Tag Archives: S-308

John Moran’s “Florida’s Summer of Slime: Stuart and Lake Okeechobee”

It’s an honor to present:

“Florida’s Summer of Slime: Stuart and Lake Okeechobee,” photo essay by John Moran, August 2018

I reported last month on the plight of the Caloosahatchee River and its befouled waters flowing from Lake Okeechobee; delivering slime to waterfront neighborhoods in Fort Myers and Cape Coral along the way to the Gulf Islands of Southwest Florida.

Next up on our Summer of Slime photo tour is a visit to Stuart and Lake O…Stuart and environs is a glistening jewel born of water. It may well top the list of Florida cities in shoreline per capita. There’s simply water everywhere. Two forks of the St. Lucie River, the Indian River Lagoon, canals and peninsulas and islands, and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. Stuart is pictured above; below is neighboring Hutchinson Island.

But it wasn’t Stuart’s reputation for abundant clean water that drew me south from Gainesville with my cameras. In effect, I’ve become a traveling crime scene photographer—and slime is the crime. A devastating outbreak of toxic algae has once again hit the St. Lucie River and the Treasure Coast, fueled by the polluted waters of Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River basin to the north. Damaging headlines trumpet the story to the nation and the world and Governor Scott has declared a state of emergency. It’s déjà vu all over again.

My hosts in Stuart were water blogger Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch and her husband, Ed Lippisch.

Ed took me up for a photo flight in his Piper Cub so I could get the big picture.

Seen from a small plane at 500 feet, Florida is a beautiful place.

Here’s Lake Okeechobee and the western terminus of the St. Lucie C-44 Canal. Administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Port Mayaca Lock and Dam has the capacity to discharge 14,800 cubic feet of water per second downstream to Stuart and the St. Lucie River Estuary, 26 miles away.

Sugar industry representatives say the water coming out of Lake Okeechobee is not the problem and that the algae outbreak in Stuart is primarily caused by Stuart’s own septic tanks and urban stormwater. This claim is contradicted by the extensive algae mats seen along the C-44 Canal between the Port Mayaca and St. Lucie Locks, well upstream from Stuart.

Lake Okeechobee historically drained south to Florida Bay, not east and west to the Atlantic and Gulf. The C-44 canal was built in 1916 to divert floodwaters to the coast.

A view of the St. Lucie Lock and Dam, several miles southwest of Stuart. On the day of my photo flight in late July, the dam gates were closed, visibly holding back algae from flowing downstream. Look closely and you can see what some people call The Seven Gates of Hell.

The St. Lucie Lock and Dam are an integral part of South Florida’s complex web of water management structures, born of an age when the Everglades was reviled as a watery wasteland and America was driven to drain it.

Below the St. Lucie Lock and Dam, in Palm City and Stuart, you can still find waterfront homes untouched by the algae bloom. But that’s no consolation for the thousands of Martin County residents whose lives are in upheaval once again this summer. The familiar pattern of algae outbreaks is fueled by fertilizer, manure and urban sources of nutrient pollution, including septic tanks.

All of this is compounded by denial and neglect by elected officials and agencies to whom we entrust the important work of environmental protection and public health.

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch took me on a driving tour of the C-44 Canal from Stuart to enormous Lake O, which is more like a stormwater treatment pond than a biologically healthy lake. “There are toxic algae blooms across the globe, but only one place where the government dumps it on you: Florida,” she says.

It’s not just the algae from Lake Okeechobee causing headaches along Florida’s east coast; the sheer volume of freshwater discharges is an environmental pollutant that overwhelms the estuary.

The Lake O gunk visible in the satellite view, above, is shown in the detail photo below.

Fishermen are still drawn to Port Mayaca. On the day we visited, I counted nine.

Dinner in hand (speckled perch), Felix Gui, Jr. has been fishing Lake O for 30 years. “The algae doesn’t affect the fish,” he says. “They eat the same, algae or no algae, and I haven’t gotten sick.” Experts have warned against eating fish exposed to the algae.

