Gulf Breeze made a wise decision by choosing an in-kind environmental project as a response to the state environmental penalties last year. Violations of the Clean Water Act. This move will be a positive for the environment as well as the local residents.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection found multiple people to be at fault for the water connection error that allowed toilet paper, sewage, and other waste to flow into the Gulf Breeze faucets last year. Alex Miller, PNJ’s reporter, reported that Brown Construction was given $2 million in penalties while Midway Water System was handed $220,000 in fines.Gulf Breeze was punished $1 million and given the chance to complete an environmental enhancement or improvement program that would be valued at $1.5million.
Gulf Breeze city council members chose to accept the $1.5million project as an admissionofthecity’s accountability in the sewer debacle. While simultaneously achieving something positive that can have long-term advantages for the community, it was right.
The DEP deserves praise for taking a firm but fair stand against the negligence that led to sewage mixing with bath water and drinking water. Nobody wants to see public and private businesses punished so harshly that the greater good for the community is compromised. In-kind environmental enhancement is a smart option that ultimately serves the DEP’s mission better and the greater good of the community.
Finance of penal projectsGulf Breeze funds penalty projects for contaminated waters instead of paying $1M fine
Penalties: $3.2 millionFDEP proposes $3.2million in penalties for contaminated Gulf Breeze water
The DEP has had a bad local history of weakness. They have been at the mercy of some of the most serious polluters and environmental violators in our region. However, the protection of our local environment is a priority that almost all residents agree on. It transcends all modern divisions and ideologies.
Multiple Gulf Breeze councilmembers supported the idea of a restoration program for the greater benefit it would bring residents. This is a course of action that will also please members of Save Our Soundside preservation organization.
Save Our Soundside has been instrumental in challenging Santa Rosa County’s poor environmental record and growth policies. They supported the possibility that the city would be forced to purchase environmentally sensitive lands as a part of the penalty.
Liz Pavelick, a member from Save Our Soundside, gave a humorous summary of the city’s chance to turn humiliation in to a win.”We got (expletive) water and we’re trying make lemonade out of it. We want something good to come out of this.”
Although the DEP’s penalties can be difficult to swallow for those who are hit with them, they are not worse than sewage or used toilet paper in a cup of water. Let’s all hope that they teach us some hard lessons to prevent this from happening again.