Tag Archives: St Lucie 2021

The St Lucie’s Three Front War

Aerial SLR/IRL near St Lucie Inlet, courtesy Dr Scott Kuhns, 8-11-21.One of the difficult things about trying to keep an eye on the St Lucie River’s health is that destructive forces are coming from so many directions. It’s basically a “three front war.” During and after heavy rains, water is water pouring in, unfiltered, from the northwest, C-23, C-24, and C-25, and also from the southwest through C-44.  When things are really bad, and the lake is high, the ACOE can discharge Lake Okeechobee as well. Some may consider this a two front war as Lake O and C-44 basin water are discharged through the same canal (C-44) but as they are separate “animals,” I consider it three.

So in recent weeks, as the rainy season has arrived, C-23, 24, and C-25 have been discharging stormwater runoff form the northwest, and now that C-44 is lower than Lake O (14. 38 feet), the ACOE’s operation is discharging C-44 too. Not yet, has the ACOE started discharging from Lake Okeechobee.

If you have been out on the river you have probably noticed the color is darker and it is going to get even darker as C-44 basin runoff also enters the river.

There are CERP projects set to improve these situations, the C-44 Reservoir and the C-23/24/25 Reservoirs. The C-44 Reservoir will be on line by the end of this year so long as when the ACOE starts filling it up this October, all goes well. The C-23/24/25 are in design and if the economy holds out and our advocacy continues should be done by 2030 or a couple of years before. This is great news!  Also the EAA Reservoir, that will accept waters form Lake Okeechobee sending south, should break ground this year and  is slated to be complete by 2028. The SFWMD is already well into building the storm water treatment component as the local partner in all of these projects.  Thus relief is on the horizon, but until these all up and running, it’s the same old —-.

SFWMD basin map for SLR, note canals and Lake O connections.

Below is a slide from the most recent SFWMD Governing Board Meeting on August 12. Mr Glenn’s slide shows how much runoff was entering the St Lucie. The number is 2432 cubic feet per second daily flow. Over 1400 or 2000 is “off the cuff” considered “destructive.” And now C-44 basin is coming in on top of this. This began through S-80 this Saturday, thus the C-44 runoff is unaccounted for in this slide.

We can look at my brother, Todd Thurlow’s, website and see in real time (almost) how much C-44 water is entering the St Lucie. Yesterday, when I texted Todd at 11pm it was 1049.18 acre feet on 8/14 and 1043.31 acre feet on 8/15. Sorry to be going from cfs to acre feet, but the bottom line is -this is a ton of water that never entered the St Lucie before the canals were dug. These canals are what is what is killing our river as they carry agricultural fertilizers and pesticides together with all the pollution coming from our yards: septic tank effluent, fertilizer, pesticides-FDOT road runoff too!

Use Todd’s calculator to claculate acre feet and cfs

These aerial were taken from the SuperCub by Dr Scott Kuhns last Wednesday, August 11, 2021, and this is before Saturday when S-80 began discharging to the St Lucie for the C-44 “basin.” Bottom line, the St Lucie is now in a two front war against the northern and western canals, let’s fight for it not to become three. #NoLakeO to the St Lucie. Compare what the river looked on July 28, 201 and as the rains began. 

Aerials August 11, 2021, Dr Scott Kuhns

Crossroads SLR/IRL-South Sewall’s Point-Looking south towards Jupiter Narrows-St Lucie Inlet with plume but still able to see nearshore reefs north of inlet-St Lucie Inlet with plume but plenty of blue water-note this is prior to C-44 basin runoff-St Lucie Inlet

LAKE OKEECHOBEE same day. Algae visible in lake off Port Mayaca and S-308 structure-View of S-308 no algae visible from this altitude-Close up of water near S-308. See GPS below.

RAIN RAIN RAIN

Friday night, August 13, 2021, my rain-gage in South Sewall’s Point overflowed! More the 7 inches of rain fell in about three hours causing flash flooding in Martin County, FL. These rains are now exiting our canals.

