Tag Archives: US Sugar

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

Understanding C-PAC, JTL vs the Political Machine-A Retrospective, SLR/IRL

Part #3, PACS

  1. C-PAC

Today along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, I continue my series “JTL vs the Political Machine,” a retrospective for my county commission district 1 campaign loss. I find that hindsight is always 20/20, reviewing everything is helpful, and certainly understanding how things work will make me a better candidate in the future. As a teacher it is an oportunity for me to share the electoral process so others can learn too.

Yesterday we reviewed Write in Candidates, and the Firefighters Union. Today we begin with one of multiple PACs, or Political Action Committees. On the simplest level, a PAC is an organization that raises money privately to influence elections or legislation. PACs must report monies raised to election offices, and the tiers of giving are often multilayered and not easy to trace.

I am going to start with the PAC closest to home, C-PAC. C-PAC is the political action committee for the Stuart Chamber. https://www.stuartmartinchamber.org
I have a lot of acquaintances in the Stuart Chamber, but due to long-standing relationships and other factors the chamber supported my opponent Doug Smith. Thus we study his post card today.

The Stuart Chamber supported Mr Smith by sending out a post card for him. The average political postcard mailing for design, printing, and mailing runs around $15,000, so it is very helpful if a PAC sends out a postcard for you if you are a candidate because then you don’t have to raise the money yourself!

Below is the postcard C-PAC sent out for Doug Smith. Look closely on the back side bottom, it reads: “Paid Electioneering Communication paid for by C-PAC, 1650 S. Kanner, Highway, FL 34994” if Mr. Smith’s campaign had paid for this, it would say that…

IMG_5295.jpgIMG_5294.jpg

For the busy and hardworking public, it is hard to take the time to find out where PACs get their money and thus who is really supporting a candidate so let’s look a bit deeper and see what we find out. It’s fun. Like being a detective!

First of all as C-PACs address is in Martin County, you have to go to the Martin County Supervisor of Election’s website and click on the COMMITTEE INFO, COMMITTEES, C-PAC, and then “Non Election Specific Reporting:”

http://www.martinvotes.com/CFElectionFilings.aspx?elect_id=&comm_id=27

Once clicking around one can see that in 2015 and 2016, C-PAC accepted PAC money from the following : IMG_5298.jpg
IMG_5297.jpg

I know most of the donors in 2015, but who is Florida Jobs Pac in 2016 who gave $25,000 to C- PAC on 7/14/16? According to the StPetersburgBlog: Florida Jobs PAC is a political arm of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. That makes sense–but let’s look at the donations. As Florida Jobs Pac’s address is Tallahassee we must go to the Florida Division of Election’s website and type in Florida Jobs under “Committees:”
http://dos.elections.myflorida.com/campaign-finance/contributions/

This is what comes up. There are many donors but some stand out like Duda and Sons Inc., Florida Crystals, FPL with so many, and United States Sugar Corporation. IMG_5299.jpgIMG_5300.jpg

Hmmmm?

So although the postcard says C-PAC. There is more to it than that. Good to know! We’ll study some more of the Tallahasse PACs in the coming days. They are very interesting too.

Jacqui

Learn more here: Dept of State: http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/candidates-committees/

Sucking-in the Algae Bloom, Lake Okeechobee’s S-308, SLR/IRL

Lake Okeechobee's S-308 at Port Mayaca, Ed Lippisch, May 13, 2016.
Lake Okeechobee’s S-308 at Port Mayaca, Ed Lippisch, May 13, 2016.

The first time I ever laid eyes on Lake Okeechobee, I was eleven years old. I remember thinking that I must be looking at the ocean because I could not see across to the other side. Just enormous!

In spite of its magnificent size, over the past century, Lake Okeechobee has been made smaller–around thirty percent smaller– as its shallow waters have been modified for human use–pushed back, tilled, planted, diked, and controlled. Today, it is managed by the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corp of Engineers. Sprawling sugar fields, the Everglades Agricultural Area, (EAA), canals, highways, telephone poles, train tracks, processing facilities, a FPL power plant, and small cites surround it.

S-308, (the “S” standing for “structure), opens easterly into the St Lucie Canal, also known as  C-44, (Canal 44).  About twenty miles east is another structure, S-80, at the St Lucie Locks and Dam. It is S-80 that is usually photographed with its “seven gates of hell,” the waters roaring towards the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and the City of Stuart, but it is actually S-308 that allows the waters of Lake Okeechobee “in” from the lake in the first place.

Such a fragile looking structure to be the welcome matt of so much destruction…a sliver unto an ocean. So strange…

Today I will share some aerial photos that my husband took on Friday, May 13th, 2016 at about 700 feet above the lake. I asked Ed if from that height he could see the algae bloom so much in the news last week even though over time blooms migrate, “bloom” and then sink into the water column, becoming less visible but still lurking.

“Yes.” He replied.

” It’s harder to see from that altitude, and it depends on the light, but it’s still visible. It’s green in the brown water. The lighting shows were it is. You can see a difference in texture about 100 yards west of S-308. It is not right up against the structure, but further out. Boats are driving through it leaving a trail. It’s appears that is slowly being sucked in to the opening of the S-308 structure , like when you pull the drain out of the sink….”

S-308
S-308 at Port Mayaca, Indiantown, Martin County. Ed Lippisch, 5-13-16
Dike around Lake Okeechobee near S-308
Dike and rim canal around Lake Okeechobee near S-308. Ed Lippisch, 5-13-16
...
…EL
opening S-308
opening S-308 EL
...
…Looking towards S-308 from Lake O, boat going through bloom. Ed Lippisch, 5-13-15
...
Remnants of bloom seen bunched in waves. Ed Lippisch 5-13-16.
...
…EL
...
…EL
...
...
…EL
C-44 or St Lucie Canal
C-44 or St Lucie Canal that is connected by S-308 to Lake Okeechobee.EL
Algae bloom in C-44 near Indiantown just east of Port Maraca and S-308.
Closer view of algae bloom in C-44 near Indiantown “downstream” of Port Maraca and S-308 headed to Stuart. (JTL 5-10-16)
SFWMD basin map for SLR showing S-308 and S-80 along with other structures.
SFWMD SLR basin and canal map showing S-308 and S-80 along with other structures.
This aerial was taken last week by Will Glover and shows a larger bloom not far from Pahokee in Lake Okeechobee. Pahokee is south of S-308 on the southern rim.
Algae Bloom in Lake Okeechobee: This aerial was taken last week by Will Glover as he was flying over Lake Okeechobee in a commercial airplane. It was shared on Facebook.

TC Palm’s Tyler Treadway reported on 5-13-16: “The lake bloom was spread over 33 square miles near Pahokee, the South Florida Water Management District said Thursday. The Florida Department of Health reported Friday the bloom contains the toxin microcystin, but at a level less than half what the World Health Organization says can cause “adverse health impacts” from recreational exposure.”

Map of cities around Lake O and trail you can take to see this area.

Pahokee is south and west of Port Maraca and S-308. (Florida Trails)

Overcoming the Propaganda of U.S. Sugar Corporation in the Stuart News, SLR/IRL

US Sugar ad, Stuart News, May 1, 2016.
US Sugar ad, Stuart News, May 1, 2016.
Full page ad 5-1-16 US Sugar, Stuart News.
Full page ad 5-1-16 US Sugar, Stuart News.

It’s easier to communicate your message when you have billions of dollars, but it is not a limiting factor if you don’t…

Today, I will share a “Draft Report” from Dr Gary Goforth. This report is a response he has created specifically to U.S. Sugar Corporation’s May 1st full- page ad in the Stuart News entitled: “The Water That Ends Up In Our Local Waterways.”

This is one of multiple full-page ads U.S. Sugar Corporation has run in the local Martin County paper over that past months trying to “educate” our citizenry. Why are they spending so much money doing this? Why all the propaganda? Because they know that though our advocacy for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, we are changing the course of human events. For the first time, many people and some important politicians and are looking at South Florida and saying “It needs to be re-plumbed…..”

Dr Goforth (http://garygoforth.net) is no stranger to these water issues, nor to the controversy and ability to manipulate the numbers complicated by the historic and supportive relationship between those doing business in the Everglades Agricultural Area south of the lake and today’s South Florida Water Management District. Thus the intertwined propaganda.

So here we go, each idea is presented on a separate slide. You can click the slide to enlarge if you need to. Thank you Dr Goforth!

DRAFT COMMENTS ON U.S. SUGAR AD—G.GOFORTH 5-4-16

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5.
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6.
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Full page ad 5-1-16 US Sugar, Stuart News.
Full page ad 5-1-16 US Sugar, Stuart News.

(http://www.ussugar.com)

1856 pre drainage
1856 pre drainage

Taking the Emotion out of “Clewiston”-UF’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute, SLR/IRL

Clewiston, Scott Kuhns 2013.
Clewiston, Scott Kuhns 2013.
Lake Okeechobee. Google maps as shown in our UF'S NRLI packet.
A developed Lake Okeechobee. Clewiston and the EAA lie south of the lake. Google maps.
....
….

I am part of Class VX for the University of Florida’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute. It has been an incredible journey, and I have learned so much. It has been both exhausting and rewarding. As I am on the campaign trail running for Martin County Commissioner, and a sitting commissioner for the Town of Sewall’s Point, leaving for three to four days every month is difficult. When I get home I am behind and worried I will not meet my fundraising and outreach goals for the month….My husband, Ed,  has been supportive, but it is an additional challenge for our family balance and my responsibilities.

Last year Ed and I really talked it through. “Go!” He said.

“You need to learn what they are teaching, Jacqui. You need to learn how to take out the emotion and deal with these political issues objectively…”

Hmmmmm? OK.

And I have been learning….

I have been learning “leadership.” I have been reading. I have been building relationships with others in agencies and government positions across our state. I have been practicing… And most important, I am learning to apply a “framework for understanding conflict,” to resolve conflict together–collaboratively.

—-I keep my notes on my dresser and look at them every morning. Recently, it has all has begun to make sense.

My notes summary notes from the NRLI program.
My notes summary notes from the NRLI program.

This journey to study some of Florida’s top resource conflicts began almost one year ago and reads like a “Who’s Who”of Florida issues: Titusville, NASA: Indian River Lagoon–Space Port in National Wildlife Refuge; Apalachicola, Water Wars/Dying Historic Oyster Industry; Silver Springs, Aquifer Recharge/Springs Health; Jacksonville, Wildland Interface (where the state burns wooded areas within feet of people’s homes due to rampant development); Key Largo, Sea Level Rise; Crystal River, Manatees/Endangered Species, Recreation/Protections;  and finally our last stop tomorrow before graduation in April: Clewiston, Agriculture South of Lake Okeechobee….

I have been to Clewiston before, but that was a few years ago to protest at the “Sugarland Rally.” Remember the Sugarland Rally that statewide paddle-boarder Justin Riney organized during the “Lost Summer of 2013?” When the St Lucie and Indian River Lagoon were toxic for three months with overflow waters of Lake Okeechobee?

The red colored blocks south of Lake O. are the EAA-700,000 acres of sugar lands and vegetables. South of the EAA are the STAs and water conservation areas .(SFWMD map, 2012.)
The red colored blocks south of Lake O. are the EAA-700,000 acres of sugar lands and vegetables. South of the EAA are the STAs and water conservation areas .(SFWMD map, 2012.)

This time I will visit not to protest but to study the situation objectively using my new tools. It’s of kind of ironic that Clewiston is my last stop, isn’t it?  The final test. My class will be meeting with stakeholders and touring US Sugar Corporation’s headquarters in Clewiston.

Gulp.

I am excited to learn. I am excited to see it up close and hear their side of the story on their home turf. To be fair, this is a historic issue. But whether I can take the emotion out of it or not….that I’ll have to let you know.

Sugarland Rally, Clewiston 2013.
Speaking at the Sugarland Rally, Clewiston 2013.
....Clewiston
….Clewiston’s Sugarland Rally, 2013.
.....Mayor Roland
…..with Mayor Phillip Roland of Clewiston, 2013.

FLASH FORWARD TO TODAY:

2016 with Class VX NRLI.
2016 with Class VX NRLI. Learning skills to deal with conflict. My classmates are from all over the state. It is a great group!

Read more about UF’s NRLI or apply at : http://nrli.ifas.ufl.edu

Clewiston: http://www.clewiston-fl.gov

US Sugar Corporation:http://www.ussugar.com

Why is it So Hard To Send Water South? SLR/IRL

 

WCAs public photo
Water Conservation Areas as seen below the Everglades Agricultural Area. South Florida is compartmentalized to control water to “protect” farms and people ….this does always work.

We are in rain-year not seen before….

The state is overflowing…..

Our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is again being destroyed by too much fresh, dirty, water….

Why is it so hard to send this water south?

It is “so hard to move water south” because the state of Florida has been compartmentalized to protect the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee and to keep-dry much of the lands that we live on. And now our waters are polluted…

Imagine, if you would, what would be going on here in South Florida now if modern man had never “conquered” it….Basically it would be a clean free-flowing marsh all the way from Shingle Creek in Orlando through Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades.

Well that it is no longer the case, is it?  Since the 1920s, and more so since the 1940s, these lands have been drained, and diked, and altered, so that humans can grow food, and live here –inadvertently polluting the system. It is an imperfect situation and we must try to understand it, so we can make it better as we all need clean water.

1850s map of Florida
1850s map of Florida
Today's flow from Lake Okeechobee. (Image Everglades Foundation.)
Today’s flow into SLR and Caloosahatchee from Lake Okeechobee used to flow south.

So for the everyday person trying to figure out “what is going on” right now, let’s take a look at “today:”

  1. It has been raining lot. Since the end of January, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee are being destroyed once again as the state of Florida and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers dump incoming waters out of Lake Okeechobee so that the Everglades Agricultural Area south of the lake and surrounding communities are not flooded. Drainage and property in our area is part of this too.
  2. A rare situation occurred this past week where Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, issued an order to release water south through a canal into the Everglades. He had to confer with the US ACOE to do this. (Due to poor water quality and safety,  just “sending water south” is not allowed. But now with so much water, it is an emergency.)
  3. The Water Conservation Areas south of the EAA, —these gigantic areas (see bottom slide) that are considered part of the Everglades and full of wildlife and in some places sacred Native American tree islands, are so full of water that they have to be dumped first. If they are lowered, then more water can enter from the Everglades Agricultural Area and hopefully Lake Okeechobee itself. Then, and only then, would there be less dumping into the St Lucie River/IRL and Caloosahatchee. We have a long way to go and its not even “rainy season.”

I commend all those working hard to alleviate the overflowing system and I encourage investment in working to improve this relic as well as investment in the children who must be part of the goal to re-plumb this system. Dr Gary Goforth shows us how it is working right now as I asked for a simple explanation to share with the River Kidz.

Gary Goforth
Gary Goforths’ image to explain “water going south.”

“Jacqui—

Due to increased stormwater pumping from the EAA and surrounding areas and direct rainfall, the water levels in the WCAs are too high. Last week the Gov. sent a letter to the Corps requesting authorization to raise water levels in the Tamiami Canal allowing increased flows into the Park through Northeast Shark River Slough. Yesterday the District began making those increased discharges through structure S-333. Whether or not the District will send additional Lake water south is yet to be seen – lowering the stage in the WCAs should help. See the map above. (from page 2 of the attached).”

Gary (http://garygoforth.net/resume.htm)
______________________________

Here you can read: Press Release Gov. Scott

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 11, 2016
CONTACT: GOVERNOR’S PRESS OFFICE
(850) 717-9282
media@eog.myflorida.com

DEP and FWC Issue Orders to Allow Army Corps of Engineers to Ease Effects of Flooding

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) issued orders that will allow the U.S. Army Corps to move more water south through Shark River Slough to ease the effects of flooding in South Florida. Click HERE (http://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/FFWCC.pdf)
to see the orders.

