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Press Release for Thursday, August 22, 2013

Higher Education Researchers Release Sixth Annual River Report Findings

Joanna Norris, Associate Director                

Department of Public Relations                     

(904) 620-2102

The sixth annual State of the River Report on the lower St. Johns River basin shows improvement in some areas but continuing threats in other categories.


“Our study this year reveals some improvement in the river’s health, as well as the importance of continued monitoring of the river and its ecosystem,” said Dr. Radha Pyati, director of UNF’s Environmental Center.


N ew findings described in the report include a slight reduction in unwanted nitrogen concentrations, but harmful algal blooms are not yet declining. Copper, lead and silver concentrations continue to be elevated. Also, submerged aquatic vegetation is expected to slow its decline due to high rainfall last year.


“The overall state of the river is clearly better now than it has been in decades past, but it still shows signs of our harmful impact on it. Fortunately, improvement from the considerable efforts and expenditures of river stakeholders is beginning to be evident for some environmental quality indicators,” said Dr. Lucinda Sonnenberg, director of the Millar Wilson Laboratory for Chemical Research at Jacksonville University. “However, we must sustain our efforts to reduce our impact on the river and carefully monitor our successes and failures if we are to achieve the goal of unimpaired waters that are truly fishable and swimmable.”


The River Report brochure, a quick reference guide on river health and ways the public can help the river, will be available Friday, Aug. 23, at and will be officially released at 8:45 a.m. the same day at the 2013 Environmental Symposium, scheduled to be held at the Adam W. Herbert University Center, Building 43, on the UNF campus. The full report will be available at the same website in October.

The annual symposium, sponsored by the UNF Environmental Center and the Environmental Protection Board, brings together members of the community to interact with the regular agencies responsible for developing and implementing environmental policy.


The State of the River Report is a collaboration among UNF, JU and Valdosta State University and is supported by the Environmental Protection Board of the City of Jacksonville. UNF River Report team members include Pyati, Dr. Stuart Chalk, associate professor of chemistry; Dr. Brian Zoellner, assistant professor and Graduate Program director; and Dr. Pat Welsh, retired civil engineering professor. JU team members include Sonnenberg; Dr. Nisse Goldberg, associate professor of biology/marine science; Dr. Gerard Pinto, research scientist ;

and Kim Mann, marine science graduate student.


The Marine Science Research Institute at Jacksonville University is the premier biological and environmental research and education facility on the St. Johns River. The two-story, 32,000-square-foot “certified-green” building has classrooms, laboratories, offices for the St. Johns Riverkeeper and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and areas for teaching Duval County public school students. For more information, visit .


 The mission of the Environmental Center at UNF, founded in 2004, is to establish, develop and support cross-disciplinary education and research related to the environment. The Center fosters programs for students, faculty and staff to pursue environmental activities through academics, research and extracurricular activities.


UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.