A Martin County Health Department sign at Port Mayaca warns against contact with the water but I saw no messaging about whether fish caught in these waters is safe to eat.

Enroute home to Stuart, Jacqui and I stopped at deserted Timer Powers Park on the St. Lucie Canal in Indiantown.

At the St. Lucie Lock, a surreal scene of impaired water, above, and a vortex of slime, below, waiting to be flushed downstream.

A pair of jet-skiers signaled for the lock to be opened, and another pulse of algae-laden water is released towards Stuart and the coast.

Wouldn’t want to anyway, thanks.

Further downstream, the algae spreads…

Nearing the coast, Rio Nature Park and the neighboring Central Marine in Stuart are slimed again. This was the epicenter of the infamous Treasure Coast algae outbreak of 2016.

Reporter Tyler Treadway of TCPalm gathered a sample of the polluted water from a canal behind the offices of Florida Sportsman magazine in Stuart.

Staff complaints of headaches, nausea and dizziness prompted Florida Sportsman publisher Blair Wickstrom to temporarily close the office in late July. “It smells like death,” he said.

The Shepard Park boat ramp parking lot in Stuart was nearly empty on the day we visited.

A man on a mission, Mike Knepper, above and below, posts videos on his Youtube channel documenting the degradation of natural Florida.

“It’s totally unacceptable to me what we’re doing to this planet because we’re very rapidly destroying it,” Knepper says. “My children and grandchildren will be paying the price for all the bad decisions we’re making today. I want to be able to look them in the face and say, ‘I tried to make a difference.’”

Dead-end canals along the St. Lucie River with their limited water exchange have been hardest hit by the toxic blue-green algae, which scientists refer to as cyanobacteria.

A growing body of medical research links exposure to cyanobacteria with neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s, ALS and Alzheimer’s. Google it.

Meanwhile, we’re getting conflicting messages from officialdom. Martin County has erected signs warning against contact with the water but the Florida Dept. of Health website, under the heading How to Keep Your Family Safe While Enjoying Florida’s Water Ways, has this to say: “Cyanobacteria/ blue-green algae…are naturally occurring in Florida’s environment and are also found all over the world. They are part of a healthy ecosystem and help support a wide variety of aquatic life.” (http://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/aquatic-toxins/cyanobacteria.html) In other words, Lighten up, Florida. This is just nature being natural.

An open question remains: What will become of the value of the Florida brand when the world fully sees what we have done to our waters?

Even in disaster, strange beauty emerges.

Greg Fedele has lived in his water-front home since 1991. He grieves for his loss. “I have three kids who can’t enjoy the waterways of Martin County like I did growing up.”

The sign at Ocean Blue Yacht Sales in Stuart echoes a wide swath of community sentiment. Asked to describe in a word how the algae outbreak has impacted his business, president Bryan Boyd replied, “Horrible. The last three years, our bay boat sales have been a third of what they used to be.”

A roadside sign seen in Stuart in late July. If you’re wondering what you can do about the ongoing crisis of Florida waters, we are called to consider our own water footprint, learn about the issues and get involved. And never forget that elections have consequences. Vote for Clean Water. (https://www.bullsugar.org/#)

What we have here in Florida is not just a crisis of water, we have a crisis of democracy and civic engagement.

From the beleaguered springs of North Florida to the sickened rivers and coasts of South Florida, we must understand that no savior is waiting on the horizon who will fix this thing for us.

It took a group effort to create this mess and we need all hands on deck if are to reclaim our waters. Florida needs environmental patriots willing to face down politicians funded by wealthy interests who think nothing of sacrificing our public waters on the altar of their private profits.

We don’t have the luxury of time to get this right. We are losing our waters now. This is our moment. It’s time to set aside our differences and focus on what is at stake, for this is nothing less than a battle for the soul of Florida.