Earlier today, Governor Scott sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take immediate action to relieve the flooding of the Everglades Water Conservation Areas and the releases of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries. To read the letter, click HERE (http://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/2.11.161.pdf).

South Florida and WCAs
South Florida and WCAs

WCA 3B: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/wca3b.pdf

SFWMD WCAs information sheet: http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/jtf_wca_management.pdf

SFWMD: Just the Facts on this rain year: http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/jtf_2015-16_dry_season_rainfall.pdf

“All is Fair in Love and War,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Martin County Fair 2016
Martin County Fair 2016
Since my childhood the Martin County Fair has been one of my favorite times of year. US Sugar was not an advertiser when I was growing up here.
Since my childhood the Martin County Fair has been one of my favorite times of year. US Sugar was not an advertiser when I was growing up here.
First sign displayed upon entering fairgrounds., 2016.
First sign displayed upon entering fairgrounds., 2016

At the chance of sounding like “a sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal,” I would like to share my experience yesterday at the Martin County Fair.

Mind you, for me, the Martin County Fair is as apple pie as a once clean river. Growing up in Martin County the fair was THE event of the year. We waited all year for it to come to town!

It was the one place our parents would set us “free” to run around and visit our friends, go on the ferris wheel and the Zipper!—-Scrunched together in the gravity of middle school, this was about as much fun as could possibly be attained…..I have wonderful memories of the fair.

Most recently, I have gone to the Fair with my nieces, and last night by myself. My husband, Ed, wanted to piddle around at the airport just across the street….Well, yesterday when I walked through the fair’s gate there was a most prominently posted sign that read:  “U.S. Sugar.”

sign
Sign….

This surprised me. This bothered me.

I knew they were a sponsor for the fair but I was taken aback that this was the first sign one would see upon walking into the fairgrounds  from the entrance gate. Thousands of parents and children saw that sign right before they had a ton of fun…

Hmmmm?

I complained to Ed later. “Jacqui are you really surprised?” he asked….”The fair needs sponsorships. U.S. Sugar is marketing…”

Maybe my eyes are not totally opened, but I do find a U.S.Sugar banner prominently displayed at the Martin County Fair odd and ironic.

I find this ironic as at this very moment the gates of S-80 are at “maximum capacity” forcing the polluted waters of the Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. The lands of U.S. Sugar are blocking the flow south to the Everglades.

Often I hear that the fault lies north as those waters are coming from the Kissimmee basin not south of the lake. To me that is like stopping in traffic and blaming a car two miles up the road for the traffic jam.

Last year, U.S. Sugar did not support the purchase of option lands that could have eventually alleviated this problem. I don’t think it is morally right for them to advertise at our fair until they take leadership on this issue…but then…

—-“all is fair in love and war.”

And I will speak for love…

 

The red colored blocks south of Lake O. are the EAA-700,000 acres of sugar lands and vegetables. South of the EAA are the STAs and water conservation areas .(SFWMD map, 2012.)
The red colored blocks south of Lake O. are the EAA-700,000 acres of sugar lands and vegetables. South of the EAA are the STAs and water conservation areas .(SFWMD map, 2012.)
Thie big picture...the EAA blocks the water from flowing south into the Everglades. EF.
The big picture…the EAA blocks the water from flowing south into the Everglades. EF. The water is directed to the coasts through the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee.
S-80
S-80
1st area to enter upon entering fairgrounds.
1st area to enter upon entering fairgrounds, with US Sugar banner prominently displayed. 2016.

U.S. Sugar Corp:http://www.ussugar.com/#

M.C.Fair:http://www.martincountyfair.com

Hope on the Horizon, CEPP— St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Double rainbow over Atlantic Ocean, Jensen Beach, Hutchinson Island-- just on the other side of the Indian River Lagoon. Photo JTL, 2015.
Double rainbow over Atlantic Ocean, Jensen Beach, Hutchinson Island– just on the other side of the Indian River Lagoon. Photo JTL, 2015.

Hope (noun)
1.
“a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen”.
b. “grounds for believing that something good may happen.”
2.
archaic
“a feeling of trust.”

CEPP, ACOE
CEPP, ACOE

When looking at the water issues facing the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon, it sometimes appears that we are doomed to an endless repetition of discharges from Lake Okeechobee and regional canals for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. We are not; we must have hope.

I am clearly aware that the Central Everglades Planning Project, (CEPP) will not alleviate all of the waters killing our rivers. In fact, from what  I think I understand, it will deal with about 250,000 acre feet of water of a needed at least 200 million.  US Sugar Corporation will probably quote 450 million. For me, the number is not the issue right now, the issue is getting started. By getting started, a groundwork is laid for “more” in the future.

Yes, I wish that the state of Florida had purchased the US Sugar option lands and we could have storage and a “flow way south” to the Everglades from Lake O of sorts,  but the state did not.  We must still fight for this concept, but also for CEPP.

As right now, CEPP is the only thing “on the books” to send water south and thus our only hope for “sending water south” in the future. The last time I wrote about CEPP I was furious because after all of the hard collective advocacy work to get it in the Water Resources Development Act of 2014, it did not make it. Well now we have another chance, and I have hope that it will.

To remind readers, CEPP is a “fast-track” portion of CERP. (Central Everglades Planning Project/ Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.) CEPP: (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/EcosystemRestoration/CentralEvergladesPlanningProject.aspx)

CERP:(http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Portals/44/docs/FactSheets/CERP_FS_March2015_revised.pdf)

CEPP was intensely reviewed across South Florida by many. It was led by environmental lead Dr Gretchen Ehlinger, ACOE/Jacksonville, and locally,  by West Palm Beach’s, project supervisor, Kim Taplin/ACOE. Both tirelessly worked this project. It was truly a miracle in itself that the project was fast tracked. As we know, government is the world of molasses and quicksand….

To review CEPP:

“The goal of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) is to deliver a finalized plan, known as a Project Implementation Report (PIR), for a suite of restoration projects in the central Everglades to prepare for congressional authorization, as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). The Central Everglades Planning Project will identify and plan for projects on land already in public ownership to allow more water to be directed south to the central Everglades, Everglades National Park and Florida Bay….”

(http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/NewsStories/tabid/6070/Article/479581/series-of-public-meetings-held-for-central-everglades-planning-project.aspx)

Dr. Gretchen Ehlinger, (second from right), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers environmental lead for CEPP,
Dr. Gretchen Ehlinger, (second from right), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers environmental lead for CEPP. Her office is in Jacksonville.  (ACOE website)
Kim Taplin is in the red shirt . Kim worked with stockholders in CEPP's review here in South Florida. (ACOE website)
Kim Taplin is in the red shirt . Kim worked with stakeholders in CEPP’s review here in South Florida. Her office is in West Palm Beach. (ACOE website)
Map CEPP component of CERP ACOE, 2009
Map CEPP component of CERP ACOE, 2009

On August 31st, 2015, something big happened. Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary to the Army, finally signed the “record of decision” for the project. Thank you.

.....
…..
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So now the project is approved to “move forward” by the Army Corp. The Final Integrated Project Implementation Report and Environmental Impact Statement has been “approved.” (Please read document above.) So what has to happen now?  A lot! The project has to become part of the next Water Resources Development Act, (WRDA), that moves through the US Congress only once every 2-7 years….

If CEPP becomes part of the next WRDA bill, then it would have funding to start with, then the funding has to be continued of course….as politics shift and sands sink and rise…. and yes, the project has to be built….and the water has to be there to flow!….Excruciating isn’t it?  But we are on our way. ——The business of hope is not for the weak of heart, it is for the strong.

________________________________________

ACOE CERP review: (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Portals/44/docs/FactSheets/CERP_FS_March2015_revised.pdf)

SFWMD: See Restoration Projects to review CERP: (http://www.evergladesrestoration.gov/#)

Comparing Color Change, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Confluence of SLR/IRL at Sewall's Point. "The Crossroads." 7-22-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Confluence of SLR/IRL at Sewall’s Point. “The Crossroads.” 7-22-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)

Of course when it rains the waters of the St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon get darker due to runoff into the river. But unless it keeps raining, the water will clear up. The government likes to call this water “storm water.” This is all of the water that flows into the river from people’s yards, roads, agriculture fields, etc….

Lately it seems to me, our recent storms, like yesterday, and a few days before have concentrated  right along our coast. I am not certain, but I looked on the South Florida Water Management District’s website and it did not appear that C-23, C-24 and C-25 were open or if they were it was not a lot.  To check C-44 you have to go to the ACOE website; it is definitely not open. So I think most of what we are seeing right now in our river is runoff from the lands closest to the coast not necessary connected to canals. You can see a basin map below.

Canals in Stuart, C-23, C-24, C-25 built in the 50s and 60s. C-44 connected to Lake Okeechobee constructed in the 1920s.
Canals in Stuart, C-23, C-24, C-25 built in the 50s and 60s. C-44 connected to Lake Okeechobee constructed in the 1920s.

So anyway, the photo above with the murky-grey colored water was taken yesterday 7-22-15;  it was an outgoing tide; and it was around 11AM. Thank you Ed!

Today, I will share some of Ed’s photos and then compare others from when there was some rain, and the  ACOE was dumping into our river JUST FROM LAKE O, and others from very rainy times when dumping from Lake O and the area canals of C-23, C-24, C-25 and C-44 by ACOE/and SFWMD was “constant.”

THESE PHOTOS  IMMEDIATELY BELOW FROM yesterday 7-22-15 in the area of Sewall’s Point. They show grayish-murky waters from storm water coastal runoff but green-blue shines through…

Confluence of SLR/IRL at Sewall's Point. "The Crossroads." 7-22-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Confluence of SLR/IRL at Sewall’s Point. “The Crossroads.” 7-22-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Sailfish Flats 7-22-15. Photo Ed Lippisch.
Sailfish Flats looking towards Sewall’s Point. Hutchinson Island in foreground. 7-22-15. Photo Ed Lippisch.
Runoff plume as seen over St Lucie Inlet 7-22-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Runoff plume as seen over St Lucie Inlet 7-22-15. Jupiter Narrows on left and S. Hutchinson Island. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Reffs off Hutchinson Island. north of SL Inlet 7-22-15 St Lucie Inlet.
Reefs off Hutchinson Island. north of SL Inlet 7-22-15 St Lucie Inlet so appear clear. (Photo Ed Lippisch)

THIS PHOTO BELOW IS FROM July 14th, 2015,  a week ago.  It had not recently rained and my yard was bone dry.  It was an incoming tide. Sewall’s Point and confluence of SLR/IRL appears very “blue.” It is beautiful although seagrasses and the benthic community are still “recovering.” Blue does not mean the river is “healthy,” but BLUE IS GOOD.

Sewall's Point SLR/IRL from the air 7-14-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Sewall’s Point looking north SLR/IRL from the air 7-14-15. (Photo Ed Lippisch)

THIS PHOTO BELOW IS DATED  May 18th 2015. This is the tip of South Sewall’s Point looking towards the St Lucie Inlet and Jupiter Narrows. Sailfish Point is under the wing. It was not raining much at this time in March of 2015, but the ACOE/SFWMD was dumping from Lake Okeechobee because the lake was “too high.” The river looked brown and gross.

 

Flying north at convergence  of SLR/IRL at St Lucie Inlet.  (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 3-18-15.)
Flying north at convergence of SLR/IRL at St Lucie Inlet. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 3-18-15.)

Ironically, now we appear to be on the verge of a serious “water shortage”….too bad there isn’t a place to store this water somewhere north and/or  south of Lake O….that the ACOE and AFWMD dump during the dry season trying to get the lake down in case there is a hurricane….The agriculture community could use that water now as could the Everglades, Miami/Dade, wildlife etc…..the C-44 STA/Reservoir is wonderful and we are thankful but it is only for C-44 BASIN RUNOFF not Lake O.

THIS PHOTO BELOW IS SEWALL’S POINT’s west side, IRL, looking north with the confluence of the SLR/IRL in foreground. This  was September of 2013 during some of the highest releases from Lake O and C-23, C-24, C-25 and C-44. This is when the river was toxic and there were signs not to touch the water. It is very dark brown. Too dark.

Looking north toward Sewall's Point on east/left. The Sailfish Flats are to the right/east as is Sailfish Point. (September 2013.)
Looking north toward Sewall’s Point on east/left. The Sailfish Flats are to the right/east as is Sailfish Point. (September 2013.)

THIS DISGUSTING SHOT BELOW is of the St Lucie Inlet with Sailfish Point foreground. This photo was also taken in September 2013 during very high discharges from Lake O especially and the C-23, C-24, C-25 and C-44. Yes. It was raining! And certainly coastal storm-water runoff not going into canals as seen in the photo at the beginning of this blog was also included. It was all horrible, but the biggest single overdose during this time was from Lake O.

September 2013
September 2013, St Lucie Inlet JTL.

At this time our river was almost black in color and had a strange consistency due to all of the sediment and pollution in the water. During this year of 2013 our river lost about 85 percent of its seagrasses and ALL of its oysters.  The releases lasted from May through October. Salinity was way down and 0 in some places. Algae blooms, toxic in nature, were documented from Palm City to Stuart to Sewall’s Point. The Sandbar at the mouth of the inlet was posted as a health hazard area by Martin County. Real estate sales were lost and animals were absent; it was a true state of emergency as filed with the state by many local governments.

We live in a state of unbalance.

South Florida is a swinging pendulum of too much water and not enough water. It makes no sense. We waste water, yet we encourage more people to come to South Florida when do often don’t have enough as it is because we are dumping it all…

We want things to be like they were in 1970 and 80….

We want to be the sugar and vegetable basket for the world, and have everyone move here… Well no matter how much sugar we produce, or how many houses we build, “we can’t have our cake and eat it too.”

We need more storage south and north of Lake Okeechobee. If we can engineer to send a camera to photograph Pluto 2.7 billion miles away,  can’t we fix things here at home?

Well, unless we can figure out how to live on Pluto, we are going to have to—

Pluto 2015 as photographed by NEW HORIZONS spacecraft.
Pluto 2015 as photographed by NEW HORIZONS spacecraft.

 

 

 

Blog Break, June Review 2015, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

River, unlabeled. 2007.
River, unlabeled. 2007.

Sometimes  you just need to take a break! I will be “blog-breaking” to spend time with my husband; I will return 7-15-15.

In review, before I stop blogging, thus far 2015 has not been a particularly rewarding year for river advocates— mostly because of  the state legislature’s tumultuous session, their interpretation of Amendment 1, and their refusal to consider the purchase of the US Sugar’s option lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

To top it off, the  ACOE began releasing from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River very early this year, starting January 16th and continuing  until just recently–the end of May. There may be more coming this rainy season….

The ACOE and the SFWMD decided to “dump” because the lake was “too high” to be safe for the Herbert Hoover’s Dike and its surrounding farms and communities.  This is “understandable,” but at great expense to our SLR/IRL economy and ecosystem.

Ironically, ample water supply is now a concern for “users,” such as agriculture, with Lake Okeechobee down to 12.20 feet and rapidly evaporating….((http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml))You may have heard that Miami is already in a drought…on top of this, the Caloosahatchee needs some lake water right now to keep its salinities from going too high but they are not getting it…

It always seems more likely that South Florida will  have a hurricane, and that Lake O could fill up quickly with 3-4 feet in one week, too much to dump fast,  so the agencies prefer the lake lower during summer’s rainy season… There is that chance though—that it won’t rain, and dry conditions will parch our state as occurred in 2006/2007.

DEP drought: (http://www.protectingourwater.org/transcripts/18/))

Wouldn’t that be something? After all that water being released?  South Florida going into a drought? The farm fields dying? The ecosystem and its animals in danger? And people not having enough water?

