DEP Hosts Update Meeting for Lower St. Johns River Tributaries

Aug. 7, 2015

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is hosting an annual update meeting on Aug. 11 for two restoration plans covering 25 Lower St. Johns River tributaries. The department will present the second phase of the restoration plans and discuss additional efforts to reduce fecal coliform bacteria loading to the tributaries.

To address the excess levels of bacteria, Basin Management Action Plans, or BMAPs, were adopted in 2009 and 2010. All 25 tributaries connect to the Lower St. Johns River Mainstem and many are located in highly urbanized areas that receive stormwater runoff, which can transport bacteria from yards and roadways.

Results from the first phase of the restoration plans show improvements in bacteria levels in 21 of the 25 tributaries. Activities identified in the second phase, which will take place during the next five years, include the use of microbial source tracking to identify the origin of bacteria through DNA analysis. Knowing the bacteria’s origin enables DEP to target potential sources more accurately. As sources are determined, management programs will be utilized to eliminate the human-activity-based sources.

“The department is utilizing new techniques to identify the sources of pollution,” said Tom Frick, director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “The department and stakeholders then use this information to develop projects that most efficiently target the pollution sources.”

The BMAP process emphasizes the importance of collaborative watershed restoration efforts. The city of Jacksonville plans to organize community trash cleanups of 10 tributaries by the end of the second phase. JEA, city of Jacksonville, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach, city of Jacksonville Beach, Florida Department of Health, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and DEP will continue their ongoing programs to address potential pollutant sources.

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