Saving the St. John’s River

By: Bailie Staton and James Donlon

Fisherman, kayakers, boaters, swimmers- the St. Johns River is the home to a variety
of recreational activities for Jacksonville citizens.

The health of the St. Johns River however, has been dwindling at a rapid pace. With
the industrial growth, rise in construction, and decline in environmental
protections, many of the river’s basic functions are at risk.

The St. Johns Riverkeeper is dedicated to the restoration of the St. Johns River by
educating and addressing the issues that threaten its health and hoping to restore
the river back to its fully functional condition.

The River’s chief advocate is Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman “Most of the work that we
do is trying to stop pollution at its source, to keep the pollution out like failing septic
tanks and sewage sludge applications and things that fuel these green toxic algae
blooms in our river,” she said.

They also help protect the river’s ability to cleanse itself, like in the protection of critical wetlands and submerged grasses, which serve as the kidneys of the St. Johns River.

The St. Johns Riverkeeper also advocates for the river by advising and advocating to
local government offices to make the River a priority in Jacksonville. “Probably the
biggest threat is the lack of political well to take a holistic look at the St. Johns and
understand all the different dynamics,” said Rinaman.

One of the biggest issues that is threatening the St. Johns River is future growth in
the in the import and export industry, such as dredging. Dredging is the process of
deepening the river to allow larger ships to make use of the waterways. With the
construction of a deeper waterway, we may lose a lot of our natural organisms that
call the St. Johns River home.

James Richardson of the Environmental Protection Board said that there are specific
things they do to help ensure the quality of water in the St. Johns River maintains
itself. “The primary way to that is through their rule making authority and they have
set standards that must be adhered to,” he said. “Part of what we do is also enforcing
rules that are at the federal level.”

Things as simple as conserving water can make a huge change in protecting the St.
Johns River. Just by doing their part, every ay citizens can help keep Jacksonville
beautiful.