Citrus County Chronicle, 9/19/2018
Josh Wooten, President and CEO of the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce, discusses the importance of saving our waters and highlights the chamber’s new membership into the FGCBC.
The Citrus County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to again participate in this important Save Our Waters Week discussion of water quality and quantity. Although we set aside this week every year in September to completely focus on saving our waters, it is truly such a critical part of our health, recreation and economy that it is never far from our minds the other 51 weeks of the year.
Without water, we cannot sustain life. Without clean water, we cannot maintain health. Without maintaining our local natural resources, our economy and wildlife will suffer.
Water quality and quantity are always a top priority of your chamber, and we work closely with our leaders to keep this all-important issue on the front burner.
We have shared the chamber’s commitment to the ongoing restoration projects in King’s Bay, Homosassa, and the Lakes Region of our county with our legislative delegation. Likewise, we are also proponents of the ongoing septic-to-sewer initiatives the state and county are embarking upon. We would be remiss if we did not express our gratitude to both Sen. Wilton Simpson and Rep. Ralph Massullo for their unwavering efforts in all of these projects.
Due to the dedicated work of groups like Save Our Waters, Save Crystal River, One Rake at a Time and the Homosassa River Alliance among others, Citrus County is becoming known throughout Florida as a place where our citizens take the initiative and do the hard work to help clean up our waters. With the recent issue our state is experiencing with red tide and toxic blue-green algae, perhaps all of Florida should take note of our positive action and results here in Citrus County.
Recently, the Chamber has also become engaged in the issue of offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. We were surprised to recently learn that the temporary federal ban is set to expire in 2020.
New offshore drilling proposals pose a direct threat to coastal tourism and local businesses that depend on a healthy and clean marine environment. We have joined with a number of other Tampa Bay area chambers and businesses as partners in the Gulf Coast Business Coalition, which is an alliance that has been created to speak with a united voice for the business communities and Gulf Coast counties opposing the lifting of the ban.
We are encouraged that our congressional delegation is unanimous in their support to keep the ban in place. However, certain members of Congress in other Gulf Coast states and across the country are not necessarily on the same page. It is important that we keep the pressure on these lawmakers to ensure that our precious Gulf waters remain safe.
Every voter will soon have an opportunity to let his or her voice be heard on this issue. On statewide ballots this November, voters will have the chance to vote on Amendment 9. Although Amendment 9 is a little convoluted in that it addresses both offshore drilling as well as vaping in the workplace, a “Yes” vote on this amendment will prohibit drilling beneath all state-owned waters between the mean high-water line and the state’s outermost territorial boundaries. Passage of Amendment 9 will go a long way in letting Washington know that Floridians are serious about protecting their environment and economy.
We can ill afford not to make every week “Save Our Waters Week.”
Josh Wooten is the President and CEO of the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce and a former Citrus County commissioner.