Tag Archives: Sediment Loads Into the St Lucie River

1885–When St Lucie River was 20 Feet Deep…St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Rare wood cut map of St Lucie River, ca. 1885, by Homer Hines Stuart.  Image shows water depth in heart of St Lucie River near today's Roosevelt Bridge at 20 feet. (Courtesy of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Rare wood cut map of St Lucie River, ca. 1885, by Homer Hine Stuart. Image shows water depth in heart of St Lucie River near today’s Roosevelt Bridge at 20 feet. (Courtesy of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Homer Hines Stuart Jr., for whom Stuart, Florida is named. (Portrait courtesy of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
Homer Hine Stuart Jr., for whom Stuart, Florida is named. (Portrait courtesy of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)

Some days I get really lucky because people send me cool stuff based on what I wrote the previous day in my blog. Yesterday this happened with both my mother, Sandra Thurlow, Dr Gary Gorfoth and a slew of other comments . I will be sharing some of my mother and Dr Goforth’s insights today.

Yesterday’s blog: (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/06/25/sediment-loads-into-the-st-lucie-river-2015-dr-gary-goforth-slrirl/)

After reading my post on sediment loads in the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and how they have lessened the natural depths of the river/s, my historian mother, sent me the awesome image of a historic wood cut at the top of this post created around 1885 by Homer Hine Stuart Jr., for whom Stuart, Florida is named.

This historic wood cut shows the depth of the St Lucie River at 20 feet in the area of what would become the span for the Roosevelt Bridge.  A contemporary navigation chart below, shows the depth of the water in this area at 11 feet. At least 9 feet of sediment and or —MUCK!

Contemporary St John's waterway navigation map, public files, shows the depth of the St Lucie River at the Roosevelt Bridge at 11 feet.
Contemporary St John’s waterway navigation map, public files, shows the depth of the St Lucie River at the Roosevelt Bridge at 11 feet.

“Jacqui, Your post about sediments made me think of this little map. Homer Hine Stuart, Jr. for whom Stuart is named, had a little wood cut map that was about 4 by 2 1/2 inches and looked like one of those address stamps we use today made. Maps made from the wood cut were used to show his the location of his property and his bungalow “Gator’s Nest” to his family in New York and Michigan. This image was made from a photograph of the wood cut. It is printed is reverse so the writing, etc., isn’t backward. You can see that there was 20 feet of water depth between the peninsulas that would later be connected by bridges. The date of the map would be around 1885.”  –Mom

Dr Goforth also wrote. He tells a sad story mentioning that Stuart News editor and famed environmentalist Ernie Lyons wrote prolifically about the great fishing in the St Lucie prior to the construction of the St Lucie Canal (C-44) in 1923.

“… the St. Lucie River and Estuary was known as the “Giant Tarpon Kingdom” before the Lake Okeechobee discharges began in 1923; after the Lake Okeechobee discharges began the muck from the Lake despoiled the clear waters and drove the tarpon offshore, and the area was recast as the “Sailfish Capital of the World” (Lyons 1975: The Last Cracker Barrel).

Thankfully, Dr Goforth gives an idea to fix and or improve the accumulation of muck sediments into the St Lucie River:

One effective means of reducing the sediment/much discharges from the Lake would be the construction of a sediment trap just upstream of the St. Lucie Locks and Spillway. This simple approach has worked well in other areas, most recently in West Palm Beach on the C-51 Canal just upstream of the Lake Worth Lagoon (see attached fact sheet). By deepening and widening the C-44 canal just upstream of the locks/spillway, a large portion of the sediment would settle out of the water in a relatively contained area before entering the River; with routine dredging, the material can be removed and spread over adjacent lands… —(perhaps using lands along the canal purchased by Martin County and SFWMD?). —-Dr Gary Goforth

Muck Removal using sediment trap, Lake Worth Lagoon, shared by Dr Gary Goforth.
Muck Removal using sediment trap, Lake Worth Lagoon, C-51, shared by Dr Gary Goforth.

Kudos to Dr Goforth’s ideas. Kudos to my mother’s history! Let’s get Governor Rick Scott to work and get to work ourselves too!  We can do it. Together, we can do anything. 🙂

___________________________

MUCK THEMED PHOTOS:

Muck coats the bottom of our beautiful river but determination coats our hearts. We and future generations will continue to fight to save our  St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!

 

Muck from St Lucie River, 2014.
Muck from St Lucie River, covering oysters, 2014.
Rob Moir teaches Hannah Lucas about muck at the River Kidz GET THE MUCK OUT event,  March 2014.
Jim Moir teaches Hannah Lucas about muck at the River Kidz GET THE MUCK OUT event, March 2014.
Muck Buster, River Kidz 2014.
Muck Buster, River Kidz 2014.
Photo of Stuart News article where Kevin Powers of the SFWMD shows Gov. Rick Scott some muck that is located at the end of Power's dock in Stuart. 2014. (Photo Stuart News)
My close up photo of front page Stuart News article where Kevin Powers of the SFWMD shows Gov. Rick Scott a shovel full of muck from around Power’s dock in Stuart. 2014. (Photo Stuart News)
Mark Perry and I display our "muckstaches" for Florida Oceanographics fundraiser/awareness raiser, 2015.
Mark Perry and I display our “muckstaches” for Florida Oceanographics fundraiser/awareness raiser, 2015.
River Kidz GET THE MUCK OUT campaign and bumper sticker, 2014.
River Kidz GET THE MUCK OUT campaign and bumper sticker, 2014.