It  may seem an odd thought, but it is one that is not the “stuff of science fiction”— that one day,  in the future, after an extended drought or a climatic shift, people could be fighting over the billions of gallons of fresh water that is wasted to the Atlantic Ocean through the C-44 basin, the St Lucie River, and Caloosahatchee during storm events…

We need to prepare for this. We must not give up our advocacy. We must keep more of this precious water on the land and going south for the Everglades.

On a positive-personal note regarding the year thus far….

You may have noticed—-

I am enjoying collaborating with my family. To have my mother’s history and most recently my brother’s “flying time capsule maps” to share is very rewarding. I have linked some  of Todd time capsule flights below. They have been very popular!

My brother Todd and I on Ronnie Nelson's dock, Martin County, FL, IRL, ca 1974. (Thurlow Family Album)
My brother Todd and I on Ronnie Nelson’s dock, Martin County, FL, IRL, ca 1974. (Thurlow Family Album)

Todd is six years younger than me as you can see from the photo above. My sister, Jenny, is four years younger. Growing up, Todd and Jenny  were more together, and I was kind of “old.” I was out of Martin County High School where as they attended during the same time. Now, the years seems fewer in between…. 🙂

In closing, thank you very much for reading my blog; I wish you a good couple of weeks enjoying the Indian River Region, and I’ll see you soon!

River, unlabeled. 2007.
“Tranquility”…..Unlabeled photo, Thurlow Files, dated 2007.

Todd’s Videos:

1. The Inlets at Peck’s Lake and Jupiter Narrows. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yO650JyADwQ)

2. Hal-pa-ti-okee Swamp: Port St Lucie and Western Martin County. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2f-e0ul1mY)
3. Bog and Ponds of Martin County, 1940s. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvH5H0TiG5c)
4. The Spoil Islands of the Indian River Lagoon, Martin County (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sODqzQ8EW9o)
5. Capt. Henry Sewall’s Dock, Sewall’s Point, Where Was it Located? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFkL9YgPSmI)

*6. Where did the South Fork of the St Lucie River and the St Lucie Canal Connect? EDD/ACOE 1915-1923 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYI34XZUNYs&feature=youtu.be)

Above: Google Earth/Historic Maps Overlay Flights shared on my blog, created by my brother Todd Thurlow, (http://thurlowpa.com) These flights using Topo and other historic maps combined with today’s Google Earth images flashing between “yesterday and today” give tremendous insight into the water and land changes due to drainage for agriculture and development that have occurred in our region. JTL

 

“A Dangerous Game,” the SFWMD/Sugar Land Ads, Farm Bureau, SLR/IRL

Ad in Stuart News, 6-12-15.
Ad in Stuart News, 6-12-15.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may know that I prefer to write a “happy-Friday” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon post…Sometimes though, the news of the day is too pressing, and it is more important to respond to the “question of the day.”

So here we go…

Early this morning,  I get a call…

“Jacqui, did you sees the ad in the Stuart News? Who is “We”? Is the ad from the SFWMD?Did the South Florida Water Management District pay for this ad? That would be wrong!”

My husband had already placed  the paper by my bedside; the ad’s headline read: WE DON”T NEED SUGAR’S LAND FOR EVERGLADES….With a foggy head, I recalled that there was a full-page ad in yesterday’s paper from US Sugar:

Ad 6-10-15 Stuart News.
Ad 6-11-15 Stuart News.

Getting up, pouring a cup of coffee, and perusing the ad,  I noted the right bottom corner: “Brought to you by: Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau.”

I am familiar with Farm Bureaus as my Grandfather Henderson, a soil scientist, UF teacher,  Gainesville IFAS-Extension employee, and leader of the 1952-1969 “Agronomy Project,” was an active member throughout his lifetime. There are farm bureaus throughout Florida; they are key in education, and supporting the rights of farmers. They are powerful, historical entities.

Of course, the Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau is the largest and most powerful of all… So going to the internet on my phone, I noted who was listed on their board.

I didn’t know anybody except Ms, Judy Sanchez, from US Sugar Corporation, Clewiston. I have met Ms Sanchez. She is really nice and an excellent PR lady;  US Sugar is very lucky to have her. This is her job and she does it very well.  I would imagine the others listed are also “in the business” of the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee too…

Board of Directors WPBCFB 2015
Board of Directors WPBCFB 2015

So why is this ad in today’s paper with the headline WE DON’T NEED SUGAR’S LAND FOR EVERGLADES “dangerous?” Well, I think it is dangerous because to the public it could appear that the ad comes from the SFWMD as it uses information from an Op-Ed written by SFWMD Board Chair Dan O’keefe that ran in the Miami Herald but not here on the Treasure Coast. WE is next to Dan Okeefe’s head. Dan chairs the SFWMD Governing Board. The way the ad reads, it almost appears as if the ad is from the SFWMD itself. WE should be clearly referring to the West Palm Beach County Farm Bureau.

Thus mostly the reason for the early morning call….

In case you don’t know, the SFWMD is a “special taxing district.” If you look at your tax bill you will see we all pay taxes to the District. This money is not to be spent on “ads” but rather on their mission “to manage water and related resources for the benefit of the public: the key elements of the Mission are environmental protection and enhancement, water supply, flood protection and water quality protection.” (Data Directory 1999) Maybe their mission has altered since 1999 but I don’t have time to look for the 2015 version. This should be close enough…

Portion of my my and Ed's tax bill 2014 showing SFWMD assessments taken from our taxes.
Portion of my and Ed’s tax bill 2014 showing SFWMD assessments taken from our taxes: $150.73.

In information wars it is very important that players show no “questionable impropriety.” In my opinion, this ad does not achieve this goal.

Full ad 6-12-15
Full ad 6-12-15

WPB County Farm Bureau:(http://www.floridafarmbureau.org/county_farm_bureau/palm_beach_west)

SFWMD: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page)

Miami Herald June 6th, 2015 Op-Ed Dan O’Keefe, SFWMD: (http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article23219004.html)

Trying to Understand the Structure of the SFWMD within Government, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Florida Statutes books on shelf. Public photo.
Florida Statutes books on shelf. Public photo.

If there is one thing I have learned in my seven-year stint in local government, it is that for the public, the structure of government and how it works is unclear. In my opinion, this happens due to many reasons, but first and foremost is because government as a whole is terrible at being open and explaining itself, perhaps preferring to function behind a shroud of confusion. Also, governments’ sense of responsibility to communicate with the public is often nonexistent or skewed at best… plus communicating is expensive…This situation is compounded by the fact that every year there are new laws, and every few years new elected officials coming in….so the public is constantly having to “catch up.”

To make a point, let me give a simple example from the Town of Sewall’s Point, where I live and am a town commissioner. Prior to 2006 the town did not have a full-time town manager. In 2006 the town charter was amended by the commission creating a manager/commission form of government as opposed to commissioners being in charge of different departments. I was elected in 2008. For years, many citizens did not know this change had occurred, and their expectations were functioning off the old system and their expectations were not met. They came into the commission meetings very upset. The town did not “advertise” the charter changes. I was too new to really understand what was going on….it took me a year or so to figure it out, and the public—

People are too busy trying to live their lives, raise their children, and “put bread on the table,” to follow every move of government be it local, state or federal. Add to this that government itself is a terrible communicator, and what happens? The mechanisms are not in place for government to work….This is how I see it anyway. The answer? Better communication and learning to understand how things work.

A few months ago when the South Florida Water Management District was ignoring a desperate and pleading public that had come before them begging for the purchase of the US Sugar Option Lands through Amendment 1 monies, to help save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and Calooshatchee, I drove to West Palm Beach and met with high level officials. They were very nice but it was a frustrating meeting. Basically I asked them, “What are you doing?” “Why are you acting like this?”

The answer?

“Commissioner, you know the power isn’t in our hands anymore anyway…”
“What do you mean?” I inquired.

A conversation around the table ensured:

SFWMD: “Well after the debacle that occurred 2008-2010 with then Governor Charlie Christ, the recession, and the attempted buyout of all of US Sugar’s lands, basically a water district was trying to purchase a corporation…..the Florida Legislature got fed up.  So later,  in section 373.556 of Florida Statutes, the Florida Legislature made sure the District would never be in a position to do that again….Significant legislative changes have occurred related to water management budgeting with substantial ramification for Water Management District land transactions. In 2013, Senate Bill 1986 provided that certain District land transaction should be subject to the scrutiny of the Legislative Budget Commission. As this bill renewed the authority of the Governor to approve or disapprove the SFWMD budget, as with all water management budgets of the state, we can no longer do things we have done in the past like oversee giant land purchases using the monies from our ad-valorem taxes…There is a lot more to it but that’s the main difference now. You are talking to the wrong people….”

I stood there just staring…..”I didn’t know this gentlemen, so how do you expect the public to know this ? Are you telling me, the SFWMD has no power to purchase those Sugar Lands?”

“I am telling you the legislature is in charge of the budget and we don’t have enough money to buy the lands, and couldn’t without their approval….”

“So why don’t you explain that to the public?” I asked.

Stares….

Long awkward silence….

The reply was more or less: “It’s best not to get involved in such a discussion…..”

I lectured them on the importance of communication and education and said they certainly still have influence even if they say they “do not” …..but this did go over particularly well… the meeting ended. I shook their hands. I felt like an idiot. I drove home.

Since that time I have been trying to learn more…..So I read about the history of the Water Management Districts in Florida.

Florida's five water managements districts map DEP.
Florida’s five water managements districts map DEP.

To me it seems that originally when the water management districts were created in the 1970s they were allowed to levy taxes from the public in order to be an independent entity of water knowledgeable citizens  advising the governor as to how best manage water resources.  Also, the Dept of Environmental Protection was just evolving at this time so when the water districts were formed they did not work “under” or “beside” the DEP like today.

Over time, the laws have changed and our water management districts  have become an arm of the governor and his or her people in the state legislature. The SFWMD is and has been losing its power. Especially since 2013. This  loss of influence has politicized the structure of Florida’s water management districts to a level that “the people” no longer have a voice locally with their districts, and they don’t know they are now expected to go to their state legislature;  and even if they did, their local delegation is one in hundreds in that structure  that would need to be convinced to change water policy (for land purchase south of Lake Okeechobee for the health of the estuaries, for instance.)

I have learned too through this journey that really today about ten people run our state: Right now it is our governor, Rick Scott: cabinet members, Adam Putnam, Dept of Agriculture; Pam Bondi, Attorney General; Jeff Atwater, Chief Financial Officer; “leadership,” Speaker of the House: Steve Crisafulli; President of the Senate, Andy Gardiner; and the committee heads of the senate and the house which are only a few “tapped” people. (People who have agreed to conform or are smart enough to walk the razors’ edge.)”Leadership” keeps all elected officials  in line by allowing them, or not allowing them, to be on, or to chair, certain committees, or by allowing, or not allowing their bills “to be heard”… also by discouraging new candidates from running for office if this is against “leaderships’ master-plan.” This behavior is worse in the republican party than the democratic party, but they are all encouraging conformity rather than leadership.

So how can we best communicate with our government?

Hmmmm?

Let’s keep educating ourselves,  and can anyone say “revolution?”

Seal of Florida
Seal of Florida

 

 

2013 DEP letter explaining changes to SFWMD structure: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/watman/files/017_Land_Acquisition_Revised_Guidance_032713.pdf)

2011 DEP letter leading up to changes in 2013 letter above:(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/watman/files/004_land_acquistion_042511.pdf)

DEP Florida’s Water Management Districts:(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/watman/)

SFWMD, Florida’s oldest water management district: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Florida_Water_Management_District)

Florida Statures Section 373 (http://www.leg.state.fl.us/STATUTES/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0373/0373ContentsIndex.html&StatuteYear=2014&Title=%2D%3E2014%2D%3EChapter%20373)

Where Do We Go From Here? St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

After the SFWMD killed the EAA US Sugar Lands option,  where do we go from here? (Map Everglades Foundation, River of Grass 2008.)
Since the SFWMD killed the 46,800 acre EAA US Sugar option, where do we go from here? (Map Everglades Foundation, River of Grass 2008.)
Foot stepping on a roach, stock photo, internet.
Foot stepping on a roach, stock photo, internet.

I likened it to watching someone step on a roach. It was terrible. With the a motion from Kevin Powers, the South Florida Water Management District just squashed it.

Last Thursday, on May 14th 2015, the SFWMD, with absolutely no mercy at all, killed the option land contract to purchase 46,800 acres from US Sugar Corporation. This option land purchase has been the greatest hope for local environmentalists, the River Warriors, the Everglades Foundation, and many others to lay ground for a future that would not discharge so much fresh, polluted, water from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

The hope was that a reservoir could be built on this land to then store, clean and convey water south to the Everglades.

Video of SFWMD meeting 5-14-15, Kenny Hinkle (http://youtu.be/_q220dk5I2g)

Well, it’s dead. No use bemoaning the situation. Let’s brush ourselves off and keep going. Even though the SFWMD killed this option, there are still others.

The best thing to do now is to “read up” and get smart about at what is “on the books” because a reservoir in the EAA is on the books as part of the Central Everglades Restoration Plan known as CERP. It may not be as good as the 46,800 acre option, but it would be something… And we must enlist Senator Joe Negron as he is our only Indian guide. ((http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s32)) To include a land purchase for this reservoir, whether it be in the Everglades Agricultural Area or not, through bonding of Amendment 1 monies is our war plan.

Negron’s idea is to crank up talking to scientists and experts on the best property currently available to build a reservoir. We need about 50 to 60,000 acres, as set out in the 2000 CERP…

The dysfunctional 2015 Florida State Legislature is not a great horse to bet on, but we have no other choice. Let’s saddle up and move on. 

Park Service easy guide to understanding basics of CERP, the Central Everglades Restoration Project, 2000: (http://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/upload/CERPFSLoResSecure.pdf)

SFWMD EAA Reservoirs in CERP, 2003: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/alt_formulation_eaa_reservoirs_10-03-2003.pdf)
SFWMD (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/pg_grp_sfwmd_sfer/portlet_prevreport/volume1/chapters/v1_ch_7a.pdf)

ACOE Central and South Florida Restudy, CERP: “Roadmap or Roadblocks,” (http://www.ucowr.org/files/Achieved_Journal_Issues/V111_A12Central%20&%20Southern%20Florida%20Project%20Comprehensive%20Review%20Study%20Road%20Map%20or%20Roadblock%20for%20the%20Future.pdf)

According to CERP, Moving water south requires storage in the EAA
According to CERP, moving water south requires storage in the EAA

SFWMD:(http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page)

TC Palm, Tyler Treadway: Negron Won’t Give Up:(http://www.tcpalm.com/franchise/indian-river-lagoon/health/negron-to-pursue-money-for-land-south-of-lake-okeechobee-despite-death-of-us-sugar-option_66776672)

There are many lands that could be used for storage in the EAA.(NOAA Satellite map)
There are many lands that could be used for storage in the EAA…(NOAA satellite map)

Jimmy Buffett, Family, and a Blog Break Along the Indian River Lagoon

 

Darcie, Ed's niece, graduated from University of Miami last Friday.
Darcie, my husband Ed’s niece, graduated from University of Miami last Friday, 5-8-15.
Graduation day!
Graduation day!

 

Jimmy Buffett was the speaker at Darcie's graduation from UM.
Jimmy Buffett was the speaker at Darcie’s graduation from UM.

My conservative attorney father loves listening to singer/songwriter, Jimmy Buffett, and a “Margaritaville state of mind” was certainly part of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon lifestyle throughout much of my youth.

