1.4. Early environmental management (1800-1970s)

The history of environmental management of the St. Johns River watershed, and water resources in Florida in general, is a complex, convoluted, but relatively short history. Major milestones in environmental management in Florida have taken place within just the last century, with much of the story occurring during our living memory (Table 1.1). The story of water management in Florida unfolds as a tale of lessons learned, a shift from reigning to restoring, from consuming to conserving.

Like the tides, management efforts in the watershed have surged and retracted over the last 100 years. Many landmark policies and programs have been initiated in response to environmental changes deemed intolerable by the public and the policymakers who represent them.

Noticeable, but small-scale, changes occurred in the St. Johns River Basin during pre-Columbian times, when northeast Florida was occupied by the Timucua Indians (Milanich 1998). It was not until the Colonial Period, particularly during the British occupation in the late 1700s, that the environment experienced large-scale alterations. Such landscape modifications as the conversion of wetlands to agriculture and the clearing of forests for timber surged again in the mid-1800s after Florida was granted statehood (Davis and Arsenault 2005).

Most of the earliest changes to the landscape of the LSJRB were utilitarian in purpose, but the late 1800s and early 1900s were fraught with changes driven by the profitable, even whimsical, tourist industry. Tourists were fascinated with promotional accounts describing this land of eternal summer, filled with wild botanicals and beguiling beasts (Miller 1998). The growing village of Jacksonville became the initial portal to Florida, and a thriving tourist industry flourished as steamboats began to shuttle tourists up the St. Johns River. By 1875, Jacksonville was the most important town in Florida (Blake 1980). First tourists, and then developers and agricultural interests, were enticed to the rich and largely unexploited resource that was early Florida (Blake 1980). By the early 1900s, the population of northeast Florida was increasing at a slow, steady rate (see Figure 1.5).

Figure 1.5
Figure 1.5. Population of northeast Florida from the time Florida was granted statehood to the 2010 U.S. Census including future population projections to 2030. (“Northeast Florida” includes population counts from Clay, Duval, Flagler, Putnam, and St. Johns counties. Sources: Population counts for the years 1850‑1900 were provided by Miller 1998. Counts from 1900‑1990 were extracted from Forstall 1995, and 2000 and 2010 counts from the USCB. (USCB 2000; USCB 2010) Note: U.S. Census data were not available for Flagler County in 1900 and 1910. Population estimates for 2020 and 2030 were extracted from the Demographic Estimating Conference Database (EDR 2015), updated August 2014.

Impacts to the environment mirrored the steady population growth during the early 1900s. Entrepreneurs, investors, and government officials in Florida at this time were thoroughly focused on the drainage and redirection of water through engineering works (Blake 1980).

The immigration of new settlers was moderate during Florida’s first century as a state, because the region still proved inhospitable and rather uninhabitable to the unadventurous. Not only was the region full of irritating, disease-carrying mosquitoes, Florida was just too hot and humid. But, that all changed when air conditioners for residential use became affordable and widespread after WWII (Davis and Arsenault 2005). Florida’s population exploded around the 1950s and has continued to skyrocket ever since (Figure 1.5; USCB 2000).

By the 1960s, a century of topographical tinkering was taking its toll. Ecosystems across Florida were beginning to show signs of stress. Sinkholes emerged in Central Florida (the Upper Basin of the St. Johns River) indicating a serious decline in the water table (SJRWMD 2010a). Flooding, particularly during storm events, was destructive and devastating. Loss of wetlands peaked during this time, as wet areas were rapidly converted to agriculture or urban land uses (Meindl 2005). Water works, such as the Kissimmee Canal and Cross Florida Barge Canal, continued into the 1960s, but public opposition against such projects was mounting (Purdum 2002).

During 1970-71, Florida experienced its worst drought in history, and the attitudes toward water began to shift from control and consumption to conservation (Purdum 2002). During 1972, the “Year of the Environment,” the Federal and State governments passed a number of significant pieces of environmental legislation (see Table 1.1). The laws of the early 1970s, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, and Clean Water Act, showcased a change in our approach to resource use and our attitudes regarding ecosystem services, nature, and the environment. From this time forward, environmental management began to shift towards consideration of the outcomes of our actions.

