The following was adapted from the 9th annual report's Executive Summary.
The annual State of the River Report is a summary and analysis of the health of the Lower St. Johns River Basin (LSJRB) that is produced each year by Jacksonville University, University of North Florida, and Valdosta State University. The 2016 report is now available online at www.sjrreport.com. The Report addresses four main areas of river health: water quality; fisheries; aquatic life; and contaminants.
The trends of some indicators have improved:
- Total nitrogen levels in the mainstem of the river have declined. However, the report ranks levels as unsatisfactory, since the St. Johns River remains impaired for nutrients.
- Overall air emissions of toxic chemicals in the region are down.
The trends of some indicators have worsened:
- Salinity has gradually risen over the last two decades and is expected to continue its increase, with potential negative effects on submerged aquatic vegetation and the aquatic life that depends upon it.
- Overall surface water discharges of toxic chemicals in the region have increased.
- Nonnative species increased this year to 75 total species, and the spread of lionfish and Cuban treefrogs is of particular concern due to their impacts on the native ecosystem.
The trends of many indicators are unchanged:
- For dissolved oxygen, there was a change in water quality criterion. Although levels of DO remain largely unchanged over several years, these levels are now considered satisfactory when using the new criterion based upon percent oxygen saturation.
- Phosphorus levels in both mainstem and tributaries remain unsatisfactory.
- Chlorophyll-a, an indicator of harmful algal blooms, continues to exhibit high levels, particularly in the saltwater reaches of the LSJR mainstem. However, recent years show possible improvements.
- Fecal coliform levels remain above water quality criteria in many tributaries.
- Submerged aquatic vegetation has experienced some very recent regrowth due to rainfall, but the long-term trend is uncertain.
- Most finfish and invertebrate species are not in danger of overfishing, with the exception of channel and white catfish and Penaeid shrimp, which both have the potential to be overfished in the near future.
- Threatened and endangered species are stable.
- Wetlands continue to be lost to development pressures.
Click here to read the full report.