Tag Archives: South Florida Drainage

Award Winning “Field and Stream” Journalist, Hal Herring Tours the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Award winning conservation, hunting and fishing journalist, Hal Herring over S-308, the connection from Lake Okeechobee to canal C-44 and the St Lucie River/IRL, JTL 5-13-17
Award page Hal Herring, from his web site

At the recent Bullsugar “Fund the Fight” event, Captain Mike Connor introduced me to Montana based, award-winning fishing and hunting journalist, Hal Herring. I looked Hal straight in the eye, shook his strong hand and said, “It’s so nice to meet you Mr Herrington.” He smiled, eyes sparkling, and replied, “Herring mam. Like the fish.”

About Hal Herring: (https://www.halherring.com/about)

Hal Herring’s website: (https://www.halherring.com)

Fly Life Magazine writes: “Herring, one of the leading outdoor writers of our time, co-manages the Conservationist Blog for Field & Stream, is the author of several books and is a regular contributor to numerous other well-known outdoor news outlets including High Country News, Montana’s Bully Pulpit Blog and the Nature Conservancy magazine.”

To say the least, I felt honored to be chosen as a tour guide for Hal Herring as my husband and Mike Connor arranged an aerial journey for the visiting journalist. After researching Hal, checking out his website, and reading his article on the Clean Water Act, I knew I was dealing with a gifted journalist. What a great person to have learn about the problems of our St Lucie River!

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Hal Herring and JTL, Baron’s back seat
Contemporary Florida canal map ACOE/SFWMD
1839 military/Everglades map
Dan, Ed, Hal and JTL
Canals C-23, C-24, C-25 and most southerly C-44 connected to Lake Okeechobee.

We prepared the Baron for Saturday. My husband Ed invited friend and fellow fisherman Dr Dan Velinsky. The flight stared with a rough take off.  I steadied myself. “Please don’t let me puke Lord…” As Ed gained altitude, things settled down and we were on our way…

After taking off from Witham Field in Stuart, we followed the dreadful C-44 canal west to Lake Okeechobee; diverting north at the C-44 Reservoir under construction in Indiantown; traveled over the FPL cooling pond and S-308, the opening to C-44 and the St Lucie River at Port Mayaca. Next we followed Lake Okeechobee’s east side south to Pahokee, and then Belle Glade in the Sugarland of the EAA; here we followed the North New River Canal and Highway 27 south to the lands spoken about so much lately, A-1 and A-2 and surrounding area of the Tailman property where Senate Presidient Joe Negron’s recently negociated deeper reservoir will be constructed if all goes well; then we flew over the Storm Water Treatment Areas, Water Conservation Areas, and headed home east over the houses of Broward County inside the Everglades. Last over West Palm Beach, Jupiter, north along the Indian River Lagoon and then back to the St Lucie Inlet. Everywhere the landscape was altered. No wonder the water is such a mess…

See red triangle left of right circle. This area of A-1 and A-2 and the reservoir is to be located on top of and closeby
Old orange grove being made into the C-44 Reservoir/STA,  Indiantown
FPL cooling pond on edge of Lake O, Indiantown
S-308 at Lake O, Port Mayaca
Over Lake O
A-1 and A-2 area, southern EAA with WCA on left
Edge of Conservation areas next to A-1 and A-2 areas
Broward County built into Everglades
Along the SE coast looking south, FPL’s St Lucie Nuclear Power Plant
Martin County, St Luice Inlet

I explained the history, Dan told fish stories, Ed ducked in and out of clouds. All the while, Hal Herring took notes on a yellow legal pad with calmness and confidence. Nothing surprised him; he was a quick study in spite of all the variables. He was so well read, not speaking often but when he did, like a prophet of sorts. He spoke about this strange time of history, the time we are living in, when humans have overrun the natural landscape. He spoke about mankind being obsessed with transcending the limits of the natural world…and the control of nature…but for Hal there was no anger or disbelief, just wisdom. In his biography, he says it best:

“My passions as a writer and storyteller lie where they always have – in exploring humankind’s evolving relationship to the natural world, and all the failures, successes and deep tensions inherent in that relationship…”

In the Everglades region, Hal may just have hit the jackpot!

