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St. Johns River Project Wins Thiess Riverprize In Australia

The St. Johns River Water Management District in Florida won the prestigious AUD$350,000 (US $300,000) International Thiess Riverprize in September in Brisbane, Australia.

Judging Panel Chair, Professor Paul Greenfield, said the groundbreaking results achieved by the St. Johns Water Management District were outstanding, and those involved in delivering the project should be very proud of their efforts.

“The St. Johns River Basin Project is a large wetlands restoration initiative which addresses environmental degradation and flood control in the headwater region of the St. Johns River,” Professor Greenfield said. “It is one of the largest river restoration projects in the United States and has been a 30 year collaboration between State and Federal water managers.

“The project uses innovative approaches in design and management to combine environmental benefits with flood control over 60 kilometers (37.26 miles) of river and 60,000 hectares (148,200 acres) of floodplain.

“The inspirational outcomes of this initiative exemplify the spirit of the International Thiess Riverprize and it’s an honor to reward a project that has done such a brilliant job taking river and water issues into its own hands and delivering such exceptional results.

“2008 marks the 10th year of the International Thiess Riverprize and it’s inspiring to see such dynamic projects across the world improving our waterways’ ecological sustainability year in and year out,” he said.

John Dobson, executive director of the Eastern Dredging Association, attended the event, and said “It was interesting for delegates at the 11th International River symposium to hear Maurice Sterling of the St. Johns River Water Management Distract of Florida outline the project that won for his organization the International Thiess River Prize. We were also given details of the important part the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville played in bringing this area of the St. Johns River back to life by restoring wetland areas and apparently, we were told, the first work by the Corps of a non structural nature. This is made even more interesting given that the USACE was responsible for the original drainage work.”

St. Johns River Basin was chosen over two other international finalists which included Lake Macquarie in New South Wales and the Swan Canning River System in Western Australia.

The Thiess Riverprize is a partnership between International Riverfoundation and Riverfestival - a 10-day event in celebration of Brisbane’s river, people, culture and environment held from August to 29 though September 7, 2008.

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