Water is the only resource we cannot live without. History documents that many people, given adequate access to water, have survived for more than a month with no food. Mahatma Gandhi famously completed a 21-day hunger strike, but other hunger strikers went as long as 74 days without eating, according to Scientific American.
Try to cut out all water and you will last just a few days.
And water’s in short supply. Researchers from University of Florida and state officials say the Navarre area will be in dire need as early as 2070 due to the pressure on our water supply from a growing population.
South Santa Rosa’s water is under new danger. County commissioners, at the encouragement of business interests, are seeking to lift the ban on natural resource extraction over the East Milton wells that provide south Santa Rosa’s drinking water. That’s been banned for years under the East Milton Well Field Protection Area.
Owners of an existing borrow pit want to expand their business. They were grandfathered in because the pit predated the well field protections. But to expand, the commissioners would have to repeal the protections outright.
We think that would be unwise.
We acknowledge that not all borrow pits are created equal. Under the county’s Land Development Code updates, the pit proposed would be for vegetative debris only. Not even treated lumber would be allowed. Other types of pits include actual landfills, and those types of pits would still be banned.
While this less intensive use does not pose as direct a threat, it still comes with high levels of concern. Anytime you are digging down near the aquifer, you put that water quality in danger. Regulation would be under the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, but that could mean spotty coverage since FDEP personnel do not daily monitor dumping. And it only takes one problem load to potentially impact the entire south end’s water supply.
Our county has had trouble just keeping our recycling loads clean, and now we’re staking our future viability as a community on the word of dumpers that say nothing detrimental will find its way into the bottom of that pit.
Imagine if an incident did occur over the well field. A truck breaks down and leaks. A load gets contaminated and dumped. Those poisons are now seeping unimpeded directly into the aquifer. If the wells are contaminated that could mean they go offline, unable to provide water to the community.
And because of the unpredictably interconnected nature of our water table in Florida, there is no telling how many wells could be impacted.
Cleaning pollution from the aquifer can be difficult, costly and sometimes impossible. Fairpoint Regional Utility System supplies most of the water for south Santa Rosa (Holley-Navarre, Navarre Beach, Midway and Gulf Breeze). Fairpoint’s wells were under scrutiny by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for concerns that there may not be adequate water supply for the future. If even one of those wells was contaminated, it could spell big trouble for residents and small-business owners of the south end. Trouble like limited access to water, moratoriums on future building and bans on expanding businesses or homes.
Citizens created and advocated for the East Milton Well Field Protection Area to the protect the citizens’ interests. This wasn’t some outside lobbying entity or government overregulation. This was citizens petitioning their government for preservation of their vital resources.
Do not allow that hard work to be squandered while we sit silently by. Use your First Amendment right to petition the government. Attend the hearings in November on this matter, and call and email your county commissioners against this dubious rollback of environmental protections. Commissioners can be reached at BOCC@SantaRosa.FL.gov and by phone at 850-983-1877.