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Politics

Proactive 'Safe Water for Walton' Launches Website

April 13, 2018 - 2:15pm
Sky Pro Imaging
Sky Pro Imaging

Safe Water for Walton, easily one of Florida's busiest nonprofits since it registered as a 501(c)4 less than six months ago, has already racked up an impressive list of successes. And now the group has introduced a website to give it a bulletin board and a community-friendly presence.

The group says it’s time for citizens to help celebrate and be part of creating new projects. “Safe Water for Walton ‘READY TO RIDE!’ Membership Drive,” sponsored by Pedego® Electric Bikes 30A -- it's a drawing for two new bikes -- will increase visibility, the group hopes. The value of each Pedego® electric bike is $2,295.00.

Safe Water for Walton was launched in November 2017 by several local community leaders to more closely watch some major regional and local water policy issues. 

All of the board members -- and the soon-to-be-announced Community Advisory Council members -- either have worked in state government in Tallahassee, or on various countywide policy issues. Highlights from group's list of accomplishments so far include these: 

• Sent Gov. Rick Scott a four-page letter with seven separately researched concerns about a contentious wastewater treatment-related bill (HB 1149) that the group had watched the most closely, with its lobbyists. The bill passed both chambers of the Legislature. The governor vetoed it April 6. It was the only substantive policy bill the governor vetoed from the 2018 session.

• Has continued to be the leading voice in Walton County against a “deep injection well” for toxic landfill leachate in Jackson County, as proposed by a private vendor. The county commissions in Jackson, Gadsden, and Walton in 2017 all passed unanimous resolutions against this state regulatory permit application, as have all three cities in Walton County -- Freeport, DeFuniak Springs and Paxton, in addition to other nearby cities and towns. The permit is pending on file with the state, with no timetable or deadline for either approval or denial. This existential threat to the region’s public water supply continues to be the No. 1 priority of the group and is what galvanized it into being formed.

• As announced here, just launched a website -- www.safewaterforWalton.org -- made possible with major support from RandyWiseHomes.com, Coastal Accounting, and others.

From left, Steve Hall, Beth Jackson and Kelly Layman
From left, Steve Hall, Beth Jackson and Kelly Layman

• Organized Walton County’s first “Operation Medicine Cabinet” with state funding support, and a U.S. southeastern expert in hazardous waste disposal. Plans are already under way for another pharmaceuticals/medicines collection event with more local sponsors. OMC is a national movement to keep all types of pharmaceuticals and medicines out of the communities’ local water supply and drinking water, because they aren’t all regulated within federal or state drinking water standards. Flushed medicines also harm wildlife, with many examples of some fish changed from male to female. Everyone is encouraged never to flush any medicines down a drain -- whether they are antibiotics, painkillers, mood stabilizers, anti-convulsants, any male/female hormone material, or cough syrup liquid. Pharmaceuticals are hazardous to waterways and public drinking water, including those on private water wells.

“What we’ve done so far will become exponential in the next year, now that we have a structured membership program that people have been asking for,” said founding board member and Freeport resident Beth Jackson, who has lived in Walton for 44 years. “Like so many neighbors and friends, I remember 56 years ago first vacationing here, at Grayton Beach and up in our freshwater springs and parks. So check out the website and join this effort, because you’ll be making a big difference.” 

At least two member receptions are planned so far in 2018, one south of the Bay in May, and the other north of the Bay in summer. Any interested sponsors should contact admin@safewaterforwalton.org

The group received support from out-of-state owners of Walton properties, including farmers and Bayfront owners, who were immediately concerned about their real estate values as Safe Water for Walton started educating the community about the deep injection well for toxic landfill leachate.  

Some Walton property owners also were familiar with the failures of uncapped deep injection wells, as toxic plumes and widespread contamination of the public water supply has occurred in their home states. 

Gene Jones with Pedego 30A owner Jason Medina
Gene Jones with Pedego 30A owner Jason Medina

The “Safe Water for Walton ‘READY TO RIDE’ Membership Drive” with Pedego will run through May 2. Any donations for the drawing will be accepted online through May 2 only. Mail-in donations for the bike drawing must be received by May 2 as well.

All the online donation options, along with a mail-in entry form, are on the website. 

A drawing will be conducted shortly after May 2 at a members’ reception. No need to be present to win. 

The group emphasizes that any level of membership donation to Safe Water for Walton is an automatic entry, whether done online or mailed in. 

Additional entries are a $10 suggestion donation. See the website for full details.

A video of the drawing for the two Pedego electric bikes in May will be posted on the group’s Facebook page, @safewaterforWalton.

Pedego 30A is the Emerald Coast’s first and only all-electric bicycle shop, providing sales, rentals, and bike service. Owner Jason Medina, a native of the Emerald Coast, recently retired from service in the U.S. Coast Guard. 

“We are proud to help present the membership launch for Safe Water for Walton,” Medina said. “Everything about Walton County revolves around enjoyment of these outdoors that we all love -- and Pedego is all about having fun in the outdoors.”

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