by: Leslie Coursey Updated:
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A new report on the health of the St. Johns River shows great progress, but also room for improvement.
Researchers said the data shows a decline in the presence of nutrients and metals in the river. The research also shows fisheries and threatened species are stabilizing, and that toxic chemicals and turbidity have declined.
“By comparison to 20 to 30 years ago, there is no doubt we have made significant progress toward a healthier St. Johns River,” said Dr. Lucinda Sonnenberg, director of the Millar Wilson Laboratory for Chemical Research and research professor of chemistry at Jacksonville University. “However, there are new concerns emerging, some old problems remain, and cumulative impacts will continue to stress our river. In addition, if we are to keep on our path to a better St. Johns, we must keep an eye to emerging concerns such as sea level rise, changes in land use and increasing impacts with regional growth.”
Some of the concerns raised involve wetland coverage and quality, habitat and flood control, and the emergence of non-native species.
“The Lower St. Johns River Basin has long been recognized as a treasured watershed, providing enormous ecological, recreational, socioeconomic and aesthetic benefits,” said Dr. Radha Pyati, chair and associate professor of chemistry at the University of North Florida. “Although the river is healthy in many ways, important problems, such as algal blooms, persist. Also, salinity conditions are worsening over the long term and require careful observation in the near future.”
The River Report and ways the public can help protect the river is available online.