(2009) Pensacola, Fl-
Just looking at the bays, rivers, bayous, and wetlands in the Pensacola area, it’s easy to tell that the water quality isn’t at its best and the Emerald Coastkeeper says it’s been trying to fix this problem for 10 years.
“I give this area a C-,” Coastkeeper Taylor “Chips” Kirschenfeld said.
Even though the Coastkeeper has been trying to fix the area for 10 years the pollution is not all caused by Floridians but also from Alabama.
“Our watershed is divided unevenly with 35 percent of our water coming from Florida and the other 65 percent comes from Alabama,” Kirschenfeld said.
With the main supply of our water flow coming from Alabama, Florida receives all of the pollution along with it.
The Emerald Coastkeeper is an organization that comes together in the Northwest Florida area to discuss environmental concerns and put together projects or take legal action to confront them.
The Emerald Coastkeeper has over 1,000 active members and it’s part of a larger, world organization called the Waterkeeper Alliance.
The Waterkeeper Alliance is a environmental organization that has 180 local chapters, and the Emerald Coastkeeper chapter has been active for 10 years.
However it is hard to keep Florida waters in good quality with Alabama having lenient water quality ordinances.
“The Florida government has little power over what comes from Alabama waters,” Kirschenfeld said. “That is where the Emerald Coastkeeper comes in and can deal with the issue.”
Even though the Emerald Coastkeeper watches Northwest Florida, it’s not bound by state lines like the government.
“The citizens and the members are our eyes and ears about what’s happening in the environment,” Kirschenfeld said. “We are constantly getting phone calls and going to the site to check the problem out.”
With citizens and members calling into the Emerald Coastkeeper about environmental issues, it is easy to see why the main projects moving forward are located in the Pensacola area.
“The Emerald Coastkeeper chapter is bound from Panama City to the Alabama state line,” Kirschenfeld said.
Having the Northwest Florida region spanning across ample land, it also holds the fourth largest estuary in the state.
Having so much water and land to watch over, the volunteer part-time position doesn’t appear to have accomplished many projects in the Destin or Fort Walton area.
“If there were more board members from Destin and the Fort Walton area then we could hear more about their environmental issues,” Kirschenfeld said.
The Emerald Coastkeeper filed three lawsuits last year to better the environment while other Coastkeepers around the country filed 50 or more.
Our area is not up to par with other Alliances around the state and especially the country. To improve the environment of the Northwest area the Emerald Coastkeeper has various projects and programs for the community: project green shores, earth day kayak tour of bayou texar, tree ordinance plans, and 10th anniversary gala.
The 10th anniversary gala will be held on March 13, at 6:30 p.m.