Tuesday, August 19, 2008

State of the River Report

An exciting project was recently announced that unfortunately did not get the attention that is certainly deserves.

The first annual State of the River Report for the Lower St. Johns River Basin was released by a team of academic researchers from Jacksonville University and University of North Florida. The project was funded primarily by the Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board.

St. Johns Riverkeeper initiated this project a few years ago and then turned it over to JU and UNF to complete.

We believe that this report is a valuable tool in evaluating the health of our river and in determining what must be done to restore the St. Johns.

We commend all of the researchers and individuals who worked so diligently on this important project.

Please, take the time to go to the River Report website and learn more about the health of your St. Johns River.



Well, St. Joe is up to their old tricks. They have muddied the creeks at their Rivertown development, once again. Not too long ago, St. Joe was fined over $40,000 by the St. Johns River Water Management District for water quality violations that resulted from faulty sediment controls, allowing construction-site runoff to enter the fragile creeks that flow through their property along SR 13. This is unacceptable, especially when they consistently claim to be such an environmentally-responsible company.

Here is an excerpt from their website:

At The St. Joe Company, conservation is more than a philosophy; it is a science we study and a practice we employ.

Today’s company is carefully, purposely walking a tightrope.
The challenge is filling the obvious need for homes, business and the
infrastructure to connect them -- while at the same time maintaining the natural
allure that draws folks to Northwest Florida in the first place.

I guess they fell off their tightrope.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Weavers Announce Challenge Grant

J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver, owners of the Jacksonville Jaguars, have awarded a challenge grant of up to $150,000 to St. Johns Riverkeeper. The matching gift will help the organization to raise awareness about threats to the health of the St. Johns and to legally challenge plans in central Florida to withdraw millions of gallons a day from the river.

The Weavers will donate one dollar for every two dollars that St. Johns Riverkeeper raises for its St. Johns River Awareness and Legal Fund up to $150,000. Neil Armingeon, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, stated that “the incredible generosity and support of the Weavers will enable us to raise the funds and acquire the resources necessary to defend and protect the health of the St. Johns River. This also sends a powerful message that the citizens and business leaders who love the river are not going to just stand idly by and allow the St. Johns River Water Management District and some public officials in central Florida to proceed with their short-sighted and irresponsible plans to take millions of gallons a day from the flow of the St. Johns River without a fight.“

“Wayne and I are deeply concerned about the plans to withdraw millions of gallons of water from the St. Johns and the potential harm that this could cause to our river,” said Delores Barr Weaver. “We absolutely love the river and recognize how important it is to Jacksonville’s economy and quality of life. We cannot just stand on the sidelines and allow Central Florida to gamble with its future. As a result, we have decided to get behind St. Johns Riverkeeper and their efforts to raise awareness about the threats facing our St. Johns and their legal challenge of the water withdrawal plans.”

As a result of years of poor planning, uncontrolled growth, and wasteful water-use practices, Central Florida communities are reaching the limits of their groundwater resources and are anxiously pursuing alternative water supply sources. Many of these communities are looking to the St. Johns River and Ocklawaha River (a major tributary of the St. Johns) to solve their water supply problems.

Seminole County is the first to submit a permit under the Alternative Water Supply (AWS) program to withdraw surface water from the St. Johns River. The proposed Yankee Lake project would withdraw an average of 5.5 million gallons per day but could exceed 11million gallons per day (MGD) during periods of high demand. However, Seminole County officials plan to eventually withdraw up to 80 MGD at the Yankee Lake facility. All of the withdrawal projects under consideration would result in a total of up to 300 million gallons per day being extracted from the St. Johns.

In February of this year, St. Johns Riverkeeper filed for an administrative hearing to challenge the permit application from Seminole County. The hearing is tentatively scheduled to take place in October.

“This is not simply a ‘water war’ between two different regions. This is also not only about stopping Seminole County from taking our water. We are advocating for a paradigm shift and a whole new approach to how we use water, how we manage water, and how we protect our water resources for this and future generations. The ultimate goal is a sustainable Florida where we have clean and healthy waterways and an adequate supply of groundwater to sustain our needs. We can have both, but we will need the resolve and political will to do so,” explains Armingeon.

You can donate on our website at http://www.stjohnsriverkeeper.org/makeadonation.asp