As he climbed to fame and fortune, Jimmy Buffett always had time to stand up for Florida’s environment. Just this spring, he headlined a rally petitioning the Florida Legislature to buy U.S. Sugar land for Everglades’ restoration;  years ago he helped found the Save the Manatee Club with U.S. Senator and former Governor, Bob Graham. Buffett is a Florida “conservationist hero.” Thus it was a welcomed surprise to learn that Mr Buffett would be receiving an honorary doctorate degree of music, and be the commencement speaker for Ed’s niece, Darcie’s, University of Miami graduation last Friday.

 

Ed, Stanley, Ben, Capri, Darci, Kelly, and Lupi at graduation UM.
Ed with his sister Lupi surround her three children Stanley, Ben, and Darcie. Ben’s wife Kelly and their baby daughter, Capri, also pictured.

It was a day of celebration but the signs were everywhere: “Miami needs more clean water!” “Send the water south!”

The city of Miami was under great construction and cranes filled the horizon. Around the corner, in Coral Gables, there were other signs.

As Darcie and I made our way to the auditorium, we walked past the large pond I had enjoyed so much during Ed and my  last visit: “Wow, what happened to the water here?” I asked…

“I know,” she said, “It used to be so clear. Since they built the new Ratskeller and student center, it is all cloudy and brown….runoff maybe?” She inquired.

“What happened to all the fish?” I asked.

Darcie shook her head.

Symbolic of things to come? Jimmy Buffett the speaker…Hmmmm….

Darcie’s generation, more than ever, knows the pressures of a growing world population, the need for more clean water, and the importance of saving and restoring the environment the best we can…

Darcie’s generation also knows that just through south Florida canals, the state of Florida is dumping 1.7 billion gallons  of fresh water into the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico every day because US Sugar and other multi-trillion dollar agri-businesses block that flow.

The red line shows the designated "Everglades." As we can see humankind has filled a lot of it in. (SFWMD map, 2012.)
The area south of Lake Okeechobee, known as the EEA or Everglades Agricultural Area, blocks the natural flow of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades thus this water goes to tide destroying the  northern estuaries of St Lucie and Caloosahatchee, a waste!

(Florida Oceanographic article on this waste: (http://www.floridaocean.org/p/162/florida-s-ocean-and-coastal-ecosystems-take-action-our-future-begins-today#.VVCuQuvjh0E)

We and earlier generations have to admit that when it comes to Florida and water, we have messed things up. Perhaps we were driven by “hunger and money,” but today, we all recognize the value of clean water and a healthy environment for the survival of our children. It is time that water again makes its way from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades…

Why don’t we try to help these young people with this issue rather than leaving them with the full burden? It’s time to buy the land.

I will be taking a week’s break to focus on family, but I wanted to leave you with my audio tape of Jimmy Buffett’s commencement speech below; it does not focus on the poor state of Florida’s environment, but rather on life lessons to help: 1. Moderation;  🙂 2. Make your avocation your vocation; 3. Travel this world; and 4. be Santa Clause when you can! Good advice for all us, young or old. Let’s make Jimmy Buffett proud and keep working to save our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!

JIMMY BUFFETT’S UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI COMMENCEMENT SPEECH, 2015.  

Jimmy Buffett's biography in the UM program, 2015.
Jimmy Buffett’s biography in the UM program, 2015.
University of Miami program cover, commencement 2015.
University of Miami program cover, commencement 2015.

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Florida Sunshine State News, Jimmy Buffet plays for land buy of US Sugar option lands, state Capitol: (http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/jimmy-buffett-land-changes-attitude-during-everglades-day-capitol)

The Mechanization of the Sugar Industry as a Metaphor for Change, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Historic postcard, ca.1900 sugarcane in Florida, from the Thurlow Collection.
Historic postcard, ca.1900 “Cutting Sugarcane in Florida,” from the Thurlow Collection.

This week, due to the inspiration of small book my mother handed me, I have been exploring the history, and political change encompassing the sugar industry. Monday, I wrote about Cuba; Tuesday, I wrote about the Calusa Indians, pioneers, and workers; and yesterday, I wrote about  the pond apple forest that used to border the southern rim of Lake Okeechobee.

Today, based on chapter 29 of Lawrence E. Will’s 1968 book, “Swamp to Sugar Bowl, Pioneer Days in Belle Glade,” I will briefly write about the evolution of labor practices in Florida’s sugar industry and how public pressure led to the mechanization of the industry. For me, the mechanization of the sugar Industry is a metaphor for change for our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

The point of this journey is to learn our history and to remind ourselves that even the “worst of circumstances” can be improved. I believe, that one day, we too, will see improvement of the government sponsored destruction of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon from Lake Okeechobee. Our relation to the sugar industry? For those who may not know.. .Their location blocks the flow of Lake Okeechobee’s waters flowing south to the Everglades. 

The delay of CEPP, the Central Everglades Planning Project may end up symbolically being the beginning of Florida's  4th Seminole War.
The Everglades Agricultural Area is just south of Lake Okeechobee, it is composed mostly sugar farming and block the flow of waters flowing south from Lake O so they are directed to the northern estuaries. (EF)

Before I start, I must say that “everyone has a history,” and the history of the world is mostly “not a pretty one.” This goes for me as well. Parts of my family have been here before the American Revolution, and a few of  my ancestors owned slaves. I have read the wills these relatives handing down their slaves from one generation to the next like these souls were pieces of furniture. It is retched. It is uncomfortable. It is immoral. But to forget, is not the answer. It is important to know our own history and the history of businesses in our state no matter how difficult. As is said, we must “Never Forget…” Slavery and the extermination of Florida’s native peoples “is the ground we sit on,” and our job today is to continue to make this world, and our living waters a “better place.”

Back of postcard.
Back of postcard.

So, let’s begin.

The history of sugarcane has “roots” all over the world, but in our area it is connected to the Caribbean. I recommend a book entitled: “History of the Caribbean,” by Frank Moya Pons.

The basis of this book is the extermination of the Arawak Indians due to colonization and the bloody wars on both sides of the Atlantic over control of the region’s lucrative sugar market . The Arawaks were native to the Caribbean. When they were unwilling slaves for the Europeans, and died as a race due to european-brought diseases, African slaves were brought in to replace them.

After centuries involving  world political struggles for “sugar dominance,” and with the rise of the United States and the horrible world wars, sugar came to be seen as “national security issue,” not just a food source as it can be used for the making of explosives/weapons.  As we know, over the centuries, through political strategy, the United States rose as a power in sugar production, as Cuban dominance declined.

The apex of this shift in our area was around 1960. For reference, my husband, Ed, came to this county when he was four, with his family from Argentina, in 1960, the Perons had been in power; and I was born in California, at Travis Air Force Base in 1964. It was the Vietnam Era.

The Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee where the sugar industry resides expanded the most it ever has around this time. To quote Mr Lawrence E. Wills:

“when Fidel Castro took over Cuba, (1958) the Everglades reaped the benefit. For a short time our government permitted the unrestricted planting of sugar cane …and before that time, under the U.S government’s regulations, the state of Florida was permitted to produce only nine-tenths of one percent of the nation’s needs.”

The US government helped the sugar industry grow and for “a reason:” Power. Influence. National Security. Food Source. Weapons. This is heavy currency in world politics and it is achieved at any expense….here in south Florida, it was achieved at the expense of the uneducated and poor worker.

Chapter 29 of Mr Will’s book is entitled, “Harvest of Shame.”

(http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Documentary+Harvest+of+Shame&FORM=RESTAB#view=detail&mid=D9218CAC685FC8880984D9218CAC685FC8880984)

Mr Wills writes about a television documentary that was released on Thanksgiving Day in 1960. Mr Wills says the piece is “sensationalized.” It was produced  by the Columbia Broadcasting System, presented by Edgar R. Murrow and sponsored by Philip Morris Cigarette Company. Certainly the piece was “sensationalized,” but undoubtedly there was also truth regarding the difficult conditions for migrant workers.

What is important here, is that the explosive public reaction to the documentary pressured the sugar industry to move towards mechanization, which they achieved just over thirty years later around 1992.

As the industry moved towards this goal, other problems ensued, such as H-2 program changes.  With claims that the local labor force “could not,” or “would not” do the back-breaking work of cutting the sugar cane with machete, the H-2 program allowed the sugar industry to hire foreign workers, mostly from the Caribbean, especially Jamaica, who as we already know had a history with this difficult work.

The rub for labor activists was that these workers could be deported if they did not “produce.” They could be shipped out and replaced. Some called this a form of modern slavery. An award-winning documentary, on this subject, H-2 Worker, was produced by Stephanie Black in 1990. She points out that although the sugar industry had basically achieved mechanization by this time, others had not. (http://www.docurama.com/docurama/h-2-worker/)

The sugar industry moved to mechanization because of public outcry. Of course it is more complicated than that and is driven by economics, nonetheless, it was a huge factor. With more outcry regarding our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, the same thing could happen. Change. More water flowing south. A flow way. A reservoir. Lands to clean, store and convey water south….fewer, or no more polluted/toxic releases into the St Lucie River/IRL…

To deviate just a bit before I close, we may ask ourselves, how could this happen? Slavery? Mistreatment of workers? Destruction of the environment?

Well, the answer is the same today as it was in 1500; it happens because government allows, supports, and encourages it. The U.S. Department of Labor, the United States Department of Agriculture and others. Some right under our nose.

USDA: (http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/20644/PDF)

Remember, today’s state and federal agencies are made up of people; people are hired by government entities;  government entities are directed by politicians, and politicians are voted for by the people. It all starts with us.

Make sure your voice is heard, and vote accordingly.

History is in the making, and somewhere out there, there  is a better water future for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!

Inside page of Stuart News, US President Obama meets with Raul Castro, Fidel Castro's brother, 4/2015.)
Inside page of Stuart News, US President Obama meets with Raul Castro, Fidel Castro’s brother, 4/2015.)

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Another source for this post and excellent reading is “Raising Cane in the ‘Glades, The Global Sugar Trade and the Transformation of Florida,” by Gail M. Hollander. (http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/R/bo5704198.html)

Public Information on H-2 Lawsuit: (http://www.leagle.com/decision/19951403660So2d743_11274.xml/OKEELANTA%20CORP.%20v.%20BYGRAVE)

Agriculture’s Eradication of the Mythical Pond Apple Forest, Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

Photo of pond apples in Big Cypress, a shared flicker photo by Mac
Photo of pond apples in Big Cypress, a shared Flicker photo by Mac Stone, 2014.
Pond apple also known as custard apple--this is the custard apple forest as depicted by artist Julia Kelly in the River Kidz second edition workbook, 2015.
Pond apple is also known as custard apple–this is the custard apple forest as depicted by artist Julia Kelly in the River Kidz second edition workbook, 2015.

In Florida, the pond apple is also known by many locals as the “custard apple,”(http://www.regionalconservation.org/beta/nfyn/plantdetail.asp?tx=Annoglab)

The mythical pond apple forest….Imagine, for a mile or two back from the water’s edge the trees grew, and like God’s magic sieve, their colossal roots strained the water of Lake Okeechobee before it inched its way south through the river of grass to the Everglades. Over thousands of years, the lake’s muck built up inside, around, and under, their gigantic roots, a forest grew, until one day the farmer came, the engineer came, the “white man” came, and took it all.

“We are chosen!” they said. “We are chosen to have dominion over the earth! Strip it! Cut it! Burn it! Tear it out! Expose the muck, the precious muck, and let us build an empire. Let us lift ourselves from poverty, feed ourselves, and become rich!”

Pond apple
Pond apple public photo.
Pond apple blossom. Photo by Lisa Jefferson, 2015.
Pond apple blossom. Photo by Lisa Jefferson, Stuart, Florida, 2015.
Pond apple blossom opening, photo Chuck McCartney.
Pond apple blossom opening, photo Chuck McCartney.

And many of today’s generations have become rich from this soil.

The story of the explosion of agriculture, and the sugar industry below the great lake known as “big waters,” or “Okeechobee,” as the Seminole people called it, is a not a tale for the weak. It is the story of the nature of man, and his destruction of the environment of which he is part. It is the story of “success,” and the difficult  journey of a culture to define what “success” really means.

Lawrence E.  Will, in his book, “Swamp to Sugar Bowl,” writes in his cracker style in 1968:

“That part of the woods along the south shore and half way up the eastern side, was a dense forest of tropical custard apple trees. For a mile to two miles back from the water’s edge they grew, and on all the islands as well. About 33,000 acres of solid custard apple tress there were, and that’s a heap of woods.”

33,000 acres of custard apple trees destroyed. Gone. Forever.

Today, the Everglades Agricultural Area is 700,000 square miles south of the lake. It produces sugar and vegetables.  The growth of the area is the reason why the overflow waters of Lake Okeechobee are directed thorough the northern estuaries killing local economies, rivers, and wildlife. Thus the story of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Once during a conversation with Mr Tom MacVicar, a respected engineer who works with the agricultural and sugar industry, I was told that Lake Okeechobee used to be about “30% bigger.” At the time, I wondered what he was talking about, but over the years through reading and study I have come to understand.

Let me explain. In the late 1800s when the early farmers planted their crops they would do so in winter when Lake Okeechobee’s waters had “receded back” as it was the “dry season.”  This would be after the back-breaking work in some areas of tearing out the pond apple trees in order to get to the rich muck, “black gold,” that lies underneath. Over the years the edge of the southern shore of the lake was pushed back and then the “smaller” lake was entirely diked. This is one reason why the lake can’t hold its historical water level. Through Florida and Congress, the history of the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corp of Engineers is linked to this history of pushing back the lake and building the agricultural empire, although now their mission includes environmental restoration.

Hmmm?

I think it would be fitting to replant some pond apple trees each year until one day, perhaps, we can regain part of the soul of that lake that was ripped out at the roots.

Old military map from 1846 shows how the fingers of water south of Lake Okeechobee that are no longer there today as the lake is diked.
Old military map from 1846 shows the fingers of water south of Lake Okeechobee that are no longer there today as the lake is diked. This would have been one area where the pond apple grew.

 

EAA below Lake Okeechobee. (Public map.)
EAA below Lake Okeechobee. (Public map.)
Today's black gold south of Lake Okeechobee. (Photo JTL, 2014)
Today’s black gold south of Lake Okeechobee. (Photo JTL, 2014)
Photo from Swamp to Suagrland, showing pond apple with moon vines around Lake O. (Lawrence E Will)
Photo from Swamp to Sugarland, showing pond apple with moon vines around Lake O. Lawrence E Will, 1968.
Close up of small pond apple on Torry Island, by Lawrence E Will.
Close up of small pond apple on Torry Island, by Belle Glade , by Lawrence E Will, 1968.
Florida Memory Project, photo by John Kunkel Small 1869-1938.
Florida Memory Project, pond apples in a creek of the  Lake Okeechobee area photo by John Kunkel Small 1869-1938.

 

History of EAA: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everglades#Everglades_Agricultural_Area)

Nature for Your Neighborhood, A Program of the Institute for Regional Conservation: (http://www.regionalconservation.org/beta/nfyn/plantdetail.asp?tx=Annoglab)

Mr Tom MacVicar: (http://www.macvicarconsulting.com)

ACOE Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/LakeOkeechobee/HerbertHooverDike.aspx

Havana or Bust! Swamp to Sugar Bowl; the Changing Politics of the Everglades, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

My father's photo of his Senior Trip for Stuart High, 1954. (Photo Tom Thurlow)
School bus reads HAVANA OR BUST! My father’s Stuart High senior trip for Stuart High, went to Cuba in 1954. (Photo Tom Thurlow)
My father's 1954 senior class, Stuart High School, Martin County, Florida. (Photo Tom Thurlow)
My father’s 1954 senior class, Stuart High School, Martin County, Florida. My father is in back row, far right second from end.(Photo Tom Thurlow)
The book Swamp to Sugar Bowl was written in 1968 by Lawrence E. Will. (Borrowed from the library of Sandra Henderson Thurlow, historian.)
The book “Swamp to Sugar Bowl” was written in 1968 by Lawrence E. Will. (Borrowed from the library of Sandra Henderson Thurlow, historian.)

