My brother Todd took a family fishing expedition on Saturday, June 28, 2020. 119 miles! His journey may not have revealed many fish out in the deep ocean, but there was tremendous visible life in the Indian River Lagoon and nearshore ocean. Good to see!
“Beautiful flat day. 119 miles and only a barracuda, but it was fun.
Saw hundreds of Pelicans diving on the silver minnows near the power plant. That is probably to most Pelicans I have ever seen in one place locally, including bird island.
Also in all my life I have never seen the fin of a shark at the sandbar. After looking at my photos, I am pretty sure is was a little Scalloped Hammerhead. I cropped a comparison from the online guide and a link to the entire guide. I couldn’t see the head but the fins seem to match. The few people who saw it thought it was a Bull Shark but I didn’t think so. A Bull Shark fin isn’t as sharp.”
Below are photos of the hundreds of happy brown pelicans and also photos of the juvenile scalloped hammerhead shark. Don’t be scared! It’s just a young shark. The estuaries are their home. These and all sharks are protected species and many like the scalloped hammerhead, globally endangered due to overfishing. Mostly for shark fin soup! Awful.
Well, there’s nothing like a day on the water! Fish or no fish. 119 miles is never for nothing around here!
This morning, for purposes of documentation, I am posting the path my husband, Ed Lippisch, flew over Lake Okeechobee yesterday (6-10-20) and all aerials taken. Thank you to my brother Todd Thurlow, who shares technical information on his website, for re-creating Ed’s path via Flight Aware, and for also sharing the latest satellite high resolution images of Sentinel 2 retrieved 6-9-20. All of Ed’s phots displayed in gallery format below were taken from 2000 to 1500 feet on return flight along southern portion of Lake Okeechobee ending at Port Mayaca, east central, Martin County. His flight to the west coast was at 5000 feet and Ed said he saw no algae visible from that perspective.
Chlorophyll, we learn about it in grade school and know it resides in plants, but really, if you’re like me, you may not think too much about it. I certainly wasn’t pondering until my brother Todd Thurlow sent me some of his exciting new eyeonlakeo publications.
These newer publications include: 1. Movie Sea Surface Temperatures and 2. Movie Chlorophyll. Even for the non-scientist type, they really are fascinating. The one that caught my eye is “movie 2.” revealing color-coded levels of chlorophyll swirling around Florida’s waters from June 2019, to May 2020. Like rainbow liquid fire, formations twirl and dance around our peninsular home. And what a home it is!
Todd points out, that If you watch closely, there is an eddy that begins off of Ft Meyers with an offshore “puff of red.” (10/22/2019 at 0:11 on the video). This eddy swirls all the way through November!
Then there’s “movie 2. sea surface temperature” with the weird gyrating underwater loop.
Bizarre! What was that?
“The loop seemed to be drifting southeast like a big underwater hurricane heading toward the west coast of Florida. (SEE IMAGES BELOW YOU-TUBE VIDEOS) After 9/5, it is blocked by clouds so the images don’t show it all. Day’s later an eddy forms off of Ft. Meyers. I actually have no idea if there was red tide at this time. Was there? I’ll have to look later but this is interesting. Maybe these will explain something. Are these underwater hurricanes, so to speak, picking up the deep nutrients and pushing them to shore? Pulling nutrients offshore and returning them later?
Another interesting point, which ties into my sea surface temperature movie – two days before, on 9/3/2019, the SST movie shows a “belch” of warmer and cooler water traveling north from the Yucatan and Cuba right before the chlorophyll loop current shows up.
Once again, maybe the scientist can explain….”
The untold secrets, temperature and chlorophyll. Take a look a both videos below! What do you think is going on?
*A series of images from the movie showing the loop current and the eddy that Todd was describing:
Florida Chlorophyll a and Martin County Chlorophyll a – MODIS (Terra)The “Florida Chlorophyll a” and “Martin County Chlorophyll a” products pull localized imagery from NASA’s Global Imagery Browse Services (GIBS) gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov. Eyeonlokeo.com queries two layers from the MODIS sensor on the Terra Satellite, cropping the imagery in separate products for Florida and Martin County. The queries pull the CorrectedReflectance_Bands721 (to show land and clouds), layered with the Chlorophyll_A bands (to show concentrations of chlorophyll in the ocean). Note that a concentration of chlorophyll does not indicate a Harmful Algae Bloom (HAB). These layers are provided to allow users to easily monitor the relationship, if any, between the concentration of chlorophyll off the Florida coasts and discharges from Lake Okeechobee through the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers. The “Martin County Chlorophyll a” product goes a step further by querying the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) online DBHydro database (www.sfwmd.gov/science-data/dbhydro). A script pulls the discharge data for the S-80 structure at the St. Lucie canal. S-80 is the spillway located adjacent to the St. Lucie Locks on the C-44 Canal. It is only one of several spillways that empty into the St. Lucie River but it is the terminus of the C-44 canal that carries discharge water from S-308, located at Port Mayaca, together with C-44 basin runoff to S-80 at the St. Lucie Locks. The daily discharge data is added to the bottom of each image. When discharge rates are high at S-80, a large plume of chlorophyll can usually be seen off of the St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County. The plume often moves south close to shore but further from shore the Gulf Stream carries the plume north.Additional layer information from gibs.earthdata.nasa.gov: “The MODIS Chlorophyll a layer provides the near-surface concentration of chlorophyll a in milligrams of chlorophyll pigment per cubic meter (mg/m3) in the ocean. Chlorophyll is a light harvesting pigment found in most photosynthetic organisms. In the ocean, phytoplankton all contain the chlorophyll pigment, which has a greenish color. Derived from the Greek words phyto (plant) and plankton (made to wander or drift), phytoplankton are microscopic organisms that live in watery environments, both salty and fresh. Some phytoplankton are bacteria, some are protists, and most are single-celled plants. The concentration of chlorophyll a is used as an index of phytoplankton biomass. Phytoplankton fix carbon through photosynthesis, taking in dissolved carbon dioxide in the sea water and producing oxygen, enabling phytoplankton to grow. Changes in the amount of phytoplankton indicate the change in productivity of the ocean and as marine phytoplankton capture almost an equal amount of carbon as does photosynthesis by land vegetation, it provides an ocean link to global climate change modeling. The MODIS Chlorophyll a product is therefore a useful product for assessing the health of the ocean. The presence of phytoplankton indicates sufficient nutrient conditions for phytoplankton to flourish, but harmful algal blooms (HABs) can result when high concentrations of phytoplankton produced toxins build up. Known as red tides, blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, harmful algal blooms have severe impacts on human health, aquatic ecosystems and the economy. Chlorophyll features can also be used to trace oceanographic currents, atmospheric jets/streams and upwelling/downwelling/river plumes. Chlorophyll concentration is also useful for studying the earth’s climate system as it is plays an integral role in the Global Carbon Cycle. More phytoplankton in the ocean may result in a higher capture rate of carbon dioxide into the ocean and help cool the planet.”