The pictures don’t lie. We the people of Florida bear witness today to nothing less than a crime against nature, and a crime against the children who shall inherit our natural legacy.

A long time ago, Florida political leaders—Republicans and Democrats in common cause—understood there can be no healthy economy without a healthy environment. They wisely enacted laws and regulatory safeguards accordingly.

But that was then and this is now. It’s time to end the popular fiction in Florida that we can plunder and pollute our way to prosperity.

Gov. Reubin Askew said it best when he declared in 1971, “Ecological destruction is nothing less than economic suicide.”

In this, our Summer of Slime, can I get an amen?

by John Moran
August 2018

web: http://johnmoranphoto.com
email: JohnMoranPhoto@gmail.com
cell: 352.514.7670

Feel free to forward or post this photo essay as you wish; attribution is appreciated. Please share this with elected officials and ask them: what’s their plan to clean up our waters?

Masses of Algae Pressing the Gates; Will ACOE Discharge Tomorrow? SLR/IRL

6-24-18, (Sunday)

I am posting this, not because I want to but because I have to. I much rather be enjoying the day instead of once again sitting at my computer. But time is of the essence.

This morning I read a comment by TcPalm reporter, Ed Killer, on Facebook stating the ACOE’s pulse release schedule for the St Lucie River.

Ed KillerThe Corps gave me this today

Sat- 0
Sun- 0
Mon- 1270 cfs
Tues- 2000
Wed- 2100
Thu- 1650

If this is true, and with Ed Killer posting, I believe it is, the ACOE will start releasing again Monday, 6-25-18. I did not know this until I read his post.

Today, my husband Ed and I were flying other people over Florida as usual, and during our flight I took this video expecting maybe some algae in C-44 but instead also found the gigantic bloom against the gates of S-308 in Lake Okeechobee leading into C-44/SLR.

So I wrote on Facebook:

I am so over this, but cannot fail to report. According to Ed Killer ACOE will start discharging from Lake O tomorrow in spite of Governor’s Emergency Order. Look at this algae mess waiting at gates of Port Mayaca. Write ACOE’s LTC Jennifer Reynolds and politely ask for ACOE to wait and to have DEP test again: jennifer.a.reynolds@usace.army.mil (JTL-S-308 video taken 6-24-15 at 12pm) #toxic2018

As Monday is tomorrow, and I fly to DC with the River Kidz tomorrow, I am posting this now. I truly believe considering the circumstances, that the ACOE should refrain from discharging at S-308 or S-80. And the state’s FDEP (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) should have this water tested, again, as bloom has changed.

To just dump this on the people of Martin County along the St Lucie River is a crime.

Respectfully,

Jacqui

PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO

The recognizable shape of S-308 the entrance to C-44 and the SLR. Lake O’s connection to the river—obvious massive algae bloom at gates.
Bloom as satellites show is throughout and scattered in lake. This shot is looking more towards middle of lake in southern area.

Entrance to Caloosahatchee on west side of lake and near Clewiston Bloom is all through lake.

The FPL Reservoir’s Catastrophic Dike Failure, 1979, Part 2 of 2, SLR/IRL

 

Todd Thurlow, http://www.thurlowpa.com

      “The FPL Reservoir’s Catastrophic Dike Failure”

                       Barley Barber Swamp, the FPL Reservoir and its 1979 Catastrophic Failure             (Part 2 of 2), Todd Thurlow, SLR/IRL

An empty reservoir after the breach of its dike, USDA 1980. Courtney Todd Thurlow

Video link “The FPL Reservoir’s Catastrophic Dike Failure” (https://youtu.be/2r1hgFqgIK8)

 

IMG_7013 FPL
FPL revoir, Google Earth

On Halloween eve, October 30th 1979, the southwest side of the dike embankment at Florida Power & Light Company’s Martin Plant suddenly, and without warning failed catastrophically.

