Monday, October 13, 2008

Positive Happenings at the Hearing

Happy Monday,

Hello from the SJRK Office. It's good to be home for a couple of days. The Hearing starts again on Wednesday. The hearing will END by this Friday; the judge is adamant about that, and he runs the show.

Yesterday, I mentioned that I felt the momentum in the case has shifted toward the end of last week. I just wanted to follow-up on that thought with some detail.

Most of the week was spent listening to SJRWMD staff testify how they reached the decision to recommend approval for the Yankee Lake Project to remove 5.5 MGD from the St. Johns River (project can exceed 11 MGD). There was much discussion about modelling, technical analysis, salinity changes, etc., etc.

Wednesday afternoon the SJRWMD staff person who DRAFTED the Yankee Lake Permit testified under oath that he did the cumulative impact analysis in "his head". There was nothing put on paper.

My testimony went fine. Seminole County's attorney tried to impeach me with an out of context statement from my first deposition, and the judge stopped him and ended the question. After that, the attorney's seemed to lose steam. SJRWMD's 4 attorney's had no questions!

The final witness for the SJRWMD was very telling. After stating water withdrawals will not have any impact on algae blooms, the SJRWMD did a 180 and announced withdrawals WOULD increase alagal growth potential, i.e, blooms will last longer!! SJRK has been stating this for the past 18 months; withdrawals will exacerbate blooms and will increase their occurrences in the lower river.

The District announced they are requiring Seminole County to mitigate these impacts. While it is nice to hear the district change their story, our position has not changed--we are against Yankee Lake withdrawal. Regardless of this last minute admission.

I'm looking forward to this week. We present our case. I'll save the details until after the fact.

Needless to say, I'm encouraged by what has happened and know Ken and Michael will do a good job.

Keep the faith.

Thanks for all the well wishes and prayers.

For the River,

Your St. Johns Riverkeeper

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