Wayne Hogan Addresses the JBA regarding the St. Johns Riverkeeper

At the March meeting of the Jacksonville Bar Association, Wayne Hogan, who serves on the Jacksonville Riverkeeper’s legal team, addressed fellow attorneys about the Riverkeeper organization and the recent administrative hearing that Riverkeeper requested regarding whether Seminole County should be granted a permit to withdraw water from the St. Johns River. Mr. Hogan advised that because of the work of the Riverkeeper, a $2.4 million study of the effects of water withdrawal will now be completed, yet it won’t have been completed, as it now stands, before the permit may be approved. He urged the audience to attend the April 13, 2009 Board meeting of the St. Johns River Water Management District and persuade the Board not to go forward with the permit.
Jax Daily Record Story on Wayne Hogan’s Speech to the JBA
The following is Mr. Hogan’s speech delivered to the Jacksonville Bar Association.
WELL, HERE WE ARE.  (THE VERY PLACE.) TODAY, YOU DROVE AND WALKED TO WHERE JACKSONVILLE BEGAN.
BEFORE IT WAS BRIDGED AND DREDGED,  THIS BEND IN THE RIVER WAS WACCA PILATKA, TO THE TIMUCUANS, “PAS DE SAN NICHOLAS”, TO THE SPANISH, AND “COW FORD”, TO THE EVER-ELOQUENT BRITISH.
AFTER THE SPANISH CEDED FLORIIDA TO AMERICA, ANDREW JACKSON BECAME TERRITORIAL GOVERNOR. ALTHOUGH JACKSON HAD NEVER BEEN HERE,  THE LOCAL SETTLERS PETITIONED FOR “COW FORD” TO BE DECLARED A U.S. PORT OF ENTRY, AND USED THE NAME “JACKSONVILLE” FOR THE FIRST TIME.
OF COURSE, SINCE JACKSON WAS EXPECTED TO BECOME PRESIDENT SOON, SOME THINK  THE RENAMING WAS JUST TO GET SOME OF THOSE FEDERAL STIMULUS DOLLARS.
BUT I’M HERE TO TALK ABOUT MORE THAN THIS BEND IN THE RIVER.
IT’S THE RIVER ITSELF.  IT STARTS 300 MILES AWAY AND FLOWS NORTH TO MAYPORT.  SO IF YOU WANT TO GO “UP RIVER” YOU HAVE TO GO DOWN STATE.  IT SEEMS SORT OF BACKWARDS.  AS RIVERS GO, THE ST. JOHNS IS SAALOOOW. IT ONLY DROPS 30 FEET OVER THOSE 300+ MILES, MAYBE AN INCH A MILE.  SO IT DOESN’T FLUSH VERY WELL. MORE ABOUT THAT IN A BIT.
THE ST JOHNS HAS ALWAYS BEEN OUR STEADY, EVER RELIABLE, FRIEND AND  NUMBER ONE ASSET.  REGARDLESS OF ITS MANY NAMES OVER THE CENTURIES, IT HAS BEEN OUR CITY’S CONSTANT SAVING GRACE.
FOR OUR FIRST CENTURY, OUR PRINCIPAL COMMERCIAL HIGHWAY (RIVERBOATS, BARGES, TRANSPORTS OF ALL SORTS).
FOR OUR PROTECTION, HOME TO THE UNITED STATES NAVY.
FOR WINNING WWII,  WHERE  LIBERTY SHIPS WERE BUILT.
FOR COMMERCE AROUND THE WORLD, WHERE SHIPS UNDER  MANY FLAGS WERE OVERHAULED OR REPAIRED, AND FOR SPORTS FANS EVERYWHERE, THE CENTERPIECE OF OUR TOWN; A VIEW  THAT RIVALS JUST ABOUT ANY PLACE ANYWHERE.
DURING PERIODS OF LOW WATER, TIDES CAN CAUSE A REVERSE FLOW OF SALT WATER AS FAR SOUTH AS LAKE MONROE- 161 MILES UPSTREAM.  THESE TWO CHARACTERISTICS – TIDAL EFFECT AND SLOWNESS – MAKE IT DIFFICULT FOR POLLUTANTS TO BE FLUSHED FROM THE ST. JOHNS. SO THINGS THAT CAUSE POLLUTION AND ACTIONS THAT REDUCE THE FLOW CAN CAUSE SERIOUS PROBLEMS FOR THE RIVER’S HEALTH.
