When I first began writing about efforts by JaxPort to deep dredge the St. Johns River shipping channel some 20 years ago, top officials aways offered assurances they would never do anything to hurt the river’ health.
That was BS then, and the same empty promises are BS now.
The recent investigative piece published in The Florida Times-Union, written by reporters Nate Monroe and Christopher Hong after months of research, clearly shows the harm that has been done to the St. Johns by JaxPort and its partner in decades of destruction, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The current dredge to deepen the channel from 40 feet to 47 feet will only worsen the damage.
The decades of dredging ever deeper have completely changed the nature of the St. Johns. Grass beds critical to the cycle of life in the river are gone. Currents have grown stronger, sending salinity farther and farther south and infiltrating what should be fresh water marshes.
And as the Times-Union report illustrated, the flooding wrought by Hurricane Irma last year is likely a foreshadowing of what’s to come as the dredging has contributed to stronger tides and more intense storm surges.
All along while in pursuit of money, JaxPort and the Corps have winked and said, don’t worry, the river will be fine.
It isn’t and it won’t be.
You should be angry that the decision to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to deepen the channel was made by unelected officials on the JaxPort board.
You should be angry that elected officials in City Hall are doing nothing to stop this travesty while giving lip service in praise of the St. Johns as Jacksonville’s greatest natural resource.
And you should be angry enough to pay heed to this paragraph in the Times-Union report: “Hard to defeat in the courts, wielding immense discretion over how it designs projects, experts said there is nonetheless one thing the Army Corps does tend to respond to: public pressure.”
Demand that elected officials and those seeking election this fall put a stop to this fool’s mission that cares more about dollars today than the future of the river.
Flood the streets of Downtown with protest because the floods are coming if the dredge isn’t stopped and the damage of the past repaired.