Tag Archives: stop the discharges

Large Swath of Dead Mangroves, but Why? SLR/IRL

Google Earth image showing dead mangroves, 9-11-18

Recently a gigantic swath of dead mangroves, east of the Indian River Lagoon on Hutchinson Island in Jensen Beach was brought to my attention. About a year ago, I had noticed the dead forest of trees; however, with my full attention on toxic-algae, water-quality, or lack thereof, I had put this graveyard of walking trees out of my mind. Until I got a phone call a couple of days ago…

My contact, as many others, proposes fundamental changes, such as culverts or another small inlet between the barrier island and the IRL to allow more flushing and increase salinity, pointed out that the primary reason the mangrove forest died, post Hurricane Irma, was too much fresh water. He also noted that the toxic-algae, as bad as it is, is not the worst killer for our St Lucie River. The worst killer is an old enemy: too much fresh water from Lake Okeechobee and area canals. The fluorescent toxic algae has just “put a face” on the carrier, the real enemy, too much fresh water.

The St Lucie is an estuary (https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/estuary.html) and needs salt water to exist, also the microcystin toxin cannot survive in a brackish system. The constant discharges,  from Lake Okeechobee especially,  continually push fresh water through a once brackish system, poisoning it, and toxic algae is along for the ride…

I found this message a powerful tool in visualizing what has happened to our St Lucie River. The dead mangroves are indeed a metaphor for the entire St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon system: our lush seagrass beds have died and the water quality is terrible, leaving little or no wildlife.

We must remember, below our waters, too much fresh water has caused a dead forest too.

#Stop the Discharges

Algae and Cyanobacteria in Fresh Water, World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/bathing/srwe1-chap8.pdf

9-11-18 El/JTL

Photos taken on a sunny day, 9-15-18 JTL/EL

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Below, I am including Martin County’s response to my inquiry about the dead mangrove forest as a matter of public interest and education.

Jacqui,

This loss of mangroves at the JBI site prompted a serious investigation by the Mosquito Control and Environmental Resources Divisions. Given the large-scale mortality event, testing was conducted to rule out site contamination. Water quality testing was also conducted to determine dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity, and hydrogen sulfide levels. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, St. Johns Water Management District, Smithsonian, a local mangrove arborist and Ecological Associates Inc. were all consulted regarding concerns over the mangroves. The majority opinion was that heavy late season rain and high water levels were the primary cause of the mangrove mortality with hurricane stress and suspended solids associated with storm surge as secondary causes. Additionally, lack of species and age structure diversity contributed to the loss, more diverse communities are associated with greater resiliency. Areas in close proximity to the JBI show evidence of mortality caused by ‘ponding’ in which high freshwater levels result in the loss of vegetation.

Recommendations going forward are to improve hydrological connectivity through the installation of additional culverts, clear out channel sedimentation, and install spillways. These actions will improve water quality by allowing for more exchange with the IRL and also increase the discharge capacity of the south cell to prevent high water levels associated with heavy rain and storm surge. In order to accomplish these actions, a capital improvement plan for the site was tentatively approved by the board on April 10th, 2018. Additional funding opportunities will be sought for site improvements and the board granted permission on July 24th, 2018 for staff to pursue State Wildlife Grant funding from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

While funding opportunities are being sought, in-house activities have been pursued. Specifically, staff gauges have been installed to monitor natural tide conditions to allow for careful water level monitoring. The Project Engineer from Field Operations has put together a conceptual plan. A failed culvert is in the process of being replaced. Blockages along the perimeter have been identified and several have been cleared. Transects are being put in for vegetative monitoring. New growth can be seen within the JBI site, however, this is primarily restricted to the areas in closest proximity to the IRL. Culverts are currently opened to allow for natural recruitment and mosquito control is being accomplished through alternative means to allow the area to reseed.

Let me know if you would like to meet to discuss this.