Before Hurricane Dorian came this way, my brother, Todd, was helping me answer a question. ~One I think will be interesting to you as well…
“Where were the rapids of Lake Worth Creek?” Yes, rapids!
To answer the question, we must first recognize that Lake Worth Creek has been altered as we can see comparing the images above and below.
This change happened slowly over time, but most notably in 1894 with the completion of the Intracoastal Waterway from Jacksonville to Maimi. The Google Map below shows the Intracoastal today. The 1855 survey above shows Lake Worth Creek pre-development. In both images, it’s the area between Jupiter Inlet and Lake Worth- the historic area of Lake Worth Creek.
To learn where these rapids were located let’s read an excerpt from Palm Beach County’s MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR FRENCHMAN’S FOREST NATURAL AREA, FCT PROJECT # 96-011-P7A, June 1998.
The Frenchman’s Forest Natural Area (located right under Frechman’s Passage, JTL) is part of a broad coastal swale that was separated from the Atlantic Ocean by coastal sand ridges and from the Loxahatchee Slough by a broad pine flatwood ridge. It was part of the headwaters of the former Lake Worth Creek, a meandering blackwater creek that flowed northward to join the Loxahatchee River near its mouth at the Jupiter Inlet. The earliest accounts of the site date from the 1840s, and were from U.S. Army Topological Engineer reports made during the Second Seminole Indian War (Corbett 1993). Eighty men from Fort Jupiter moved up Lake Worth Creek in seventeen canoes. Approximately two miles north of the natural area, they reached the “rapids”, a series of muck terraces that disappeared during periods of high water, but helped hold water at a higher level in the upstream sawgrass marshes. Another series of muck terraces may have been present 0.25 miles north of the natural area. After getting past these barriers, the troops entered a large sawgrass marsh, where they pulled the canoes for a mile to a haulover path over the sand ridge separating the marsh from Lake Worth. The southeastern portion of the natural area was part of the sawgrass marsh, and the soldiers may have crossed through the site. Once they reached Lake Worth, the soldiers raided Seminole Indian villages along its shores, capturing guns and canoes. The soldiers had followed an old Indian route for traveling between Jupiter Inlet and Lake Worth. When the last Seminole Indian war ended in 1859, pioneers began to use this route for coastal travel. Charles Pierce (1970) described his family’s travel to Lake Worth by small boat via this route in 1873. He noted his father’s difficulty in finding the right channel through the sawgrass to the haulover. Pierce and his family were among the earliest permanent settlers on the shores of Lake Worth. Pierce also provided the first direct reference to the natural area, noting that the bird rookery on Pelican Island (present-day Munyon)…
Another source we can use comes from the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Canal and Okeechobee Land Company 1881 Prospectus where it documents the advantage of making the cut through Lake Worth Creek. Nine lines from the bottom it mentions the rapids: “There is a depth of five feet of water in the channel from its mouth to the rapids…”
And the last shared source is from an 1884 USGS Survey Report noting the difficulty of working through the sawgrass route from Haulover Head on Lake Worth to the Rapids of Lake Worth Creek.
Fascinating and historic information, but what about X marks the spot? Where were those rapids?
Using the above information, below (look for yellow arrow) Todd shows more specifically on a topo map from his video “Lake Worth through the Haulover and Sawgrass Route to Jupiter Inlet – 1883” showing where Lake Worth Creek’s rapids may have been located. On today’s map that is very close to Frenchman’s Passage/Frenchman’s Creek.
Next time you’re in the area give a shout out to the once rapids of the former Lake Worth Creek, a wonder of old Florida that we shouldn’t forget!
9:16am 9-16-19: I was close! My brother just texted me this: Hey Jacqui. Sorry Dorian interrupted our discussion of the Falls. It was actually near the creek called Frenchman’s Creek on the old topos not Frenchman’s Passage which is a neighborhood today about a mile and a half south and inland from the old creek/rapids. 😬
Frenchmans Creek still appears on Google maps. It is where Cypress Island Marina is today off of Palmwood Road.
My recent post about “Holding Lake Okeechobee’s Algae at Bay” got a lot of responses with a few questioning whether the algae bloom in Lake O off Port Mayaca was caused by the waters of C-44 flowing back into the lake.
I do not know the answer to this question, but I do know flights over the C-44 canal in 2019 have shown no visible algae blooms, but many in the lake with some right off Port Mayaca. Nonetheless, we know the C-44 is full of nutrient pollution.
Today I want to share a chart from my brother Todd Thurlow’s website http://eyeonlakeo.com/ as well as our back and forth on the issue of how much water has been put into Lake Okeechobee from C-44 so far this year rather than going into the St Lucie River. The ACOE can flow C-44 flow both ways…
Be sure to read “Summary of Query Results” below for the answer.
Todd: Jacqui, I changed my DBKey on my daily spreadsheet to S-308 just to see what it would spit out. See below. It looks like S-308 has sent a net 17billion gallons of C-44 basin water (over 54,000 AF) into Lake O this year. I am pretty sure that means we get a “free” 17billion gallons in our direction before it is considered “Lake Water”.
Jacqui: Todd did the ACOE start sending the C-44 canal water back to Lake O May 29th? Looking at the chart this is what I see.
Todd: There has been little flows all year as can be seen on the chart too but the big flows started on May 13 at -2042cfs. There was a pause between June 4 and July 30. Then is started again with a few days off here and there. Here is the data that is summarized in that chart.
The May 29 date that you might see (its actually May 20) is where the “Cumulative Total Discharge” graph crosses the zero axis? That is where the net flows for the year were back to zero. In other words, it took from May 13 to May 20, 8 days of westward flow, to cancel out all of the net eastward flow for the year.
These DEP canal summaries are no longer available on-line but remain good references even though written in 2001.
Todd Thurlow gave a great presentation last evening about his website “EyeOnLakeO,” http://eyeonlakeo.com. The site is a cache of images, charts, data, videos, graphs, and mathematical conversion calculators. This information is all public, but hard to find because it is buried under layers and layers of government-agency material. Thanks to Todd, now much of this is in one place, and only a click away!
Last’s night’s presentation reviewed everything on the site, but focused mostly on “Descriptions of Satelite Imagery and Sources.” This you may have seen me post on Facebook where Todd juxtaposes the Lake Okeechobee NOAA Harmful Algae Bloom Images to Real Color Images.
