BY Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
“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 over our local Treasure Coast rivers invoke a deep appreciation of our St Lucie River, Indian River and the Jupiter Inlet Area. 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 see our sunrises and sunsets, although the health of our river, and thus our ability to enjoy the river, is “impaired.” This was scientifically determined by the
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) as far back year 2000.
In Beijing, China, last year, the government erected a televised screen showing sunsets, as the people could not see their sunsets any longer – due to the tremendous smog in their city. What a price to pay for economic “success.”
Oddly enough, on some level, we have experienced the same thing. On a level of world comparison, we have a “thriving economy;” however, somehow, over the past 100 years, we have “lost our local rivers.” Yet, in most of the ads one sees, the river still looks beautiful and healthy.
The river truth is right now, the Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) is discharging water from Lake Okeechobee, while the South Florida Water Management District canals C-44, C-24, C-23, and C-25 are also dumping polluted water into our rivers. All of this extra water has been “engineered” to come here so agriculture and development can thrive. So, right now there is “no other way,” and the ACOE and South Florida Water Management District are locked in a cycle of struggle to send more water south when the entire southern area south of Lake Okeechobee is blocked by the Everglades Agricultural Area – other than a few canals, to “send water south.” According to some the Lake Okeechobee discharge water is too dirty for the Everglades – but not for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon that is already “impaired.”
The “mighty” Kissimmee in the past has been “engineered” for the success of farming and ranches and development within its former watershed. It is currently being partially restored by the SFWMD; this is wonderful, a testament of government, the people and of the ability of natural system to recover if given a chance.
Let’s continue to turn this ship; let’s continue to fix our own yards, towns, cities, and counties; let’s keep pushing the State for a reservoir and flow way to store, clean and send the water south as it was naturally meant to be. As Eric Eichenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation said at the Rivers Coalition meeting, this is the “only way” as the Kissimmee River’s continued restoration is simply not enough to hold all the water.
“Sunrise, sunset….sunrise, sunset….”we are thankful and we are inspired.
Please write: Florida Senate Email to use Amendment 1 funds to help keep clean our Treasure Coast rivers.
About the author, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, has been a defender of river health in the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon for many years and is a member “Rivers Coalition Defense Fund”. The Defense Fund helps promote the health and ecological balance of the St. Lucie River Estuary and Indian River Lagoon.
Jacqui may be reached at her website blog.
The above information is opinion based except where noted.
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