Terry B. Rauth, P.E., Public Works Director, Martin County Board of County Commissioners

The dead mangrove forest can even be seen from Google Earth just east and north of JB Bridge where map reads Jensen Beach Park, note brown area.
Canal systems dumping fresh water into SLR, C-44 from LO is most constant over long period of time, when Lake O is high, SFWMD
Comment from my mother w/historic photo” “My goodness. I am glad the county is correcting the problem that seems to me, to be that there was no longer tidal action in the mosquito ditches. When I interviewed pioneers like the Pitchfords, who I believe once owned this land, they said originally there were no mangroves. The government dug mosquito ditches connected to the lagoon by culverts causing the mangroves to flourish. Then laws protecting mangroves, made it impossible to develop the property. I guess there were ways to get around this because Sailfish Point and Indian River Plantation were criss-crossed with mosquito ditches and covered with mangroves. I have many photographs I would like to share but I do not know how to add them to this.” Sandy Thurlow (photo Aurthur Ruhnke 1956, Thurlow Collection)

Last Thursday Shall Be Proclaimed “Water Tower Day,” as Lake O discharges reached the top! SLR/IRL


If the discharge waters of Lake Okeechobee filled up the City of Stuart, Florida. Last Thursday, they would have reached the top of Stuart’s iconic water tower that stands at 134 feet.

 

Stuart, North of Monterey.

Whereas, if the ACOE’s discharge waters of Lake Okeechobee were “filling up the City of Stuart,” last Thursday, October 26, these polluted waters, would have reached the top of Stuart’s iconic 134 foot water tower…

Whereas, once again, our economy and ecology is completed devastated, and high bacteria levels in the water are exacerbated therefrom….We shall remember this day…

We shall, therefore, designate, Thursday, October 26, as “Water Tower Day” and say together: “Lake O discharges have reached the top; this must STOP!”

Stop the Discharges

Yes, to put the Lake Okeechobee discharges into perspective, last Thursday the cumulative 2017 ACOE/SFWMD discharges from S-80 passed 134 “Stuart Feet”. The Stuart water tower is 134 feet tall. See my brother Todd’s cumulative total page below:

St Lucie River Discharges
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S-80 Cumulative Total 2017: http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOLiveData/2017/

– In the lost summer of 2013, Stuart/Martin County received 284 “Stuart Feet”, 2.1 times the height of the tower.

– In 2017, the gates did not open until September 5. So it took only 52 days to accumulate that same amount of discharges!

– In 2013, the discharges started on May 8 (with the exception of some small pulses earlier in the year). That year, it took 91 days to hit a cumulative “134 Stuart Feet” – on August 7.

In other words, the discharges have been almost twice the rate as they began in 2013. You can see this in the slope of my brother’s graphs in the web page above. This doesn’t really mean a lot though. In 2013 the discharges didn’t really begin to accelerate until mid-July. At that point, the rates of discharge were comparable to what we are getting now.

– At the current average of about 4200 cfs, we would hit the 2013 total of 284 Stuart feet in another 42 days (December 9). If they are saying the discharges could continue for months, this could happen. We could have another record year, even though the disaster didn’t start until September. Maybe they will throttle it back a little or start pulsing again so it won’t be the case. In any event, this is already another lost year…

(This blog post was based on writing and ideas by my brother and contributing blogger, Todd Thurlow, http://www.thurlowpa.com)

* I edited this post from “today” to “last Thursday.” An ever rising story.  🙂 JTL

X. Mascarnas, TCPalm. on-line image.

 

Knowing the Hurricane Disaster Map of Lake Okeechobee, Road Trip, SLR/IRL

As you know, we are on a Road Trip. We are driving through not only to learn about the Glades, but also to learn about ourselves. Whether we realize it or not, we are all connected. We are related by history, by the drainage of the Everglades, and by a “better water future” we have no choice but to build together.

This map  of the Glades is from the Florida Memory Project. It maps flood damage from two great hurricanes. Notice that the 1926 Hurricane damaged mostly the western part of the lake near Moore Haven, where as the 1928 Hurricane most intensely hit the eastern communities around Belle Glade. The towns/areas of Canal Point, Pahokee, Bacom Point, Belle Glade, South Bay, Lake Harbor, Bare Beach, Clewiston, Moore Haven and Newell all had to rebuild. “Chosen” near Belle Glade was chosen to be lost…

 

IMG_6956.jpg

 

These past hurricanes define the history and the nature of some of the people of the Glades. The ones who “made-it” are survivors beyond anything we can possibly envision.

