St. Johns Riverkeeper injunction seeks to block Army Corps from dredging

The St. Johns River’s watchdog filed an injunction Monday in search of to dam the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers from starting its excessive-profile challenge to dredge Jacksonville’s harbor, citing current modifications to the deepening plan and prolific flooding brought on by Hurricane Irma that want extra research.

The St. Johns Riverkeeper filed the injunction partially as a result of the federal lawsuit it filed difficult the dredging undertaking just isn’t anticipated to be resolved till at the very least the summer time. The Riverkeeper faces an uphill battle on that lawsuit as a result of courts usually give broad deference to authorities businesses.

The Riverkeeper primarily argues there are too many unfastened ends to start the undertaking.

The Jacksonville Port Authority rolled out a plan earlier this yr to dredge eleven miles of the river from forty to forty seven ft, shortening the unique thirteen-mile monitor that had been mentioned for years. On the port’s finish, that may require navigating difficult authorized and monetary issues with one in every of its main tenants.

The Corps, nevertheless, is shifting ahead as if nothing has modified.

The Riverkeeper has lengthy argued the Corps’ environmental and financial research of the thirteen-mile dredging undertaking are insufficient. That’s doubly true for a shortened eleven-mile venture, some extent the injunction makes.

JaxPort says the shortened monitor would deliver the price of dredging right down to $484 million, as an alternative of the close to $seven hundred million estimated price ticket for the thirteen-mile challenge. The Riverkeeper says the Corps has failed to determine whether or not the shorter undertaking has a price-to-profit ratio that passes muster.

Hurricane Irma additionally figures into the Riverkeeper’s injunction.

“Within the wake of Hurricane Irma, the urgency and significance of assessing the potential flooding impacts from dredging is much more obvious,” Lisa Rinaman, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, stated in a press release. “Failure to guage these impacts once we know that the dredging will doubtless improve storm surge and tide ranges solely places our group and our river at higher danger and makes us extra weak sooner or later.”

In a public discover filed Nov. 30, the Corps stated it should think about whether or not the flooding brought on by Irma “represent vital new circumstances or info related to environmental considerations and bearing on the” dredging undertaking.

Federal regulation requires the Corps to review environmental points stemming from a navigation undertaking of this type, together with its impression on storm…

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