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JAX Chamber Pulls Support For Rodman Dam Breaching

Sandra Friend
US Department of Agriculture - Forest Service

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce is pulling its support for a an environmental offset sought by the St. Johns Riverkeeper.

The agreement included plans to breach the Rodman Dam in Putnam County in exchange for deepening the St. Johns River in Jacksonville.


Last week, the Riverkeeper announced plans to sue over the proposed St. Johns River dredging. Almost immediately, the JAX Chamber told the Florida Times-Union it no longer supports a compromise reached with the Riverkeeper eight months ago. St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman says the news came as a shock.

“We’re very clear that we would file to preserve that right,” Rinaman said. “However, we also agreed that if the Chamber was successful in the 2016 legislative session that we would drop that federal challenge.”

She says the Riverkeeper had to file notice or risk losing its opportunity to challenge the dredging plan. But she says she’ll drop the suit if state lawmakers approve the compromise plan that includes the Putnam County dam breach.

JAX Chamber spokesman Matt Galnor says that’s not likely.

“Because of the timeline, any lawsuit on the dredging project will almost certainly be resolved before a permit can be issued on any breach of the dam,” Galnor said. “We cannot responsibly ask the state Legislature to allocate funding for a project that is contingent on a study that will not be completed for years.”

Meanwhile Putnam County Commissioners say residents there remain opposed to the breach.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.