Hal Herring and JTL

Related Articles, Hal Herring

Filed and Stream: http://www.fieldandstream.com

http://flylifemagazine.com/profile-hal-herring-fights-environmental-indifference-word-by-word/

Fly Life: http://flylifemagazine.com

Field and Stream, Clean Water Act, Hal Herring: http://www.fieldandstream.com/imminent-death-waters-us-rule

Field and Stream, people: http://www.fieldandstream.com/people/hal-herring

Hal Herring’s website: https://www.halherring.com

About Hal Herring: https://www.halherring.com/about

Dodging the Bullet, St Lucie River Shot In The Chest, SLR/IRL

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St Lucie Inlet, Ed Lippisch photos 10-9-16
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Hurricane Matthew a CAT 4 was 42.8 miles from shore, Google Image via Todd Thurlow
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Hurricane  Matthew over Florida, Terra MODIS via Todd Thurlow

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Martin County was fortunate to “dodge the bullet” of category 4 Hurricane Matthew, but as long as the St Lucie Indian/River Lagoon is attached to Lake Okeechobee via the C-44 canal, the river cannot. She is shot in the chest each time.

These photos taken yesterday morning by my husband, Ed, show the discharges, like blood, gushing out of the St Lucie Inlet. Melodramatic personification? Perhaps, but true.

A press release by the Army Corp of Engineers on October 7th stated:

“Lake Okeechobee continues to rise; today’s stage is 15.93 feet… 

The Corps has resumed discharges from Lake Okeechobee after suspending them during the storm. Water managers have removed target flows and will release as much water as practical through Moore Haven Lock (S-77) located on the west side of the lake, and the Port Mayaca Lock (S-308) located on the east side of the lake…

‘We anticipate inflows to the lake will increase as a result of Hurricane Matthew,’ said Col. Kirk. ‘Therefore, we must maximize outflows in order to slow the rise in the lake and be as prepared as possible for additional hurricane season uncertainty…”

“Additional uncertainty?” Not for the river.

As the Corp has been discharging from the lake since January 29th, 2016 and now the gates are wide open to save life and property south of the lake, the St Lucie did not really dodge a bullet at all. She is hemorrhaging once again.

Until Lake Okeechobee is redirected south as God designed, “dodging a bullet” in Martin County remains an illusion.

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Hurricane Matthew: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Matthew

ACOE Jacksonville: Today LO is at 16.04 feet: http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm

*Thank you to my husband, Ed Lippisch and his Extra 300, and my brother, Todd Thurlow’s computer skills –whose images made this blog post possible.

Who Owns the Land Inside and Outside of the Circles? Mapping Out the Future Of Water, SLR/IRL

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Senate Pres. Elect Joe Negron’s proposal/landownership in EAA, TCRPC 2016

 

Yesterday we talked about the importance of maps and how they allow us to have a vision for the future. For today’s lesson we are going to visually compare Senator Joe Negron’s land proposal map with a map of land ownership. This ownership map was recently created by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC) and I shared these maps with Senator Negron prior to the choice of land ownership possibilities.

Learning about lands south of  Lake Okeechobee can be dizzying. The first thing you have to do, not to lose your sense of direction, is to familiarize yourself with the canals. Your  landmarks.

From left to right, the largest canals visible running north/south under Lake Okeechobee are the Miami, New River, Hillsborough, and West Palm Beach. You will also notice the Bolles Canal, (L-21), that runs east/west intersecting. When flying over this area with my husband these canals are the only landmarks that guide me in knowing where I am. Otherwise, it is just miles and miles of sugarcane.

map, canals, South of Lake Okeechobee
Canal map SFWMD

 

I love the TCRPC map below with the list of land owners in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). It really makes it easy to “see.” Notice the color coded BLUE: Public (the state or federal government); YELLOW: Private Ownership; and RED: Major Private Ownership.

When I asked the council the difference between private ownership and major private ownership, they said bigger corporations quality as “major private ownership.” One can see by all the red that most of the land under Lake Okeechobee is in major private ownership!

In regard to landownership inside the circles, Isadora Rangel of TC Palm stated in her August 10th article as follows:

“Sugar giant Florida Crystals owns 60 percent of each of those two parcels, Negron said. U.S. Sugar Corp. owns 30 percent of one, and sugar grower King Ranch owns 30 percent of the other. The state and others own the rest of the land. A U.S. Sugar spokesman declined to comment on whether the company will sell. Florida Crystals said it was reviewing Negron’s plan, according to media reports. Negron said he’s “optimistic” the companies will sell and said if the state allocates the money, then negotiations will be easier…”

Well, as we learn about this area (so we can speak in an educated manner to those involved who win on November 8th) let’s look at ALL  of the owners on the map.

