The Matanzas watershed contains some of the last places in northeast Florida where the water is clean enough to harvest and eat shellfish without risking illness. Unfortunately a variety of factors are leading to a steady decline in the water quality in the Matanzas Watershed with several of the tributaries to the Matanzas already failing to meet water quality standards set by the state. Matanzas Riverkeeper is working to halt this decline and ensure that these existing issues are addressed.
Stormwater runoff is one of the leading causes of water pollution in the state of Florida. During rain events, water flows over impervious surfaces such as roads and rooftops and collects pollutants such as pesticides, sediments, bacteria, oil, and other chemicals and carries them downflow, often into our waterways. These pollutants can result in contaminated drinking water, dangerous conditions for fishing or swimming, and devastating harm to aquatic ecosystems. Matanzas Riverkeeper works to reduce the amount of stormwater pollution entering our waterways by engaging local governments to improve stormwater management and notifying the public when hazardous conditions exist.
Rapid population growth, aging infrastructure, and increasingly frequent and violent storm events are creating more frequent instances of sewage leaks and spills. Sewage spills can introduce pathogens, heavy metals, harmful nutrients, and other pollutants into our waterways, which can lead to health and safety risks for both the people as well as the plants and animals that rely on clean water to survive. Matanzas Riverkeeper works with local utilities to ensure that every practical measure is taken to keep untreated or under-treated wastewater out of our waterways and holds polluters accountable when spills occur.
It is crucial that the public knows about events and activities that threaten the health and safety of our water and our community. Unfortunately even when these occurrences are legally required to be publicized, they are often buried in unwieldy online databases or printed in inconspicuous public notice sections of newspapers. As such, Matanzas Riverkeeper is dedicated to keeping the public informed and engaged in what is going on at the local, state, and federal level that will impact our water and what you can do to get involved.
Wetlands are important areas which provide a variety of crucial functions including water quality improvement, fish and wildlife habitat, aesthetic value, and floodwater storage. A single acre of wetlands can store over one million gallons of floodwater. Unfortunately, high development pressure is leading to the filling and conversion of many of these critical areas within the Matanzas watershed. Matanzas Riverkeeper advocates for smart growth practices that minimizes sprawl and steers developments away from our critical natural areas.
Solid waste pollution is one of the most apparent threats the to health and beauty of the Matanzas River and its tributaries. Unfortunately an outdated law makes it illegal for local governments to regulate some of the most common sources of litter including styrofoam and single use plastics. Luckily, some cities have started to push back and have passed ordinances banning these undesirable materials. Matanzas Riverkeeper works to educate the public about the harm of single use plastics and other harmful materials and supports efforts to reduce or eliminate their use.
With over 800 miles of sandy beaches, Florida and its coastal communities are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels. The impacts of sea level rise on coastal communities and natural areas are are becoming increasingly more apparent and imminent. These impacts include more frequent and severe flooding, extensive property damage, accelerated erosion, saltwater intrusion into our aquifers, and transformation of coastal ecosystems. Matanzas Riverkeeper supports resiliency and adaptation planning efforts to avoid severe social, economic, and environmental impacts.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has recently decided to open up roughly 90% of the outer continental shelf to drilling for oil and gas including waters off the coast of Florida. As a tidal estuary, an oil spill off Florida’s coast would be devastating to the ecology, economy, and public health and safety of the Matanzas watershed. Matanzas Riverkeeper supports efforts to protect our coast from harmful seismic blasting and risky drilling at the local, state, and federal level.