Coastal Dead Zones & Manatee Migration


Serious Problems…
Fenholloway River and the Gulf of Mexico

This message is from Stan Meeks, Suwannee River Keepers.

Earlier this week I had a surprise conference call from the DEP in Jacksonville. Working together and keeping this out of the courts seemed to be their main concern. My main concern is keeping the affluent water from a papermill on the Fenholloway River from increasing the size, estimated at 15 square miles, of the dead zone at the mouth of the Fenholloway River and thereby contributing to the growing dead zone off the Dixie County coast.

Joy Towles Ezell; is leading this fight for the Taylor County citizens.

The Suwannee River Keepers, Inc. believes that this papermill, that was created and is maintaining the Fenholloway River dead zone and it is very possible that it maybe contributing to the growing dead zone between Horseshoe Beach and Shirred Island on the Dixie County coast.

The only possibilities we see are; an underperforming, leaking water treatment plant at Cross City, outdated and non-performing to more than 20% of its customers at one time, way outdated industrial and household septic tanks at Horseshoe Beach.

The Fenholloway River’s dead zone follows the Gulf Stream to its next natural barrier which is the Great Suwannee Reef’s northern boundary at Horseshoe Beach/Shirred Island. These conditions and natural run-off are the only possibility of polluted water flowing into Dixie County’s growing dead zone.

The DOH says the Dixie County dead zone is caused by mammalian waste, not human waste. Suwannee River Keepers, Inc. does not accept their determination. We are questioning authority by weekly, independent water quality tests using trained professionals to determine if there is a measureable effect from the Fenholloway River dead zone, Horseshoe Beach or a leaking, underperforming water treatment plant. We are back-tracking the pollution to find its source.

This area of the Dixie County coastal dead zone is down the Gulf Stream about 50 miles from the mouth of the Fenholloway River’s dead zone, Horseshoe Beach and the Cross City water treatment plant is about 20 miles up from the Dixie County coastal dead zone and we all knows what runs downhill. Suwannee River Keepers, Inc. is gathering independent, scientific evidence to determine the source. We will postulate no claim until we are finished testing.

Also, Manatee migration has begun. In six days I have counted, between Fanning Springs and Manatee Springs, at least 3 very new calves, several nursing juvenile calves and at least 50 – 70 manatees from the mouth of the river to the Hwy 19 Bridge.

Please pay attention on the water, manatees are migrating up and down the Suwannee River. Fanning Springs and Manatee Springs State Parks are the two most northern most warm water refuges for manatee on the Gulf Coast.

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