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Earth Day 2014

Observations on Earth Day

Today is the 44th anniversary of Earth Day.  I was a sophomore in high school back on April 22, 1970 and I remember a couple of the boys in my class outside picking up litter in honor of the special day.  My thought was that there were probably easier ways to get out of school.

Forty-four years later and now my thoughts turn to the number one environmental issue in Citrus County and perhaps the rest of the world.  Our water. Can't live without it.  But we certainly aren't doing enough to save it.   Gerry Mulligan, the publisher of our local newspaper, The Citrus Chronicle, wrote an excellent and thought-provoking column this past Sunday "It's Spring, and that means its time to get cleaning" regarding our local water problems.  If you haven't read it, you should.  He covers many of the issues that we are faced with regarding our water.

Back in January, Terry and I attend the annual meeting of the Friends of the Crystal River Natural Wildlife Refuge Complex.  John Moran, a Florida nature photographer was the featured speaker. State Senator Charlie Dean, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation, attended the meeting in order to meet Mr. Moran. Senator Dean said that saving our water was on the top on his agenda for his remaining three years in office.  At the time, I was skeptical that Senator Dean would actually make that effort but I've been following his activities in the newspaper and he really has made a huge attempt to get water legislation passed.  Unfortunately, the Speaker of the House, Representative Will Weatherford has no interest in the subject and has decided that it can wait until the next session or most likely never.   So we have no support from our state government.

And then there's our local county commissioners that are in constant turmoil with personality conflicts. So I'm not expecting any help there, either. Even the local groups and clubs that are out there trying to save the water can't get along.

Which leaves it up to us individuals.  This is such a huge issue, but we can still make an impact. First, take care of your septic systems.  Until the state government passes legislation to pull the septic tanks out in these environmentally sensitive areas, it's up to us to make sure that our septic tanks and drainage fields are up to par.  

Stop overwatering your yards.  Yeah, I have that water-sucking fertilizer-demanding St Augustine grass in my backyard.  But I'm making an effort to limit it to a smaller area and eventually eliminate it completely. And only water when the grass shows distress.  

Fertilize before the rainy summer season starts so the fertilizer doesn't end up in our aquifer. And keep fertilizer and pesticides at least 10 feet away from the water front.  

And now I wind this up by asking, Why did you move to the Nature Coast?  Yeah, we have no state income tax and sales tax is only 6%, pretty cheap compared to the rest of the country.  But I moved here for the NATURE in the Nature Coast.  I want my otters and manatees to live and prosper.  I want to be able to hike and bike on our trails.  I want to kayak in clear water.  I want to sit on a beach that is unspoiled by the drainage from our septic tanks.  I want our blue springs to stay clear.  And, most importantly, I want to have clean water to drink.  For me.  My grandkids.  And my great grandkids.