The Clean Water Act (CWA) and its companion act, the Clean Air Act, have been some of the most enduring and influential pieces of legislation from the 1970s. The CWA addressed key elements that affect the long-term health of the nation’s rivers and streams. The CWA requires states to submit a list of their “impaired” (polluted) waters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) every two years (or the EPA will develop the list for them). States determine impairment primarily by assessing whether waterbodies maintain certain categories of use, e.g., fishable and swimmable. Whether a use is impacted or not is typically based on whether the water body meets specific chemical and biological standards or exhibits safety risks to people. Once a state has an approved or “verified 303(d)” list of impaired waters, it must develop a management plan to address the issues that are causing the impairment. This process of identifying and improving impaired waters through the CWA has played a major role in modern environmental management from the 1980s through the 2000s.

Table 1.1 Timeline of environmental milestones, Lower St. Johns River Basin, Florida: from European colonization to 2010s
DATEEVENT
1765-1766During the British occupation of Florida, John Bartram, the "Botanist to the King," and his son William Bartram toured the St. Johns River (Davis and Arsenault 2005).
1773-1777Naturalist William Bartram chronicled his travels up the St. Johns River producing detailed descriptions of pre-statehood, Northeast Florida. "Bartram's observations remain an invaluable tool for environmental planning?restoring paradise?in northeastern Florida" (Davis and Arsenault 2005).
1821Adams-Onis Treaty: United States legally acquired Florida (Blake 1980).
1835-1842Second Seminole War: Many steamboats were first brought to the St. Johns River for combat with the Indians, but continued to operate out of Jacksonville for civilian purposes after the war (Buker 1992).
1845Florida granted statehood.
1850Swamp and Overflowed Lands Act: stated that Florida could have from the Federal government any swamp or submerged lands that they successfully drained (Leal and Meiners 2002).
1868Florida's first water pollution law established a penalty for degrading springs and water supplies (SJRWMD 2010a).
1870-1884Famed author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, wintered in Mandarin and wrote essays extolling the beauties of the St. Johns River and attracting tourists to Florida (Blake 1980).
1870sIncreasing number of tourists visited Florida via steamboats up the St. Johns River.
1875Jacksonville was the most important city in Florida (Blake 1980).
1880Construction of jetties at the mouth of the St. Johns River was started in order to stabilize the entrance of the shipping channel. They were not finished until 1921 (Davis 1925).
1884Water hyacinth introduced into the St. Johns River near Palatka (McCann, et al. 1996).
1895The Port of Jacksonville shipping channel was deepened to 15-ft (GLD&D 2001).
1896Water hyacinth had spread throughout most the LSJRB and was hindering steamboat navigation, causing changes in water quality and biotic communities by severely curtailing oxygen and light diffusion, and reducing water movement by 40-95% Palatka (McCann, et al. 1996).
1906The Port of Jacksonville shipping channel was deepened to 24-ft (GLD&D 2001).
1912Intracoastal Waterway from Jacksonville to Miami was completed (SJRWMD 2010a).
1916The Port of Jacksonville shipping channel was deepened to 30-ft (GLD&D 2001).
1935Cross-Florida Barge Canal construction was initiated.
1937Federal government completed deepening of the St. Johns River to 30 feet deep from the ocean to Jacksonville.
1937Construction was suspended on Cross-Florida Barge Canal.
1945River and Harbor Act of 1945 authorized the construction of the Dames Point Fulton Cut. This 34-ft-deep cut-off channel eliminated bends in the shipping channel at Dames Point, Browns Creek and Fulton (St. Johns Bluff). The straightening of the channel shortened the distance between the City of Jacksonville and the ocean by about 1.9 miles.
1950sBacteria pollution was first documented in the St. Johns River (largely due to the direct discharge of untreated sewage into the river).
1952The Port of Jacksonville shipping channel was deepened to 34-ft (GLD&D 2001).
1964Construction continued on Cross-Florida Barge Canal.
1966-1967Sinkholes occurring in Central Florida (within the Upper Basin of the St. Johns River) indicating a serious drop in the water table (Purdum 2002).
Dec. 5, 1967The City of Jacksonville received a letter from the Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Commission and State Board of Health, who "ordered the City within 90 days to furnish plans and an implementation schedule to end the disposal of 15 million gallons per day of raw sewage into the St. Johns River and its tributaries" (Crooks 2004).
1967-1968Voters approved the consolidation of the Jacksonville and Duval County local governments.
1968Initial flooding of the Rodman Reservoir. The Rodman Dam was completed and dammed the lower Ocklawaha River.
1970National Environmental Policy Act: required federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts and reasonable alternatives of their proposed actions.
1970s"Cleanup of the St. Johns River was impressive, but many of its tributaries remained heavily polluted; landfills were opened, but indiscriminate littering of wastes continued; polluting power plants and fertilizer factories closed, but other odors remained" (Crooks 2004). "Discharges occur to river of primary treated effluent or raw sewage. Periodic blue-green algal blooms and fish kills" (DEP 2002).
1970-1971Florida experiences its worst drought in history (Purdum 2002).
1971Construction stopped on Cross-Florida Barge Canal.
1972Several federal and state environmental laws were passed.

