Save Our Waters Week

THE ISSUE: Citrus County’s annual multi-day celebration of our most treasured resource.

OUR OPINION: Take advantage of the many activities — get involved!

Saturday, if you’re anywhere near a lake, river or the coast, you may see a small team of people with a large bag, picking up trash and taking notes on what they’ve gathered. They’re among the nearly 200 folks of all ages who signed up to help in the Save Our Waters Week (SOWW) cleanup.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of SOWW’s annual waters-edge cleanup, and fittingly, this year’s theme is “25 Years Protecting Our Waters.” It is led by Citrus County Aquatics Services and the SOWW committee of the citizen group Keep Citrus County Beautiful. They are partnering with the Southwest Florida Water Management District and a range of community organizations and individuals. The county has been in the clean water business since joining Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup in 1989. Other partners include the Citrus County Chronicle, state Department of Environmental Protection, and Duke Energy.

Saturday’s cleanup kicks off a week of activities through Sept. 26, curtailed somewhat this year because of COVID-19. Still, there are kayak tours and eco-tours and a live-plus-virtual speaking event capping off the week. Some are free, others have a suggested donation of $10.

All focus on preserving Citrus County’s aquifers, springs, rivers, lakes and coastal estuaries by engaging people to keep trash out of waterways, identifying the sources of debris, and changing human behaviors. The week’s activities offer multiple opportunities to experience our county’s waters and be reminded about why clean water is so important to our lives and livelihoods.

Kudos go to Citrus County government, which supervises enrollment of clean-up day volunteers and collects all the gathered debris to deliver to the landfill, without cost. It’s a major undertaking.

Kudos also to the individuals, organizations and commercial entities that participate. Preserving waterfronts and guarding water quality are critically important to our economy and our quality of life. Please take this opportunity to get personally involved.

As Save Our Waters Week co-founder Berry Walker said, “Water is one of our greatest assets, and we want to do something before it becomes one of our greatest tragedies.”