As Mr Lawrence E. Will an old family, a  politician,  and a prolific writer from the area wrote in HURRICANE:

“One word describes it. It was Hell. A raging inferno of rolling, swirling waters, of shrieking, demoniac winds, of lashing rain and of darkness, black and absolute. There were no atheists that night on the shores of Okeechobee! Then for the those still living came the second phase of hell; the phase of desolation and despair; of searching in the flooded woods and marshes, in elder clumps and sawgrass for the horrible remains of family and friends and neighbors; of loading them into trucks by unending scores; and finally of burning them in help of dozens when they could no longer be transported. It is hard to know which hell was worse…”

As we know in the 1930s the Herbert Hoover Dike was built to avoid such a disaster from happening again…but there is always the question of whether it will or not. It is dangerous to live on the low side of a dike.

As advocates of the St Luice River/Indian River Lagoon, we must be sensitive when discussing Senate President Joe Negron’s proposal for 60,000 acres to be purchased south of the lake to store, convey and move water south to the Everlgades. One can see how shouts of “Send the Water South” may send some people living south of the lake “over the edge…”

We must always make clear that when discussing Everglades resoration and improved health of the St Lucie River/Indin River Lagoon, safety, and economic prosperty for the Glades communties comes first. We know and respect their past…

file-page1

fig1x 2.gif

Chosen: http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/chosen

Hurricanes: http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/-hurricane

Inspirational Slogans From the River Kidz for Our Indian River Lagoon!

Say No to Lake O
Say No to Lake O

River Kidz was started in 2011 in the Town of Sewall’s Point  by two 5th grade girls, Evie Flaugh and Naia Mader after a public call to action by Stuart News/Scripps columnist, Eve Samples for “younger members of the Rivers Coalition.”  The group swelled to over 300 Facebook and event attending member by 2013. Today there are River Kidz chapters in St Lucie County and across the state in Lee County as well. These kids serve as an inspiration to adults.

I believe, politicians are changing water policy because of these kids.

Over the years I have collected and photographed their art work, slogan, and their letters to politicians. Today, I am going to share some of their slogans.  For fun and just to review, a “slogan” is defined as:

noun–

1. a phrase expressing the aim or nature of an enterprise, organization,or candidate; a motto.

2. a phrase used repeatedly , as in advertising or promotion.

and 3. (my favorite). A battle cry of a Scottish clan.

These slogans span from 2011 to 2014. They are from different children, including the students from the honors class at Felix A. Williams Elementary in Jensen; St Josephs Catholic School in Stuart, and the Pine School in Stuart. Public and private schools alike have embraced the message:  “Speak out, get involved and raise awareness, because we believe kids should have a voice in the future of our rivers.”

Enjoy, and “stay strong” for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!

Save Our River
Save Our River
Keep It Like This
Keep It Like This
Move the Water South
Move the Water South
Our Water Our Future
Our Water Our Future
Maybe We Can Change the Law
Maybe We Can Change the Law
Stop and Think
Stop and Think
Let It Flow South
Let It Flow South
It's Not Always Black and White
It’s Not Always Black and White
Stop. Don't Trash Our River
Stop. Don’t Trash Our River
Don't Trash the Lagoon
Don’t Trash the Lagoon
Let it Flow South
Let it Flow South
Please Keep It Clean
We Love Our River So Please Keep It Clean
Why Pollute It?
Why Pollute It?
Stop Dumping
Stop Dumping
Stop the Discharges
Stop the Discharges
No! (to fertilizer) Save The River
No! (to fertilizer) Save The River
Why Ruin Our Future?
Why Ruin Our Future?
River Kidz first Art message by artist Julia Kelly: YOU ARE OUR RIVERS' FUTURE
River Kidz’ first art slogan by artist Julia Kelly: YOU ARE OUR RIVERS’ FUTURE

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*Feel free to use any photo or slogan.

River Kidz: (http://riverscoalition.org)