Expert: Waters Too Foul; Riverkeeper Outlines Woes

By Carter, John R. | The Florida Times Union, July 19, 2003 | Go to article overview

Expert: Waters Too Foul; Riverkeeper Outlines Woes


Carter, John R., The Florida Times Union


Byline: John Carter, Times-Union staff writer

The discussion flowed freely Monday night as members of the Greater Arlington/Beaches Citizens Planning Advisory Committee discussed the St. Johns River.

Neil Armingeon, the St. Johns riverkeeper, addressed the committee during a meeting at the Regency Square branch library. He emphasized the impact of development and construction on the river, its tributaries and other bodies of water.

Armingeon discussed the importance of the city, state and residents being "conscious and conscientious in our efforts to maintain and sustain this river that has given us so much."

He said that although the river still looks majestic and serene, it has suffered from years of quiet neglect and abuse.

He said silt runoff from tree removal and development is a huge problem for the river and other waterways. The riverkeeper passed out what he described as a "disturbing list" of water bodies that are imperiled. He said the state Department of Environmental Protection has verified that the bodies of water in Duval County are harmful to fish and other aquatic life and a possible threat to public health.

The list, which he labeled "Duval County's List of Shame," includes 59 creeks, rivers, ponds and lakes. Problems in the water bodies include low dissolved oxygen, high levels of fecal coliform bacteria and high nutrient levels. The list also said when efforts to resolve the problems will begin, starting this year and continuing through 2008.

"As painful as this list is, it is an important start," Armingeon said. "That's because it represents the beginning of a process to correct the problems."

He said the problems for the water bodies are expressed in a variety of confusing ways, but that they can be summed up more simply.

"All those elaborate descriptions of water problems add up to one thing," he said. …

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