Makin’ Waves February 2019

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Safe Water for Walton sets statewide records with Operation Medicine Cabinet!

By Kelly Layman

It was an incredible sight! Right at 95 pounds of medicines collected.  At 3 different tent collection sites in Walton County. Filling the equivalent of 4 “banker’s boxes.”  All collected in a matter of 6 hours, over 2 days.

The boxes of medicines were protectively wrapped and headed for thermal destruction under law enforcement guard at a regional waste-to-energy incinerator, staying out of our water supply chain!

Anyone else a fan of data? We also took in:

  • 6 clear storage boxes’ worth of plastic pill bottles.  These are chip-shredded and recycled as plastic product by a non-profit group serving the U.S. Southeast.
  • 4 clear boxes of paper goods and aluminum foil packages also were created as a result of the medicines separation and handling by hazardous waste experts who come in from out of town.  All of that material is headed for recycling as well, staying out of our landfills.

You can’t pull off something like this without a lot of help!

This was Safe Water for Walton’s second Operation Medicine Cabinet. Safe Water for Walton first put Walton County on the map in 2018 for “Operation Medicine Cabinet,” which was started by the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection in 2010.

For Walton County’s second event January 26-27, we set two records in Florida:

  1. We are the only county to hold Operation Medicine Cabinet over 2 days in 3 locations (Santa Rosa Beach, Freeport, and DeFuniak Springs). Occasionally, a county will hold two locations in one day, but we are told that the majority are one location, one day.  No one has ever held a two-day weekend event.
  2. Walton County is the first to have any direct non-governmental private underwriting—that came from our Presenting Sponsor, Gulf Power Company, and other sponsors.

Safe Water for Walton’s 2019 event brings the statewide total with Operation Medicine Cabinet to 2799.50 pounds of pharmaceuticals and medicines—of all types and strengths—diverted from Florida’s public water supply chain, since the State of Florida started this community outreach and awareness program.  Reported collection totals are final weight without packaging.

Who helped us pull off 6 months of planning—with a big hurricane in the smack middle?  Who deserves major applause for being committed to this event?

  • We owe a debt of gratitude logistically to the Walton County School District for its second year of site assistance. The parking lots drop-offs continued to be convenient for citizens.
  • Law enforcement support is wide and deep on this event—thank you to Walton County Sheriff Mike A. Adkinson, Jr., for not just helping underwrite the event but also being a Business Member of Safe Water for Walton.
  • Walton County’s Supervisor of Elections Bobby Beasley—himself! Stationed for public service at all three weekend sites! Also an Individual Member of Safe Water for Walton.
  • Underwriting from Southern Waste Information Exchange, Hall & Runnels Law Firm, Azland Recycling Company, Lake Powell Community Alliance, and Techplanet.  All Members of Safe Water for Walton.
  • More than anything, this event was made possible by, you guessed it, our Members.  Join them. Online. Today. If you want more events like this one, protecting your waterways and your health.  You only join once, thanks to our event sponsors, grants, and major donors!

Go to www.safewaterforwalton.org and see whose good company you’d be in.  Look under Join/Donate.

Check out our ongoing hurricane relief work on the web site as well, under Events.

Yes, you can make a difference.  We have a growing membership that is spanning the same 6-county watershed we advocate for.  Safe drinking water supply is our focus.

Yet in the case of Operation Medicine Cabinet, each participant also actively protects aquatic wildlife from pharmaceutical harm, and you support your own public waterways. In one quick step.

What a sight to behold.

Kelly Layman is a Founding Board Member of the non-profit group Safe Water for Walton, Inc. She is a Santa Rosa Beach resident and owns a State-certified Longleaf tree farm in DeFuniak Springs. For more about disposal options, see www.safewaterforwalton.org/operation-medicine-cabinet

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