidarity Fish T-Shirts in many colors for the holidays!

The River Warriors recently contacted me to tell me that they now have an office, and that I was invited to make Solidarity Fish T-shirts for those walking tomorrow in the Stuart Christmas Parade beside the River Warrior Float. They also invited me to sit on this float along with other River Warrior Ancients.  🙂

I was honored and intrigued….an office?  So, yesterday evening, I drove to 745 NW Federal Highway, right over the north side of the Roosevelt Bridge, very close to the St Lucie River.

What I saw almost brought tears to my eyes! A true River Warrior office with energetic elf like River Warriors working away!

River Warrior office
River Warrior office.
With Gayle Ryan who greeted me at the door...
With Gayle Ryan who greeted me at the door…

There were kids and adults and music and all sorts of river and political posters on the walls…busy River Warriors applying acrylic paint to brightly colored T-shirts, and others blowing the paint creations dry with blow dryers, and then neatly folding the shirts on a long straight table…

When the River Elves saw me, they joyously exclaimed, “It’s Jacqui!” Let’s make her a red, white and blue fish!”

I stood there in amazement. “This is so awesome…am I dreaming?”

There was Gayle Ryan at the door, the power-house behind getting the space…Julie Williams who was instrumental in the storefront donation…Marty Baum, the Indian Riverkeeper, and his girl friend Robin and their friends and a huge Santa Clause sitting in the corner. There were children cutting out manatees, dolphins, and sea turtle shapes…

The fluorescent lights juxtaposed to the darkness outside made everything seem brighter…I read every poster on the wall as a flood of memories came back to me….

“So,  in 2013 we had the toxic “Lost Summer;” the people had an uprising, and now they, “we,” have an office? Holy Cow!”

With my head spinning, I took great pleasure in seeing a  huge flag that read DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP!

DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP!
DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP!

Artist Janeen Mason’s art also covered the walls; she is the originator of the Solidarity Fish that the River Warriors use as their symbol. (http://www.solidarityarts.com) These fish will tonight be part of Christmas tree lighting in Washington DC! Janeen is a marketing genius. 

River Warrior ladies busy creating shirts
River Warrior ladies busy creating shirts
Creating the solidarity fish...
Creating the solidarity fish…
River Kidz!
River Kidz!
Janeen Mason
Janeen Mason’s art at entrance of office.

It’s official. Solidarity for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is here to stay along the Treasure Coast, hopefully in Washington DC, and in our local government offices too! A couple of days ago, I  received this holiday card from the “Martin County Ecosystem Restoration and Management Division.” They made their own solidarity fish T-Shirts. Go Deb Drum and Team!

Martin County
Martin County Ecosystem Division 2014 holiday card with solidarity fish.
Me with my solidarity fish/River Warrior T-Shirt.
Me with my solidarity fish/River Warrior T-Shirt.

After a short time, when my shirt was ready, I put it on right over my dress: I was so exited! I am so thrilled to see so much passion for the river one year after the releases by the ACOE and SFWMD from Lake Okeechobee and C-23, C-24, C-25 and C-44 that killed our river.

Well no one will stop us now….we will in time bring our river back.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a yet another Solidarity New Year for our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!

Stop Taking...
Stop Taking…
Save Our River
Save Our River
Solidarity fish
Upside down solidarity fish
solidarity fish
solidarity fish
Patriotic solidarity fish!
Patriotic solidarity fish!
Rock the boat!
Rock the Boat!
paint
Bright paints.
Discharge Kills!
Discharge Kills!
March to the  Locks
March to the Locks.
With Riverkeeper Marty Baum.
With Riverkeeper Marty Baum and Santa.
SAVE OUR RIVER in lights above the office door.
SAVE OUR RIVER in lights above the office door.

___________________________________

Aerials of the Lost Summer 2013, JTL (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/03/21/aerials-never-forget-the-lost-summer-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)

SFWMD St Lucie River: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20protecting%20and%20restoring/stlucie)

Rivers Coalition, St Lucie River’s Decline, a History up to 2005 by Bud Jordan (http://riverscoalition.org/reports-info/st-lucie-rivers-decline/)