Friday, August 15, 2008

How the Florida DEP Spells River: T-O-I-L-E-T


Tell me; does this sound like a reasonable approach to you? Your personal physician fills a syringe with a nice little Ebola virus suspension drawn from system of an infected child. Then the doc takes that syringe and places it in your vein – say the big one at the crook of your right elbow. Now let’s push the plunger – that’s it -- all the way down. As the lovely concoction is disbursed through your bloodstream, the kind, trusted old doctor says: “There, now; doesn’t that feel better? Trust me, it won’t hurt you, and it might help the child.” Ridiculous you say? You bet – because that child is already dead, and soon you will be too – but believe it or not, this is what the State of Florida is about to do on a ecosystem scale. 

The Georgia-Pacific Corporation operates a plant along the banks of the St. Johns River down near Palatka, Florida. For years it has been discharging its toxic effluent into Rice Creek, a tributary of the St. Johns – the “child” in our little analogy above. The Florida Department of Environment Protection (DEP), whose charge it is to protect and preserve the State’s environment, has, in it’s infinite wisdom and obvious concern for the welfare of  Florida’s natural ecology, granted Georgia Pacific a permit to built a four mile long pipeline from the plant into the main flow of the St. Johns river. This will divert the toxic trash from the already dead Rice Creek into the larger St. Johns. According to DEP (our trusted physician): “The flow capacity of Rice Creek is not large enough to assimilate the improved effluent. The discharge will be relocated directly to the St. Johns River that has much more assimilative capacity to maintain water quality standards”. The full Q&A page on the DEP website is locate here: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/northeast/Current-Topics/GeorgiaPacific.htm - Go read an judge for yourself. 

The St. Johns flows from south to north, thus will the millions of tons of GP pollution flow north through miles of pristine riverine habitat to Jacksonville, and ultimately into the Atlantic Ocean at Mayport. Too bad it doesn't flow south -- then maybe the brainiacs in Seminole County (central Florida), who plan to draw millions of gallons per day from the St. Johns for residential and irrigation use would think twice about their plan to help with the destruction of the lower St. Johns river ecosystem. Of course that would have also required the regional planning gurus to have thought once about the impact of unrestrained population growth in the area. Oh...wait...they did think once. They thought about the cash that would line their pockets and the pockets of their developer buddies. They certainly did not consider that they were committing time-release ecocide. 

On the upside, taking positive action to help preserve and protect out river, Wayne Weaver (owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL franchise) and his wife Delores Barr Weaver announced a challenge grant on behalf of the St. Johns Riverkeeper. For every dollar donated to the legal defense fund (used to support legal action against the Seminole County water withdrawal plan), the Weavers will donate two, up to a total of $150,000. 

It's small wonder that our river is on the "at-risk rivers" list, when GP wants to use it as a toilet (with the blessing of the State DEP), and central Florida wants to use it as their personal drinking fountain and lawn sprinkler.


1 comment:

Hootin' Anni said...

Hoboy! This sounds terrifying. I'm going to go read more.

[beautiful picture tho...deceiving yes.]