Today, at a Rivers Coalition meeting, Army Corp of Engineers, Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer A. Reynolds, announced unexpected news: the ACOE will stop discharging to the St Lucie River for 9 days and then resume. They have been releasing from S-308 for four days since a past weekend pause…
This halting, considering it appears to be at least partially a response to an almost completely cyanobacteria filled Lake Okeechobee, and though temporary, is a significant federal decision in the documentation of toxic/algae/St Lucie issues.
The meeting began with Martin Health CEO, Rob Lord discussing health concerns of contact with blue-green algae, and ended with LTC Jennifer Reynolds showing herself to be among other things, a gifted communicator. Please watch the videos for details of this day.
The Jacksonville District of the ACOE will be announcing its next three-year positions for Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel in the coming weeks or months. This cycle of short-lived leadership makes developing lasting relationships and, thus change, indeed almost impossible. But days like today, give one hope.
Prior to the 1970s, we used to dump sewage directly into the ocean; now we make fertilizer out of our own human waste and spread it on agricultural lands throughout our state. When it rains, nutrients and metals run right back into our estuaries….is this the answer, or another disaster? What are our options?
If you live close by, please attend this Thursday’s Rivers Coalition meeting to learn more. It was Mr. Gary Roderick who inspired me in 2008, when I was a new commissioner for the Town of Sewall’s Point, to take a deeper look at the causes of environmental destruction of our rivers. He is a knowledgeable and versed having worked both in government and as an environmental consultant.
Please join us!
Below, I am including two former blog posts on the subject: 1. Drowning in Our Own Human-Excrement-Fertilizer; and 2. Spreading Refined Human Waste on the Lands, “Biosolids,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.
Drowning in Our Own Human-Excrement-Fertilizer, SLR/IRL:
Informational links and summary of where name biosolids came from:
“As public concern arose about disposal in the United States of increasing volumes of solids being removed from sewage during sewage treatment mandated by the Clean Water Act, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) sought a new name to distinguish the “clean,” agriculturally viable product generated by modern wastewater treatment from earlier forms of sewage sludge widely remembered for causing offensive or dangerous conditions. Of three-hundred suggestions, biosolids was attributed to Dr. Bruce Logan of the University of Arizona, and recognized by WEF in 1991.” The story of “biosolids” WIKI
I have shared this 1925 aerial previously, but it is worth sharing again. What a wonderful photograph of a healthy confluence of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!
Every time I see it, I see something new.
I see the white sands of the newly dug St Lucie Canal, today’s C-44 connected to Lake Okeechobee, in the far middle distance; I see dark, prevalent natural vegetation; I see an undeveloped Sailfish Point, Rocky Point, Manatee Pocket, Sewall’s Point, and Stuart; there are a few roads, but no airport; no spoil islands along Sewall’s Point; there are no “bridges to the sea; ” I see shoaling, as the St Lucie Inlet had been opened/widened not too long before ~located just around the left hand corner of the photograph; I see beaches at Hutchinson Island with beautiful coquina sands that had not been “re-nourished;” I see lush seagrass beds, the nurseries of life, cradled against the shoreline; I see Paradise…
What would we do as far as development in this paradise, if we had it to do all over again?Or would we do just the same?
How we develop lands, of course, affects the health of surrounding waters. Today, what can we do to reinvigorate our rivers, our paradise? How can we help bring back the seagrasses especially? Well, we can do a lot.
Think of all the lawns that would be in this photo today! All the development, and how when it rains everything on our streets, parking lots, and lawns runs into our drainage systems and into our river.
Yesterday was June 1st, the beginning of rainy season. The beginning of fertilizer restrictions that were especially inspired for the entire Indian River Lagoon by the work of Sewall’s Point, the first to have a strong fertilizer ordinance, in 2010. I am proud of this and thank my fellow commissioners of that era.
Do what you can by not fertilizing your yard this rainy season, and if you haven’t considered changing out your yard to a more natural, Florida Friendly landscape, perhaps begin the process.
Every little thing we do, counts. And the more we do, the pressure we can put on the “big polluters” to do the same.