You can see other subject boxes include: Florida Chlorophyll; Martin County Chlorophyll; Live Discharge Data; Historical Discharge Graphs (my favorite); Calculators and Tools (super helpful!); Satellites- Landsat 7 & 8; Terra, Aqua, Suomi Last 7 Days; Measurements (of algae blooms in Lake O); Landsat 1-4 Movies 1972-2013; Landsat 4-8 Movies 1982-2018 (compilations of satellite images over time); Lake O Surface Winds “Windy” (to see where the algae will be pushed and gather); Hurricane Matthew Video info (was 20 miles off Stuart/Cat. 4/2016); Terra/Aqua/Suomi Archives; and a movie of the Lake O Algae Bloom 2016 that Todd measured at 253 square miles being dumped into the St Lucie River at S-308…not a good year!
Todd noted all this got started with Mark Perry, CEO of Florida Oceanographic, asking Todd if he could measure the 2016 bloom. I’m so glad Mark asked!
The presentation was well received and left our heads spinning!
Todd noted during his introduction that he is not a scientist, but a lawyer and an interested citizen like the rest of us. He shared that there is a ton of information out there and that it is not the responsibility of the government to give us the information. It is our responsibility to get it ourselves. Thank God I have Todd as a brother because I don’t have the ability or the desire to mine all of this information. But he does, and we can all use it and all share it and hold our state accountable using it.
What a wonderful thing!
Please go to Todd’s website and explore, bookmark as a reference especially with summer coming: http://eyeonlakeo.com
In closing, I’d like to use this opportunity to compare the 5-18-19 NOAA image on Todd’s site with photographs of algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee taken by my husband, Ed Lippisch, just yesterday. Ed described this bloom as five miles long and a few miles wide. As with many other years, the cyanobacteria is back in the lake. But now we can watch it, and fight that it is not discharged into our river.
~Yes, it is from the air, and from outer-space, that we really can force the conversation for a better water future!
This blog post is a follow-up to my previous post: https://wp.me/p3UayJ-9Vm, entitled “Top 25 Discharge Years” to the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee . Here I wrote that the SFWMD’s DBHydro systems’ discharge dates were not the same for the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries and speculated on why. To review, the St Lucie’s dates available on DBHydro are 1953-2019, whereas the Caloosahatchee’s is 1967-2019. Thirteen years are “missing.”
Of course my brother Todd, was able to locate and give insight into those missing numbers explaining that comparisons could be found in another system, the USGS system, that actually shares information about the entire planet.
Todd has created the above charts using the USGS data for the Caloosahatchee and the DBHydro data for the St Lucie, and we can now see the 1959/1960 discharge comparison of the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee for 1959 and 1960 in the above charts and excerpts below. Cool!
Delving into all this is a lot of work, and sometimes imperfect, but isn’t it great that the internet allows both the state and federal government to put all this raw data out there for anyone to analyze? Although it takes time and expertise, at the local level it is really our responsibility to individually, through non-profits, and as local governments, tap into this available data and present it in a fashion that everyone can understand, and perhaps inspire!
So now, the lost numbers of the Caloosahatchee are found revealing that the St Lucie River has the highest discharge number on record – 1960- at 3,093,488 acre feet!
Shockingly, the worst year, 1960, displays 3,093,488 acre feet of water coming through S-80 into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. For comparison, the highest year in the past decade was 2016 at 857,529 acre feet. ~A difference of 2, 235,959 acre feet.
We know now that an “acre foot” is an easy calculation, “one foot of water covering one acre of land.” 3,093,488 acre feet of water would have just about covered St Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, and Broward counties as the acreage of these counties combined adds up to 3,293,440 acres. Hard to believe!
Even though in 1960, the lake was not yet prone to massive cyanobacteria blooms, fresh water itself is destructive to a brackish estuary, and over three million acre feet discharged into the river by, what would have been at that time, the Central and South Florida Flood Control District, (the predecessor to the South Florida Water Management District), must have wiped out just about everything.
Of course the question is: “Why such high a high number in 1960?” One would deduce, that the primary reason would be because there were three tropical storms and one hurricane that crossed over Florida during this era. According to NOAA’s Tropical Cyclone Rainfall in Florida chart: Judith, October 1959, 7.90 inches; Donna, September 1960 13.24 inches; Florence, September 1960 15.79 inches, and we do not know for the Unnamed 1959 storm.(https://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/tropical/rain/tcflorida.html)
But this is conjecture…
Going back to Todd’s graph, you’ll notice that thirteen out of the twenty-five years listed had higher discharge number than 2016. Sobering, isn’t it? Staggering numbers, for a river that by Nature was never connected to Lake Okeechobee, and only a portion of the so-called C-44 Basin. We have drowned her, indeed…
Now for one final question.
The Caloosahatchee has data too, but only for years 1967-2019. Thus the Caloosahatchee’s highest year for discharge of its top 25 years is 2005, at 3,731,056 acre feet; followed by 2016, at 2, 950,926 acre feet and so on. Please click on the graph.
So what about the missing thirteen years of 1953-1968? Where did this water go? Did it go to the St Lucie? Was the Caloosahtchee off-line? Did it go through the Calooshahatchee but was not recorded? These are questions I cannot answer. But in any case, both rivers need a break, or they shall break themselves. History allows us to see the long-standing destruction and ecological disregard for our treasured Northern Estuaries.
Last week, I presented a blog on discharges, 2010-2019, to the St Lucie River from both the surrounding basin, and Lake Okeechobee. Although we can separate Lake O’s numbers, it is important to know just how much water, thus sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus, the estuaries are taking “at once.” I have often said the worst thing about discharges from Lake Okeechobee is that the river is already on life support -from being drowned out by basin runoff- when Lake Okeechobee is leashed open.
So called “basins” around our rivers, like everything else in South Florida, have been altered to drain more efficiently than Nature intended. Thus with “basin discharges” these rivers (St Lucie and Caloosahatchee) are already being drowned out during high rain events, and thus when Lake O’s water comes on top, well, it is the “nail in the coffin” so to speak.
I just needed to explain that before we begin….
~ So today, as in the previous post, I will be speaking about both basin and Lake O water.
Referring to my brother, Todd’s, graph at the top of the page, you’ll notice right away the destructive-discharge numbers are much larger for the Caloosahatchee, than the St Lucie, as it is much larger estuarine system.
As we can see comparing the two charts labeled “Cumulative Discharges 2010-2019” below, both the St Lucie and the Caloosahatchee’s highest year for discharges, by far, was 2016. But whereas the St Lucie received 842,000 acre feet of water, the Caloosahatchee’s water number is a whopping 2,950,926 acre feet! That would mean one foot of water on 2,950,926 acres of land.
You’ll remember from last time that “acre feet” is a very easy way to calculate. “Acre feet” means one foot of water on top of one acre of land. This 2016 Caloosahatchee 2,950,926 acre feet of water would just about cover, by one foot, Lee County, Collier County, and Hendry County – counting land and water within boundaries – as the acreage of these three counties adds up to 3, 012,450 acres.
Again, this visual is meant to give perspective on the tremendous amount of land this amount of water would cover. Often when we hear “acre feet” we don’t put “two and two” together. Once one realizes the number of acres of land that would be covered, it is astounding!