1.United Stats Sugar Corporation

2. Okeelanta Corp.

3. New Hope Sugar Co.

4. King Ranch Inc.

5. Wedgeworth Farms Inc.

6. SBG Sugar Farms

7. Stofan Co. Inc.

8. Closter Farms Inc.

9. Sugar Cane Growers

10. New Farm Inc.

We know something about one or two but what about the rest?

In the coming days, we will learn about history of these land owners and the history of what was once the “river of grass.” It will benefit us to review the story of the this area, because it our story too, the story of the slow demise of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

 

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TCRPC EAA land ownership map 2016

 

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Negron EAA land purchase proposal 2016

President Elect Senator Joe Negron: https://www.flsenate.gov/senators/s32

TCPalm, Isador Rangel on Negron’s proposal, 8-10-16:

http://archive.tcpalm.com/news/indian-river-lagoon/politics/joe-negron-announces-plan-to-reduce-lake-okeechobee-discharges-3994eb9f-787b-3082-e053-0100007f3d08-389532591.html

TCRPC, EAA ownership map source:http://www.tcrpc.org

Avoiding the Perfect Toxic Algae Storm in the St Lucie River/IRL

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Lake Okeechobee Landsat 8 satellite image shows as clear lake, 9/22/16.

http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOImagery/Landsat%2030m%20Resolution/index.html#LE70150412016256EDC01%2520-%2520Crop.

Click to see recent satellite images of Lake Okeechobee and algae-full images from this summer: http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOImagery/ (Compiled by Todd Thurlow)

 

I am lucky to know a lot of people who are smarter than me. And one of them is my brother. Ever since we were kids Todd read meteorological books or the Guinness Book of World Records. He likes data.  Today, over forty years later, he is helping me apply his knowledge of data to the St Luce River/Indian River Lagoon.

If you are a regular blog reader, you know that this past summer Todd helped publicly identify what became a 240 square mile algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee that was being released into the C-44 causing our river to become toxic. Today, I will share his ideas on avoiding the perfect toxic algae storm.

Here is a photo of Todd and I when we were young in the 70s, when the river was in better shape and we were having fun fishing on Ronnie Nelson’s dock on Hutchinson Island.001 (485).jpg

Here is a photo of Todd and me today. As you can see we have changed a lot and the river has changed too…

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So recently, this Friday when the Army Corp increased releases to the St Lucie Estuary I wrote Todd. (Press release: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/952594/lake-okeechobee-flows-to-increase/)
I think the exchange is insightful so I am going to share:

Jacqui: “Todd, how does the lake look? ”

Todd: “Clear. I have been posting every 8 days.

After studying these satellite aerials for a while, I can tell that the blooms are definitely related to sunlight and wind..Our scientists friends would sarcastically say, “no kidding?!”

High pressure system -> a lot of sunlight + no wind = bloom. Clouds + wind = less algae.

The fresh water, phosphorus and nitrogen are always in the lake, but not necessarily the river. Luckily, cloudless days are also the perfect time to spot the algae by satellite.

Maybe the ACOE  should add to their discharge schedule that they will hold back the releases when it is forecast to be calm and sunny for several days to prevent the risk of and bloom in the estuaries? Then they can pulse the releases again when the clouds and wind pick up and the algae blows away in the lake – kind of like mother nature.

Jacqui: “Always better if we go with Mother Nature so we don’t end up with such ecological disasters…”
Todd: ” I think Gary Goforth, Mark Perry and others would tell us that the disaster timeline sets up like this:

– A low pressure weather system moves into Florida and dumps a bunch of rain, local runoff begins and the lake starts to rise
– They keep S-308 at Mayaca an other lakeside gates closed and open S-80 because the priority is always to transport the “local” runnoff first and not add to flooding problems by sending lake water through the coastal canals
– The local basins start to drain out and a high pressure weather system moves in. It gets sunny, hot, and the wind dies down to zero.
– With a lot of sun and no wind, the lake starts to bloom. With local runoff subsiding, the tides help flush all to local runoff out to sea but not completely.
– Just when conditions in the lake are “the perfect storm”, the estuaries would otherwise be recovering from the local runoff, the lake is in full bloom and rising, S-308 is now opened to drop the lake at the worst time. All the algae that just exploded in the lake is transported down C-44 through S-80 and into to estuaries. Salinity in the estuaries stays low instead of naturally recovering. With the sunny conditions and unnatural discharges, the estuaries explode with algae blooms.