It is good to learn about the history and issues of the Everglades, South Florida, and our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon so that one day, in spite of the difficulties we face today, we will be able to fix our problem in the future…

Perhaps the greatest reason the our former Everglades are now overflowing with sugarcane fields is due to politics between Cuba and the United States. My father graduated from Stuart High School in 1954, and believe it or not, his senior trip was to Havana! Soon after, Castro’s revolutionaries took over Cuba in 1959. And as they say the “rest is history…” as the growing sugar fields blocked the flow of water south to the Everglades, the fate of our precious St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon seemed forever doomed. But it is not, as nothing lasts forever.

This weekend my mother handed me a book entitled “Swamp to Sugar Bowl” by historian, author, businessman, and politician, Lawrence E. Will.  I read the little book with great enjoyment.  Although many things have changed since the book was written in 1968, it provides great insights.

This week I will be sharing some aspects of the books. Today I  will quote a few excerpts from chapter 22, “Florida’s Sugar Bowl.”

“Brother if you’re addicted to using sugar you should come here to these Everglades. Sugar and molasses bring in 110 million to these glades each year, so let’s take a quick look at this sugar bowl. Back in 1922, at Moore Haven, the first feeble attempt was made at producing sugar, but the following year in Canal Point the first successful mill began to operate.

There used to be 33,000 acres of pond apple trees lining the southern rim of Lake Okeechobee. They were cut down to access the rich much soil below them. (Laurence E. Will)
Map showing Canal Point. (Laurence E. Will)

This company was taken over by Southern Sugar Company, now the U.S. Sugar Corporation which ground its first cain in Clewiston in 1929. Although this company owned some 100,000 acres of the best land around the lake, under the US government’s regulation, the state of Florida was permitted to produce only nine-tenths of one percent of this nation’s needs.

However when Fidel Castro took over Cuba, the Everglades reaped the benefit.  For a short time our government permitted the unrestricted planing of sugar cane. Oh brother, you should have seen how cow pastures and vegetable fields were plowed up and planted! Now we have 189,500 acres of sugar cane in the Glades.” –Lawrence E Will, 1968

US Sugar and Florida Crystals map ca 2008.
US Sugar and Florida Crystals map ca. showing ownership of lands, and option to buy lands for state of Florida, 2008.
Stats of Sugar in Florida, 1991, Source Hazen and Sawyer, 1993)
Stats of Sugar average in Florida, 1991, Source Hazen and Sawyer, 1993)

I am not certain how much land U.S. Sugar Corporation owns today, but the Everglades option map from 2008 and IFAS statistics from 1993 show over 450,000 acres combining US Sugar and Florida Crystals.

Sugar has been grown in the glades since the 1920s but it exploded in the glades in the 1960s and became heavily supported by the US government due mostly to political reasons.

Reasons that may be ending soon.

Stuart News front page, 4-11-15.
Stuart News front page, 4-11-15.

______________________________

US Sugar Corporation: (http://www.ussugar.com)

History of Cuba: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Cuba)

A great book on this topic, Raising Cane, by Gail M. Hollender: (http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Cane-Glades-Transformation-Florida/dp/0226349500)

UF IFAS: (http://ifas.ufl.edu)

Getting the Numbers Straight With U.S. Sugar, SLR/IRL

 

This pie chart shows an average of Lake O discharges in acre feet to the estuaries from 1996-2015. (Dr Gary Goforth 2015)
This pie chart shows an average of Lake O discharges in acre feet to the estuaries from 1996-2015. (Dr Gary Goforth 2015)

After last Thursday’s WRAC meeting at the South Florida Water Management District, I left somewhat miffed.

(http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20about%20us/meetings)

The numbers seemed wrong….

These meetings are difficult to follow, and almost surreal at times.  On Thursday, this was especially true with “paid” protesters yelling outside against the option land purchase, and afterwards the group’s slick sun-glassed/suit-wearing organizer coming inside to pat one of the WRAC members on the back.

I sat there thinking “life really is stranger than fiction,” no wonder south Florida satirist and writer Carl Haaisen says almost all of his material is “simply out of the newspapers…”

Another oddity for me was when Bubba Wade, representing US Sugar Corporation, during WRAC members’ comments referencing “2013,”  in defense of not purchasing the option lands, quoted the acre footage of water to the St Lucie Estuary/IRL as “4.5 million acre feet annually,” —and thus justifying that if the 26,000 acre option lands located south of the lake were purchased, even with that water “exchanged,” it would never be “enough…”

I’m thinking to myself: “445,000—4.5 million…I saw  “that” number in a Palm Beach Post article too, but I swear it said billion and not million acre feet….where are these numbers coming from? Is Bubba using the right numbers? I think they are wrong….Am I wrong?”

After the meeting, I even walked up to Mr Wade, who I have met on many occasions and feel I have a good working relationship with saying: “Bubba, where did you get your numbers?  I am almost sure the St Lucie River, no maybe the estuaries received around 1.5 million acre feet of water in 2013, not 4.5 million acre feet to the SLR. What are the numbers? If we can’t agree on what numbers we are talking about, how we ever agree on anything at all? ”

Bubba was talking out loud trying to figure where he got his numbers, and I was wondering where I got mine as well…in the end we just stared at each other…

When I got home I consulted Dr Gary Goforth. I have interpreted and put into laymen terms what he wrote to me below.

It shows that the numbers change depending on what years one is talking about, and over how long a period of time.

First of all…. : For calendar year 2013, 1.584 million acre feet of Lake water was sent to the estuaries… The St Lucie gets about 20% of that…. But in figuring out “distribution,” one does not just look at one year….Dr Goforth shared again his hand out from last month’s SFWMD Governing Board meeting:

The chart below shows in acre feet, the “distribution of Lake Okeechobee releases from  water years 1996-2015.” “20 years” of reference, gives a more accurate estimate of the long-term average of annual values than a shorter time period. Of course every year annual flows vary. For years 1996-2015 the average number of acre feet to the SLR/IRL  is 270, 224.

This pie chart shows an average of Lake O discharges in acre feet to the estuaries from 1996-2015. (Dr Gary Goforth 2015)
This pie chart shows an average of Lake O discharges in acre feet to the estuaries from 1996-2015. (Dr Gary Goforth 2015)
This chart, taken from the ACOE and SFWMD and shown here in a slide presentation by Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic, shows a 10 year period from 1996-2005.
This chart, taken from the ACOE and SFWMD and shown here in a slide presentation by Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic, shows a 10 year period from 1996-2005.

The above chart is different as it shows a ten-year, not a twenty-year average, 1996-2005). Here the number, 442,000 looks more like  Bubba’s 4.5 million acre feet. (I found this chart in Mark Perry’s presentation on his website at Florida Oceanographic.)This must be the chart Bubba Wade was referring to…?

Which number is better? Which number is correct? That depends what one is trying to prove. Right? 🙂

In any case, when quoting numbers, it is good to know which reference chart one is quoting. One one should also reference which chart one is using….This goes for me as well as for Mr Wade of U.S. Sugar….

Heading of Dr Goforth's chart showing estimated releases from Lake O to SLR from 1931-2013.
Heading of Dr Goforth’s chart showing estimated releases from Lake O to SLR from 1931-2013.
A section of Dr Goforth's chart 1988-2013.
A section of Dr Goforth’s chart 1988-2013. Years 1988-2013 showing acre feet flows from Lake O to SRL.
Lake Okeechobee conversion sheet, Everglades Coalition break out session, 2015.
Lake Okeechobee water/conversion sheet, Everglades Coalition break out session, 2015.

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WRAC, SFWMD, (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20about%20us/wrac)

Mr Malcom (Bubba) Wade, US Sugar Corporation, (http://www.ussugar.com/press_room/bios/wade_bio.html)

Dr Gary Goforth: (http://garygoforth.net)

Florida Oceanographic/Mark Perry’s power point presentations: (http://www.floridaocean.org/p/233/advocacy-environment#.VSKHyrrRwl8)

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This photo is to reference a comment on this blog:

Page 16 of Jeff Kivett's System constraints document, SFWMD, 2015 as shown to respond to blog comment. 4-7-15
Page 16 of Jeff Kivett’s System constraints document, SFWMD, 2015 as shown to respond to blog comment. 4-7-15
This is THE photo where the 4.5 million acre feet comes from. Thank you to Christine Stapleton of the Palm Beach Post for sharing when I asked where she got her sources for her article referred to in comments in this blog post.  THE PROBLEM with the slide is that this is referring to ALL WATER into the estuaries: "local runoff" and Lake Okeechobee water. This conversation is not about ALL WATER/"LOCAL" runoff water---it is about Lake Okeechobee and how the ACOE and SFWMD make us take this water that IS NOT  OURS. The 4.5 M number makes it sound like it is not possible to fix lake O. This is untrue. IT is fixable at 1.5 million acre feet or even twice that much. If nothing else the issue could be alleviated.
4-7-15: This is THE source where the 4.5 million acre feet comes from. (Jeff Kivett’s SFWMD constraints doc.) Thank you to Christine Stapleton of the Palm Beach Post for sharing when I asked where she got her sources for her article referred to in comments in this blog post. THE PROBLEM with the slide is that this is referring to ALL WATER into the estuaries: “local runoff” and Lake Okeechobee water. This conversation, this blog post, the land purchase south of the lake,  is not about ALL WATER/”LOCAL” runoff water—it is about Lake Okeechobee water and how the ACOE and SFWMD make us take this water that IS NOT OURS. The 4.5 M number mentioned by Mr Wade or Ms Stapleton makes it sound like it is not possible to “fix” lake O, or to buy enough land that would help the estuaries or hold clean, and convey water,. This is untrue. It is “fixable” at 1.5 million acre feet or even twice that much. If nothing else the issue of lake O being the toxic nail in our estuaries could be half way alleviated. 

Writing History-Changing History: “Resolving System Constraints: An Action Plan,” by Dr Gary Goforth, SL/IRL

Dr Gary Goforth speaking before the SFWMD Governing Board, 3-12-15. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)
Dr Gary Goforth speaks before the SFWMD Governing Board 3-12-15. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)

 

Words and images are powerful tools in our quest to save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. It is critical that we are part of “writing history,” and not “allowing it to be written for us.”

Even though things get discouraging sometimes and we may feel like we are “getting nowhere,” believe me, in time, we will see that our work has not been in vain. A better river history is being made right now. You are part of that history.

Today I will share the document of Dr Gary Goforth, (http://garygoforth.netResolving System Constraints: An Action Plan,” that is really “making history.”

It was passed out March 12, 2015 at the South Florida Water Management District’s (SFWMD) Governing Board Meeting where eighty members of the public signed up to speak on behalf of supporting the purchase of US Sugar option lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) in order to create a reservoir to store, clean and convey significant amounts of water south to the Everglades, thus sparing the estuaries from the redirected waters of Lake Okeechobee that are killing our rivers on top of the already destructive discharges from area canals. 

This document will be an important part of that day’s “official record”…

Please read and store this document in your reference folder. You can click on the images to enlarge them.

Thank you Dr Goforth, River Warriors, Mark Perry, Maggy Hurchalla, Indian Riverkeeper, Marty Baum, Martin County’s Deborah Drum, Commissioner Ed Fielding, Ray Judah, Rae Anne Wetzel, the Sierra Club, the Everglades Coalition, The Stuart News, the state press, and all others, especially the “varied general public”—who continually speak in support of  the St Lucie, Indian, and Caloosahatchee rivers. Thank you to those who everyday are part of this ongoing cause. 

Thank you to the SFWMD for hearing our voices and reading our words, even when you are silent….

Thank you to Dr Goforth for writing our goals down scientifically for the District to read, reference, and remember, as all of us build a new history we know is coming…

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Page 1.(SFWMD, 2012 option lands and EAA map adapted by Dr Goforth, 2015.)
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2. (Image, cover of constraints document prepared by Jeff Kivitt, SFWMD, 2015.)
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Dr Gary Goforth speaking before the SFWMD Governing Board, 3-12-15. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)
Dr Gary Goforth speaking before the SFWMD Governing Board, 3-12-15. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)

Dr Goforth’s work can be referenced below:  (http://garygoforth.net/Other%20projects.htm) (http://garygoforth.net)

Jeff Kivett, SFWMD, Division Director, Operations, Engineering, and Construction Division, “Types of Constraints Present in the Existing System, including those that may affect operation of the Central and Southern Flood Control Project:”  (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/gb_pres_system_constraints_2015_0312.pdf)

Documenting the Destructive Discharges, SLR/IRL 3-15-15

Flight over Crossroads at confluence of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon with St Lucie Inlet in distance to the right of Sailfish Point. This area has been documented as the central point of the highest fish bio-diversity in North America by Dr Grant Gilmore. (Photo Ed Lippisch and Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 3-15-15.)
Flight over the “Crossroads” at confluence of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon south and east of Sewall’s Point. 700 acres of seagrass between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point has been documented as containing the highest fish bio-diversity in North America by Dr Grant Gilmore. The releases destroy this biodiversity and kill seagrasses.  (Photo Ed Lippisch and Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 3-15-15.)
Very Southern Tip of Sewall's Point 3-15-15. (Photo JTL)
A dark southern tip of Sewall’s Point looking towards St Lucie Inlet, 3-15-15. (Photo JTL)

 

Flying over South Sewall's Point the discharges are seen in their full entirety. Water usually bluish in color is dark brown. (3-15-15)
Flying over south Sewall’s Point, SLR west, IRL east, —looking north the discharges are seen in their full entirety. Water usually bluish in color is dark brown. (3-15-15)

 

Ed  in front of me.
Ed in front of me in Cub with Hutchinson Island in foreground. “Thank you Ed, for helping document the discharges.”

Yesterday, around noon, hours into an outgoing tide, once again, my husband Ed and I flew over the rivers to document the polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee and the area canals pouring into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Today I am going to incorporate the “latest” information I have received:

1. The photos from 3-15-15 throughout this blog.

2. The ACOE press release is from 3-12-15:

ACOE Press Release,  3-12-15.
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE
All,
Corps has decided next pulse release will be the same as last week–2,500
cfs west and 950 cfs east averaged over seven days. More information is
attached.
Please contact me if you have questions. Thanks for your help.
JHC
John H Campbell
Public Affairs Specialist
Jacksonville District, US Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville, FL
Office: 904-232-1004
Mobile: 904-614-9134
Join our online communities: http://about.me/usacejax/
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

3. Florida Oceanographic’s  water quality chart, 3-12-15.

Water Quality chart 3-12-15. (Florida Oceanographic)
Water Quality chart 3-12-15. (Florida Oceanographic )

4. The SFWMD’s “water input” chart, 3-3/3-9-15.)

3-3-15 through 3-9-15.
3-3-15 through 3-9-15.

As you can see above, last week with Lake Okeechobee around 14.7 feet, the Army Crop of Engineers, (ACOE) with the input of the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and stakeholder from 16 counties: “decided next pulse release will be the same as last week–2,500 cfs west to the Calooshatchee and 950 cfs east to the St Lucie/SIRL averaged over seven days…(If this is confusing, a useful way to convert is to know that every 1,000 cfs is equivalent to 650 million gallons per day!)

Lake O level ACOE: (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml)

Today the Lake Okeechobee  is reading 14.56 feet. It is going down thankfully and the goal would be 13 feet if the ACOE and SFWMD were allowed to say it…. 