It was the dead of night and certainly the creatures of the nearby Barley Barber Swamp sensed more than their human masters. No person saw the incident. There were no cameras, no guards, no witnesses. It was the 1970s.

We can imagine, though, even though the final report said “not,” that for months sands had been slipping, eroding underground, perhaps led by connection to the old borrow pits dug for the railroad that came through in the 1920s.

My brother Todd’s latest spectacular time capsule flight takes us through this fateful night that by the time Halloween arrived, derailed a southbound train. The conductor reported the incident to his superiors as a “flash flood.” It was eventually realized that this flash flood was part of something much larger in scope!

Even if you know the story, the numbers are staggering…

As Todd notes, when the dike let loose, 100,000 cfs of water (cubic feet per second) blew into L-65, the canal on the edge of the FPL reservoir, and into the C-44 canal connected to the reservoir at S-53. The biggest numbers we hear these days in cfs is about 5000.

Facing west, a wave surged over the sugarcane fields and overtop US 441, traveling north seven miles in the rim canal. S-308 at Port Mayaca flowed backwards, and 4000 cfs entered Lake Okeechobee.

The finally alerted ACOE maxed S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam at 15,800 cfs, (over twice  the highest amount of the Lost Summer of 2013 at 5700+/-). Crazy! Todd says the max for S-80 into the St Lucie River is 16,900 cfs. Not too far off were they.

Of course, these peaks would have only been for a few hours, but nonetheless, as is often the case, these kind of numbers mean “instant death for the St Lucie.”

This FPL event traveled much further north than the C-44 canal though; the last paragraph of the SFWMD 1980 report’s “failure section” notes:

“The Rim Canal reached a peak the next day (November 1) at the north end of the basin, 17 miles from the St. Lucie Canal. The flood was contained at this northerly point by the Nubbin Slough Tieback Levee along Canal 59. The maximum area flooded, was about 14,100 acres.”

What a story!

Well, it’s only history, right? But then history has a strange way of repeating itself in one form or another doesn’t it?

WATCH Todd’s VIDEO HERE: “The FPL Reservoir’s Catastrophic Dike Failure” (https://youtu.be/2r1hgFqgIK8)

Cattle take to high ground in Port Mayaca as egrets fly overhead after a Florida Power and Light dike broke, causing heavy flooding in the area. (UPI)

Links:

Interim Final Draft Report on Embankment Failure FPL’s Martin Plant Cooling Reservoir, SFWMD, 1980: http://damsafety.hostguardian.com/media/Documents/DownloadableDocuments/MartinPowerPlantFailureReport.pdf

Palm Beach Post, Post Time, FPL 1979 Dam Collapse Hit Martin County, Elliot Kleinberg :
http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/local/post-time-1979-fpl-reservoir-dam-collapse-hit-western-martin-county/2BU5WcnUVTz9GGNAhTSEGK/

Read part 1 of this FRL series below:

Part 1, Barley Barber Swamp, the FPL Reservoir and its 1979 Catastrophic Failure (Part 1 of 2) Todd Thurlow/JTL: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/barley-barber-swamp/

Aerials of Our Rain Stained Lagoon, SLR/IRL

Recently, it seems to rain almost every day!

TCPalm’s Elliott Jones reported this morning that Stuart has received a whopping 11.30 inches of rain just so far this month! (The average being 7.14.)

Although due to the recent drought, the ACOE/SFWMD are not dumping Lake Okeechobee through Canal C-44, canals C-23, C-24, C-25, and areas along C-44, as well as our own basin, are draining right into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Very little of this water is cleansed before it enters and thus is damaging to the eco system. Next time you see water draining through a grate in a parking lot, think about this. Remember too that before the major canals were constructed the 1900s, the river received less than half the water it gets every time it rains today.

IMG_5231.JPG
SLR at “Hell’s Gate” looking at Sewall’s Point, Sailfish Point and the St Luice Inlet
photo drainage basin
Drainage changes to the SLR. Green is the original watershed. Yellow and pink have been added since ca.1920. (St Lucie River Initiative’s Report to Congress 1994.)