  • Florida Water Resources Act: established regional water management districts and created a permit system for allocating water use (Florida Legislature 1972b).

  • Federal Clean Water Act: required that all U.S. waters be swimmable and fishable (Congress 1972a).

  • Land Conservation Act: authorized the sale of state bonds to purchase environmentally imperiled lands (Florida Legislature 1972c).

  • Environmental Land and Water Management Act: initiated the "Development of Regional Impact" program and the "Area of Critical State Concern" program (Florida Legislature 1972c).

  • Comprehensive Planning Act: called for the development of a state comprehensive plan (Florida Legislature 1972a).

  • Marine Mammal Protection Act: prohibited the killing or hurting of marine mammals in U.S. waters (Congress 1972b)
1973Endangered Species Act: conservation of threatened and endangered plants and animals and their habitats (Congress 1973).
Mar. 1973"Press release announced that the St. Johns River south of the Naval Air Station to the Duval County Line at Julington Creek had been deemed safe for water contact sports" (Crooks 2004).
1973-1974The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and DEP (then the Dept. of Natural Resources) implemented "maintenance control" of invasive aquatic plants (namely water hyacinth). Maintenance control replaced crisis management and kept water hyacinth populations at the lowest feasible level.
1977The federal government funded a shipping terminal on Blount Island (Crooks 2004).
1977Seventy-seven sewage outfalls closed, and the St. Johns River became safe for recreational use again (Crooks 2004). Movement to regional wastewater treatment systems providing higher levels of treatment than before.
Jun. 18, 1977St. Johns River Day Festival marked the completion of the St. Johns River cleanup, and there were reports of some types of aquatic life returning to the river (Crooks 2004).
1978The Port of Jacksonville shipping channel was deepened to 38-ft (GLD&D 2001).
Mid - late 1980s"Outbreak of Ulcerative Disease Syndrome in fish occurs from Lake George to mouth of river. Exhaustive studies are conducted, but specific cause is not determined" (DEP 2002).
1987Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Act: Recognized the LSJRB as an area in need of special protection and restoration (SJRWMD 2008).
1987Water Quality Attainment Plan adopted by City of Jacksonville City Council. The plan addressed causes and remedies for non-attainment of water quality criteria.
1988"The Florida Department of Environmental Regulation delegated authority to permit dredging and filling of wetlands to the St. Johns River Water Management District" (SJRWMD 2010a).
1988"With funding from the SWIM program, the St. Johns River Water Management District began restoration of the Upper Ocklawaha River Basin and the Lower St. Johns River Basin" (SJRWMD 2010a).
1989SJRWMD publishes the first SWIM Plan for the LSJRB.
1990s"Blue-green algal blooms occur in freshwater portion of the river" (DEP 2002).
1991The Florida Times-Union began a monthly series of investigative reports entitled "A River in Decline." This series reported that 17% of septic tanks were failing. In 1990, 47% of tributaries failed to meet appropriate health standards for fecal coliform.
In 1990, 50% of privately owned sewage treatment plants violated local regulations. 80% of pollutants in Jacksonville's waterways could be attributed to stormwater runoff (Crooks 2004).
Early 1990sThe Florida Department of Environmental Regulation "downgraded formerly pristine areas of Julington and Durbin Creeks in southern Duval County from GOOD to FAIR water quality due to stormwater, sewage, and other runoffs from the rapidly growing suburb of Mandarin." Half of the wetlands in this area were destroyed during this time period (Crooks 2004).
Late 1990sBlooms of an exotic freshwater, toxin-producing, blue-green algae called Cylindrospermopsis occurred (DEP 2002).
1997The Lower St. Johns River Basin Strategic Planning Session (the "River Summit") led to the development of a 5-year "River Agenda" plan.
1998Several Florida environmental groups brought a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its failure to enforce the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) provisions in the Federal CWA (Florida Wildlife Federation, Inc., et al. v. Browner, (N.D. Fla. 1998) (No. 4:98CV356). In 1999 the lawsuit against EPA was settled with a Consent Decree, which required EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to begin implementation of the TMDL provisions of the CWA. The Consent Decree required EPA to establish TMDLs if the State of Florida does not (13-year schedule to establish TMDLs).
July 30, 1998St. Johns River is designated as an American Heritage River (DEP 2002).
