Tuesday, January 29, 2008
This past Friday, elected officials and concerned citizens from Northeast Florida gathered at the St. Johns County Convention Center at World Golf Village for the Water Supply Summit. Your Riverkeeper, Neil Armingeon, was one of the speakers who voiced opposition to the plans in Central Florida to withdraw millions of gallons a day from the St. Johns River.
Dozens of citizens attended wearing "Every Drop Counts" stickers to let the elected officials know of their concern and opposition to the withdrawal proposals.
One of things that Riverkeeper is concerned about is the lack of discussion and dialogue about the reasons our river is being concerned for withdrawals in the first place. Before one drop is even considered for removal, we must begin to address the problems that have created the need for more water - overdevelopment, unsustainable growth, poor planning, and an extremely inefficient use of water. Let's address those issues before we move on and deplete and cause harm to another one of our water resources - the St. Johns River.
This is why Riverkeeper is developing the Conservation First campaign. The St. Johns River Water Management District keeps saying that conservation alone will not provide all of our water needs. We say - How will you know until you really try?
Saturday, January 5, 2008
If you are a Riverkeeper member, then the answer is definitely "YES".
Thanks to YOU, our loyal and generous supporters and members, Riverkeeper had a very successful year in 2007 and is poised to continue to make significant progress toward our goal of a clean and healthy St. Johns River.
· In 2007, we released our first annual Compliance Report that exposed and raised awareness about the numerous wastewater discharge permit violations that have taken place over the last two years. Soon after its release, FL Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole announced that DEP would strengthen its penalty guidelines and would take a tougher stance against the most serious environmental violations.
· We initiated a legal challenge against JEA for repeatedly violating the Clean Water Act that will hopefully result in infrastructure upgrades at the Arlington East and Buckman wastewater treatment facilities and fewer Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) of untreated sewage.
· We continued our fight for a meaningful and protective nutrient pollution reduction plan (TMDL) for the St. Johns.
· We led the effort to stop the proposals in Central Florida to annually withdraw millions of gallons of water from the St. Johns River. As a result of our involvement, resolutions opposing the withdrawal projects were passed by the Neptune Beach City Council, Jacksonville Beach City Council, Jacksonville City Council, Jacksonville Planning Commission, Town of Keystone Heights, and numerous citizen groups.
· Riverkeeper was in the news over 120 times, spoke to over 60 organizations, and had over 60,000 visits to our website.
· Riverkeeper released its second documentary film, Revenge of the River that addresses critical issues, such as the rapid loss of wetlands, inadequate enforcement of our environmental laws, and the depletion of our groundwater supply. Recently, the documentary was nominated for two regional Emmy Awards. In September, our first documentary, The Green Monster, received first place honors at the national Awards for Reporting on the Environment.
· Riverkeeper hired an Education and Outreach Coordinator and retained a General Counsel for legal services.
· Danielle Dolan, our Education and Outreach Coordinator, developed and led numerous educational boat trips and field trips for families and children. She also began developing lesson plans and programs for teachers and schools that will be available this year.
· Michael Howle, our General Counsel, initiated several important legal actions and assembled a stellar Legal Advisory Committee consisting of Marc Hardesty, Warren Anderson, Bill Sheppard, and Wayne Hogan.
· We started our Partnership for a Clean River business program with our charter members: Black Creek Outfitters, Kayak Amelia, Sadler Point Marina, Jacksonville University, and Commercial Diving Academy.
· Neil Armingeon, the Riverkeeper, was named the “2007 Outspoken Citizen of the Year” by the Southside Business Men’s Club, and the St. Johns Riverkeeper organization received the Zone VIII Conservation Award from The Garden Club of America.
Although we had some success and certainly made progress in 2007, the St. Johns and Riverkeeper will continue to face many difficult challenges in 2008. We will need your unwavering support more than ever this year.
As you know, Central Florida and the St. Johns River Water Management District continue to move forward with plans to withdraw millions of gallons of water each day from our river. We will continue to oppose the withdrawal projects and to advocate for aggressive water conservation measures and sustainable building and planning practices.
Within the next week or so, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will notice the discharge permit for the Georgia Pacific Paper Mill in Palatka. This notice will begin the public comment period for this permit, and it signals the beginning of yet another battle to stop GP from moving its polluted discharge from Rice Creek to the St. Johns via a pipeline.
Make no mistake, this will be a time consuming and costly effort. This pipeline threatens the health of the River. Our general counsel is researching our legal options. I will be providing regular updates on this issue, including fact sheets and ways you and your family can help our efforts. We will need all of your help if we are to mount an effective campaign to stop GP’s efforts to build its pipeline and increase its discharge to the River.
As always, thank you for all you do for the St. Johns River. We look forward to meeting the challenges facing the River, and we will do everything within our power to make sure our St. Johns is protected during the coming year.
Happy New Year!
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