The aerials below were taken 6-13-17 by my husband Ed Lippisch and pilot Dave Stone. It is important to monitor the river all of the time so we can view changes.

“Rain stained” we are; please remember not to fertilize during the rainy season. The birds on Bird Island will appreciate it! (http://befloridian.org)

Canals

TC Palm, Elliott Jones, 6-19-17
Bird Island, IRL east of Sewall’s Point
Bird Island
IRL St Lucie Inlet and Sailfish Point
Sailfish Flats, IRL
Crossroads, confluence SLR/IRL off Sewall’s Point
Spoil Island off Sailfish, bird also roosting here!
Sick looking seagrass beds in IRL looking south towards Jupiter Narrows
SL Inlet near Sailfish Point, no black plume but darker colored waters
Jupiter Island’s state park at St Lucie Inlet
Sailfish Point
St Lucie Inlet looking south
inlet again
Clear ocean water at jetty, St Lucie Inlet
Looking back to St Lucie Inlet mixed colored waters but not black as with Lake O water releases
St Lucie Inlet between Jupiter Island’s state park and Sailfish Point
inlet again
Looking north to SL Inlet
Jetty
Hutchinson Island and Sailfish Flats in IRL. Sewall’s Point in distance.
Parts of the Savannas near Jensen , IRL and Hutchinson Island in distance
Savannas State Preserve Park

Canals draining water into SLR/IRL after rain events:

C-23 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c23.pdf

C-24 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c24.pdf

C-25 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c-25.pdf

C-44 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-44%20Canal%20.pdf

Stormy Weather and the Toxic Algae Bloom of Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

 

Radar weather from 4-29-15. My phone, JTL.
Radar weather screen shot from 4-29-15. My phone, NOAA site. JTL.

The past two days, I feel like I have been a guest on the TV series “Storm Chasers,” except I have been running from the storms.

Yesterday, I decided I really needed to go look at Lake Okeechobee myself to see the toxic  algae bloom that has been reported through social media, TC Palm, and the internet. –The algae bloom that inspired Senator Negron to ask Col. Dodd of the ACOE to refrain from opening the gates, which they did not do. On Tuesday’s, at 2:00 PM, are the Army Corp of Engineers’ “Periodic Scientist Call for Lake Okeechobee” of which I have participated in for almost three years…

“Perfect,” I thought, “I’ll go to the lake for the call a bit early and take some photos. I will be out in Palm City around that time anyway; it’s  really not that far…” The drive is about 20 miles.

Sign at Port Mayaca, Indiantown.
Signs at Port Mayaca, Indiantown.JTL

In spite of the previous day’s inclement weather, I had not checked the weather closely as I can never figure out how to get radar maps on my phone. Not checking the weather, turned out to be a big mistake.

satellite photo of Lake O, NOAA.
Satellite photo of Lake O, NOAA. If you look closely, you can see the C-44 canal connecting the St Lucie River in Stuart to the Lake O. This canal runs along Highway 76 in Martin County.
Map SFWMD showing canals and basins. Note S-308 or structure s-308 at Lake O and S-80 down the C-44 canal. Both of these structures have to open to allow water to flow into the C-44 canal to the St Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon.
Map SFWMD showing canals and basins. Note S-308 or “structure 308” at Lake O, and S-80 east along the C-44 canal. Both of these structures have to open to allow water to flow into the C-44 canal to the St Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon.

Around 1:00 PM, as I approached Port Mayaca going west along Highway 76, suddenly grey clouds in the distance converged overhead spilling out over the sky like black oil. Huge bright lightning bolts struck the ground in the direction of the lake, thunder followed almost immediately;  rain dumped out of the sky. …”Oh no, not again…” I thought.

