RESIDENTS SAY: “THE CHOCTAWHATCHEE BAY IS UNHEALTHY”

A popular body of water is said to be unhealthy. The Choctawhatchee Bay provides a large economic drive to the Panhandle for fishermen, water-sport and the seafood industry… Many residents rely on the choctawhatchee. Is the Choctawhatchee Bay healthy or unhealthy? That’s what residents want to know. For the last couple of years, residents claim they’ve seen a significant decrease in the fish population due to bay pollution. Now, they are calling on Walton County officials to address their concerns and find a solution. “A good portion of it is located in Walton County. So we have lots of concerns that we want to make sure that whatever water quality issues may be out there that we can address them,” said Melinda Gates, Coast Resource liaison. “We have identified five particular locations that we will do some additional monitoring on. What we are trying to determine is where is most of the pollution or whatever that is impacting the bay,” explained Bill Chapman, Walton County Commissioner. Walton Commissioners are discusses funding a multi-million dollar restoration and clean up project. Before some, part or all of the 12 1/2 to 13 mill of the restore act funds can be allocated and used to fix the bay…the Walton county commissioner must have a study done that analysis the specific problems. “It’s always appropriate to look at an environmental assessment to determine what issues are out there and how they can be fixed,” shared Gates. Walton County Commissioner stressed the fact that having the correct information is a key component. “Some think we have enough data. I don’t know that we do. I don’t know how current it is and the bay changes from day to day,” said Chapman. Now with the commissions approval, Walton County staff will begin the process of finding a study and analysis for a cleanup and restoration project for the Choctawhatchee Bay.

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