The Myth of Local Runoff, St Lucie River/IRL “Rain Event,” 9-16-15

 

St Lucie Inlet and Sailfish Point area after approximate 7-10 inches of regional rainfall in area 9-16-18. Photo taken on 9-23-15, Ed Lippisch.
St Lucie Inlet and Sailfish Point area after approximate 7-10 inches of regional rainfall in area 9-16-15. Photo taken on 9-23-15, Ed Lippisch.

“From 7 a.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday, the heaviest rainfall was reported at the Savannas Preserve State Park in southeastern St. Lucie County, with 7.67 inches. Next highest in 24-hour rainfall, according to the Weather Service, was 6.87 inches at Hobe Sound.” —-from article y Elliot Jones, TCPalm, 9-17-15

SFWMD showing releases through canals recently. Note spike after recent rainfall.
SFWMD chart showing releases through canals recently. Note spike after recent rainfall.

Today I will share aerial photos of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon taken by my husband, Ed, on 9-23-15. I asked Ed to document the after effects of the tremendous rainfall event in the region from September 16th  through the 17th, 2015. After reviewing his photos, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon has dark waters, this is evident, but first, let’s set some things straight….

We hear a lot about “local runoff,” however, it is becoming more and more understood, there is no such thing as “local runoff” for the St Lucie River/IRL…. The canals that dump into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon are regional canals that have been “plumbed” over the past 100 years to drain and dump waters off the lands from as far away as western Martin County, Okeechobee County, and even what used to be the north flowing waters of the St Johns River in Indian River County! Then when things are really bad, since the water can’t flow south, “they” dump the overflow waters of Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River to boot.

The poor St Lucie River is inundated with “everyone’s water” not just “its own.”

Drainage changes to the SLR. Green is the original watershed. Yellow and pink have been added since ca.1920. (St Lucie River Initiative's Report to Congress 1994.)
Drainage changes to the SLR. Green is the original watershed. Yellow and pink have been added since ca.1920. (St Lucie River Initiative’s Report to Congress 1994.)
SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image.
SFWMD canal and basin map. The St Lucie’s natural basin as seen above in green has been very much enlarged by  the C-44 canal built in the 1920s —with expanded basin and often Lake O overflow; also C-23, C-24 and C-25 were built  ca. 1950 to drain lands in St Lucie County for orange groves/agricultural development  and land development by General Development Corp and others.

It is critical that we study and understand what happens in our area after a huge rain, with or without the “extra-extra killing waters of Lake Okeechobee.” Why?  Because maybe, just maybe, if the SFWMD, ACOE, as well as state and federal politicians will see how much the river is already suffering, they will do all they can, “not to kill it more.”

So here are Ed’s photos, taken one week after the rain event. It takes the water coming in through the canals some time to move through the St Lucie River;  I imagine a lot had already exited the St Lucie Inlet. The 23rd was the soonest Ed could “get up in the air.”

I am thankful to my husband, as for me going up in that plane? It is really amazing to be flying,  but also very stressful. Somehow to me it seems God only meant for birds to fly….

At least with the Cub, I feel like if something ever happened, over the ocean anyway…. we could just jump out!

2013.
2013 Ed Lippisch/Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.
St Lucie Inlet at Sailfish Point. 9-23-15.
St Lucie Inlet at Sailfish Point. 9-23-15.
Crossroads, Sewall's Point and Sailfish Flats. 9-23-15.
Crossroads, Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Flats. 9-23-15.
St Lucie Inlet 9-23-15.
St Lucie Inlet 9-23-15.
Water in Jupiter Narrows very close to St Lucie Inlet. 9-23-15.
Water in Jupiter Narrows very close to St Lucie Inlet. 9-23-15.
Unusual in that plume was flowing north and south. Here north at Sailfish Point 9-23-15.
Unusual in that plume was flowing north and south. Here north at Sailfish Point at SL Inlet. 9-23-15.
Northerly movement of plume. 9-23-15.
Northerly movement of plume. 9-23-15.
Sailfish Flats of SLR/IRL confluence as seen from ocean over Hutchinson Island. 9-23-15.
Sailfish Flats of SLR/IRL confluence as seen from ocean over Hutchinson Island. 9-23-15.
Heading back...9-23-15.
Heading back…9-23-15.
On the way back to Witham Field. Sewall's Point Crossroads 9-23-14.
On the way back to Witham Field. Sewall’s Point Crossroads 9-23-15.
Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

About Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch:

Although born at Travis Air Base, California, Jacqui considers herself a native of Stuart, Florida, having moved there at eight months old. Her father’s family, originally from Syracuse, New York, has lived in Stuart since 1952. Her mother is a 5th generation Floridian from Gainesville. Jacqui is a Daughter of the American Revolution.

Jacqui is journalism graduate of the University of Florida, and an education master’s graduate of the University of West Florida. She went on to teach English and German and later after a serious accident of breaking her neck, started selling real estate. Later, she ran for public office having served on the Town of Sewall’s Point Commission since 2008, and is former mayor. During this time she saw the opportunity to help showcase the work of a locally formed river group, the River Kidz, and this has been her passion ever. She incorporates youth/river education  into her political work for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Jacqui is the treasurer/secretary of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council; has chaired the Florida League of Cities Environmental and Energy Committee; was chair, and a six year member of the Treasure Coast Council of Local Governments; is an alternate for the Water Resources Advisory Commission for the South Florida Water Management District; and is a board member for Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Foundation, in St Lucie County.  She also serves as a board member (ex-officio) for the Rivers Coalition Defense Fund, and is head administrator for her beloved River Kidz, now a division of the Rivers Coalition.

Jacqui’s reach involves not only local, but state and federal government. In 2013,  she served on Senator Joe Negron’s panel for the Select Senate Hearing on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee. In 2014, she actively supported the elections of both Senator Joe Negron and Congressman Patrick Murphy who have both been strong supporters of  Indian River Lagoon issues. In 2015, she is part of the Florida League Cities Treasure Coast Advocacy team to influence and educate Tallahassee. Jacqui received the Everglades Coalition’s 2015 “John V. Kabler Award” for “Grassroots Activism” working to organize and educate the public about Everglades restoration. Most recently she has been recruited as a fellow by the University of Florida/IFAS’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute Class XV. The institute focuses on teaching leaders how to facilitate participatory decision making in the most controversial of situations.

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