More on ECUA water quality

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A constituent recently emailed myself and other City Council members concerning recent reports about ECUA water quality (see the email below). In response, City Manager Al Coby advised me that ECUA Director Steve Sorrell will appear before the City Council at our January 11 committee meetings to make a presentation.

I will, of course, continue to do everything possible to ensure the best water quality possible and encourage ECUA to resolve any issues that may exist.

The constituent's email:

I have lived in Pensacola for over 46 years and at one time, we did have the purest water in the state. As a pharmacist, we told our mother's to use the tap water in their baby's antibiotics when mixing, because the water was so good.

What an embarrassment for all of us who take pride in our city to see the way things have degraded, air, pollution, sick bays, PCU's and now chemicals that you have allowed in our wells, just because the EPA hasn't taken the time or initiative to set guidelines and limits for all these chemicals yet. So, since you are not legally bound by law to follow set guidelines, you are giving your neighbors, friends, and citizens dozens upon dozens of chemicals through our water that humans are not supposed to take into their bodies. You are supposed to protect us and our health!

I demand that you publish for all to read, the list of chemicals and pollutants, and their strengths for each well, so that each person can decide for themselves if they want to place these unregulated chemicals into their bodies. Pensacola has a high number of scientific, medical, and educated people that will take the time to investigate something so important as the purity of life giving water. We have a legal and moral right to know what goes into our bodies.

And to our elected officials; why are you not protecting your constituency from one of the most basic rights a citizen has; to trust in the water one drinks not to cause harm.


Roger Scott clay courts to open

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm happy to report that the Roger Scott Tennis Center will debut its new clay courts on January 8.


Large tree on Creighton Road

Recently, a resident contacted me about a large tree on Creighton Road that was apparently removed by the Florida Department of Transportation in the course of improvements to that road. I contacted Mr. Jim DeVries at FDOT about the issue. He responded:

Larry, I have talked with Kelli Baxley, our project manager and she is getting a
written response from the design engineer. If you have it put on a TPO agenda I will try to have our district design engineer there to explain the design and SAFETY considerations that must be considered when we are working on the state system. If you have any questions please give me a call. I will provide you the designers explanation as soon as I receive it.

I look forward to the response and have requested that this item be placed on the agenda for the next TPO meeting.


Latest from Emerald Coastkeeper

Please see the latest from Emerald Coastkeeper:

As many of you have read in both the Pensacola News Journal as well as the New York Times, Pensacola's drinking water is ranked the lowest in the country. Emerald Coastkeeper is appalled by this report, but wants you to know there are many ways to read these types of reports. Our Emerald Coastkeeper, Chasidy Hobbs, has written a viewpoint that we have included at the bottom of this email for those of you who are interested in Emerald Coastkeeper's position.

It is incredibly important that Pensacola's citizens and those of us served by E.C.U.A. take the time to make our concerns and thoughts known. One way to do this is to take a few minutes of your time and write an email or write a letter to your City Council, E.C.U.A., Escambia County Commissioners and other elected officials expressing your concerns. We have all the email addresses listed at the bottom of this email for those of you who would like to take a more active role in this issue.

Emerald Coastkeeper is hosting a Member Meeting on Wednesday, January 13th at Dharma Blue at 5:30. Though we had planned to focus on the issue of offshore drilling at this meeting, we are prepared to discuss any issues or concerns you may have about our water quality in Northwest Florida. Chasidy is excited to meet our members, and to learn what ways we can best serve you! Dharma Blue is located at 300 S. Alcaniz St. in downtown Pensacola.

If you have any last minute stocking stuffer needs, please consider giving the gift of water advocacy to your friends and family this year. Emerald Coastkeeper memberships start as low as $25. Please email us at to ask us about this special offer. We can send out our brochure and a welcome note to anyone you choose, and you can send the check in at your convenience.

Emerald Coastkeeper's 2010 Gala is coming up on Saturday, February 20th, from 6:30-9. We will have auctions, music, food, a cash bar- the works! Tickets will be $30 per person, $50 per couple. By purchasing a ticket, you are supporting Emerald Coastkeeper's fight for cleaner water. Last year we had over 300 attendees, it is always a great party for a wonderful cause! The Gala will be at the Sanders Beach Community Center in Pensacola located at 913 South I. Street in Pensacola. If you are interested in volunteering your time, please email us at

Another fabulous upcoming event is Hands Across the Sand. This event is free and open to the public. Bring your friends, family and neighbors. Come show you do not support offshore drilling. We will all join on Pensacola Beach at the pier and hold hands across the sand showing we want to keep our beaches oil-free! Hands Across the Sand is on Saturday, February 13th, 2010. We will be at the pier starting at 11:00 a.m. and will leave at 1:00 p.m. The official time to hold hands is 12:30 CST.


I drink filtered tap water; I am not fooled by the myth that bottled water is safer (in fact it is far less regulated than tap water!) I was, therefore, disturbed to read a report which ranked our drinking water at the very bottom of a national list for drinking water quality.
The Environmental Working Group recently analyzed nearly 20 million water quality records obtained from 45 states and the District of Columbia over a three year period. They found 316 pollutants in tap water throughout the United States; over half of these pollutants are not regulated by the EPA. What this means is that these unregulated chemicals can legally be present at any amounts in our drinking water.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit, non-partisan team of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers whose sole mission is to shed light on environmental and human health issues. EWG rated "big city (population over 250,000)" water utilities based on three factors: 1. the total number of chemicals found between 2004 and 2008; 2. the percentage of chemicals found of those tested; and 3. the highest average level for an individual pollutant.