Meeting up with Cinnamon Girl to Document the IRL

Friday night, August 6, 2021, Ed, Luna, Okee and I spent the night on Adrift, after meeting up with “Cinnamon Girl,” the craft of Dutch and Mary Radabaugh. Their name may ring a bell as Dutch and Mary were the face of Central Marine during the infamous toxic algae outbreaks of 2005, 2013, 2016 and 2018. Fortunately, there is no blue-green algae bloom  in the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon today as they ACOE has not discharged from Lake Okeechobee since April 10, 2021 due to algae sitting at the gate of Port Mayaca.

As mentioned in my previous blog post, the rains have begun, rainy season is upon us, and although stormwater runoff and C-23/24 are tainting the river brown, it is remains beautiful and safe so Ed and I decided to take Mary and Dutch up on their offer to meet and anchor in the IRL near Boy Scout Island. We had done this two years ago. How time flies!

It turned out to be a wonderful weekend and we got to observe. The seagrasses were no where close to as thick as they were in 2019, but they were there, and and recovering.  Macroalgae coated everything. This is disappointing but is happening across the entire Indian River Lagoon due to nutrient conditions. Nonetheless, thankfully, at low tide the wading birds were abundant. We also saw manatees, sea turtles, stingrays, snook, hermit crabs, one large conch and hundreds of shiny minnows. I was impressed!  I think there is no more beautiful place that the Indian River Lagoon at sunrise or sunset. Glorious…

We must remain vigilant.

Lake Okeechobee reached 13.87 feet over the weekend, eyeonlakeo, thus the C-44 canal with its surrounding runoff will start flowing to the St Lucie once the lake achieves 14 feet. So is the operation of the Central and South Florida System. This will certainly affect the clarity of our waters. Thankfully there is still #NoLakeO.

I share these photographs to document and to celebrate a good year thus far in 2021. Let’s continue “Riverlution” to keep it that way!

-St Lucie River -headed southeast into Indian River Lagoon Indian River Lagoon. There’s Cinnamon Girl! -Ed with Luna going to say “hi!”-Dutch with Holly-Okee stays inside Adrift. She likes sitting on maps.-IRL at sunset, silvery. -After a peaceful night’s sleep under the stars, Okee awakes to watch a golden sunrise -Sun’s up! Time to paddleboard and check out the conditions. JTL, Mary, Dutch and Ed. -Ed takes a break-Water brownish from rain and canals C-23/24. Greenish in bright light. -Mangrove island in the area known as the Sandbar. Many birds roosting! Mostly ibis. -Bare bottom with a some seagrasses surrounding mangrove island and sandbar area. Mary noted in 2007 this area had very lush seagrasses that have since been destroyed by Lake O discharges. Today there are sprigs. -Water looking greenish in bright light -Ed checking out the conditions and happy as a clam-Macroalgae (below) coats everything ground and seagrasses- not good. Many believe this system is replacing seagrasses through out the IRL. Water quality is key to keeping seagrasses! After our journey out we return to Cinnamon Girl. There are visitors!-Nic Mader and I relax. Nic is a dolphin specialist.  Bottlenose dolphins like all creatures of the IRL are intricately connected to the seagrass habitat and the life that grows there.-Getting some exercise-Rains are beautiful falling in giant sheets from the sky! -Nic paddles towards home while looking for dolphins. 

-Mary Radabaugh is a very good photographer always carrying her camera. She captured these images. The roseate spoonbills and American egret were on the sandbar along many other wading birds. Wonderful to see! Watch the link below (in red) to watch a manatee video Mary took as well.

What a place of beauty. The St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon  was once considered “the most bio-diverse estuary in North America.” Let’s continue to fight to regain that status! We are on our way back. Such a stunning, special place! Thank you for getting us on the ground out to see.  We love you Cinnamon Girl!

MANATEE SWIMMING IRL  IMG_0638

-Saturday afternoon, on our way back to the Harborage Marina in Stuart. Another memorable sunset…