Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Basin Report a Mixed Bag on River's Health

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Basin Report a Mixed Bag on River's Health

Article excerpt

Byline: A. Quinton White

The recently released State of the River Report for the Lower St. Johns River Basin contains both good and bad news.

This study, now in its seventh year, is a cooperative effort by scientists from Jacksonville University, the University of North Florida and Valdosta State University.

Originally proposed by the St. Johns Riverkeeper as a way to look at the health of the river, the project has been largely funded by the city of Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board and focuses only on the lower basin.

Eventually, the goal is to examine the entire river, but that will require funding from other sources, not just from Jacksonville.

A quick reminder that the lower basin of the St. Johns River is in North Florida because the river flows north.

The middle and upper basin are south of us. In many ways, the St. Johns River is more significant to those of us in North Florida than to our friends to the south.

Jacksonville owes its existence to the river, and its 5-billion-gallons-a-day flow is a major part of our landscape. Folks to the south of us don't have the same relationship with the river that we do.

One of the most difficult things for scientists to do is to explain their very complex research in terms the average resident can understand.

Heck, sometimes it is hard for a scientist to explain it to another scientist. We have a tendency to speak in our own profession's jargon with all the acronyms and shorthand phrases. Each field has its special techno-speak. And while it works for those in that career, it leaves the rest of us confused.

The River Report uses a series of broad indicators to describe, in relatively simple terms, the environmental condition of the river.

The method used by the report classifies multiple factors as to satisfactory or unsatisfactory, and indicates the trending as improving, unchanged, worsening or uncertain.

Water quality parameters include the amount of dissolved oxygen in the tributaries and main stem of the river, which for the tributaries is unsatisfactory and worsening. …

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