These releases could not come at a worse time, as we are already inundated by area canals and it is the beginning of spawning season, oyster spating season, and the warm weather drawing the public to area waters, like the Sandbar in the photos below.  This year, the ACOE has been dumping since January 16th, very early in the year,  foreshadowing another  possible toxic summer.

In response to these releases, last Thursday, many  of the “River Movement” including the River Warriors, continued their fight for clean water at the SFWMD as hundreds pleaded for US Sugar option lands to be purchase south of Lake Okeechobee in order to, over time, create a reservoir to store, clean and convey water “south” to the water starved Everglades.

The people realize the amounts of water coming into Lake Okeechobee from the Kissimmee River are so tremendous there is no other way to offset the destruction of the estuaries except with a third outlet south of the lake. Activists have been pushing for the this for decades but since the toxic summer of 2013, known as the “Lost Summer” a tipping point has been reached.

The goal is to save the St Lucie/S. Indian River Lagoon, the Caloosahatchee, and the Florida Everglades! Call to action video here: (https://vimeo.com/119495955)

The Crossroads off of Sewall's Point. (Photo 3-15-15, JTL)
The Crossroads off of Sewall’s Point looking towards the Jupiter Narrows and the SL Inlet. (Photo 3-15-15, JTL)
Murky greenish water could be seen in the area of the Sandbar and some remaining sickly looking seagrass beds were visible. (Photo JTL.)
Looking towards Stuart and S. Sewall’s Point, murky greenish water could be seen in the area of the Sandbar and some remaining sickly looking seagrass beds were visible. (Photo JTL.)
Off Sewall's Point.
IRL and SLR waters between S. Sewall’s Point, Sailfish Point looking at the “Sandbar.” (Photo 3-15-15, JTL.)
St Lucie Inlet, 3-15-15. (Photo JTL)
St Lucie Inlet. Plume going over “protected” near shore reefs.” 3-15-15. (Photo JTL)
Plume exiting St Lucie Inlet over near shore reefs just over a mile offshore. (Photo 3-15-15,  JTL)
Plume exiting St Lucie Inlet over near shore reefs just over a mile offshore. (Photo 3-15-15, JTL)
Plume dispersing in ocean. (3-15-15, photo JTL)
Plume dispersing in ocean. (3-15-15, photo JTL)
St Lucie Inlet near Sailfish Point 3-15-15. (Photo JTL)
Plume at St Lucie Inlet near Sailfish Point (foreground) and Jupiter Island in distance,  3-15-15. (Photo JTL)

 

“Playing Dead” Like an Opossum–SFWMD, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Opossum plays dead to ward off attackers. As soon as attackers leave the area, the opossum will walk safely away. (Public photo)
Opossum plays dead to ward off attackers. This is where the expression “to play opossum” comes from. As soon as attackers leave the area, the opossum will walk safely away. Most animals will not pursue carrion. This seemed to be the strategy of the SFWMD Governing Board at yesterday’s meeting in West Palm Beach. (Public photo.)
2015 board of the SFWMD. The board did not respond to the public's request for the purchase of US Sugar option lands south of Lake Okeechobee. (Photo JTL, 3-12-15.)
2015 board of the SFWMD. The board did not respond to the public’s request for the purchase of US Sugar option lands south of Lake Okeechobee. (Photo JTL, 3-12-15.)
Governing Board, SFWMD, 2015.
Governing Board, SFWMD, 2015.

There are really just a couple of things you can do when you are “attacked” or “think you are  being attacked.” You can fight back, or you can “play opossum–play dead.”

Sometimes, the game is over faster if you “play opossum,” and simply don’t respond.

This happens in my yard a lot with my dogs and opossums here in the Town of Sewall’s Point, and it in my opinion, it happened yesterday at the South Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board Meeting in West Palm Beach.

Opossum in a tree in my mother's yard. (Photo Sandy Thurlow.)
Opossum in a tree in my parents’ yard. (Photo Sandy Thurlow.)
Opossum pretending it is dead in our ferns. (Photo JTL, 2011.)
Opossum pretending it is dead in our ferns. (Photo JTL, 2011.)
Opossum feigning death...(Public photo)
Opossum feigning death…(Public photo)

Although the front page of the SFWMD’s agenda read:

“The Governing Board may take official action at the is meeting on any item appearing on the agenda and on any item that is added to this agenda as a result of a change to the agenda approved by the presiding officer of the meeting pursuant to Section 120.525, Florida Statutes.”

—no action, not even a comment in response to the 80 public speakers was given at the end of “public comment.” The board remained quiet and simply “moved on…”.

Yes, approximately one hundred members of the public: housewives, grandmothers, activists, veterans, a River Kid, scientists, “River Warriors,” government employees, and politicians from many different counties, (but mostly from Martin and St Lucie Counties), made the long drive to come before the District, a board appointed by our governor…to speak, to exercise their right to speak, and to plead for the life of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and Calooshatchee by asking the board to exercise the right to purchase US Sugar option lands south of Lake Okeechobee, or at least to “allow discussion of this item on the agenda.”

This was not achieved….

Thankfully though, Board Chairman, Dan O’Keefe, did allow the public to speak, however, they were told if they clapped, or were disruptive they would be “removed by a deputy….” The public, for the most part, followed the rules, and was “allowed to” raise their hands to show support for each other….Mr O’Keefe empathetically noting hands raised….

It was excruciating…

As a public official myself, who has led and sat through many meetings with an angry public, my eyes actually teared up at one point. Watching the American process in action as the foot of authority stood on their neck…

The underdog in this scenario is certainly “Team David,” of the Indian River Lagoon whose river, the St Lucie, flows with the gushing putrid water of altered area canals and the redirected waters of Lake Okeechobee….

Perhaps the board felt the people weren’t “thankful enough” for all that has been done recently…

It is hard to be thankful when you’re dying….C-44 Reservoir monies and Senator Joe Negron’s Senate Hearing on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin, yes, these state “wins” have been bonanzas of cash in one small area, our county…

We are thankful…

….unfortunately, so much water comes into the SLR/IRL system, the public is educated and knows that more land for storage is needed for all that water or “death is immanent.”

Yesterday, the river movement of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon chose not to play opossum, giving it their best fight…the government on the other hand, simply rolled over….

Even baby opossums "play opossum," it is genetically wired...(Public photo/real experience.)
Even baby opossums “play opossum,” it is genetically wired…(Public photo/real experience.)
In front of the SFWMD 3-12-15. (Photo JTL.)
In front of the SFWMD 3-12-15. (Photo JTL.)
SFWMD 3-12-15. (Photo JTL.)
SFWMD 3-12-15. (Photo JTL.)
Skeleton mermaid of the  SLR/IRL, Linda Curtis. (Photo 3-12-15.)
Skeleton mermaid of the SLR/IRL, Linda Curtiss. (Photo 3-12-15.)
80 members of the public signed up to speak before the governing board. (Photo 3-12-15.)
80 members of the public signed up to speak before the governing board. (Photo 3-12-15.)
People held signs before the SFWMD. (3-12-15, JTL)
People held homemade signs before the SFWMD. (3-12-15, JTL)
Hannah, a River Kid, from St Lucie County, read her "speech" to the Governing Board." She did receive positive reinforcement for her efforts from board Chair, Dan O'keefe. (Photo JTL)
Hannah, a River Kid, from St Lucie County, read her “speech” to the Governing Board.” She did receive positive reinforcement for her efforts from board Chair, Dan O’keefe. (Photo JTL)
Hannah's speech.
Hannah’s speech.
Sign
Sign: BUY THE LAND.
Sign
Sign, WATER IS LIFE.

BBC Special on how animals “play dead” to survive:(http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00z2mcb

Governor appointed, Governing Board SFWMD: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20about%20us/governing%20board)

SFWMD: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page)

Go here to watch the video of the SFWMD Governing Board meeting; it should be posted within 48 hours of 3-12-15: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20about%20us/gb%20application)

An Update for 3-6-15, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

River Kidz drawing 2012.
River Kidz drawing 2012. “Save Our Rivers!”

If you read my blog, you know that I prefer to do a “feel good” piece on Friday as we all go into the weekend. Sometimes this is difficult when it comes to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

I have been asked to provide a “simple update” as so much information has occurred lately, plus the Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE), and South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) have begun releasing more polluted water from Lake Okeechobee (via the Kissimmee River area), and our area canals, C-23, C-24, C-25 and C-44— due to high rainfall.

As you know, the ACOE began releasing in mid January as the lake is “high.”  Going into summer the lake should be able to “hold” three to four feet of rain from a hurricane without breaking the dike which in spite of $650 million in repair is still rated as one of the most dangerous in the nation.

So although for one week the ACOE stopped releasing, they have started up again this week at a higher level going from about 200 to 950 cubic feet per second (cfs). (For perspective during the highest discharged in 2013 the releases where around 5000-7000 cfs.)

Releases to SLR/IRL, 3-3-15, SFWMD.
Releases to SLR/IRL, 3-3-15, SFWMD.

You can see from the above chart, that after the rain last weekend, (that in some areas of Martin County, such as Palm City, was 11 inches) there was a spike. The blue is Lake Okeechobee discharges, and the other colors correspond to area canals and basins.

SLR basins. SFMWD, 2015.
SLR basins. SFMWD, 2015.

Pretty much “what happens”, every week or so is that there is a stakeholder call and then the ACOE and SFWMD have to come up with a “weekly” decision on how to manage Lake Okeechobee. Not fun.

After they compare notes and get input from state holders, a press release is sent out. This week, it read like this:

PRESS RELEASE ACOE 3-5-15
DISCHARGE INCREASES FROM LAKE O.
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE
All,
Corps of Engineers will increase flows on FRI to 2,500 cfs west and 950 cfs
east. More information is attached.
Please contact me if you have questions.
JHC
John H Campbell
Public Affairs Specialist
Jacksonville District, US Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville, FL
Office: 904-232-1004
Mobile: 904-614-9134
Join our online communities: http://about.me/usacejax/
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

The ACOE has to share the bad news as they “control” S-77 and S-308, the giant gates that allow the water to come gushing in to the estuaries St Lucie and Caloosahatee, but really, the decision is made together with the SFWMD, and stakeholders like counties, and state agencies trying to deal with all this exhausting, constant “up and down.”

Pulse release schedule, ACOE, 3-6-15.
Pulse release schedule, ACOE, 3-6-15.

Another thing the agencies try to do to “help” is send the water in “pulse releases” instead of in one tremendous “flush.” To understand why this is a good idea, you can see the cartoon  below that was very popular during the 2013 “Lost Summer…”

Cartoon on the giant "flush," 2013.
Cartoon of the giant “flush,” 2013.
MCHD 3-5-15. Bacteria chart. Under "35" is good.
MCHD 3-5-15, Bacteria chart. Under “35” is good.

Another report that came out yesterday from the Martin County Health Department shows the enterococcus bacteria levels found in the St Lucie River at certain check points. Most are” high” again. This corresponds with the high “discharges” from our area canals and from Lake Okeechobee and is believed to be in many cases connected to non-functioning septic tanks–Nonetheless, many pollutants “rise” and “flow” during these high water times causing our bacteria levels to spike…Martin County is working very hard to pin down this issue.

Just to give perspective, during part of the 2013 “Lost Summer,” the chart above was ALL RED, not only at the Roosevelt Bridge, Sandsprit Park, and Leighton Park, but even at the Sandbar which is practically sitting inside the St Lucie Inlet, an area one would expect to be “flushed” with clean sea water at all times….

Sending water south, almost 500,000 Acre Feet has been sent....
Sending water south, almost 500,000 Acre Feet has been sent this water year, starting May 1st, 2014.

In spite of all this “bad news” the SFWMD has been trying to alleviate our problems as one can see from the chart above, they have sent almost 500,000 acre feet (500,000 acres with one foot of water on top) of water “south” from Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA.) This is truly historic and to be commended. The SFWMD  heard our call SEND THE WATER SOUTH. Thank you!

Unfortunately this is not enough….

It is clear, everyone is “trying” and even Mr Jeffrey Kivett, Operations, Engineering and Construction Division Director, South Florida Water Management District,  did a good job of simplifying the “constraints” so we can all “understand.” (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/wrac_pres_system_constraints_2015_0205.pdf)

Also this week, thanks to Senator Negron’s IRL Hearing, the University of Florida’s: “Options to Reduce High Volume Freshwater Flows to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Estuaries and Move More Water from Lake Okeechobee to the Southern Everglades” went public discussing constraints and providing  quite a few good ideas of how to “overcome them.”

UF REPORT: (http://www.flsenate.gov/UserContent/Topics/WLC/UF-WaterInstituteFinalReportMarch2015.pdf)

Slide 1 of the SFWMD power point presentation "Constraints to Sending Water South, 2015.)
Slide 1 of the SFWMD power point presentation “Constraints to Sending Water South, 2015.)

In summary, I am sorry to say, right now, everything is pointing towards another “lost summer.”

Worst of all is that many fish and oysters begin spawning in March, so their “babies” will get swooped out to sea, lowering the productivity of our estuary by millions of dollars really….and it is almost “Spring”here in Florida—- were we humans, and especially kids,  like to play and use the water too. Not mention our real estate values…

“Groundhog Day?” Have you seen the movie?

Watch this very powerful video if you have time, and be ready to defend our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon once again— this time asking  for the EAA option lands owned by Us  Sugar Corporation to be bought south of Lake Okeechobee by our state.  As we can all see, it is very sad, and rather embarrassing to admit, but we have become the “toilet” of the great state of Florida. We pay too many taxes to allow this.

Call to action, Everglades Foundation: (https://vimeo.com/119495955)

 

 

Riding the UF Water Study -Buy the Land! Send it South! Fix it All! SLR/IRL

Me sitting atop a gator statue while visiting Miccosoukee Tribe of Indians, Florida. (Photo Ed Lippisch, 2014.)
Me “for a ride” atop a gator statue while visiting the Miccosoukee Tribe of Indians, Florida. (Photo Ed Lippisch, 2014.)
Cover of UF LakeO Study, 2015.
Cover of UF LakeO Study, 2015.

Kudos to the University of Florida! “Go Gators!”

UF/Senate Water Study 2015
UF/Senate Water Study 2015

Under tremendous political pressure, and intense time limitations, the Water Institute of the University of Florida (http://waterinstitute.ufl.eduhas created a professional, “arm’s-length” document, reporting on “Options to Reduce High Volume Freshwater Flows to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Estuaries and Move More Water from Lake Okeechobee to the Southern Everglades.”

(http://www.flsenate.gov/UserContent/Topics/WLC/UF-WaterInstituteFinalReportMarch2015.pdf)

Kudos to Senator Joe Negron and the Senate Committee who put forth the $250,000 for this study after the “Lost Summer” of 2013!  Write him, thank him and ask him to support the EAA option land purchase! (http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s32)

Kudos to the people who demanded something be done to save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon that suffers from terrible “local runoff” and then is periodically murdered by the tremendous releases from Lake Okeechobee that are a tipping point, causing the river to go into a toxic state as we saw in 1998, 2004-5, and most recently in 2013!

The UF Water Institute’s report came out yesterday. The study clearly states, as pointed out to me by Dr Gary Goforth, (http://garygoforth.netwho is reviewing the document:

” Achieving substantial reduction in lake-triggered discharges to the
estuaries and substantial improvement toward the dry season Everglades
demand target will require additional land between the lake and the EAA,
e.g., the current U.S. Sugar land purchase option, lands from other willing
sellers, and/or use of existing state-owned land (e.g., Holey Land and
Rotenberger Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs)).”

