Northeast Florida’s St. Johns River is listed as #6 in the America’s Most Endangered Rivers Report 2008. 

American Rivers‘™ annual report highlights U.S. rivers facing critical junctures–decisions that could determine their future–within the year.  Rivers on the list aren’t necessarily polluted, but can be threatened by development or other potential dangers.

The St. Johns River was listed because the thirsty and rapidly-growing Central Florida area wants to tap into the river and use it as a drinking water supply source.  Seminole County already has a permit application that was recommended for approval by the St. Johns River Water Management District to use about 5 million gallons per day from the river to supply the Yankee Lake Regional Water Facility.  Withdrawals totaling up to 155 million gallons per day are planned for the Central Florida region. 

Concerns about changing the salinity and increasing pollutant concentrations put the St. Johns on the endangered list.  America’s Rivers™ recommends action–and their suggestion is to contact the St. Johns River Water Management District and encourage them to deny permits for using the St. Johns River as a potable water source. 

The St. Johns River Water Management District has decided to conduct a more detailed study on the effects of removing water from the river.  In the meantime, the District is preparing even more stringent rules to promote water conservation. 

The St. Johns Riverkeeper submitted the nomination in the hopes that an endangered designation would attract the attention of Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist

Using rivers and other surface waters for drinking water supply is nothing new.  The EPA notes that most of the large cities in the United States get their drinking water from surface water sources.