~But then, of course! These waters used to flow naturally as sheet-flow from the Shingle Creek area up in Orange County all the way south to Florida Bay.
Continuing on, we see that in second place, although the St Lucie’s second worst year was 2013, for the Caloosahathcee it was 2017, and then 2013. The fourth worst, for both estuaries was 2018.
Please compare the charts below of both rivers to see other differences from 2010-2019. Interesting… In the future, perhaps we can ask why 2018, in fourth place, was by far the most horrific year for the Caloosahtchee. Certainly it has to do with that sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus feeding cyanobacteria. As we know, in 2018, Lake Okeechobee was 90% covered in a cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) bloom…
*Please note that the charts look similar below; look closely to see that the first is for the CALOOSAHACHEE and the second is for the ST LUCIE. Thank you Todd for these awesome visuals!
Go to http://eyeonlakeo.com, Todd’s website for more ways to easily access and compare Calooshatchee, St Lucie and other information.
“The throat of our river was cut by the canals.” ~Ernest Lyons 1905-1990
Today, I begin a series of blog posts under the title: “Destruction by the Numbers,” based on new information my brother Todd has added to his website: http://eyeonlakeo.com.
The first slide we will study is calculated under Historical Discharge Graphs for “S-80, Calendar Year 2010 to 2019.” S-80 is the Army Corp of Engineers’ structure located at the C-44 Canal that discharges water to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon from two sources. First, from the basin surrounding the C-44 Canal; and second, through S-308 at Lake Okeechobee.
Todd’s chart allows us to isolate the most recent decade, 2010-2019, and see that the highest discharging year during this time was 2016 at 847,773 acre feet. 2016 was by far the worst year in recorded history for cyanobacteria blooms being discharged from Lake Okeechobee and spreading throughout the river system. There was such massive blue-green algae build-up at Bathtub Beach that the waves and shoreline were completely green.
Don’t be intimidated by the left axis’ measurement of acre feet. Acre Feet is easy to calculate as it means exactly what it says. The acreage noted, in this instance, 847,773 acres, would be covered by one foot of water.
For reference, I will use the Everglades Agricultural Area, (EAA), located underneath Lake Okeechobee that we talk about all the time. This farmed area, mostly sugarcane, is 700,000 acres. So 847,773 acre feet of water —dumped into the St Lucie River from S-80, in 2016 –would cover the entire EAA, and more, by one foot of water!
~The map below shows the EAA in a salmon color.
Back to the chart. The next worst year, following 2016, was infamous 2013, the year that became known as the “Lost Summer,” and really started the river’s revolution at 671,067 acre feet. At one foot deep, the amount of water discharged would just fit inside the boundaries of the 7000,000 acres of the Everglades Agricultural Area. It is interesting to note that 2017, a year not often mentioned, closely followed with 661,000 acre feet.
2018, a horrible water year, fresh in our memories, actually came in fourth at 402,116 acre feet! Obviously timing and temperature are factors too.
~2010, 2015, 2012, 2014, 2019, and 2011 follow. Of course 2019 is not even finished. It will be interesting to see where it ends up.
As we would have guessed, 2016’s toxic algae health hazard was the highest destruction by the numbers year in the past decade. But what we would never have estimated is how much water was discharged to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon through S-80 in the 1950s and 60s. This number will truly blow your mind. But we’ll save that for the next “Destruction by the Numbers.”
Today we continue our journey of the Loxahatchee Slough, once part of southwest headwaters of today’s “Wild and Scenic,” but also water-anemic, You will see that the Loxahatchee River is located in both Martin and Palm Beach counties. My brother, Todd Thurlow’s “Time Capsule Flight” guide-posts are below to give reference during your awesome flight of this area.
Again, as in some of Todd’s other videos, you will see that humankind has developed lands “right in the middle of a river.” Certainly we would have done things differently today!
For instance, the red line in the video and photo above shows the “Southern Path From the Everglades to the Loxahatchee Slough” using 1949-1950 USGS Topo maps. Today, this once “water wonderland” is completely developed, and channelized, shutting off the once intermittent, bi-directional flow, depending on rain levels and locations… to the Loxahatchee River.
It is kind of sad that most of us are completely unaware that this giant slough was once a flourishing “fork” of the Loxahatchee River. It took me awhile to figure it out. They should teach this stuff in school. Please watch Todd’s video below. You will be in awe!
In this video you will see:
0:00 1958 USGS 1:250K Topo Quad of Palm Beach and neighboring counties
0:05 I added the red line to the map showing the path of low lands between Loxahatchee Slough and the Everglades
0:08 Eight 1949 and 1950 1:24K USGS Topo maps
0:25 Fade away to a current aerial showing the red line and flying…
— north, from the intersection of State Road 7 (US441) and Old Hammock Way (just north of The Mall at Wellington Green)
— 0:30 across the West Palm Beach Canal
— 0:33 to the south end of Loxahatchee Slough (Behind Renaissance Charter School / Okeechobee Rd & Benoist Farms Rd)
0:46 Fly up the C-18 Canal, which now splits and drains to Loxahatchee Slough (C-18/Corbett Basin)
0:59 Turnpike and I-95 interchanges at Indiantown Rd. (SR706)
If one looks up the Loxahatchee River today there is hardly a mention of the once great southwest arm of the river, it is just a long skinny canal, ~the photo not even showing the large partially remaining Loxahatchee Slough now amputated from the river by development. https://loxahatcheeriver.org/river/about-river/
West Palm Beach Canal 1940 Aerials and 1958 Topo, Todd Thurlow
You will see:
0:06 1940 USDA Aerial Index of Palm Beach County
0:20 Eight 1949 and 1950 1:24K USGS Topo maps
0:45 Pinner Island (now known as Ibis Isle)
1:01 1940 USDA Aerial – West Palm Beach Canal outlet to Lake Worth
1:40 Lake Clarke area where the Palm Beach Canal now crosses under I-95
– The road “s” turning over the canal is actually the Seaboard Air Line Railroad (now CSX)
– The Florida East Coast Railway is 0.6 miles to the east (the next canal crossing downstream)
1:54 Lake Clarke – on the 1950 Palm Beach USDA Topo
2:54 Morrison Field Airbase (later renamed Palm Beach International Airport).
3:37 SFWMD Offices south (left) of the canal across from the airport
4:11 Wide fade-in of 1940 USDA Aerial Index – ponds and bogs of western Palm Beach County
4:21 The northern end of what is now the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
(aka WCA1 – Water Conservation Area 1)
4:41 1958 USGS 1:250K Topo Quad showing western Palm Beach County
4:49 Twenty Mile Bend
5:05 Eastern portions of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA)
5:46 Canal Point at the western end of the Palm Beach Canal
Palm Beach County is a fascinating place, especially, as in 1925, Martin County was born of it. We are connected, as is everything in this water-world of South Florida.
