State addressing silt plume from Roosevelt Marketplace construction site

A silt plume has been spotted flowing from the Roosevelt Marketplace construction site into the Ortega River.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A silt plume has been spotted flowing from the Roosevelt Marketplace construction site into the Ortega River.

Last week, News4Jax learned that heavy rains had been pushing silt from the site into a nearby canal, which flows into the river. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has conducted an inspection, and further action is planned.

Shannon Blankenship, advocacy director for the St. Johns Riverkeeper, said the recent plume sighting wasn’t the first.

“The first time that we saw an active violation of construction at the Roosevelt mall was in January of 2020,” Blankenship said a week ago. “We’ve continued to receive reports through April, May and June.”

Blankenship on Monday said it’s become a reoccurring issue during heavy rainfall.

“Not only do we have proof of the violations, but we had proof of ongoing violations,” she said.

The Riverkeeper, City of Jacksonville and the FDEP have been working to find a solution. The FDEP issued a statement that reads in part:

“The Department takes all violations of Florida’s environmental laws seriously.

Immediately upon being notified of the concerns related to the construction site, the Department conducted an inspection. Based on the noted violations at the site, the Department is requiring that the responsible parties identify and implement both short and long-term corrective actions to ensure environmental compliance and address any unresolved storm water issues.

The site developer and associated contractors have already begun taking on-going immediate, short-term corrective actions including greatly improved Best Management Practices around storm drains; isolating disturbed earth and exposed lime rock areas then re-routing for treatment; and considering temporary asphalt repaving of lime rock areas in the parking lot. These efforts should prevent storm-water carrying exposed lime rock and disturbed earth from being carried to the storm-water discharge, which we believe to be the main sources of turbidity plumes traced to the site. The Department has continued conducting regular site visits to ensure adequate progress and that these corrective actions are working.

Additionally, the Department is also evaluating potential formal enforcement actions with the responsible parties that may include longer term corrective actions and the assessment of appropriate fines/penalties.”

The corrective order has been drafted by the FDEP and once it is signed by both parties, corrective steps will be taken.

The St. Johns Riverkeeper thanks the community and residents in the area for documenting the plumes flowing into the river, saying those reports are crucial in determining and solving problems.