August 1, 2015
River concerns in Northeast Florida

Photo: Bruce Lipsky/AP Photo

Lisa Rinaman of the St. Johns Riverkeeper group says north Florida is being left out of discussions that involve the river's health.

Northeast Florida roundup

River concerns in Northeast Florida

Lilly Rockwell | 5/28/2014

The St. Johns River starts in Indian River County and flows north for some 310 miles before spilling into the ocean just east of Jacksonville. The river serves as a minor water supply source for various municipalities in central Florida that lie along its course. Currently, Melbourne, Sanford, DeLand, Winter Springs and Seminole County are permitted to pump a total of up to 28 million gallons a day.

With some 1.4 million new residents projected to live in central Florida by 2035 — a 49% increase over the 2010 population — the water needs of the growing population have led to proposals for additional pumping.

A five-county coalition called the Central Florida Water Initiative has drafted a plan that outlines central Florida’s water needs over the next 20 years. The plan, which dovetails with the St. Johns Water Management District’s own 20-year plan, calls for taking an additional 155 million gallons a day from the St. Johns to provide water for the new residents.

The proposal has irked Jacksonville residents and river advocates concerned about a possible impact on the river’s health. “The problem is they have been having hundreds of meetings in central Florida, where they will reap benefits, and very few in north Florida,” says Lisa Rinaman, who works for a privately funded advocacy organization called St. Johns Riverkeeper and has the title of “Riverkeeper.” The river already suffers from low flow and algae blooms caused by nitrate pollution, she says. “What happens when you remove freshwater and reduce the flow is you pull in water from the ocean and the water becomes more salty.

That can kill vegetation, fish and other wildlife.” The water management district counters that its own water supply study shows that pumping 155 million additional gallons a day won’t hurt the river. “Four to 5 billion gallons a day flow out of the river and into the Atlantic Ocean,” says Tom Bartol, assistant director for the division of regulatory, engineering and environmental services for the district.

He cautions that pumping water from the river is just one of many solutions to deal with a looming water supply shortage. Other options include encouraging conservation and using reclaimed water. “Utilities are going to go for the less expensive option first,” Bartol says.

 

PLAYERS

Jerry Benton is the new Campus USA Credit Union president and CEO. He was previously COO and replaces Scott Brown, who retired.

Tony Allegretti is the new executive director of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. Allegretti was previously director of downtown engagement at the Jax Chamber.

Elaine Turner is the University of Florida’s new dean for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. She was previously senior associate dean.

 

BUSINESS BRIEFS

CLAY COUNTY — A Tampa company, Oglethorpe, is seeking permission from the state Agency for Health Care Administration to build a 63-bed psychiatric hospital in Clay County.

GAINESVILLE — Gainesville startup Feathr will be relocating to Austin, Texas. The mobile application company won a “Move Your Startup to Austin” competition, which brings $100,000 in funding and free offce space. > Gainesville-based Optym, which provides planning and schedule software to the transportation and logistics industry, plans to add 100 jobs and invest $4.8 million into expanding. Optym used to be called Innovative Scheduling.

JACKSONVILLE — Convergys is adding 240 employees to its Jacksonville offce. > MountainStar Capital, a private equity frm in Ponte Vedra Beach, has opened an offce in Vail, Colo. > The U.S. Department of Education has ordered Florida State College at Jacksonville to repay the federal government $3.4 million for improperly distributing Pell grants and other fnancial aid awards. > Adecco wants $2 million in incentives to relocate its North American headquarters from New York to Jacksonville. The staffng frm promises to create 185 jobs and make $2.5 million in improvements.

Adecco already employs 364 people in Jacksonville. > Ben Carter Properties is selling an ownership interest that could be worth $750 million in the popular St. Johns Town Center. Simon Property Group owns the other half of the sprawling retail complex. > Sunshine Health, a subsidiary of Centene, is seeking incentives for hiring an additional 125 workers. > Deutsche Bank received approval from the Florida Offce of Financial Regulation to set up an international bank offce in Jacksonville, the city’s frst. The bank plans to create 200 jobs.

LEVY COUNTY — Westinghouse Electric sued Duke Energy for $500 million, saying Duke hasn’t paid it for engineering and design work in the wake of Duke canceling its Levy County nuclear project. Duke Energy denies it owes Westinghouse money and previously fled its own suit claiming it deserves a $54-million refund from Westinghouse for work it says Westinghouse didn’t do.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY — DeLand-based Ideal Aluminum Products wants to move its headquarters and 90 jobs to St. Johns County, which has offered the company an incentive package worth nearly $160,000. Ideal Aluminum makes aluminum fences, gates and railing products.

 

Executive Suite Professionals

Lisa Gufford’s Executive Suite Professionals offers small-business owners like doctors, lawyers, CPAs and financial advisers office space with a receptionist and access to a meeting room. The company rents out the entire 14th floor of the EverBank Center in downtown Jacksonville — nearly 60 suites — and then leases individual furnished offices.

“We have singles, doubles, triples and quads,” Gufford says. Her prices range from $695 to $2,000 a month. She offers less expensive packages for businesses that just want a mailbox or someone to answer their phones. Those prices range from $49 to $300 a month. “It’s a great place for people to come together and network and do business,” says Gufford, who started the company last year with two co-founders.

Tags: Northeast

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