OVER A DECADE AGO, THE ST. JOHNS WAS DESIGNATED AN AMERICAN HERITAGE RIVER – ONE OF ONLY 14.  LAST YEAR, AMERICAN RIVERS, SOLICITING NOMINATIONS FROM THOUSANDS OF RIVER GROUPS, ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS, OUTDOORS CLUBS, LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, AND TAXPAYER WATCHDOGS, NAMED OUR RIVER ONE OF AMERICA’S MOST ENDANGERED RIVERS.
ST. JOHNS RIVERKEEPER IS A PRIVATE NON-PROFIT 501(C)(3) ORGANIZATION THAT SERVES AS AN INDEPENDENT  FULL-TIME ADVOCATE AND “WATCHDOG” TO IMPROVE WATER QUALITY AND PROTECT CRITICAL HABITATS OF THE ST. JOHNS RIVER,  ITS TRIBUTARIES,  AND ITS WETLANDS.  THE RIVERKEEPER ALSO WORKS TO PROVIDE MEANINGFUL PUBLIC ACCESS TO THESE WATERWAYS AND TO EDUCATE THE PUBLIC ABOUT THE ST. JOHNS AND THE HEALTH THREATS IT FACES.
THE RIVERKEEPER ORGANIZATION IS MEMBERSHIP-BASED;  IT  RECEIVES NO GOV’T FUNDING . IT RELIES ON THE GENEROUS SUPPORT OF BUSINESSES AND CONCERNED CITIZENS THAT SEE THE VALUE, THE ULTIMATE IMPORTANCE OF THE ST. JOHNS RIVER,  AND THE CONSTANT WORK NECESSARY TO PROTECT IT.
THE RIVERKEEPER, HIMSELF, IS NEIL ARMINGEON, WHO HAS BEEN THE RIVERKEEPER OVER SIX YEARS. HE WAS EDUCATED IN ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AT DUKE UNIVERSITY (SO WE DON’T TALK BASKETBALL . . …)
THE RIVERKEEPER IS ASSISTED BY A LEGAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE MADE UP OF VOLUNTEER LAWYERS. THOSE OF YOU THAT ARE HERE TODAY- PLEASE STAND: MARC HARDESTY, WARREN ANDERSON, BILL SHEPPARD, LESLIE GOLLER, AND MYSELF.  THE RIVERKEEPER ORGANIZATION HAS ALSO BEEN WELL REPRESENTED BY TWO ABLE, EXPERIENCED ENVIRONMENTAL LAWYERS; MICHAEL HOWLE AND KEN WRIGHT- PLEASE STAND GENTLEMEN.
AND EACH FALL, ONE OF THE LARGEST GATHERINGS OF JACKSONVILLE BAR MEMBERS OCCURS WHEN THE RIVERKEEPER HOSTS THE ANNUAL OYSTER ROAST.  MANY IN THIS ROOM ATTEND EVERY YEAR.  IT’S A GREAT GATHERING.  IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN THERE, PLEASE JOIN US.  YOU’LL HAVE A GREAT TIME, AND YOU’LL BE PART OF SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT.
FLORIDA IS AT THE PRECIPICE OF WATER WARS- SIMILAR TO WHAT HAPPENED OUT WEST- BUT WE HAVE THE BENEFIT OF HAVING LEARNED FROM THAT – AND, IF WE’RE SMART, WE CAN AVOID SUCH DEBACLES AND JUST PURE GOOF-UPS BY ACTUALLY PLANNING AND MAKING SENSIBLE CHOICES.
THROUGH THE RIVERKEEPER’S LEADERSHIP, STATEWIDE DISCUSSIONS ABOUT REFORMING OUR STATE WATER LAWS AND POLICIES HAVE BEGUN. YOU’RE AWARE OF THE CHALLENGE BY THE RIVERKEEPER, THE CITY OF JACKSONVILLE, ST. JOHNS COUNTY AND OTHERS TO THE WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT’S PLAN TO ALLOW THE REMOVAL OF 262 MILLION GALLONS OF WATER PER DAY FROM THE ST. JOHNS RIVER SYSTEM. THE RIVERKEEPER ORGANIZED A HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PUBLIC EDUCATION CAMPAIGN AGAINST WATER WITHDRAWALS.  THIS RESULTED IN THE WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT FUNDING A $2.4 MILLION ANALYSIS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS TO THE RIVER FROM WATER WITHDRAWALS.  THIS SHOULD OBVIOUSLY HAVE BEEN COMPLETED BEFORE THE PROPOSED SEMINOLE COUNTY WATER WITHDRAWAL PERMIT WAS EVER CONSIDERED.  THE RIVERKEEPER’S POSITION IS THAT WATER CONSERVATION  IS THE SENSIBLE ALTERNATIVE TO WATER WITHDRAWAL.  KEN WRIGHT AND MICHAEL HOWLE PROSECUTED A 3 WEEK LONG ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING CHALLENGING THE SEMINOLE COUNTY PERMIT AS IT WAS PROPOSED.