The winds screamed across the landscape. Large trucks coming towards me in the opposite direction splashed wakes hitting my car full force.  Eventually, I pulled over at the entrance of DuPuis Wildlife Reserve;” the water was rising on the dirt road. Looking at my surroundings, I realized I was next to the Port Mayaca graveyard where thousands of people were buried in a mass grave after perishing in the 1928 hurricane. I turned on the radio, my windshield-wipers whipping back and forth. The unnerving sound of the Emergency Broadcast System blared and a calm computerized voice said: “Tornado warning for western Martin County.”  Shaking, I forced my self to try to find radar on my phone. I found a written tornado warning for Indiantown. I was at ground zero.

All alone with the elements, I wondered what possessed me to do such a thing….I closed my eyes…I prayed…

Within thirty minutes the storm had passed. Thankfully it was not my day to die. I shook off my fear, got my self together, and completed my drive to the lake.  This is what I found:

S-308 as, the structure that allows water from Lake Okeechobee to enter the C-44 canal, SLR/IRL.
S-308 as, the structure that allows water from Lake Okeechobee to enter the C-44 canal, SLR/IRL. Lake O is in the background.
Closer view of S-308 with the beginning of the C-44 canal before its gates.
Closer view of S-308 with the beginning of the C-44 canal before its gates. The lake is behind the dike structure.
Algae bloom on west side of S-308.
Algae bloom on west side of S-308 gate.
West side of S-308 showing all gates.
West side of S-308 showing all gates. Algae bloom visible.
Close up of western side of S-308.
Close up of western side of S-308.
Edge of S-308 structure standing on dike, looking east over Lake Okeechobee.
Edge of S-308 structure standing on dike, looking east over Lake Okeechobee.
East side of S-308 facing the lake.
East side of S-308 facing the lake.
Turning around to see the rim canal. Dike on left of photo. Lake on other side of dike.
Turning around from S-308 structure to see the rim canal. Dike on left of photo. Lake on left side of dike.

The lake seemed oddly calm after such rage. You could hear a pin drop. I looked around…

Storms tend to break up algae blooms, but under the right conditions of heat and over nitrified water (over-fertilized basically), they come back. In my opinion, this toxic algae issue really forces us all, from the public, to city government, to the office of the Governor, to the state legislature, to the President of the Untied States, and Congress,  to ask ourselves the most critical of questions.

“Is it legal for a federal agency to knowingly release toxic water into a local community?”

To me this is situation is different than a toxic algae bloom simply forming in a localized body of water. What we are talking about here is toxic algae being purposefully transferred from one body of water to another, by the government no less…This seems wrong. Un-American.

Then of course there is the other issue, flooding south and around the lake. As I experienced yesterday, things happen very fast around this giant lake, this “big waters,” this Lake Okeechobee.

Take a look again at the first photo I show of S-308 from the bridge. This photo gives perspective of how fragile this dike and structure-gate system is. It is like trying to hold back an ocean with a cement wall. There has got to be a better way to keep our families, healthy and safe….

S-308 as, the structure that allows water from Lake Okeechobee to enter the C-44 canal, SLR/IRL.
S-308 is the structure that allows water from Lake Okeechobee to enter the C-44 canal, SLR/IRL. That is Lake O. in the background and the mouth of the C-44 canal in the foreground. This is not much to stop “an ocean of water”…These gates are one set of gates that allow toxic water to endanger communities along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. 

______________________________

Learn about toxic algae blooms: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algal_bloom)

Will the ACOE “Dump” a Toxic Algae Bloom from Lake Okeechobee Into Our SLR/IRL?

 

Blue-green algae is often toxic.  4-23-15, Kenny Hinkle.
Blue-green algae this bright is usually toxic. This is a photo from just outside of Lake Okeechobee taken yesterday. 4-23-15, Kenny Hinkle.