Sept. 17, 1998DEP submitted the 1998 303(d) list of impaired waterbodies to the EPA for approval. The 1998 303(d) list included 53 waterbodies in the LSJR. The list was approved by EPA in November 1998.
1999Florida legislature enacted the Watershed Restoration Act (Florida Statute Section 403.067) to provide for the establishment of TMDLs for pollutants of impaired waters as required by the Clean Water Act.
1999DEP formed a local stakeholders group to review the TMDL model inputs.
April 26, 2001Florida adopted a new science-based methodology to identify impaired waters as c. 62-303, F.A.C. (Identification of Impaired Surface Waters Rule).
June 10, 2002Following an unsuccessful rule challenge by various individuals and environmental groups (Case No. 01-1332R, Florida Division of Administrative Hearings), the Impaired Surface Waters Rule (c. 62-303, F.A.C.) became effective.
July 2002DEP appointed the Lower St. Johns River TMDL Executive Committee to advise the Department on the development of TMDLs and a Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) for the nutrient impairments in the mainstem of the LSJR.
Dec. 3, 2002Four Florida environmental groups filed suit in federal court against the U. S. EPA for failure of EPA to approve/disapprove Florida's Impaired Waters Rule as being consistent with the CWA (Florida Public Interest Research Group Citizen Lobby, Inc., et al., v U.S. EPA et al.)
2002The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began the St. Johns River Harbor Deepening Project (JAXPORT 2008). The dredging project deepened "the outer 14 miles of the St. Johns River federal channel from the mouth of the river to Drummond Point" (GLD&D 2001). The channel was deepened to 41 ft in areas where there is a limestone rock bottom. The main shipping channel is maintained at this depth presently.
2002The hydrodynamic model for the LSJR Mainstem TMDL is completed.
2003"River Summit 2003" takes place, and the River Agenda is revised.
Sept. 4, 2003DEP determined that most of the freshwater and estuarine segments of the LSJR were impaired by nutrients, and a verified list of impaired waters for the LSJR was adopted by Secretarial Order.
Sept. 30, 2003The nutrient TMDL for the LSJR was originally adopted by Florida (Rule 62-304.415, F.A.C.).
April 27, 2004Florida's nutrient TMDL was initially approved by the EPA Region 4.
Aug. 18, 2004St. Johns Riverkeeper and Linda Young (Southeast Clean Water Network) filed suit against the EPA on the basis that the targets upon which the TMDL were based were not consistent with the existing Class III marine dissolved oxygen criterion.
Oct. 21, 2004EPA found that the nutrient TMDL for the LSJR did not implement the applicable water quality standards for dissolved oxygen and rescinded its previous approval of the nutrient TMDL for the LSJR.
May 24, 2005The Executive Committee identified the water quality credit trading approach for the Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP).
Early fall 2005Large clumps of surface scum, caused by the toxic blue-green algae Microcystis aeruginosa, bloomed from Lake George to Jacksonville. Some samples exceeded World Health Organization recommended guidelines (SJRWMD 2010a).
2005-2008U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is extending the harbor deepening from Drummond Point to JAXPORT's Talleyrand Marine Terminal from 38 ft to a maintained depth of 40 ft.
2006Blooms of algae continue in the St. Johns River. "Algal blooms are caused by a combination of hot, overcast days, calm wind and excessive nutrients in the water, such as fertilizer runoff, stormwater runoff, and wastewater" (SJRWMD 2010a).
Jan. 23, 2006EPA established a new nutrient TMDL for the LSJR that would meet the dissolved oxygen criteria.
May 25, 2006Site-Specific Alternative Criteria (SSAC) for dissolved oxygen in the LSJR (F.A.C. 62-302.800(5)) was adopted by the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission and submitted to the EPA for approval. The SSAC was developed by DEP in cooperation with the SJRWMD.
July 13, 2006St. Johns Riverkeeper and Clean Water Network filed a suit in federal Court challenging the EPA's approval of rule 62-302.800 (in effect, the SSAC). (St. Johns Riverkeeper, Inc., et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 4:2006cv00332, 2006 (N.D. Fla.))
July 2006The River Accord: A Partnership for the St. Johns was established.
Sept. 2006The project collection process for the LSJR Mainstem BMAP started, which provided the list of efforts that will implement the TMDL reductions and restore the river to water quality standards.
Oct. 10, 2006EPA approved Site-Specific Alternative Criteria (SSAC) for dissolved oxygen in the marine portion of the St. Johns River.