THE HEARING OFFICER HAS RECOMMENDED A MODIFIED PERMIT.
HOWEVER, THE WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT’S BOARD MAKES THAT DECISION.
THERE WILL BE A PUBLIC HEARING ON APRIL 13 AT NOON AT THE DISTRICT OFFICES IN PALATKA – AND  WE URGE YOU TO ATTEND AND TESTIFY OR OTHERWISE SHOW YOUR OPPOSITION (WE’RE GOING TO COUNSEL WITH BILL SHEPPARD ON THAT POINT).
HERE’S THE POINT, NO WATER WITHDRAWAL PERMIT SHOULD ISSUE, IF AT ALL, UNTIL ANALYSIS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS TO THE RIVER OF WATER WITHDRAWALS IS CONCLUDED (1 ½ YEARS FROM NOW).
OTHER ONGOING LEGAL WORK THE RIVERKEEPER ORGANIZATION IS PURSUING IS AGAINST OUR OWN JEA FOR CLEAN WATER ACT VIOLATIONS FROM ITS DISCHARGE INTO THE ST. JOHNS RIVER , AND GEORGIA PACIFIC’S PROPOSED PIPELINE TO DISCHARGE EFFLUENT DIRECTLY INTO THE ST. JOHNS RIVER.
PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR THE RIVERKEEPER CONTINUES TO GROW, BRINGING TOGETHER PEOPLE OF DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS AND POLITICS FOR ONE PURPOSE: REPRESENTING THE INTEREST OF OUR RIVER AND THE PEOPLE TO WHOM IT BELONGS. I MENTIONED THE ANNUAL OYSTER ROAST; THAT FUNDRAISING EVENT DREW OVER 450 PEOPLE LAST YEAR.
WEAVERS $150,000 MATCH
IN THE PAST YEAR, THE RIVERKEEPER:
• SPONSORED 20 BOAT TRIPS FOR OVER 1,000 STUDENTS AND ADULTS.
• MADE PRESENTATIONS TO OVER 100 SCHOOLS AND ORGANIZATIONS
• PARTICIPATED IN OVER 36 COMMUNITY EVENTS
• HAD 30,000 HITS ON ITS WEBSITE
• MADE THE NEWS 228 TIMES
• HAD VOLUNTEERS DONATE OVER 1,000 HOURS
THIS SATURDAY, MARCH 28TH FROM 8AM- 11:30 AM IS THE 14TH ANNUAL ST. JOHNS RIVER CLEANUP CELEBRATION.  THE RIVERKEEPER ORGANIZATION IS MANNING THE POTTSBURG CREEK BOAT RAMP SITE NEAR ALL WET SPORTS, 8500 BEACH BLVD. COME ON OUT, AND GET A SOME GLOVES AND TRASH BAGS AND HELP CLEAN UP THE RIVER, EITHER AT POTTSBURG CREEK OR AT ONE OF THE 20 OTHER LOCATIONS. LAST YEAR, ON ONE DAY, THE VOLUNTEERS SAVED THE RIVER FROM THE BURDEN OF OVER 20 TONS OF LITTER AND DEBRIS.
YOU MAY HAVE SEEN THE MOVIES PRODUCED FOR THE RIVERKEEPER TO EDUCATE THE PUBLIC ABOUT CAUSES OF ALGAE BLOOM THAT DAMAGES OUR RIVER: “THE GREEN MONSTER” AND “MY ST. JOHNS RIVER, OUR RESPONSIBILITY.” THE AMOUNT OF NITROGEN AND PHOSPHOROUS DISCHARGED OR RUN OFF INTO THE ST. JOHNS EXCEEDS THE WHAT THE RIVER CAN HANDLE AND MAINTAIN ITS HEALTH AND THE SPECIES THAT DEPEND ON IT FOR SURVIVAL; THIS RUNOFF HAS  LED TO THESE HARMFUL ALGAL BLOOMS.
IF YOU ARE NOT YET INVOLVED IN THE RIVERKEEPER ORGANIZATION- I URGE YOU TO.  IN ORDER TO GIVE THE RIVER A VOICE- WE NEED YOUR TALENTS- WHETHER THEY BE LEGAL, PHYSICAL, MONETARY, OR OTHER. GO TO THE WEB SITE: WWW.STJOHNSRIVERKEEPER.ORG .

About The Author

Laura Hack

Laura Hack

Laura Hack is a paralegal with Terrell • Hogan. She has been with the firm since 1996 and has worked primarily for Wayne Hogan. She is an experienced Paralegal with 30+ years of working in the law practice industry. Skilled in Appeals, Civil Trial Litigation Support, Torts, Trial Practice, and Pleadings.