I wanted to end 2006 with a quick run through of some of the highlights for the St. Johns River. This was a big year for the river and our organization. Simply put, we are making progress.
First, no "Green Monster"; we escaped the toxic algae blooms that plagued the river during the summer of 2005. No one is quite sure why the river didn't turn into green goo, but most believe it was due to an unusually dry summer. That's not to say we've done a lot to remove the tons of nitrogen and phosphorus that enter the river each day, we really haven't. But, programs are underway that will make a difference.
Riverkeeper is continuing our efforts to make sure nutrient reduction programs have meaningful and legitimate goals. We won and federal lawsuit in October 2005, and since that time we have fought off several attempts to moot our victory including the State of Florida's attempt to reduce the river's health. We believe we need 60% reduction in the amount of nitrogen that enters the river to maintain the river's health. We will prevail.
In July, Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton announced the River Accord, a multi-pronged approach to begin to restore the river's health. The $750 million project focuses on upgrading wastewater treatment plants, removing pollutants from stormwater, phasing out septic tanks and increasing public access. While the Accord looks good on paper, it has been slow to start. We'll keep you posted on its progress.
Riverkeeper completed four more boat trips between Jacksonville and Sanford this year. This three-day boat trip is a incredible way for one to immerse oneself in the culture, history, and ecology of one of the most unique waterways on the planet, the St. Johns River. Check our website, http://stjohnsriverkeeper.org, for more information on these wonderful trips.
This year saw the release of our "River Friendly Yards" program. The project included a 30-minute television show entitled the Green Monster that drew rave reviews from viewers and was nominated for an Emmy. We hope to update the feature in 2007. How does the Return of the Green Monster sound? Please check out the River Friendly Yards section on our website to see what you can do to help reduce your impacts on the river.
Finally, I want to thank all our members and supporters who helped make 2006 the breakthrough year for the St. Johns Riverkeeper organization. We are now recognized as the "voice of the river" and look forward to working hard in 2007 to protect and restore our greatest natural resource, the St. Johns River.
Have a Happy New Year! Talk to you soon.
St. Johns Riverkeeper