River Kidz, an organization created in 2011 in the Town of Sewall’s Point “by kids for kids,” whose mission is “to speak out, get involved, and raise awareness, because we believe kids should have a voice in the future of our rivers,” is expanding its range.
The group’s message will now encompass not only the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, but also the Caloosahatchee and Florida Bay. These three south Florida estuaries all suffer due to longstanding mis-management practices of Lake Okeechobee by the Army Corp of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District. You may have most recently heard about these three estuaries together as Senate President Joe Negron has proposed a land purchase in the Everglades Agricultural Area and a deep reservoir to improve the situation.
So what’s the problem?
Ft Meyer’s Calooshahatchee River on the west coast gets too much, or too little water, “depending.” And Florida Bay, especially in regards to Taylor Slough near Homestead, hardly gets any water at all. In fact the waterbody is reported to have lost up to 50,000 acres of seagrass due to high salinity. No way! And here at home, as we know first hand, during wet years the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon is pummeled with Lake O water causing toxic algae blooms beyond comprehension as experienced in 2016.
In all cases, whether it is too much, or too little water, algae blooms, destruction of water quality, and demise of valuable wildlife habitat ensues. Kids know about this because the most recent generation has lived this first hand. -A kid growing up, not being able to go in the water or fish or swim? No way!!!!
We can see from the satellite photo below how odd the situation is with the EAA lands just south of Lake Okeechobee engineered to be devoid of water so the EAA plants “don’t get their feet wet” while the rest of the southern state suffers. Yes, even a four-year old kid can see this! 🙂
To tell this story, in Kidz fashion, new characters have been created. Familiar, Marty the Manatee of the St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon, has been joined by two new friends: Milly the Manatee from the Caloosahatchee, and Manny the Manatee from Florida Bay. Quite the trio!
Also joining the motley crew is a white pelican, sometimes visitor to Lake Okeechobee, Florida Bay, and the Central IRL; also a stunning orange footed Everglades Snail Kite complete with Apple Snail; and last but not least, the poor “blamed for mankind’s woes of not being able to send water south,” the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow. Finally, she will have a chance to share her story. Endangered species, weather, and the water-cycle will be added to the curriculum.
Workbooks will be available free of charge thanks to donations from The Knoph Family Foundation, and Ms. Michelle Weiler.
Workbook Brainstormers: River Kidz co- founders Evie Flaugh and Naia Mader; the River Kidz, (especially River Kidz member #1, Jack Benton); Julia Kelly, artist; Valerie Gaynor, Martin County School System; Nic Mader, Dolphin Ecology Project; Crystal Lucas, Marine Biology teacher and her daughter Hannah; and Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, former mayor and commissioner of the Town of Sewall’s Point. Workbooks will meet Florida Standards and be approved by the Martin County School System thanks to Superintendent, Laurie Gaylord.
All Saints Church is Martin County’s oldest church still in use; it was built in 1898, and still stands today upon a hill overlooking the Indian River Lagoon. Built by area pioneers, from local lumber, it has withstood the test of time through multiple devastating hurricanes…
Last Saturday, I was asked to speak before the ladies of the church about “River Kidz.” They wished to learn about the grass-roots organization founded in 2011 by children in the Town of Sewall’s Point. I found this fitting as my mother states in her book about Sewall’s Point, that the history of the peninsula cannot be separated from the history of the little church.
Captain Henry Sewall, who gave Sewall’s Point its name, was a member of the church and donated its bell that still rings out clearly across the river today. He along with his family is buried there. The window, in memory of his life, bears an anchor, and for me, after my visit to the little historic church, this window is a “window of hope.”
According to Joyce A. Fletcher Menard’s book on All Saints entitled, “Windows, Memorial, and More,” the anchor had great importance in ancient times for mariners (such as Capt. Sewall) as it was regarded as symbol of safety, but later on it became a symbol of hope.
