Students Aim To 'Keep River Beautiful'

Algae, Proposed Pipeline, Waste Causes For Concern For St. Johns River

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The St. Johns River is one of northeast Florida's greatest resources, but lately its health has been a major cause of concern.

Now there is a new generation responding to the call to keep the river clean.

"The St. Johns River In Danger. Do Your Part to Keep it Beautiful" -- it's a pretty strong message written by a high school student in an award-winning public service announcement.

High school and college students were charged with providing people ways to be river friendly in a $500 public service announcement competition.

"There are simple things we can do to keep the St. Johns River the way we want it to be," competition winner Anthony Baskerviller said.

The St. Johns Riverkeeper believes it will take a fresh generation of environmentally conscious people to reverse the current decline of the St. Johns.

Algae in the river is commonplace, but experts are saying a recent algae bloom is a clear warning that the river is receiving more pollution than it can handle.

In addition to risky bacteria levels, the algae bloom is a major cause for concern. It's a hazard to fish and humans, and a sign that businesses and residents are contaminating it.

There's another concern on the horizon -- a pipeline that would pump waste into the waterway.

"The Georgia Pacific pipeline is the issue we are working on very hard," community outreach director Kelly Savage said.

"Think of mother nature as another person, so treat it like you would want to be treated," competition winner Tiffany Burnett said.

A public meeting with the Riverkeeper is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Wyndham Hotel on the Southbank riverfront to answer any questions residents may have about the proposed pipeline, most notably the concern that it will deposit waste into the heart of the St. Johns River.

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