Yesterday, a blue-green algae bloom was documented at S-308 just east of Lake Okeechobee/C-44 Port Mayaca, by Kenny Hinkle and Mike Connor: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7CglO2z33E&spfreload=10)

You hear it all the time, and it most things considered, it makes sense: “Flood control…”

The Army Corp of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District “HAVE TO” dump from Lake Okeechobee because when its waters are “too high,” it endangers the people and the farms south of the lake.

But what about us? What the thousands of people who live, fish, and boat along our estuary? Are we protected?

Blue-green algae, cyanobacteria, produces two groups of toxins, neurotoxins and peptide hepatotoxins. Great. Is this what our government should be releasing into our waters? This is a fresh water bacteria and it comes from the lake not the brackish estuary. But after our estuary has been “dumped on” by all the area canals, with an overabundance of fresh water, or an overabundance of water from the lake, the microcytosis  can live here!

Disgusting…

Let’s think about this. 

The first responsibility for any government is the “health, safety and welfare” of its people. That is my responsibility as an elected official in the Town of Sewall’s Point. 

So when circumstances are as they are today, or at least yesterday–and there was documentation of what clearly appears to be a blue-green algae bloom, most likely toxic,  on the eastern side of Lake Okeechobee at S-308, am I supposed to remain quiet? I think not, and nor should you.

The ACOE is scheduled to start dumping  today. I admit, that the ACOE, SFWMD, governor, and legislature are in a difficult position having to  protect one group at the expense of another, but somebody better figure it out.

 

Map of where bloom was located yesterday. (Kenny Hinkle, 4-23-15.)
Map of where bloom was located yesterday. (Kenny Hinkle, 4-23-15.)
Photo 4-23-15, Kenny Hinkle.
Photo 4-23-15, Kenny Hinkle.
Photo 4-23-15. Kenny Hinkle.
Photo 4-23-15. Kenny Hinkle.

__________________________

The dumping of blue-green algae in Lake O  waters is what led to the toxic “Lost Summer” of  2013, and the fish kills and toxic waters of 2005 in the SLR/IRL.

Microcystis: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcystis_aeruginosa)

ACOE: (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil)

Documenting the Destructive Discharges While “Keeping Our Eye on the Ball”-The River, 3-31-15, SLR/ILR

The Crossroads of the SLR/IRL with discharges from Lake O and Area canals. (Photo by Ed Lippisch, 3-30-15, 5:PM.)
The Crossroads of the SLR/IRL as seen during incoming tide with discharges from Lake O and area canals. (Photo by Ed Lippisch, 3-30-15, 5:PM.)

With all the fanfare of President Obama’s visit and the confrontation that seems likely at the April 2nd SFWMD, Water Resources Advisory Board meeting between “Stop the Land Grab” (http://goo.gl/2YVLXTand the River Warriors, it is important to keep our “eye on the ball.” THE RIVER.

Since January 16th of 2015, the ACOE and SFWMD have been overseeing the releases from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. (The ACOE technically oversees this; however, collaboration includes the science of both agencies.)

January is very early to start releases, but the lake “is high” for this time of year. Due to releases and evaporation, it is slowly going down and now at 14.04 feet. The goal 13.5 (?) or so, but they won’t say that  because  one must  “be sensitive to water supply” for agriculture and other users…(http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml)

Today, I will share photos by my husband, Ed Lippisch,  that were taken yesterday around 5pm during the onset of an incoming  tide. Ed was piloted by friend Scott Kuhns. Thank you Scott and Ed! 🙂

As mentioned in an earlier blog, the ACOE is PULSE RELEASING and lowering releases into the SLR through S-80 right now in an attempt to help Martin County evaluate bacteria testing that cannot be done during heavy discharges. It is interesting to note that pulse releases mimic nature so that the estuary is not continually pounded, and can recover a bit. Just like during a rain event, the water flow is intense, salinity drops, and then salinity increases when the water lets up. You can see the schedule below.

ACOE pulse release schedule May 26, 2015.
ACOE pulse release schedule May 26, 2015. S-80 is the structure from the C-44 to the SLR letting in water from S-308 at Lake O.