If they would just delay opening S-308 for just a few days, maybe a week, allowing clouds and wind to return, could the perfect storm be avoided?”

T3

You can access more of Todd’s shared data here under FIRM FAVORITES: http://www.thurlowpa.com
__________________________________

Thank you Todd! Hope the ACOE thinks on this. We don’t want to get in the Guinness Book of World Records 2016 for the estuary with the most toxic algae blooms!

Do Lake Okeechobee’s Algae Blooms Grow on “Rocky Reef” Above Clewiston?

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(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRP6eEDKW_Y&feature=youtu.be)
(Movie showing a close-up of the Rocky Reef overlaid with today’s image and a NOAA Chart-By Todd Thurlow)

 

As we know, my brother Todd has been keeping his eye on the Landsat satellite images as they provide tremendous insight into the condition of Lake Okeechobee and potential algae blooms that affect the health, safely and welfare of those living around the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Todd notes that in studying the Landsat images: “Perhaps the algae grows on Rocky Reef? The area just north of this location is were some of the earlier blooms originated.”

Hmmm? Could the Rocky Reef be an area where the water cannot flow in the lake as easily due to its nature? Could it be possible that nutrient rich back pumped waters from the sugar fields fester in this area feeding a lake wide bloom? Worth a thought as we try to fix our problems…

The toxic algae blooms –people are still talking about them….

You may have noticed recently in various publications and “Letters to the Editor” across the state that some are calmly claiming that “algae blooms have been occurring in Florida since the beginning of time…” This may be true, however, this summer’s 240 square mile algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee that led to the outbreak in the St Lucie River was unprecedented. Comparing the situation to prior algae bloom outbreaks of 2013, 2014, or any other is like comparing a dog to a wolf. The same but very different.

Another interesting thing Todd stumbled upon while researching the “Rocky Reef” located basically above Clewiston was a 1977 joint NASA/SFWMD report on, of all things, using Landsat radiance data to study the turbidity and chlorophyll concentrations in Lake Okeechobee.

The report is entitled: LANDSAT INVESTIGATION OF WATER QUALITY IN LAKE OKEECHOBEE, PRESENTED AT THE 1977 ASP-ACSM CONVENTION IN WASHINGTON DC FEB 27-March 5, 1977. (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/pg_grp_tech_pubs/portlet_tech_pubs/dre-71.pdf)

Since obviously the South Florida Water Management District has been using the Landsat information since 1977, and Martin County has been paying taxes to the District since around the same time, I think it would have been polite if the District had let us know when Lake Okeechobee’s then poisonous waters were overflowing with algae and headed this way. Don’t you as well?

You can learn about Todd’s discoveries about the Rocky Reef below.

Jacqui

___________________________________

In correspondence to Mark Perry,  Todd Thurlow provided the following: (http://www.thurlowpa.com)

Here is September 4th’s Landsat 8 image.

(http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOImagery/Landsat%2030m%20Resolution/index.html#LC80150412016248LGN00%2520-%2520crop.jpg)

That 16.8 square mile area in the southwest looks like algae but part of it is apparently the “Rock Reef”.
(http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOImagery/Measurments/index.html#LakeOAlgaeBloom%2528possible%2529-2016-09-04_close.jpg)

Chart View:
(http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOImagery/Measurments/index.html#LakeOAlgaeBloom%2528possible%2529-2016-09-04_RockReef.jpg)

Rocky Reef: There is an old pump station out there that is visible in Google Earth. Here is a picture of it:
(http://www.panoramio.com/photo_explorer#view=photo&position=78&with_photo_id=43780903&order=date_desc&user=4322147)

The River League’s Briefcase and the Spirit of Ernie Lyons ….SLR/IRL

 

IMG_1616Recently, at Rivers Coalition Defense Fund meeting, president Kevin Henderson brought along the old River League’s briefcase. It had been stored away for many decades in an aging  house in Stuart. In case you have not heard of them, “The River League” worked tirelessly in the 50s and 60s to stop the expanding destruction of our rivers by the Florida Flood Control District (today’s South Florid Water Management District) and the Army Corp of Engineers.

I couldn’t believe the old brief case—a beautiful sight–aged leather, and rusted metal with the sweat of those who carried it unwashed from its handle…

Kevin placed the briefcase on the table and opened it. It had not been opened in almost 50 years! No pun intended, but the sound of the locks “clicked”and suddenly it was open…

I held my breath.