Today, I feature another incredible “Time Capsule Flight” by my brother, Todd Thurlow. I have recently been studying Palm Beach County and Todd’s flights help me understand what was, what is, and would can be. Palm Beach County is interesting as unlike Martin County, it has been developed very far west into the historic Everglades.
When I made a big deal out of this, my mother gave me a book published in 2000 entitled OUR CENTURY, a conglomeration of articles by the Palm Beach Post. A historian, my mother smiled saying, “Jacqui, Palm Beach County always planned on going west…”
The first article I came upon was about Louis Perini, the father of “Westward Expansion.” Eliot Kleinberg writes: “In the mid 1950s West Palm Beach was only a mile wide. But a single land deal set off a westward land rush now limited only by the Everglades…”
And to the Everglades it certainly went!
To learn some canals while were at it, you’ll see that Lake Okeechobee is connected to the historic West Palm Beach Canal, which is connected to the C-51 Canal, which in turn drains the C-51 Basins to the Lake Worth through Structure-155. Like the C-44 Canal, both lake water and basin water can be transported through the C-51 canal damaging the water quality in Lake Worth ~Sound familiar? Very similar to the plight of the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon. Tremendous amounts of precious fresh water wasted to tide, destroying ecological habitat and property values along the way. We must do better!
In any case, it is an amazing thing to really see that we are living in what once was indeed a beautiful marshy swamp.
Enjoy Todd’s flight “West Palm Beach 1940 Aerials and 1958 Topo;” it’s time-travel into Florida’s past and into her future. Again here is the video.
Today, I present, yet another incredible Time-Capsule Flight by my brother Todd Thurlow. (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/todd-thurlows-time-capsule-flights/). This flight takes us on a tour over the Everglades, the Everglades Agricultural Area, Loxahatchee Slough, Allapattah Flats, Ten Mile Creek, and the St Johns River Marsh, fading in and out, so one can see what the landscape/waterscape looked like in 1958 using USGA topographical maps compared to today’s Google Earth maps.
What is most striking for me, is how undeveloped, how undrained, much of the land was in 1958, not really that long ago… 61 years ago. For reference, my husband, Ed, is 62 years young!
More than we can image has happened to South Florida since 1958…
For instance, when Todd flies by notice how little sugarcane and other crop production was taking place in the Everglades Agricultural Area just south of Lake Okeechobee compared to today. Now there are about 525,000 acres of sugarcane, back then, there appears to have been fewer than 50,000 acres of sugarcane in acreage.
Everglades National Park had been in place since 1947, but look at the difference in Whitewater Bay, as well as Taylor and Shark River Slough; and what about Florida Bay?
The Loxahatchee Slough region, near Jupiter, in Palm Beach County? Holy moley, notice how the once magnificent slough was made smaller by development encroaching from every direction, eventually leaving “Grassy Waters” at the southern end – as the sole water supply, via rainfall for all of West Palm Beach…
When Todd travels north over Marin, St Lucie, and the southern edge of Indian River County, perhaps the biggest shock for me endures, as I grew up in this area ~(For reference, I’m 55 years old 🙂
You’ll see that on the USGA map, southern Indian River, St Lucie, and Martin counties are shown in wavy blue as a gigantic marsh, at certain times of year, FULL of clean water!!!! Crazy! Since 1958 these lands have been drained (Ten Mile Creek) that was hydrologically connected to the marsh, through canals C-23, C-24 and C-25; and the waters of the St Johns “Stick Marsh,”( the headwaters of the St Johns River), a north flowing river, are now also drained south into the St Lucie River. Agriculture fields and nearby highways cover those most of those stick marsh lands today.
And the central larger marsh? “Allattah Flats,” also known as “Allpattah Marsh,” or in old military Indian war maps, “Alpatiokee Swamp? Well, the City of Port St Lucie, with over 250,000 residents, and acres of ailing greening orange groves, and more agricultural fields fill these areas today.
Just unbelievable, isn’t it?
Talk about “taking control of one’s environment. “Kind of cool, but I’d say we have really over done it, considering that now our waters, critical for life itself, are almost entirely impaired.
It is my wish that as the residents of Florida push their governments to work for cleaner water, and restore some of these lands, that we all keep in mind the history ofwhat the lands were, working with Mother Nature, not against her.
Todd’s Time Capsule Flights are an invaluable tool in recognizing how much human determination has changed these lands, and how a modern-day determination can restore them. Please click on below and enjoy! Thank you Todd!
An Incredible Flight! 1958 USGS Quads, the Everglades, Loxahatchee Slough, Allapattah Flats, and St. Johns River Marsh, by Todd Thurlow
1958 USGS Quads of the Everglades, Loxahatchee Slough, Allapattah Flats, and St. Johns River Marsh
This time capsule flight overlays three 1958 USGS Quadrangle Maps of southeast Florida from Florida Bay to the St. Johns River Marsh in Indian River County. You will see the following places: 0:30 Whitewater Bay 0:39 Shark River 1:44 The Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) 2:20 Loxahatchee Slough 3:15 Allapattah Flats 3:35 Tenmile Creek 4:03 St. Johns River Marsh
My brother, Todd, has programmed a way to present a running comparative of satellite imagery in an easy way for all to understand. These images are a revolutionary tool for the St Lucie River movement and for the state of Florida. They help us to understand, and put us in a better position to ask for change as we are up to date and we know how things work. And although experimental, the concept is on track. Make this link a permanent part of your Lake Okeechobee tool kit. Read here:
If you’re like me, you might wonder about the various satellite images in the news and on social media showing the cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, in Lake Okeechobee. What’s the connection between the colorized and the not? How do the scientists determine the colorized image? Where do they come from?
In this post, I share a link to my brother, Todd Thurlow’s latest creation, “NCCOS HAB Images.” This exciting site juxtaposes an experimental product of the National Centers for Coastal Science, NCCOS, being used to track Harmful Algae Blooms, HABs, in Lake Okeechobee, to NOAA True Color, or enhanced traditional satellite images.
The NCCOS images are referenced by The South Florida Water Management District, however, experimental. Experimental or not they are cool, tell us a lot, and they are interesting!
Before relying on a CICyano (Chlorophyll Cyanobacteria Index) image, scientists must first look at the “true color” version to determine if clouds or sunlight reflections have corrupted the data. Todd has made it easy for us to compare the NCCOS “Chlorophyll Cyanobacteria Index” pictures to the corresponding “True Color” picture. He processed hundreds of images, putting them side by side. Generally, if there are clouds on the right image, then the left image may not be so reliable. But if there are no clouds on the right, then the left image is a good indicator of algae.
This site is an awesome visual tool we can now reference as we continue to learn about HABs in Lake Okeechobee. Technology is a powerful path for connecting to a “better water future.”
Documenting the discharges, is critical whether by air, on the ground, or from outer space.
