By Beth Jackson and Capt. Hunter Ray
Why would a 60 something retiree and a 30 something boat captain spend their free time helping Safe Water for Walton—a non-profit just shy of 2 years old—be successful?
It’s simple: They know local history, and know that our past and our future rest on Walton’s waterways. Four Mile Creek in Freeport was the hub of the entire region’s economy back in the day. It was literally the shipping lane and trading zone for all timber and goods. Today, it’s pretty clear that 26 miles of white sandy beaches have taken over as the top economic engine.
Well before national news coverage of those horrible public water emergencies and toxic algal blooms all across South Florida and up through Jacksonville, Safe Water for Walton started up. It had become clear, through activities related to a pending State permit application for drilling underground, that our drinking water sources and gigantic recreational oasis were being taken for granted.
These proposals will only increase, as Walton grows.
Everyone—the old-timers who don’t usually “get involved” and all the newbies—need to get it together. A lot of longtime locals realize what’s about to happen. So rather than “wait and see how it shakes out,” they decided to step up; specifically a grandmother, and a young parent who’s also a fourth generation fisherman.
Walton has some exciting times ahead—if the right things are protected. The intensity of growth will bear down on Walton like nothing they’ve seen before.
Top on the list of serious challenges will be—and is—the 6-county regional watershed. It spans from north to south, supplying the drinking water and giving a rich diversity of recreational choices.
Walton County is at the bottom of that 6-county watershed and the Choctawhatchee River basin. The very bottom.
The drinking water supply winds its way down through Jackson, Holmes, and Washington counties—then spreads out over Bay, Walton, and Okaloosa counties, both above-ground and through underground aquifers.
Become a member to demonstrate to elected officials that citizens and business owners care enough about the freshwater springs and underground aquifers that they have banded around the simple fact that water sources are public resources.
Join “Safe Water for Walton”—2019 is a galvanizing year. We will find out whether the State will allow a “deep injection well” near the top of the regional watershed, or if the applicant will withdraw the request after they’ve advocated against it for two years.
This is everyone’s water supply—whether you’re hooked up to a water utility or on your own water pump and underground well. This is what you bathe in, cook with, and drink.
Safe Water for Walton (which even has members from other counties and investment property owners) has had nice attention from across the Panhandle and Tallahassee—but the more support they get, the more they can do.
The only golden egg around here isn’t just the beach. That’s a top attraction, as it fuels big parts of the economy, and it’s a southern comfort all enjoy.
But the Choctawhatchee watershed is the larger golden egg that people take for granted. If that happens, property values are at risk, so is the quality of life, and even health. Everyone depends on the exact same water sources every day—to live, to raise kids, and to pass it onto the next generation.
Join or donate at www.safewaterforwalton.org.