Sometimes there is no safety, but there is always hope. I have hope for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. I have hope through the children, and I have hope through you. Without hope, we have nothing. Hold fast. Hold on, and hold tight. Don’t give up. We are the anchor for our river; we are its “window of hope.”
It’s been a long time since I was in a car full of kids for eight hours!
Three members of the River Kidz, River Mom, Nic Mader, and I took off from Martin County yesterday to make certain these kids had a voice—and an experience of a lifetime.
Today starting a 11:30 the steps of the Florida capitol will be filled with hundreds of people from across our state for Florida’s Clean Water and Amendment 1 Rally. Multiple organization will take part with the Sierra Club leading the way. Founding member, John Muir, must be smiling in his California grave, at the thought of Americans continuing to fight for the beauty and wonder of nature and it’s most precious resource, clean water!
It was awesome. The kids truly get it and are fulfilling their created mission statement: “to speak out, get involved and raise awareness, because we believe kids should have a voice in the future of our rivers.”
We talked about the state of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon; Amendment 1 and how it works; we talked about the goal for a land purchase in the Everglades Agricultural Area; we talked about the power and history of the sugar industry and then we stopped at Diary Queen and got a “blizzard!” I had an lemon-lime slush….
Caught in traffic for a solid two and a half hours outside of Gainesville, Naia, Kiele, and Olivia made the best of it while Nic and I wondered if we were going to run out gas!
Arriving at our hotel room at 8:00 PM, after showing the girls the Capitol and the campus of FSU, (Nic and I are both Gators!) we had dinner at Ruby Tuesdays. I told Nic we had to go somewhere where I could get a beer!
Nic and I were exhausted. The kids ate by themselves in a separate booth. I looked at Nic saying: Nic, you are a really good mom. She is. She was incredible yesterday pulling snacks out of secret compartments and having the patience of a saint……She smiled. ” Jacqui, they’ll remember this this rest of their lives and most important, it will help save our river….”
“Keep Martin Beautiful,” will be recognizing environmental “heroes” tonight, and one of them is longtime River Kidz member, Veronica Dalton. Veronica was nominated and is therefore being recognized at the “Environmental Stewardship Awards” for her public speaking work on behalf of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.
You may or may not know, that “Keep Martin Beautiful” is affiliated with “Keep America Beautiful.”
Veronica’s journey for beauty and the river started in 2011/2012 when she was 9/10, with the founding of River Kidz. She was always a leader and the organization gave her an opportunity to showcase her speaking and writing skills. She enjoys writing and speaking about something she cares about: the river.
Even before the “lost summer” of 2013, at a River Kidz and Martin County welcoming of state paddle boarder icon, Justin Riney, under the bridge in Sewall’ Point, little Veronica politely pushed her way up to the front of the group, looked up at me and the other River Momz asking: “May I speak? I wrote something and I have it with me….”
I knew at this moment, Veronica had a future and would utilize the River Kidz’ mission: “to speak out, get involved, and raise awareness, because we believe kids should have a voice in the future of our rivers.”
Her speech was heartfelt. And the crowd responded with cheers and a standing ovation. Justin smiled his handsome smile and never forgot the kids!
Shortly thereafter, with her parents, Tammy and John Dalton, Veronica sat in through Senator Joe Negron’s Senate Hearing on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin, taking her turn to speak, showing the committee pictures she took of fighting conchs that had died at the sandbar due to the polluted freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee as well as C-24, C-23, C-25 and C-44. I’ll never forget the secret service type gentleman at the podium holding up Veronica’s sign for the Senate Committee to see!
I believe Veronica’s words had a tremendous effect on the Senate Committee and many of the “out of town” Senators expressed that they were amazed by our active and eloquent youth. I smiled saying, “Welcome to Martin County.”
Veronica has spoken most recently at the Clean Water Rally in 2014 at Phipps Park, and this year in 2015, has already shown me some of her speeches she wrote at Anderson Middle School, in Stuart. She is regular speaker and writer of St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon issues at her school. She is now 12 years old.
The legacy of environmental stewardship continues; let’s all give Veronica a big hand for keeping Martin beautiful and for keeping America beautiful…