BEACON FILE PHOTO ECOTOURISTS — Visitors to Blue Spring State Park in Orange City watch manatees in the spring run. The park’s natural beauty draws thousands of visitors each year, but our letter-writer says the quality of the water in the run is degrading.

An open letter to the Volusia County Council:

I attended a recent County Council meeting, but arrived late from a trip south, only to be escorted to the waiting room downstairs, which was standing room only.

Congratulations on an incredible turnout of Volusia County citizens. Not being able to wait two to three hours to speak, I decided to write to you instead, and I hope to have your attention for a moment.

As a multiple business owner and retired senior citizen, I understand the importance and difficulty in managing finances for the betterment of the multitude.

The decisions you make will have lasting impacts on your constituents for decades and will affect their health and happiness.

One thing I can tell you as an ecotour operator and motel and apartment manager in Brevard County years ago, clean water to drink, view and recreate on and in is as vital as life itself.

Another thing I can assure you is Florida water is getting more polluted each day and possibly dangerous to humans and ecosystems. I sold my kayaking company in 2013 after the 2011 and 2012 algae blooms in Indian River Lagoon and the mortality events that followed.

Now 929 Florida manatees have died as of Aug. 27, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in the very worst year in Florida’s history.

Have you been to Blue Spring lately? I was scuba-certified there in the 1980s, and it was blue as the sky and clear as air. Now it is green with algae and has invasive catfish poop covering the bottom. The last time I swam there, I got an ear infection. This is the reality in all of Florida’s waters.

Thinking of cutting essential water testing and sustainability positions? Water monitoring needs to be expanded, and start testing for E. coli and other human health implications before people start getting sicker and dying.

As a businessman, I understand some things need to be cut or income needs to be increased.

If growth paid for itself, then all of Florida would be flush with cash, but you and I and the citizens know that is a misrepresentation of fact that has been fake news since before it was a cliché.

Double the impact fees if you need to, but stop trying to justify unrestricted growth and asking current citizens to pay the price.

I certainly don’t mind paying my fair share, and I expect taxes to increase with time and inflation or national emergency or pandemic.

But as I can also show you from working with the Tourist Development Council, clean water, clean air and a healthy environment sustain and power an incredible economic bonanza.

There are different ways to have clean water in Volusia County. You could go back in time 100 or so years, or you could face reality and change the paradigm, which could get us back in the right direction. The current regulations and the easy permitting have taken us down a course to ruin.

Volusia needs a Right to Clean Water, which we at Florida Rights of Nature Network (FRONN) are taking from Orange County, which has this Right to Clean Water law, to the state, which needs it.

Florida needs and the five constitutional amendments that could Keep Florida Alive!

Jim Durocher


— Durocher is the East Central Regional director of the Florida Rights of Nature Network.


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