The two videos above were taken by me over S-308 at Port Mayaca, the opening from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River, and over S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam on Friday, July 20th, 2018. The satellite images below, my brother Todd Thurlow provided, were taken the same day.
It is clear that the blue-green algae/cyanobacteria, covering, at its height, 90% of Lake Okeechobee, has run its course and bloomed. Now, as the “flower falls,” we see what’s left.
As seen in the aerials, and what the satellite images cannot portray, is that the algae is still there just lessened. Flying out over the lake a light green algae film remains over the water, a pastel shadow of its once flourescent self.
The seven aerials at the end of this blog post were taken by my husband, Ed, this afternoon, July 22, 2018 around 4pm. The tremendous green shock is gone, but squiggly lines of nutrient bubbles remain, and blue-green algae visibly lines the eastern shoreline to be sucked into the gates…
Will another gigantic bloom arise? Another flower to replace the dropped blooms of yesterday? Only time shall tell…
One thing is certain. Nutrient pollution (Phosphorus and Nitrogen) is destroying Florida’s waters, and unless non-point pollution, especially fertilizer runoff from the agriculture community, is addressed, faster than Florida’s Basin Management Action Plan requires- pushed out 30 or more years, we are will be living with reoccurring blooms indefinitely.
Timely quote for thought by the late Mr Nathaniel Reed 1933-2018
“…The fact that the Department of Environmental Protection and the Everglades Foundation have at last identified every polluter in the vast Okeechobee headwaters is an astonishing feat. The sheer number of polluters is mind-boggling.
The failure to enforce the possibly unenforceable standard (best management practices) shines through the research as testament to the carelessness of our state governmental agencies about enforcing strict water quality standards within the watershed.
There is not a lake, river nor estuary in Florida that is not adversely impacted by agricultural pollution.
As one of the authors of the 1973 Clean Water Act, I attempted late in the process to include agricultural pollution in the bill, but the major congressional supporters of the pending bill felt that by adding controls on agricultural pollution the bill would fail.
Now, 54 years later, fertilizer and dairy wastes are the main contributors to the pollution of the waters of our nation. Algal blooms are all too common even on the Great Lakes.”
In my last post, I shared my brother Todd Thurlow’s “Lake Okeechobee Satellite Images 1972-2013.” Today, I am sharing his Lake Okeechobee Satellite Images 1982-2018.
In 1972, I was 8 years old…
In 1982, I was 18 years old…
A lot changes in ten years, and an extra-lot changes in the 100 years we have not taken good care of our state’s largest lake; this is now affecting millions of people and the remaining wildlife we have left.
Todd told me he did not “create by hand,” as I alluded to in my last post, but rather he used a USGS website tool to do it, and then converted, and loaded to YouTube, embed, etc.
In the last video the emphasis was on an a visible algae bloom in 1979, in this “video” the dates of algae blooms are not marked, but you can see clearly blooms towards the end as we reach 2018.
Unless something drastic occurs structurally, socially, and politically, I am sorry to say that we are doomed to have more and more algae blooms in the future.
~“The consequences of ignoring ecological planning and environmental protection could be economically devastating in a way not commonly foreseen.” Environments of South Florida Present and Past, by Patrick J. Gleason 1974.
I could never do what I do without the people who help me. My husband, his pilot friends, the everyday people sending me “toxic-algae” imagery, the River Warriors community, and when it comes to striking the bull’s-eye, my science-studied-lawyer, little brother, Todd.
Just hours ago, Todd forwarded these images from satellites, Landsat 7, and Sentinel 2, clearly showing a large algae bloom photographed yesterday in Lake Okeechobee. 102 square-miles of it!
So Florida state agencies, and others…
…Do not tell me the algae comes from our river. It does not. We have been through this before….
The algae, that can become toxic, and maybe already is, starts in, and comes from the crock-pot of Lake Okeechobee. The Army Corp of Engineers should stop discharging right now. Right when the Colonel sees these images. And these images have been seen, because NASA makes these images available to the Corp.
When a satellite image like this is made public, it cannot be ignored.
The ACOE should close the gates of S-308 until DEP has tested all edges of this large bloom. And work for never discharging when there is an algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee.
Since the ACOE and SFWMD have yet to develop public satellite imagery of algal bloom development in Lake Okeechobee with NOAA during rainy season, I go to my brother Todd. Ever since we were kids, he’s loved science and technology.
I have been bugging him lately for a satellite image…
6-4-18, Jacqui : Todd do you know when last high-resolution satellite photograph was taken of lake o and how to access this photo? Thank you.
6-4-18 Todd: Should have been a Landsat 8 image on 5/21 but it is not available for some reason. The Landsat 7 image from 5/29 is so bad because of the broken instrument that is not usable. Preview here, I would have to “order” high res but not worth it.
6-5-18 Jacqui : Thanks Todd
6-6-18, Todd: Hey Jac, the European sentinel-2 satellite took a good image yesterday. I will post it to my page tonight and add sentinel to the Landsat folder. It doesn’t show anything though. The sentinel-3 satellite took an interesting chlorophyll wavelength shot showing returns in the southern lake. However, it doesn’t seem terribly accurate because the returns over time have been all over the place. I will have to study more up on those types of images.
6-6-18, Jacqui: Well thanks Todd, thankfully that must mean at least for these images the algae is not so much that it’s visible to the satellite in space but we know some is there from 1st hand. This is good news for now. Can we keep getting images? Why ACOE and SFWMD don’t have and report on regularly is ridiculous.
6-6-18, Todd: …..
6-7-18 Jacqui: Hey Todd, the Terra image that is in today do you think that is algae or a cloud east of FPL Pond? Know hard to tell w/lower res.
Todd and I will keep you posted.
For more, go to Todd’s website, look for Firm Favorites; St Lucie River Discharges; Latest Lake O Satellite Imagery:http://www.thurlowpa.com
We are up to page 10 in our history lesson and today’s photos are some of my favorite. The first is an aerial of the St Lucie Inlet entitled “Stuart on the St Lucie River.” Since its earliest day’s, Stuart has always been defined by its proximity to the river. Below the aerial it boast: “World Famous For its Fishing, Provides an Ocean Entrance for Small Craft.” And by today’s standards, a rather comical or un-comical plug can’t be missed: “Where the Waters of Lake Okeechobee Meet the Atlantic.”
It is also fascinating to note the shape of the south side of the St Lucie Inlet as today it has shifted and filled in. I am sharing my brother’s Time Capsule Flight used in former posts as it is so interesting and shows the various inlets of this area and land shapes as documented on various historical maps. Although today, we try to make barrier islands, beaches, and inlets permanent, by watching my brother’s video the message is clear: “the only constant is change.”
My brother, Todd Thurlow, created a new “Time Capsule Flight” to give us historic perspective into my last blog post asking a question about an aerial photograph on page 3 of a 1937 Stuart Daily News, special edition, featuring Jupiter Island’s Golf Course.
