After six hours of waiting and listening to public comments, the wise leaders of Alachua County voted four to one to an amendment to the county’s Water Quality Code. The amendment was proposed because of the severe 2017 hurricane season and establishes county-wide wetland protection requirements, which basically extend the protection into unincorporated areas of the county. Public interest was high, with a total of 58 speakers, 46 of whom recommended approval and 12 rejection. The anticipated organized opposition from agricultural interests did not materialize. The crowd was reported at 294 with two overflow rooms.
Whitey Markle Sierra Club Chris Bird, Alachua Co. Maryihelen Wheeler SF Lake Dwellers
Maryvonne Devensky Sierra Club Tracy Marinello FL Defenders Kaithleen Hernández Civic Media Center
Commissioner Byerly carefully scrutinized the language in order to close loopholes, and successfully removed the exemption allowing a municipality to opt out. After several hours, the vote was taken around 11 o’clock and resulted in approval, four to one, with Commissioner Pinkoson dissenting.
OSFR was well represented although only your historian spoke. Other groups who spoke include Florida Defenders of the Environment, League of Women Voters, Santa Fe Lake Dwellers, Alachua County Environmental Protection Advisory Committee, Citizens Against Phosphate Mining, Florida Springs Institute, and others. Several CAPM members were present, but only Kate Ellison spoke. In addition to Alachua County, speakers came from Baker, Marion, Columbia, Union and Bradford.
Bob Knight FL Springs Institute Scott Camil Sierra Club David Moritz Alachua Co. Jim Gross FL Defenders of Enviroment
Chris Bird of the Alachua Department of Environmental Protection and his staff made an excellent presentation that explained very well the impact and importance of this protection for the wetlands. Commendations go to the commissioners and staff for not only the correction decision for the environment, but also for their professionalism in conducting county business.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-