St. Johns Riverkeeper Announces Plans to Step Down in 2012 | Environment

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St. Johns Riverkeeper Announces Plans to Step Down in 2012

In a video message to members and supporters on the organization’s website (,  Neil Armingeon announced that he is stepping down in 2012 as the St. Johns Riverkeeper.

“It was a tough decision, especially with so much work yet to be done to restore our river’s health.  But I have decided that St. Johns Riverkeeper is on solid ground, and this is the right time for me to move on to the next stage of my life. Change is good. It’s healthy, and this organization is so strong that it won’t miss a beat,” said Armingeon.

Armingeon joined the St. Johns Riverkeeper organization in February 2003 and quickly became a trusted community leader on water issues, recognized as a passionate advocate and well-respected “voice of the river.”

Notable accomplishments during Armingeon’s time of service include:

“Condom Creek” – St. Johns Riverkeeper discovered a break in a JEA wastewater pipe that was illegally discharging into the Ortega River for over 4 years. The replacement of the pipe was expedited by 14 months, facility repairs were completed and a settlement funded water quality programs to benefit the river.

Freedom Commerce – St. Johns Riverkeeper led the fight to save 265 acres of forested wetlands that form the headwaters of Julington and Pottsburg Creeks. As a result of those efforts, proposed impacts were dramatically reduced and the vast majority of the wetlands were preserved.

The Green Monster – A massive toxic algal bloom in 2005 brought to light the extent of the nutrient pollution in the St. Johns River. A river-friendly public awareness campaign was launched through an award-winning television program and River Friendly Yards community outreach effort.

Water Wars – St. Johns Riverkeeper led the effort to prevent a plan to withdraw millions of gallons of water per day to meet the needs of thirsty Central Florida lawns. Widespread public opposition prompted further study, delayed permit decisions and focused  more attention on water conservation opportunities to meet water supply problems.

Nutrient Agreement – St. Johns Riverkeeper and several other conservation groups reached an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish measurable limits for the nutrient pollution that is triggering algal blooms and poisoning our waterways.

Armingeon has also been recognized for his outstanding service with numerous awards including the Congressman Charles Bennett Champion for the Environment Award, Folio Weekly’s 2004 Person of the Year,  CSX Lifetime Environmental Achievement Award, Carol and Bob Grimes Environmental Award, and the 2011 Mayor's Award for Environmental Achievement.

“Neil has been tirelessly fighting on behalf of our river for more than eight years.  He has truly put his heart and soul into his work, and we will be forever grateful for what he has accomplished for the St. Johns River and this organization.  In addition to his many honors and accomplishments, Neil has built an exceptional team and a strong network of members, supporters and volunteers that will continue and build upon his remarkable legacy," said Jimmy Orth, St. Johns Riverkeeper Executive Director.

The organization is currently in the process of conducting a nationwide search for the next St. Johns Riverkeeper. Armingeon will continue to serve as the St. Johns Riverkeeper until February of 2012, assisting with the search for his replacement and ensuring a successful transition.

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