2007The U.S. Army Corps (USACE) started studying the impacts of blasting and dredging to deepen the navigation channel to a maintained 45 feet from the mouth of the river to Talleyrand Terminals (USACE 2007).
Feb. 1, 2007The Executive Committee determined the LSJR Mainstem BMAP load allocation approach, which assigned reduction responsibilities to wastewater plants, industries, agriculture, cities and counties with urban stormwater sources, and military bases with stormwater sources.
April 2007SJRWMD launched the public awareness initiative, "The St. Johns: It's Your River," in order to help the public understand their personal impacts to the river and their responsibility for the river's condition (SJRWMD 2010a).
August 2007Urban stormwater loads were identified and quantified by local jurisdictions for the LSJR Mainstem BMAP.
Jan. 17, 2008EPA approves the LSJR nutrient TMDLs based on the recently adopted SSAC.
April 2, 2008DEP revised the Surface Water Quality Standards (c. 62-302.530, F.A.C.) to match the EPA approved list of TMDLs for nutrients in the LSJR.
July 17, 2008Earthjustice (representing the Florida Wildlife Federation, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, St. Johns Riverkeeper, and Sierra Club) filed a lawsuit against the EPA "for failing to comply with their nondiscretionary duty to promptly set numeric nutrient criteria for the state of Florida as directed by Section 303(c)(4)(B) of the Clean Water Act" (Earthjustice 2008; Florida Wildlife Federation, Inc., et al. v. Johnson et al., 4:2008cv00324 (N.D. Fla.)).
Aug. 6, 2008The first annual "State of the River Report for the Lower St. Johns River Basin" was released by researchers at Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida.
August 2008The LSJRB SWIM Plan Update was released. The plan was prepared by SJRWMD, Wildwood Consulting, Inc., and the Lower St. Johns River Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). The plan outlines milestones, strategies, and objectives to meet goals associated with water quality, biological health, sediment management, toxic contaminants remediation, public education, and intergovernmental coordination.
Sept. 17-18, 2008SJRWMD held a technical symposium on the preliminary findings of studies examining the cumulative effects of proposed surface water withdrawals on the water resources of the St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers. In October 2008, the National Research Council agreed to provide technical review of the SJRWMD's assessment of potential cumulative impacts to the St. Johns River from proposed surface water withdrawals (SJRWMD 2010a).
Oct. 17, 2008DEP finalized Lower St. Johns River Nutrients TMDL.
Oct. 27, 2008The final Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) for the Implementation of TMDLs for Nutrients was adopted by the DEP for the LSJRB Mainstem. The BMAP was developed by the Lower St. Johns River TMDL Executive Committee in cooperation with the DEP, SJRWMD, local industries, cities, counties, environmental groups, and many other stakeholders.
Jan. 16, 2009EPA issued a formal determination under the CWA that numeric nutrient water quality criteria are necessary in Florida, and the DEP released plans to accelerate its efforts to adopt numeric nutrient criteria into State regulations.
May 19, 2009DEP released FINAL Drafts of the LSJRB Group 2 Cycle 2 ? Verified List and Delist List of Impaired Waters. These lists update the 2004 303(d) list of waters in need of water quality restoration. The lists are submitted to EPA Region 4 as an update to the Florida 303(d) list.
July 2009DEP adopts by rule fecal coliform TMDLs for 22 tributaries to the Lower St. Johns River.
November 2009DEP adopts by rule several TMDLS: eight for fecal coliform, two for nutrients, five for dissolved oxygen and nutrient, one for dissolved oxygen, and two for lead.
Jan. 15, 2010EPA provided amendments to DEP's FINAL Drafts of the Lower St. Johns River Basin Group 2 Cycle 2 ? Verified List and Delist List of Impaired Waters. These lists update the 2004 303(d) master list of impaired waters. The lists are submitted to EPA Region 4 as an update to the Florida 303(d) list.
May-December 2010A major bloom of Aphanizomenon and a major fish kill with unusual characteristics occurred in early summer and these events were followed in mid-summer by an additional bloom of Microcystis and other cyanobacteria species and a second more typical fish kill. Massive drifts of an unusual, persistent foam occurred from mid-summer through the fall. Unusually high dolphin mortalities occurred May-September. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) designated LSJR dolphin mortalities during the summer of 2010 an Unusual Marine Mammal Mortality Event initiating a multi-agency task force to investigate the causes.
