St. Johns Riverkeeper: 'Draft Of Harbor Deepening Report Lacks Specifics'

May 31, 2013

The clock is ticking on the 45 day window people have to weigh in on the U-S Army Corps of Engineers’ draft report on the proposed deepening of Jacksonville’s harbor

The document outlines the possible economic and environmental impact of dredging a 13-mile stretch of the St. Johns River from 40 to 47 feet.

St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman says 45 days isn’t enough time to put together a team of experts to properly study the report. 

So, she’s asked the Corps of Engineers to extend the public comment period to 60 days.

"We’re hopeful, if we can get the extension, that that will give us time to absorb the information, ask good questions, get information back from the corps and also have a community forum where we can present our independent research into this to the community."

Rinaman says one of the things that worries her about the report is its seeming lack of specific tools and strategies to undo the harm caused by the dredging.

"There's nothing there that would mitigate for the salinity increases, the loss of eel grasses, the impact on habitat."

Deepening Jacksonville Harbor will allow the bigger ships coming through the Panama Canal to access the cargo terminals on Blount Island.

The project is expected to cost well over $700 million dollars, more than half of which will be paid by the Jacksonville Port Authority.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold two conference calls this Monday to update the public about what's going on with Jacksonville's harbor deepening project.

Here's what you need to participate:

Time: 10:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. EST

Number: To participate, call #877-336-1280 and input Access Code 7256138

Meeting agendas and project information are posted at www.saj.usace.army.mil.

Click on the Ports button and follow the links to the Jacksonville Harbor project web page.