Sediment Loads Into the St Lucie River-2015, Dr Gary Goforth, SLR/IRL

St Lucie River substrate map, DEP, Chris Perry. (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/northfork/resources/physical.htm)
St Lucie River substrate map, DEP, Chris Perry. (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/northfork/resources/physical.htm)

Perhaps the greatest tragedy that is constantly playing out in our declining St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is the tremendous sediment infill covering its once white sands, seagrasses, and benthic communities.  This began heavily in the 1920s with the connection of the St Lucie Canal (C-44) connecting Lake Okeechobee to the South Fork of the St Lucie River, and then increased in the 1950s and beyond with the construction of canals C-23, C-24 and C-25.

It must also be noted that the St Lucie River/SIRL underwent great changes when the St Lucie Inlet was opened permanently by local pioneers at the encouragement of Capt Henry Sewall in 1892. (Historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow) Prior to that time, the Southern Indian River Lagoon and St Lucie River had been “fresh” —-fresh and brackish waters and their communities of plants and animals “came and went” with nature’s opening and closing of the “Gilbert’s Bar Inlet” over thousands of years….

Since 1892 the St Lucie River has been a permanent brackish water “estuary…” and until the opening of the St Lucie Canal was teeming with fish and wildlife and considered the “most bio-diverse estuary in North America.” (Gilmore 1974)

Anyway, today we have a very special guest, and one of my favorite people in the world, Dr Gary Goforth, to share with us information on 2015 sediment statistics entering the St Lucie River from C-44, our most damaging canal. (DEP 2001:(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-44%20Canal%20.pdf)

Dr Goforth recently sent out an email,  and I ask him if I could share the information; he agreed. He states:

“The pollutant that has been consistently left out of discussions is the sediment load to the estuaries from Lake Okeechobee – over 2 million pounds to the St. Lucie River and Estuary in 2015 alone; almost 4 million pounds to the Caloosahatchee Estuary.” (Dr Gary Goforth)

Isn’t that awful? “We” are filling the river in….smothering it.

The slides Dr Goforth included are the following:

Flows and loads for the period January 1, 2015-May 31, 2015. (Dr Gary Goforth 2015)
Flows and loads for the period January 1, 2015-May 31, 2015. (Dr Gary Goforth 2015)

Please click on image above to read the numbers. Mind boggling!

This second and complicated image below shows “flows” into the estuaries from Lake O into the St Lucie, Caloosahatchee, and to the Everglades Agricultural Area. Generally speaking, the Army Corp of Engineers in discussions with the South Florida Water Management District,  began releasing into the St Lucie River January 16, 2015 until late May/early June. About 3 weeks ago.

Flows between January 1 and May 31, 2015. All flows in acre feet and subject to revision. (Dr Gary Goforth,, 2015)
Flows between January 1 and May 31, 2015. All flows in acre feet and subject to revision. (Dr Gary Goforth,, 2015)

Recently our river waters have looked very beautiful and blue near Sewall’s Point and the Southern Indian River Lagoon and water quality reports have been more favorable.  Nonetheless the river, especially in the South Fork and wide St Lucie River, is absolutely impaired as there is not much flushing of these areas and the sediment infill is tremendous. The seagrasses around Sewall’s Point and Sailfish remain sparse and algae covered when viewed by airplane. Blue waters does not mean the estuary is not suffering!

Months ago I wrote a blog, that is linked below, focusing on south Sewall’s Point’s river bottom infill history,  and depths that  have gone from 19, 15, and 14 feet in 1906, to 4, 8, and 7 in 2014—and looking on the Stuart side, north of Hell’s Gate, the 1906 map shows 10, 8 and 12 feet and a 2014 NOAA map reads 2; 3; and 4 feet!

Insane….so many changes!

Our government has filled and dredged our precious river…elements of this inputting sediment become MUCK…..

I’ll end with this:

The River Kidz say it best, although my mother didn’t approve of the tone: 🙂

River Kidz "Get the Muck Out" campaign, 2014.
River Kidz “Get the Muck Out” campaign, 2014.

__________________________________________

For interest, I am going to include two more images Dr Goforth included in his email on sediment loading; please click on image to see details.

Thank you Dr Gary Goforth for sharing you expertise on the science of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, Lake Okeechobee and Everglades. Please check out Dr Goforth’s website here:((http://garygoforth.net))

Lake Releases to the South. (Dr Gary Goforth, 2015)
Lake Releases to the South. (Dr Gary Goforth, 2015)
Lake Releases to STAs (Storm Water Treatment Areas) (Dr Gary Goforth, 2015)
Lake Releases to STAs (Storm Water Treatment Areas) (Dr Gary Goforth, 2015)

___________________________________

FDEP North Fork Aquatic Preserve: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/northfork/resources/physical.htm)

Former Blog post about depths of St Lucie River, JTL: (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/06/04/1906-2014-water-depth-changes-in-the-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)