“Fill or not fill?”
This was my question!
I had written: “When I first saw this photograph, it struck me that I did not recognize the area with exposed white sand on the east side of the island. I wondered if that was a remnant fan-like formation from an ancient inlet. Then it struck me that perhaps it was fill dredged from the Indian River lagoon for the golf course – or a combination of both.”
Todd’s video flight, using historic maps from 1883, 1885, and 1940 as well as today’s Google Earth technology, answered this question.
Jacqui: “Todd so after watching your time capsule flight it appears that the Jupiter Island Golf course was a natural wetland or mangrove something? It is sticking out into Indian River Lagoon on your oldest 1800s map- so it’s not entirely dredge and filled? Right?”
Todd: “Yep. Probably was swampy like Indian River Plantation (Marriott) and filled in with dredge from the ponds or Hobe Sound but more than likely before the channel/canal was dredged by the Feds in 1935. The Jupiter Island web-site says the Golf Course was built in 1922.”
Watch Todd’s video below and see for yourself the fascinating changes over time. Good for the golfers, not so good for the birds! Mystery solved by a Time Capsule Flight! Thanks Todd!
I guess one could say the St Lucie River is getting a new year’s present in that yesterday was the last scheduled release from Lake Okeechobee by the Army Corp of Engineers. The entire situation has a similar theme to an abusive relationship where the beaten thanks their oppressor for finally halting…
Due to Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) because of the President’s visit to Palm Beach, it was not possible to fly south along Jupiter Island from Witham Field in Stuart, however, when the wind and runway changed my husband, Ed, was able to get a few aerials at the Crossroads of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon around Sewall’s Point. No seagrass, but the water already looks better.
After being decimated in 2013; part of 2015; toxic in 2016; and experiencing a no-holds-barred discharge rate since September 20, 2017, post Irma; we will continue to fight for the EAA Reservoir’s success and a better 2018 for our St Lucie River.
We shall never, never, never, give up!
Please see links to my brother Todd Thurlow’s website for St Lucie Canal Real Time Flows S-80 Cumulative 2017 and Latest Lake O Satellite Imagery
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!”
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:
– 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
“Say No to Lake O,” this is one of the rallying cries of the River Kidz. If only it were as easy as just saying “no.” According my numbers-man, my brother Todd, the “St Lucie River has taken in more than 86+ billion gallons this year, enough to put Stuart under 111 feet of water. This is only enough to take 6 inches off of the lake.” The west coast is taking most of the lake level reducing water and of course they are screaming “say no to Lake O” too.
Realistically, with the Army Corp of Engineers reporting the Lake level at 17.07, today, it will be a few more weeks of releases to get near or under 16 feet. A safer number for the dike and for the people who live in fear of it breeching. Not to mention the 525,000 of acres of protected sugarcane… http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm
I do believe the authorities are getting the message, though…so keep screaming. SAY NO TO LAKE O! For everyone!
I think our water culture is changing, and the government is being forced/inspired so they can get reelected and respected…. to improve our water/rivers situation. Just yesterday, I got an email about a woman whose Bascom Palmer doctor notes she has an eye infection in her cornea very possibly from “walking the bridge,” repeatedly over the St Lucie River.
I am not making this up.
These health issues are real. More and more people are realizing this. Lake O and other canal unfiltered pollution must halt.
It’s hard believe that we have taken 86+ billion gallons this year, enough to put Stuart under 111 feet of water. But this is only enough to take 6 inches off of the lake. The west coast is taking most of the lake level reducing water.
By the way, I have a new link of my Lake O Satellite imagery page that will actively pull up the last 7 days of low res images from all three satellites: St Lucie River Discharges Latest Lake O Satellite Imagery (http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOImagery/) Click on the “Terra/Aqua/Suomi Last 7 days icon”.
Thomas H. Thurlow III THURLOW & THURLOW, P.A. 17 Martin L. King, Jr. Blvd. Suite 200 P.O. Box 106 Stuart, FL 34995-0106 Phone: (772) 287-0980 Facsimile: (772) 220-0815 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.thurlowpa.com
Todd: S-80 hit 6,727 cfs on 10/06/2004. The lake was at 17.86 and rising it peaked at 18.02 on 10/13/04.
Hurricane Jeanne had hit days earlier on Sept. 25
Jacqui: I remember that. Bad.
Todd: Also. The 4000+ right now is instantaneous. The stats you always see are a mean for the day. Right now that are piling between 1000cfs and the high 5000s. It looks like they did almost hit 6000 earlier today.
Pulsing not piling.
Jacqui: Awful. I think it stinks that unless you know how to access all the technology, you don’t know the river is getting slaughtered until the following days. A nightmare. Thanks Todd. Goodnight.
Hurricane Irma may be gone, but her waters are not. Our now black river and the giant plume off the St Lucie Inlet attest to this. Clean rain that fell in our region during the hurricane is now filthy “stormwater” discharging, unfiltered, through manmade canals C-23, C-24, C-25, and C-44. Nature did not design the river to directly take this much water; this much water kills.
Every plume looks different, and this one is multilayered with no clear border. Sediment soup, black-brown in color, yesterday it extended out about 2/3 of a mile into a stirred up Atlantic and flowed south, in the rough waves not quite having made it to Peck’s Lake.
Since Hurricane Irma’s rains, area canals dug with no environmental foresight in the 1920s and 50s for flood control, and to facilitate agriculture and development, have been flowing straight into the river. On top of this, in anticipation of the hurricane, three days prior to IRMA the Army Corp of Engineers began discharging from Lake Okeechobee. During the hurricane they halted, and then started up again at high discharge levels reaching over (4000 cfs +/-) this past Friday, September 15th. As Lake Okeechobee rises and inflow water pours in from the north, and is blocked by the Everglades Agricultural Area in the south, we can expect more Lake O discharge on top of the canal releases themselves.
As advocates for the St Lucie River we continue the fight to expedite the building of the EAA reservoir and to create a culture to “send more water south.” In the meantime, we, and the fish and wildlife, and the once “most bio diverse estuary in North America,” suffer…
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?
From the air, Barley Barber Swamp is distinctive. Like a thimble, it sticks out into Florida Power and Light’s reservoir in Indiantown, Martin County. The 6700 acre “man made lake” can hold more than 80,000 acre feet of water. It lies just north of the C-44 canal, and east of the dike from a once sprawling Lake Okeechobee. Barley Barber is the “crown jewel.”
“This jewel of a swamp” is a popular tourist destination and considered to be one of the finest remaining old-growth cypress communities in the country. In 1972, FPL purchased the swamp and surrounding lands to build their 6700 acre cooling reservoir that it operates in agreement with the South Florida Water Management District. An intake canal connects to the C-44 and S-153 to the northwest, contains and drains waters that once naturally flowed into Lake Okeechobee.