July 2010DEP adopts by rule five fecal coliform TMDLs for tributaries to the Lower St. Johns River.
Aug. 2010The Lower St. Johns River Tributaries Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP), which addresses fecal coliform TMDLs for fifteen tributaries, was adopted. These fifteen tributaries include Craig Creek, McCoy Creek, Williamson Creek, Fishing Creek, Deep Bottom Creek, Moncrief Creek, Blockhouse Creek, Hopkins Creek, Cormorant Branch, Wills Branch, Sherman Creek, Greenfield Creek, Pottsburg Creek, Upper Trout River, and Lower Trout River. This plan was developed collaboratively by the City of Jacksonville, JEA, Duval County Health Department, Florida Department of Transportation, Tributary Assessment Team, the Basin Working Group Stakeholders, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (Tributary BMAP II - DEP 2010a).
Nov. 14, 2010EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson signed final "Water Quality Standards for the State of Florida's Lakes and Flowing Waters" (inland waters rule). The final standards set numeric limits, or criteria, on the amount of nutrient pollution allowed in Florida's lakes, rivers, streams and springs. On April 11, 2011, DEP requested EPA to withdraw its January 2009 determination that numeric nutrient criteria are necessary in Florida; to repeal November 2010 rulemaking establishing numeric criteria for inland streams, lakes, and springs; and to refrain from establishing any future numeric criteria. On June 13, EPA sent an initial response to DEP's petition. In their response, EPA was prepared to withdraw the federal inland standards if DEP adopted, and EPA approved, their own protective and scientifically sound numeric standards. On March 5, 2012, EPA promulgated an extension of the effective date of the "Water Quality Standards for the State of Florida's Lakes and Flowing Waters" (inland waters rule) by four months to July 6, 2012. (The extension does not affect or change the February 4, 2011 date for the SSAC provision.) This extension afforded the State additional time to finalize their own rule establishing numeric nutrient criteria for the State and submit it for EPA review. On November 30, 2012, EPA approved DEP's standards for numeric nutrient criteria in Florida's flowing waters, springs, lakes, and South Florida estuaries, and in June 2013, EPA approved DEP's criteria for estuaries, and coastal waters (EPA 2013a). In October 2014, EPA rescinded federally adopted criteria and DEP criteria were in effect. While this rule did not include criteria for the Lower St. Johns River Basin, it began a process for numeric criteria later applied to estuary-specific numeric nutrient criteria that do include the LSJR.
Feb. ? Apr. 2011DEP released final TMDLS for Arlington River for nutrients; Mill Creek for dissolved oxygen and nutrients; and lead in Black Creek and Peters Creek.
May 10, 2011SJRWMD issued to JEA a single consumptive use permit that consolidated 27 individual permits and allows groundwater withdrawals of up to 142 million gallons per day in 2012 and up to 155 million gallons per day in 2031 if key conditions are met.
July 2013DEP begins an initiative to revise bacteria criteria for Florida's beaches and recreational waters. (DEP 2014e).
September 2013EPA approved DEP's revised criteria for dissolved oxygen, which takes into account stream conditions and percent oxygen saturation (DEP 2013k).
October 2013DEP released a final Florida Mercury TMDL (DEP 2013e).
November 2014The Florida Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC) approved numeric nutrient criteria specific for several estuaries, including the Lower St. Johns River.
December 2014RockTenn and Rayonier, two companies with facilities in the region, filed a legal challenge to the ERC's approval of the estuary-specific numeric nutrient criteria (News4JAX 2014).
January 2015"St. Johns River Economic Study," edited by Dr. Courtney T. Hackney, is released to public. (Hackney 2015)
January 2016Florida Governor Rick Scott signs into law the Environmental Resources Bill, which defines flow levels for springs, creates a management plan for some South Florida watersheds, and sets guidelines for the Central Florida Water Initiative, an effort to secure water supply for Central Florida (CBSMiami 2016).
July 2016Florida Environmental Regulation Commission approves changes to Florida water quality criteria.
October 2016Legal challenges to new water quality standards are set aside by Florida administrative law judge.
January 2017DEP releases a draft TMDL for nutrient in Crescent Lake that includes site-specific numeric interpretations of the narrative nutrient criterion.

Water Quality, Fisheries, Aquatic Life, & Contaminants