I swore for a second that I saw the spirit of Ernie Lyons come out of the old briefcase like a genie. He had a giant cigar in his mouth and dark rimmed glasses. His hair was greased back and he sat at a floating desk from the old Stuart News…He was leaning back in his chair with his hands behind his head smiling from ear to ear. His teeth were stained with tobacco juice and he looked happy as a clam.

“Ernie here….Ha! Good to see you workin’ so hard! Those bastards are still killing it aren’t they? The river that is! Don’t you for a moment have despair. As you know this war has been going on for a long, long time. All of us, who have passed, are on your side. We are here. All of us who worked so hard to save the paradise of this place. You’ve probably caught on. Good versus evil is not a game. And I got a secret to tell ya. —I know the end—and good wins. Don’t give up! And know we’re here working the magic behind the scenes to help you save the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon.”

Then he looked away and started furiously typing…the words he was writing could be seen above his head:

Today’s column, 1968

HOW THROATS OF OUR RIVERS WERE CUT BY CANALS

“There was never anything more beautiful than a natural South Florida river, like the North and South Fork of the St Lucie…

A bank of cabbage palms and live oaks draped with Spanish moss and studded with crimson-flowered air-plants and delicate wild orchids– were scenes of tropical wonder, reflected back from the mirror-like onyx surface of the water….”

When I looked up, Ernie was gone and our meeting was in full discussion…

As a reflection from the mirror of the St Lucie’s onyx-like water–I know that Ernie is here…

 

Ernest Lyons, Editor Stuart News and state and national award-winning conservationist:  Florida Press: (http://www.flpress.com/node/63)
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Ernest Lyons with Mr Oughertson, (bow tie) Timer Powers (hat) and other dignitaries ca 1960s (Photo Sandra Henderson Thurlow) 
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The bridge between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island is named in honor of Ernie Lyons.

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Looking Out for Ourselves, Landsat Satellite Photos of Lake O’s Algae Blooms, SLR/IRL

 

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Landsat satellite photo of Lake Okeechobee 7-26-16.

I believe in not being dependent on the federal or state government, but what recently happened along the St Lucie River is ridiculous…

In the months following the June 29th, 2016 “State of Emergency”and toxic algae bloom invasion of the St Lucie River, one thing is clear. Our federal and state governments did not look out for Martin County’s best interests, instead knowlingly discharging toxic algae from the lake into the communities along the St Lucie River— with out so much as “public-peep”— until real tragedy and helath risks had struck. Then suddenly, it was like: “Oh my, where did all this algae come from?”

Well, it happened knowingly because the state and federal government (ACOE/SFWMD/ DEP/ Florida Dept of Health) knew Lake Okeechobee was not “popping” here and there with a few algae blooms as is often the case, but rather was”covered in the stuff.”

By July 2nd commonly distributed government satellite images, like the one above, were showing over 200 square miles of algae bloom that obviously had to grow over time to attain such prominance.

Anyway…the least “they” could have done was to have given the public fair warning to be careful and ready as is standard operating proceedure during a drought when wild-fire conditions are present.

But they did not.

Instead, the Department of Environmental Protection quietly took its tests, reporting to the District and the Army Corp– at their leisure— the few results they attained…They should have warned the county government of more than a bloom here and there. They should have told everyone that a dangerous situation was getting ready to occur. But they did not. Maybe they thought it wouldn’t  happen? I doubt it. This is true negligence considering the first duty of government is health, saftey and welfare of the people it levies taxes from…

Thus today, I am sharing a brief exchange between my very technically-savvy brother, attorney, Todd Thurlow, and me, from earlier this week. Todd’s shared images will help us look out for ourselves. Thankfully, the recent Landsat satellite images of Lake Okeechobee, for now, look much clearer of algae than just a few months ago.

The link below the exchange will allow you see the satellite images of the lake over time, dates are also present:

Jacqui

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7-27-16 Email exchange:

Jacqui: Do the satellite images show any more algae in the lake? J

Todd: I might see some in the southwest quadrant but not definitive. As mentioned before, unfortunately, Landsat 7 has a broken instrument that causes the black lines on the image.

Todd

7-26-16:
(http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOImagery/Landsat%2030m%20Resolution/index.html#LE70150412016208EDC01%2520-%2520Crop.jpg)

Full Resolution:
(http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOImagery/Landsat%2030m%20Resolution/LE70150412016208EDC01%20-%20Crop.jpg)