Friend, environmental icon, and 20 year county commissioner, Maggy Hurchalla, pointed out this section as we tried to review the 143 page document in quick time:

p102: “Currently, the state of Florida has an option to purchase approximately 46,000 acres in the EAA(Figure V-8). The option is set to expire in October 2015. Thus, the state has a limited window of opportunity to purchase this land at market prices. Given the limited opportunity and the uncertainty of any future similar opportunities to purchase large acreages of lands in the EAA,the state should consider this time-limited option. The particular 46,000 acres at issue may be useful for additional storage and treatment or may serve as lands that the state could trade with other agricultural interests in the area if land in different locations are needed.”

Alligator resting but always alert....(Public photo.)
Alligator sunning himself and resting, but always alert….(Public photo.)
Waters from Lake Okeechobee are the tipping point of destruction  for our SLR/IRL. (St Lucie Lock and Dam, Photo JTL 2013)
Waters from Lake Okeechobee are the tipping point of destruction for our SLR/IRL. (St Lucie Lock and Dam, Photo JTL 2013)

Eco Voice, an electronic newsletter that allows everyone’s views to be heard chose this section to share this morning: (http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?ca=694ba105-f777-4392-a051-d84242c1dfb3&c=443d07a0-510a-11e3-aa9c-d4ae52724810&ch=45081fd0-510a-11e3-aaf1-d4ae52724810)

…. the Technical Review Team concludes that relief to the estuaries and the ability to move more water south of Lake Okeechobee can be accomplished using existing technology. The solution is enormous increases in storage and treatment of water both north and south of the lake. Existing and currently authorized storage and treatment projects are insufficient to achieve these goals. The path forward requires significant long-term investment in the infrastructure of the South Florida hydrologic system. Options to Reduce High Volume Freshwater Flows to the Estuaries and Move More Water South from Lake Okeechobee to the Southern Everglades To reduce damage to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries freshwater inflow and nutrient loads from both Lake Okeechobee and the local basins must be reduced. On average, 70-80% of the freshwater discharge and 65-80% of the nutrient load to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries originates in the local basins, with the remaining balance contributed from Lake Okeechobee. Previous CERP, NEEPP and ROG planning exercises have all identified that providing large volumes of regional storage is essential to reduce freshwater discharges to the estuaries. The most recent estimates of required storage include:  400,000 acre-feet of water storage within the Caloosahatchee River watershed,  200,000 acre-feet of water storage within the St. Lucie River watershed, and  approximately 1,000,000 acre-ft of water storage distributed north and south of Lake Okeechobee. …..

Drainage changes to the SLR.
Drainage changes to the SLR. Green is historic natural basin and yellow and pink shows what has been added since the building of area canals and connection to Lake Okeechobee. (Citizen’s Report to Congress 1995.)

Many opinions will evolve out of this UF document. Fingers will be pointed….

Nonetheless, if  we are adaptable, determined, and consistent, like a gator in the swamp, we will be able to “ride” this UF study to achieve the purchase of option lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA).

We must also “ride” the UF report for funding projects to clean up and divert area runoff from area canals C-23, C-24, C-25, and C-44 that are also an ongoing man-made pollution disaster to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Together, Lake O and our area canals are killing our rivers and  Lake O is always the “tipping point…”

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010.)

Keep your eye on the prize, don’t take “no” for an answer…

Buy the Land! Send it South! Fix it All! 

Alligator eye, public photo.
Alligator eye, public photo.

 

____________________________________________________

The UF Water Institute report on options for moving water south is now available:
(http://www.flsenate.gov/UserContent/Topics/WLC/UF-WaterInstituteFinalReportMarch2015.pdf)

Options to Reduce High Volume Freshwater Flows to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Estuaries and Move More Water from Lake Okeechobee to the Southern Everglades

An Independent Technical Review by the University of Florida Water Institute

Go Gators! Thank you to Dr Wendy Graham and the scientists of the UF Water Study, 2015.
Go Gators! Thank you to Dr Wendy Graham and the scientists of the UF Water Study, 2015.

____________________

*This Everglades Trust website allows you to find and contact your elected officials and write them about purchasing option lands in the EAA and saving the everglades; see here for information: (http://www.evergladestrust.org)

“How to Speak About Overcoming Constraints,” SFWMD, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Possibilities Rather Than Constraints…

Jeff Kivett attended Colorado State University ; worked for 7 years in "water starved" Los Angeles; and now lives with his family  in Martin County, working in a leadership capacity for the SFWMD.(Photo SFWMD public files.)
Jeff Kivett attended Colorado State University; worked for 7 years in “water starved” Los Angeles; and now lives with his family in Martin County, working in a leadership capacity for the SFWMD. (Photo SFWMD public files.)
Slide 1 of the SFWMD power point presentation "Constraints to Sending Water South, 2015.)
Slide 1 of the SFWMD power point presentation by Jeff Kivett, P.E. SFWMD,  “Constraints to Sending Water South, 2015”.)

Regarding the outdated and failing water system of South Florida—of course there are “constraints.”

Everything in our material world is a “constraint,” but because we are human beings, creative and determined, we can “overcome” our constraints. ——but in order to do so, one must understand the “constraints” in the first place. Therefore, thank you to Jeff Kivett, P.E. Operations, Engineering and Construction Division Director, South Florida Water Management District, who created a recent power point on the subject. (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/wrac_pres_system_constraints_2015_0205.pdf)

(http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/kivett_bio.pdf)

 

Slide 1 of the SFWMD power point presentation "Constraints to Sending Water South, 2015.)
Slide 1 Close up.

Recently US Sugar Corporation, and even some members from the Governing Board of the SFWMD itself , (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20about%20us/governing%20board “hijacked” Mr Kivett’s document, to make it seem like it proves everything is “in stone,” justifies the atrocities of the plumbing system, and makes the idea of buying land south of Lake Okeechobee null and void….Nothing, could be further than the truth….and was not the intension of Mr Kivett’s document.

(http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page)

The way I see it, and after talking to Mr Kivett myself, he has given us a map “of flight.” A map for us to learn and understand how to overcome our present limitations. I am grateful to him for the map, and I will use it not to keep things the same, but to promote change. 

________________________

Today I am going to share a document written by my friend Dr Gary Goforth. Dr Goforth (http://garygoforth.netand I took Mr Kivett’s document and wrote about each “constraint” in such a way as to understand how to overcome it.

Please read, learn and speak out about it —- thank you for working to be part the solution and inspiration to “overcome,” the failures of the present South Florida system so that in the future it does not only provide flood control, but also provides even more clean, fresh water to the Everglades, and to South Florida, and  no longer kills two of the most productive and economically important estuaries in North America, the St Lucie/Southern Indian River Lagoon and the Caloosahatchee.

St Lucie Inlet area near Sailfish Point, 2013, JTL)
St Lucie Inlet area near Sailfish Point, once the most bio-diverse fishing and breeding grounds in North America- Grant Gilmore. (Photo 2013, JTL)
Photo of plume from Lake O and area canals in 2013, Jupiter Island. Our present pulling system constraints unless changed will promote this indefinitely. (JTL)
Photo of plume exiting SLR/IRL at St Lucie Inlet–dark water is mostly from Lake O  and is flowing over protected near shore reefs towards Jupiter Island, affecting some of  the most expensive real estate in the country. S. Florida’s present pluming system “constraints,” unless changed,  will promote this destruction indefinitely. (JTL)
The waters of the St Lucie fill with algae, sometimes toxic, during heavy release from Lake O. (Photo Jenny Flaugh 2013.)
The waters of the St Lucie fill with algae, sometimes toxic, during heavy release from Lake O. (Photo Jenny Flaugh 2013.)
Toxic algae, photo by Mary Radabaugh of St Lucie Marina.)
Toxic algae, photo by Mary Radabaugh of St Lucie Marina.)

 

Please use the map to refer to the numbers from top to bottom.

Slide 1 of the SFWMD power point presentation "Constraints to Sending Water South, 2015.)
Jeff Kivett’s slide summarizing present “constraints.” Most can be overcome.

 

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Identifying and understanding system constraints is a fundamental step in identifying long-term solutions to minimizing destructive Lake releases to the estuaries.   Many constraints represent short-term, i.e., daily or weekly, restrictions, and are not absolute limitations to achieving long-term goals.   With proper planning, interim goals can be achieved in light of these short-term restrictions. Compiling the system constraints is particularly important to identifying long-term solutions for sending additional Lake water to the Everglades and minimizing destructive releases to the estuaries. A properly constructed “System Constraints” document provides fundamental engineering justification for the State to purchase available lands within the EAA in order to add to the storage and treatment necessary to achieve this long-term goal.

 

  1. Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee is a “dynamic constraint” since its importance in decision making is related to the time of year, the water level in Lake Okeechobee, and its structural integrity. At low water levels, the dike is not necessarily a constraint. Parts of the dike were constructed in the 1930s, and concerns over its structural integrity led to lowering the overall regulation schedule to the current interim operating schedule (LORS2008). It will be possible to hold more water in the lake, thus reduce the destructive discharges to the estuaries, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues the rehabilitation. The Corps has already spent $650 million in rehabilitation and they should speed this process up as fast as possible.

 

  1. Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule or LORS provides guidance on how much Lake water goes south and how much goes to the estuaries. The flexibility provided to the District and Corps to make lake operations decreases as lake water levels drop too low or rise too high, and as such, is also a “dynamic constraint.” LORS takes into consideration many factors, including the integrity of the Herbert Hoover Dike, the ecology of the lake ecosystem, and water supply needs of adjacent landowners. The current LORS (“LORS2008”) was developed in 2008 as an interim schedule in response to concerns about dike safety, and it is possible for it to be “reworked.” In light of the $650 million in rehabilitation work on the dike, the SFWMD could press for the Corps to revise LORS to provide greater storage in the Lake and reduce the destructive discharges to the estuaries. Senator Negron, Congressman Murphy and US Senator Rubio also have been breeching this subject. The Corps says that LORS will probably not be reworked until HHD is “fixed.” Another good reason to speed that up.

 

  1. Structure Capacity: “Structure capacity” refers to the amount of water that can be sent south during a relatively short timeframe (e.g., a day or a week) through the spillways and culverts located around Lake Okeechobee. The total structure capacity varies depending on Lake level and EAA canal level, allowing for different amounts of water to be sent south during different times of the year.  Water control plans for regions like the EAA are developed to achieve long-term goals in recognition of short-term structure capacities. FYI: It is best to send water south all year round, especially in the dry season when the stormwater treatment areas (STAs) and Everglades need water at the same time the Lake water levels need to drop for the health of the Lake ecology and in anticipation of the upcoming wet season.  Alternatives for minimizing estuary discharges that send additional Lake water south recognize this constraint, and include increased numbers and capacity of the structures along Lake Okeechobee.

 

  1. Canal conveyance capacity refers to the rate at which water can flow through a canal. During storm events, the EAA canals are used primarily to provide flood protection, however, these canals are not needed for flood protection every day of the year, and their capacity can then be used to deliver Lake water to the south. For this reason, canal conveyance capacity is not a fixed constraint in the context of making year-round deliveries of Lake water to the south. The canals could be enlarged to allow more water to go south. In addition, canal conveyance capacity could be increased as part of a flow-way/reservoir system constructed in the EAA on purchased option lands. This should be a goal with the new Amendment 1 funding.

 

  1. Species Protection. As water levels drop within the STAs during the dry season, migratory ground nesting birds (e.g., black necked stilts) and protected species (e.g., snail kites) find it conducive to build their nests. Once they nest in an STA, restrictions to protect the nests are put into place which severely limit the amount of water that can be sent through the STA. To discourage this nesting, the STAs’ Avian Protection Plan encourages a minimum depth of 6 inches. Achieving this operational guidance is a secondary benefit of treating Lake water in the STAs during the dry season. As an example, the only STA-5/6 with nesting snail kites at this time is STA-5/6 – coincidently the only STA that has not received Lake water.

 

  1. STA Treatment Capability. Overloading the treatment areas with nutrients from the EAA and Lake Okeechobee can adversely affect the ability of the STAs to optimally reduce phosphorus levels. However, as Lake water was delivered throughout the year at a relatively low rate, treatment performance has not diminished. In fact, STA performance has improved concurrent with the sustained delivery of historic large volumes of Lake releases to the south in a year-round operation. Over the last year, the outflow phosphorus concentration from STA-1E, STA-1W, STA-2 and STA-3/4 improved by 4 parts per billion (ppb), decreasing from 21 ppb to 17 ppb. The only STA that has not exhibited a performance improvement was STA-5/6 which did not receive any Lake water. In addition, District scientists indicate there have been no adverse impacts on the treatment vegetation due to Lake water.

 

  1. Pump Capacity: With the construction of the STAs, there is now more capacity to remove EAA floodwaters than ever before. This extra pumping capacity has also been used in the last year to significantly increase the delivery of Lake water to the Everglades. Many of the STA pumps are quite large and are not run 24/7. If smaller pumps can be built, additional Lake water could to be sent south “all day and night.”  Amendment 1 funding could be used to construct additional pumps, purchase lands and build additional STAs or other features.

 

  1. STA 5/6 Connectivity: There are 5 STAs, and STA-5/6, located in Hendry County, is the only STA that has not received Lake water in several years. This STA has the poorest performance of the STAs and is currently the only STA with nesting Snail Kites, which places strict limits on allowable water depths within the STA. While a physical connection exists between the Lake and the STA, the associated operations are complicated. Improving the connection to the Lake should be a priority so even more Lake water can be sent south while providing hydrologic benefits to the STA.  Portions of STA-5/6 can be sent directly to the northwest portion of WCA-3A, an area that needs Lake water to keep from drying out, without passing through the EAA canals.

 

  1. Wildlife Management Areas: Over 60,000 acres of public lands lie between the EAA and the lake, and water levels are managed to improve remnant Everglades habitat and are very important to wildlife. These areas are not being used to store and treat additional Lake water, and could be used to do so during the temporary periods of emergency releases from the Lake. The current operating schedule attempts to maintain water depths between 0 and 1 foot deep, which also provides suitable habitat for game hunting. The hunting community is our friend and we need to ask them for help during these temporary periods of emergency Lake releases.

 

  1. Water Level Limitation (Tree Islands & Wildlife): These areas, too, are very sensitive as the tree islands are sacred to our state’s native peoples/they are protected. The animals get on them when water is high to stay safe. It is only possible to send more water around them if it does not hurt the integrity of the tree islands. We should maintain good relationships with our native American friends; they have huge water problems too. Delivering treated Lake water to the WCAs throughout the year (not just during the wet season) and increasing out flows from the WCAs along the Tamiami Trail will help protect the remaining tree islands.

 

  1. LEC (Lower East Coast Canal Conveyance): These are canals that move local floodwaters and Lake O water east to replenish drinking water wellfields and send excess water into the Atlantic. They could be enlarged to increase their conveyance, although it would be better not to waste this water to the ocean, and instead, keep it within the south Florida system. As sea levels rise, additional Lake water will be needed to stave off saltwater intrusion in the coastal wellfields.

 

  1. Levee Safety: This earthen levee was built along the eastern boundary of the water conservation areas (WCAs) and keeps water from going into developed areas along the east coast. The safety of these levees places a constraint on the water depths within the WCAs. Water depths within the WCAs are a function of rainfall, evaporation, seepage and the movement of water into and out of the WCAs. Delivering treated Lake water to the WCAs throughout the year (not just during the wet season) and increasing out flows from the WCAs along the Tamiami Trail will help maintain safe water levels.

 

  1. Flow Limitation: The Tamiami Trail blocks the flow of water south into the Everglades National Park; more openings are being installed to increase this flow, and more could be put in for the future. Stringent limits of phosphorus are in place along the Tamiami Trail, and the State and Federal governments are currently discussing potential appropriate revisions. For the most recent year, the geometric mean of phosphorus was 5.6 ppb – well below the 10 ppb criterion.