It is a wonderful thing that FPL saved the remaining 400 acre swamp! Today it is teeming with plant and wildlife species, including ancient bald cypress tress, one qualifying as the largest in the United States. My brother, Todd, notes that some estimates put that tree at 1,000 years old. The Wikipedia entry says its 88 ft. tall with a circumference of 33 ft., while the “Lady Liberty” tree in the same park as the late “Senator” is 82 ft. tall and 32.8 ft circumference – and is claimed to be 2,000 years old?
Hmmm? Maybe in south-central Florida we are really in first place!
Cypress are valuable and majestic water trees. It’s so nice to have what’s left, but one can’t help but wonder what the swamp looked like before its ancient branches were cut for lumber, and its massive stumps burned to make way for agriculture?
Well, we can can know…almost… I asked my brother, Todd, historic map expert, if he could show us, and he has created yet another “time capsule flight” video to take us there!
Using 1940 United States Department of Agriculture aerials, a 1953 USGA topographical map, and 1974 Florida Department of Transportation map juxtaposed to Google Earth images from today, we see the swamp in all its glory stretching east with forks, like a “river of trees.” What a beautiful, beautiful swamp it must have been!
Before it was cut down, Todd calculates it at 3076 acres, or 14.81 square miles. Amazing! I wonder what animals lived there? We can imagine alligators, and owls as the images fade in and out. And then we see the swamp’s stately trees replaced by the shape of the reservoir; we see the tree stumps burning, and smoke rising the sky. An offering perhaps…
….as humans we seem determined for the theme of our lives to be “Man over Nature.” Well, sometimes we win, and sometimes we lose…
Today, Todd’s video focuses on the structure and size of the former Barley Barber Swamp, but in Part II, he will share yet another story, the 1979 catastrophic failure of the FPL reservoir that burst through its dike like a tidal wave…
On Saturday, my husband, Ed, took my brother, Todd, up in both the Cub and the Baron to look for a the large algae bloom Ed and I had seen last Wednesday in Lake Okeechobee. I went along for the Baron ride, but the Cub only holds two.
Maybe you, like me, after listening to the news the past few days, realized there were other blooms reported, even a “small one” in Pahokee on May 20th by famed biologist Barry Rosen, of USGA. I wondered if Todd and Ed would see more blooms, other blooms…
Saturday, July 22, 2017, was much more overcast than the previous Wednesday, so the lake photos Todd took are not as bright in color, but the “southwest of Port Mayaca” bloom is definitely still there. Todd did not report any others during the trip and the GPS track shows that he and Ed went quite far north and west. (Channel 12 reported on two blooms on Lake O’s western shore…)
Before the flight, Todd also shared the most recent Landsat 8 satellite image that shows where the large “southwest of Port Mayaca” bloom is located although here too, there are a lot of clouds blocking the image…
After Wednesday’ s post, many were asking me if there were visible blooms in the St Lucie River or C-44 Canal.
The answer: “No.” From 1000 feet up, there are none visible. But there are the “bubble like nutrient swirls” that seem to proceed the blooms in some areas. (You’ll notice these in Todd’s photos and all 350+ photos are linked at end of post.)
I did notice that on Facebook a small bloom was reported at Rivers’ Landing in Palm City, and another one on rocks in the North Fork. The Caloosahatchee has indeed reported a pretty significant bloom…blooms are in the estuaries but the motherload is Lake O.
Have you seen any blooms? If so, here is the link to report algae blooms to the Department of Environmental Protection, “DEP.”
I happened to notice when I visited the DEP website that DEP states: “Blooms are naturally occurring.”
…Yes this is true; so is cancer.
However, nutrient pollution that feeds these algae blooms and is killing our estuaries, and possibly us, is entirely man-made. We know what causes it.
We must be more diligent and creative in stopping the nutrient run of from agriculture and development. “Taking measures”as noted in the DEP quote as the game plan just isn’t enough. After all, this is a war to save our Florida.
“There are no short term solutions to rectifying the situation; this is a naturally occurring phenomenon that the State monitors closely. However, the state is taking measures that in the long-term will reduce nutrient loading and improve water quality.” DEP, 2017 website
My brother, Todd, wrote to me on June 8th noting that the C-44 canal was flowing westwards into Lake Okeechobee rather than dumping eastwards into the St Lucie as is standard operating procedure after a big rain…
Yes this canal, as most of the others, can “flow” in either direction, seemly “backwards.”
So how can this happen? This backwards flow?
Dr Gary Goforth says the following:
“Yes this is normal operations; generally when the Lake level is below 14 ft the Corps leaves the locks at S-308 wide open which allows any local runoff to flow into the lake.”
Another way Lake Okeechobee can receive water in an unusual way is if the water is pumped into it–back pumped. This has recently been done from the EAA. Back pumping into Lake O has been outlawed, but it is allowed if communities or farmland would flood.
According to an exchange yesterday on Facebook, with Audubon’s Dr Paul Grey:
“St Lucie (C-44) backflows are just one of many southern inflows now, S-2 is backpumping, three other southern outlets are flowing backward into the low lake (L-8, S354, S-352) the Caloosahatchee was backflowing but appears equalized today. More water is flowing into the lake from downstream areas than upstream right now. Not the end of the world but not desirable either, it is very polluted water. http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports/r-oke.html “
When I asked Dr Grey if this was being done to gather water in the lake as we’ve recently been in a drought, or to keep the farmlands in the EAA and surrounding areas dry, this was his response:
“Both, they want to fill the lake this summer, and so do I, in concept, but much of this backpumping and flowing is because the farmers have been pumping water so rapdily off their own lands they have made the canals too deep, and risk fooding the communities. And rather than tell the farmers the canal its too deep and they have to modererate their pumping, the SFWMD backpumps/flow it to the lake.”
In any case, when I visited yesterday during my trip to Belle Glade, S-308 was closed at Port Mayaca and no more water was entering Lake O from C-44. I’m not sure about S-2.
The water looks dark and full of sediment. The once beautiful beach is full of gritty rocks. Maybe the lake is healthy in the shallows south, near the islands, but by Port Mayaca it looks terrible. Algae has been reported by S-308 a few weeks ago according to a report from Martin County at the River’s Coalition meeting. But thankfully there is not algae reported in C-44 right now.
We have really made a mess of it. For our rivers and for Lake Okeechobee, the reservoir must be built and we must continue to advocate for sending cleaned water south and re -plumb this outdated system. Forward flow or backwards flow, just say NO.
Todd Thurlow notes 6-8-17
Interesting note: if this data is correct, C-44 has poured 10.7 billion gallons (aka 13.82 Stuart Feet) of water into Lake Okeechobee in the last three days. With all the recent “local” runoff into the canal, they have opened S-308, sending the water west to the Lake to help get the low lake level up.
48.5 million gallons passed through S-80 to the St. Lucie on June 5th…