At a public meeting sponsored by the SWCC on February 26, 2004, a panel addressed the topic, "Water Water Everywhere - South Walton's Stormwater Problems". The movie on this page shows the people. Macromedia® get flash icon Flash™ 4 + plug-in is required.

Descriptions include the press release info and my notes. The panelists were:

Michael Scheinkman is Environmental specialist in the Non-point Source Management Section of the Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Watershed Management. Scheinkman is the local DEP representative for stormwater.

Try to replicate the natural hydrological cycle. The obvious issue is flooding. Can't just dig a bigger ditch to channel it away. That creates a problem somewhere else. Have to go above or beyond state law to protect water. Law is 80 % pollution control or less for nutrient and toxic levels.
Several initiatives are moving across Florida to go beyond existing laws. DEP would help. Stormwater involves permeability and fertilizer runoff. Section 319 EPA funds to states from federal money to manage stormwater or experiment. Scheinkman manages a dozen projects. Can apply if have stormwater utility fee in place. Make ponds part of landscaping. The area around library is good example. Lee Marchman is good one. Scheinkman's office is located in the same building as the Health Department, next to the Coastal Branch library. Stop by for more information.

Phillip Ellis is Coastal Dune Lakes program coordinator for the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA). The CBA was formed eight years ago by OWCC, state and federal agencies, and businesses to promote management of the ecosystem within the entire Choctawhatchee Bay drainage basin. Ellis holds a B. S. degree in marine biology from the University of South Alabama and has lived in Walton County for 20 years. He organized the panel.

Phillip is happiest in a canoe but recognizes the economic impact of stormwater. Compared to other places in Florida, we spend less to protect our water resources. Many localities have a high cost of rehabilitation because they have been so damaged. Pensacola is small but has a terrible stormwater problem. Citizens back a $52 per person expense. Apalachicola, Alabama, and Georgia are spending millions of dollars in legal battles over water allocation. Tampa Bay spent $500 million for water resource management. We are water rich here and other areas in the state would like to reallocate our water to poor areas. Dune grass is becoming an increasing problem in our lakes. He urges us to be proactive and work to prevent costly mistakes.

Lee Marchman is Chief of the Surface Water Bureau for the Northwest Florida Water Management District. Marchman is NWFWMD's lead person for stormwater management in the Panhandle.

Marchman points to several specific successes. The Pensacola retrofit project started in 1982, living with the results of inherited bad practices. Some restorations have become wildlife sanctuaries. Sometimes land is purchased for conservation. The poorest solution is a drainage pond with a fence around it to prevent litigation from people who might fall in. There are many kinds of restoration including ecological and hydrologic. We can't do permitting without an increase to taxes. Walton county does not have a policy to protect isolated wetlands, although all other districts in the panhandle have done it.

Michael Bomar is Office Manager for Jones, Edmunds and Associates, Inc., formerly with Hartman and Associates, and the person who spearheaded that firm's work on Walton County's Stormwater Master Plan, as well as the recent Stormwater Master Plan for some of the Coastal Dune Lakes. He will provide an account of Walton County's efforts in stormwater management.

Paving county roads to prevent runoff was the first priority. There is a master plan and the county wants to do more for the coastal dune lakes. The inventory for the Department of Public Works started with four coastal dune lakes. The blue arrows on the map indicate the directions that water flows. The map with yellow lines shows individual watersheds. The green dots are stormwater structures that have been completely inventoried and their condition assessed.

To control the movie, use left prev and right next buttons, like this:

Drainage photo by Caroling, at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. See the SWCC's web page. Back to Lookout 2004.

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