 

  1. Flood Risk (G3273, South Dade Conveyance System): This area is around the city of Homestead, adjacent to the Everglades National Park.  Right now they are having serious high-groundwater issues, stemming from the desire to hold higher water levels in Park. This is being studied and groundwater levels may be exacerbated with sea level rise. Potential solutions include construction of a cut-off wall to minimize seepage from the Park.

 

*The bottom line is that resolving “constraints” is only limited by our will and imagination and they should not be presented as “unchangeable.”

 

 

A Simpler Time and Place? Hutchinson Island, SLR/Indian River Lagoon

1949 aerial photo of the Peter Klive house on Hutchison Island. Near this area became "Bathtub Tub Beach" and the exclusive development of Sailfish Point. (Photo Thurlow Archives/Ruhnke Collection.)
1949 aerial photo. Atlantic on left, Indian River Lagoon on right. Photo shows the “Peter Clive House” on Hutchison Island. Just south of this area became “Bathtub Reef Beach” through the Save Our Beaches Campaign of MC. The land furthest south became the exclusive development of Sailfish Point. (Photo Thurlow Archives/Ruhnke Collection.)

I always enjoy looking at old photographs, and fortunately my mother and father have acquired hundreds through their history work. Many of them spawn memories of what for me was a “simpler time and place” in Martin County history—as I was a child.

My mother probably took me to the “Bathtub Beach,” with family and friends, for the  very first time, when I was an infant, but in my first memories of the place I was probably four or five years old.

Somewhere down from Bathtub Beach ca 1969- Lynda Nelson, Cindy Luce, and me. (Photo Thurlow Family Album)
Somewhere down from Bathtub Beach ca 1969- Lynda Nelson, Cindy Luce, and me. (Photo Thurlow Family Album)

I can remember my mother parking along the road and all of us walking– carrying all of our towels, buckets, and nets to catch tropical fish in the reef (to be returned) and my looking down and seeing bright, yellow beach-sunflowers— the sand was SO hot, you wouldn’t believe it, and there were stickers. Hundreds of stickers that stuck in your feet and you had to stop and pull them out as the sun beat down on you like a flashlight.

I remember, it became a game with me to see if I could walk in the burning sand from the road, along the path, to the beach without any shoes. I remember jumping in the cool water and swimming  to the reef and sticking my homemade net into a hole to catch a little fish and a moray eel came right out and put its scary face up to my mask!

I remember the simplicity of these times, and the beauty of this place that is no longer wild like it was then, but is still equally remarkable.

This photo is labeled as "bathtub washout" no year but from the same era as above photo  ca 1950. (Thurlow Archives)
This photo is labeled as “bathtub washout” no year but from the same era as above photo ca 1950. (Thurlow Archives)

The photo above shows Seminole Shores, that became “Sailfish Point” and a formalized  county beach–“Bathtub Reef Beach.” Even at the time of this photograph there were “issues:” the photo is labeled “Washout.”  As we all know, today, this area is still eroding away and the county must spend substantial amounts of monies  in partnerships with the state of Florida to “re-nourish” this area. See chart below for all Martin County, provided for me by Martin County.

Beach Re-nourishment Costs.
Beach Re-nourishment Costs Ten Year History, 2015.

When I really think about it, every era of history has its difficulties. It is never simple.

The aerial photos I am sharing today were taken not long after the atrocities of World War II. I was born in the social and political unrest of the 1960s…Today has its own set of problems whether it be the possibility of terrorists training in Treasure Coast airports; our eroding beaches; the “tipping point” that has occurred with releases from Lake Okeechobee and the area canals into our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon; our struggles with the US Sugar option land purchase; or the next population explosion that our state is counting on….

Nonetheless, it is rather amusing to me, that after all these years, some things remain the same: it is still beautiful here;  I still love the fish; and somehow sometimes I still feel like I am running on the hot sands to see how long I can stand it, having to stop to pull out those irritating stickers; and every once in a while, I stick my net into a hole, and out pops a moray eel…. 🙂

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Martin County Beaches: (http://www.martin.fl.us/portal/page?_pageid=354%2C1238847&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL)

TreasureCoast.com news piece HISTORY/SAVE OUR BEACHES, JTL: (http://www.treasurecoast.com/index.cfm/on-the-water/fishing-news/e2809csave-our-beaches-campaign-e2809cinstilled-activism-1974-2014-indian-river-lagoon/)

“War–” US Sugar and The Everglades Trust, SLR/IRL

 

File photo, WWII bomber. (Public photo.)
File photo, WWII bomber, “flying over fields”. (Public photo.)

I must begin by saying  that my recent blogging has been somewhat “uncomfortable” for me, as I was raised to act like a “lady,” and recently I feel more like a fighter pilot.

Politics sometimes makes “being a lady” a difficult goal, so I do apologize to anyone, such as my mother, who may be offended by my relentless “fighting” blog posts recently regarding the importance of  state purchase of the 46,800 acres of option lands for sale by US Sugar Corporation.

As a warning, mom and others, today’s blog post will be more of the same, as a “type of war” has started.

—-A war of information. A war to influence our governor and legislature….a war over how to use Florida’s Amendment 1 monies….a war to save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, Caloosahatchee, Everglades, and drinking water for South Florida, or just to keep the “status-quo…”

In order to explain this, I will share what has happened over the past few days…

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. US Sugar and the state are resisting the purchase of  these lands with Amd. 1 monies…(SFWMD map, 2010.)

On Wednesday, February 18th, Eric Draper, the Executive Director of Florida Audubon, (http://fl.audubon.orgwas quoted in a “Sunshine State News” piece as saying (regarding the flow way south) “—it will never happen, it’s pie in the sky…”

Knowing Mr Draper and knowing that words in news articles often are twisted for effect, I wrote Audubon immediately asking about the situation.  Mr Draper replied with an apologetic email and a letter he had written that day to Governor Scott in support of purchasing the option lands. See below:

Eric Draper, Executive Director of Florida Audubon. (http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-06-26/news/sfl-about-eric-draper-south-florida-100_1_land-conservation-florida-house-florida-legislature)
Eric Draper, Executive Director of Florida Audubon. (http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-06-26/news/sfl-about-eric-draper-south-florida-100_1_land-conservation-florida-house-florida-legislature)

Dear Ed and Jacqui, (Commissioner, Ed Fielding not my husband Ed!) 🙂

In my effort to promote the idea of an EAA reservoir and distinguish that from the hard to explain Plan Six I unwittingly played into a storyline not my own. I found the story confusing and somewhat unrelated to what I was trying to say. Nevertheless, I am sure that folks are disappointed to hear me discount the flow way and that was not my word or intent. As an 30 year advocate for the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee I feel strongly about moving water south. Audubon will continue to work on getting the US Sugar land purchased for the purpose of establishing a CERP reservoir.

I apologize to both of you and to all the supporters of the idea of Plan Six and a flow way.

Eric Draper
Executive Director

Audubon FLORIDA

Email from Eric Draper regarding article and quote. (2-18-15)
Email from Eric Draper regarding article and quote. (2-18-15)

 

Eric Draper, Florida Audubon's,  letter to Governor Scott. (2-18-15)
Eric Draper, Florida Audubon’s, letter to Governor Scott. (2-18-15.)

I believe Mr Draper did not mean for his words as they were reported. Speaking with the media is sometimes tricky business and anyone who speaks to them long enough will feel that he or she has been “misquoted.”  Mr Draper’s  work is one of the main reasons Amendment 1 passed in the first place, and you can see by his letter above to Governor Scott he supports buying the option lands.

OK, one bomb down…Two to go….

So then on Saturday, Feb 21st, I get an email from my Florida League of Cities colleague,  Teresa Heitman,  who is a councilwoman for the City of Naples. She simply forwarded me an email she had received from US Sugar Corporation. You can click on the image below to read it, but basically it says: “Send the Water South?” “Not so fast”…and gives three articles supporting why the option lands should not be purchased,  why the “enviros”are nuts, and  one of the articles quoted is the one quoting  Eric Draper that I mentioned above!

As an aside, and as an elected official myself, I must say that I find it in poor taste that this email was sent from US Sugar Corporation directly to an elected official. Maybe Council- woman Heitman is on a “mailing list” for US Sugar, but this seems doubtful to me.

How many other elected officials were sent this email and why is US Sugar sending it out?

On the other hand, it kind of made me feel good when I saw it–like they were threatened by the grassroots river movement here along the St Lucie  River/Indian River Lagoon and the Everglades in general. Kind of ironic to think that US Sugar would need to influence elected officials with direct emails; seems like they already do that with everything else they do like spending millions of dollars on lobbying politicians…….sending this “tiny” email makes them look kind of desperate….

—obviously we have more influence than we realize….

Hmmm?

Also, the thought of a “David and Goliath” fight  is very appealing to me, as in that story, as we all know, David wins…

US Sugar email 2-21-15.
US Sugar email forwarded to me 2-22-15.
US Sugar Corperation
US Sugar Corporation heading on email.

Below is part of the email from US Sugar, just so you can see it. I also made sure the hyperlinks worked in case you want to read the “email bombs” being sent out.

Buy the land? Send the water south? Not so fast…

Dear Teresa,

In case you missed it, please find below highlights from a few recent articles discussing the constraints, risks and concerns with purchasing the U.S. Sugar land option to create a flow-way to send water south to the Everglades:

You can access the articles in their entirety by clicking on the hyperlinked titles.
1. Officials to enviros: Buying land, moving lake water south has risks

By: Christine Stapleton, Palm Beach Post
February 12, 2015

South Florida Water Management District officials made no commitments to several dozen environmental activists who begged them Thursday to buy land south of Lake Okeechobee for Everglades restoration, and for the first time they laid out the hurdles and risks they face in making such a buy. (http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/frustrated-enviros-buy-land-to-clean-everglades-be/nj82R/)

2. Speaker Crisafulli: Don’t buy land south of Lake O

By: Christine Stapleton, Palm Beach Post
February 18, 2015

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, says he opposes the controversial land deal that would enable the South Florida Water Management District to purchase 46,800 acres of land south of the lake at fair market value. (http://postonpolitics.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2015/02/18/speaker-crisafulli-dont-buy-land-south-of-lake-o/)

3. Eric Draper: Lake Okeechobee to Everglades Flowway ‘Will Never Happen’
By: Nancy Smith, Sunshine State News
February 18, 2015

Sending water south from Lake Okeechobee to meander naturally through the Everglades — the “flowway” endorsed by the Everglades Foundation as the only way — “will never happen, it’s pie in the sky,” admitted one of Florida’s leading voices on environmental policy. (http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/environmentalist-lake-okeechobee-everglades-flowway-will-never-happen)

——–From an email from US Sugar Corporation sent out 2-22-15.

 

Two bombs down, one more to go! 

 

OK, so tonight, Sunday, February 22nd, a friend contacted me asking: “Jacqui, did you see the commercial? The “buy the land” commercial!” I said I had not, and read the link he sent.

Commercial for Saving Florida's Waters, purchase the US Sugar option lands. (2-22-15.)
Commercial for Saving Florida’s Waters, purchase the US Sugar option lands. (2-22-15.)

See commercial here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8HmRTY2OI0)

Wow. What a commercial! A very big bomb!

The  60-second TV spot starts airing  2-22-15 and  sponsored by the  Everglades Trust (http://www.evergladestrust.org) is running on cable and broadcast stations in Tampa Bay, Orlando, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach and Tallahassee.

The scrip reads: 

“Decades of uncontrolled pollution in the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee is endangering our health, killing our wildlife and threatening our drinking water.

Four years ago, the sugar industry signed a binding written contract to sell us land to clean up their pollution, and for a reservoir to protect our water.

It’s been called the most critical piece of land ever for Everglades restoration. Last November, 75% of Floridians voted YES to Amendment 1, making vital land purchases for the Everglades a part of the Florida Constitution.

Now, it’s up to the Governor to back it and the Legislature to fund it.

Call the Governor, call your legislator, and tell them to buy the land. Build the reservoir. And save Florida’s drinking water. Now, while there’s still time.

Sign the petition here SAVING FLORIDA WATER: (http://savingflwater.com)

Article Tampa Bay Blog: (http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/a-new-tv-campaign-presses-for-purchase-of-us-sugar-land/2218650)

So I think that this is a war of sorts. Between US Sugar and the Everglades Trust. For most readers of my blog interested in saving the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, our ideology is that of the Everglades Trust….

In closing, when you have some extra time, please write to Governor Scott below, and sign the petition above, asking to support the purchase of option lands. And feel good about the influence you are already having in the war to save the Indian River Lagoon!

Write Governor Scott here: (http://www.flgov.com/contact-governor/)

Colorized version of file photo, bomber WWII. (Public .)
Colorized version of file photo, bomber over farm lands, WWII. (Public .)

 

Tallahassee or Bust! River Kidz and the Clean Water Rally, SLR/IRL

River Kidz
River Kidz, “Tallahassee or bust! 2-18-15 (photo by Betsy Siegel.) (Olivia Siegel, Kiele and Naia Mader.)
Save our River!
Save our River!
Tallahassee or Bust!
Tallahassee or Bust!

It’s been a long time since I was in a car full of kids for eight hours!

Three members of the River Kidz, River Mom, Nic Mader, and I took off from Martin County yesterday to make certain these kids had a voice—and an experience of a lifetime.

Today starting a 11:30 the steps of the Florida capitol will be filled with hundreds of people from across our state for Florida’s Clean Water and  Amendment 1 Rally.  Multiple organization will take part with the Sierra Club leading the way. Founding member, John Muir, must be smiling in his California grave, at the thought of Americans continuing to fight for the beauty and wonder of nature and it’s most precious resource, clean water!

(http://action.sierraclub.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=354298.0&dlv_id=311281)

The ride was fun and the Kidz reviewed their new workbooks to share with the Senate Natural Resources Committee.  We created videos off our iPhones and posted them to the River Kidz Facebook Page.

(https://www.facebook.com/pages/River-Kidz/237123116309196)

It was awesome. The kids truly get it and are fulfilling their created mission statement: “to speak out, get involved and raise awareness, because we believe kids should have a voice in the future of our rivers.”

We talked about the state of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon;  Amendment 1 and how it works; we talked about the goal for a land purchase in the Everglades Agricultural Area; we talked about the power and history of the sugar industry and then we stopped at Diary Queen and got a “blizzard!” I had an lemon-lime slush….

Blizzard anyone?
Blizzard anyone?

Caught in traffic for a solid two and a half hours outside of Gainesville, Naia, Kiele, and Olivia made the best of it while Nic and I wondered if we were going to run out gas!

Arriving at our hotel room at 8:00 PM, after showing the girls the Capitol and the campus of FSU, (Nic and I are both Gators!) we had dinner at Ruby Tuesdays. I told Nic we had to go somewhere where I could get a beer!

Nic and I were exhausted. The kids ate by themselves in a separate booth. I looked at Nic saying: Nic, you are a really good mom. She is. She was incredible yesterday pulling snacks out of secret compartments and having the patience of a saint……She smiled. ” Jacqui, they’ll remember this this rest of their lives and most important, it will help save our river….”

Teaching in the car.....
Teaching in the car…..

River Kidz is a division of the Rivers Coalition: (http://riverscoalition.org)

Sunrise, Sunset–St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Sunrise along the Indian River Lagoon, by John Whiticar, 2015.
Sunrise along the Indian River Lagoon. Photograph by John Whiticar, 2015.

“Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laden with happiness and tears…”

1st verse, of song from musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” 1964

 

The beautiful sunset and sunrise photos of our area’s photographers invoke a deep appreciation of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, as well as the struggles and successes of our lives.

Sunsets and sunrises seems intrinsically linked to inspiration and reflection in all of us.

Thankfully, here in the Indian River Lagoon region, we can still