One of the most interesting photos is of Sailfish Point’s marina where the runoff into the SLR/IRL is very apparent. There is always runoff from land into the rivers, yet we must remember the rain takes everything on the land with it: fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, loose sediment….Martin County’s strong fertilizer ordinance rules don’t begin until June 1st, so it is likely that this runoff is full of pollution that like releases from Lake Okeechobee or area canals is not good for seagrasses.

For me the aerials of the seagrasses are most depressing. The once  healthy beds look horrible. One can see they have algae all over them . Maybe I’m  hyperbolizing, but the seagrasses do not look good to me. Having grown up here and swam in these area waters  as a kid when they were lush and full of life—-the present condition is not acceptable.

Anyway,  let’s keep our eye on river and we move through all these politics, and here is a look from above at YOUR RIVER!

1. SLR/IRL Crossroads with Willoughby Creek in foreground looking towards Jupiter Narrows and the SL Inlet.
1. SLR/IRL Crossroads with Willoughby Creek area in foreground looking towards Jupiter Narrows and the SL Inlet.
2
2 Confluence of SLR/IRL off west side of Sewall’s Point.
The Crossroads of the SLR/IRL with discharges from Lake O and Area canals. (Photo by Ed Lippisch, 3-30-15, 5:PM.)
The Crossroads of the SLR/IRL with discharges from Lake O and Area canals making it dark brown. (Photo by Ed Lippisch, 3-30-15, 5:PM.)
4
4. Sewall’s Point looking towards Hutchinson Island, IRL.
5.
5. Unhealthy looking seagrass beds off of Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point.
6.
6. Sad looking seagrass beds seem to have algae on them thus so dark and flat looking….
7.
7. The Sandbar.
8.
8. Sailfish Point and Simpson Island.
9.
9.Sailfish Flats.
10. Martina at Sailfish Point with runoff from land due to rains.
10. Martina at Sailfish Point with runoff from land due to rains.
Another shot of Sailfish Point Marina.
11. Another shot of Sailfish Point Marina.
Long shot of Sailfish Point marina with runoff clearly seen.
12. Long shot of Sailfish Point marina with runoff clearly seen and Ed’s thumb!
SL Inlet with plume on left as incoming tide enters.
13. SL Inlet with plume on left as incoming tide enters.
Hole in the Wall with plume and incoming tide.
14. Hole in the Wall with plume and incoming tide.
15.
15. SL Inlet.
16.
16. Sailfish Point and inlet; north side is clean incoming tide-water. Plume goes south….

 

basins of SLR/IRL SFWMD
Basins of SLR/IRL SFWMD
ACOE/SFWMD discharge most recent discharge chart. Most is from Lake O in this chart as seen in blue.
ACOE/SFWMD discharge most recent discharge chart. Most is from Lake O in this chart as seen in blue.
ACOE S-308 structure showing water released into SLR/IRL from Lake O.
ACOE S-308 structure showing water released into SLR/IRL from Lake O.

ACOE excerpt —Info that goes with the above pulse release schedule; it is from 3-26-14. Another will call will occur today and updates will be considered.

UNCLASSIFIED ACOE

Caveats: NONE

“Based on the current lake levels, tributary hydrologic conditions, and multi-seasonal forecast, 2008 Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (2008 LORS) Part D guidance is up to 3000 cfs at Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79) and up to 1170 cfs at St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80). We have considered stakeholders input and recommendation from the South Florida Water Management District.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will be continuing discharges at S-79 at the same level as last week. However, the target discharges are reduced at S-80. The target flows over a 7-day period will be an average of 2500 cfs at S-79 and 500 cfs at S-80 cfs. These discharges will be made in a pulse-like manner (see attached).

These releases will start Friday, 27 March 2015 at 0700 hrs and end on Friday, 03 April 2015 at 0700 hrs.”

________________

ACOE Jacksonville: ((http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml))

SFWMD: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page)