Our water ranked 100th on the list of 100 largest utilities rated; that is dead last. EWG found 45 chemicals in ECUA provided drinking water (the national average was 8!); only 13 of those 45 pollutants are naturally occurring; the others are from industry, agriculture, urbanism, etc.
This information has confused many ECUA customers. Didn't they just win an award for their water quality? Actually, yes, they did. ECUA won "Best Tasting Water", three times actually. And, ECUA did not have a single drinking water quality standard violation during the period of the EWG study.

In fact, ECUA has done an excellent job as stewards of our water resources including being a big proponent of moving the Main Street wastewater treatment plant away from Pensacola Bay. They have diligently provided what EPA deems to be safe and healthy drinking water to their customers.

So, why the contradiction between ECUA reports and the EWG report? Frankly, there isn't one. ECUA's response to the EWG report is like saying the sky is blue because birds fly. Both are true.

The purpose of EWG's study was not to panic communities into thinking their drinking water was poisoned. The point was to shed light on the following facts: 1. there are hundreds of chemicals being discharged into the environmental which did not exist when EPA created drinking water standards; 2. there are dozens of chemicals in our drinking water which we have no idea what the safe limits are; 3. these chemicals are in our water legally and utilities are under no obligation to report them to us; and, most importantly 4. EPA must do a better job at protecting and regulating our drinking water, period.

If there are no health limits for particular chemicals found in drinking water then there are no legal standards for them either. This means that utilities can legally call the water they deliver safe and healthy regardless of how much of each unregulated chemical is delivered along with that water. The state of Florida and ECUA are under no legal obligation to remove these chemicals from our water or even to tell us they present. They also are under no obligation to wait for the EPA to begin removing these chemicals from our water; of course then you would have resist complaining about paying more for the only thing you cannot live without for more than a week. Remember, you get what you pay for.


Larry Caton memorial dedication

Friday, December 18, 2009

Join friends and family members as a Memorial Plaque will be dedicated to the memory of Larry Caton on Monday, December 28th at Bayview Park Tennis Courts, starting at 3:30pm.

For many long-time Pensacola area tennis players, Larry Caton was synonymous with the Bayview Park Tennis Courts. His presence as both teacher and player was an almost daily occurrence for 50 years. Although an accomplished Nation Level Junior, Collegian and Adult Competitor, Larry was willing to share a tennis court at Bayview with virtually anyone at any level of play. His sense of humor and spirit of camaraderie made him a joy to be around – most of the time! For Bayview Tennis regulars, Larry will be forever missed. Larry passed away on February 25th, 2009. For more information, contact the Pensacola Parks and Recreation Department at 436-5670 or visit


Bayview Park Flea Market

I'm pleased to say that beginning in March, Bayview Park will host a weekly Saturday flea market. The weekly market will run through September. Thanks to our Parks & Recreation Department for this exciting program.

Vendors needed! For $10 a day or $65 for the entire season (1st Saturday of
the month March-September) tables will be available for vendors to set up and
display merchandise to sale to the public in Bayview Park. If you are interested
in becoming a vendor please call Addie Quina at 436-5190 or e-mail at


ECUA water quality

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

By now, many of you have probably heard about a report claiming Pensacola's tap water (from ECUA) ranked last in water quality out of 100 water systems across the country.

You can read more about the report at Yahoo Green. Local media has also started reporting on the issue.

I have asked City Manager Al Coby to see how the City of Pensacola can help improve this situation. Also, the City Council plans to ask ECUA to send a representative to an upcoming council meeting to address the report. The Emerald Coastkeepers are also aware of this issue.


Bayou Boulevard work postponed

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Resurfacing work on Bayou Boulevard was set to begin next week. Unfortunately, the contractor and FDOT have decided, for several reasons, to push the project back until after the New Year. I am disappointed in the delay but hopeful that this long-needed work on an important roadway will be completed soon.

Please see the below email from the contractor:

Mr. Johnson,

The schedule for the milling and resurfacing on Bayou Blvd. has been changed. Due to the current weather conditions and patterns along with the close proximity to Cordova Mall the start date will be pushed out until this first week after New Years. After meeting with FDOT we decided this would be better time frame than what we had looked at before due to the additional traffic prior to Christmas in this area. This should cause the least inconvenience to the traveling public. I will keep you informed and provide you an updated schedule after the first of the year.



Bayview Park lights

Last week, I was made aware of an issue with non-working lights at Bayview Park, and asked the Parks and Recreation Department to look into it. Mr. Charles Morgan of Parks and Recreation reported to Mr. David Flaherty, the Director of Parks and Recreation the below email. I have also asked Mr. Al Coby, City Manager, to put the repairs into the next fiscal year budget.


We have looked into this problem earlier and have determined the problem to be shorts or breaks in the underground electrical wiring to these lights. To repair or replace the wiring will require the excavation of the parking lot and the estimated cost will be $20,000. as funding was not available in the present budget to address this problem it is our intent to ask for the funding in the upcoming 2011 budget.

Thanks, Charlie

In the future, if anyone sees any problems in District 4, please let me know at so that I can make sure they are addressed.


Roger Scott pool progress

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Here's the latest update from Parks & Recreation director David Flaherty on the upgrades to the pool at Roger Scott Athletic Complex:

The Roger Scott Pool PFP project is going out to bid next week. Allowing time for selection and approval of a contractor by Council, the project should be under construction by late January, early Feb. Completion of the project is planned for end of April, early May. The pool will re-open on Memorial Day 2010.

While the three month construction time may seem to be a short time frame, the major construction components of the project are to raise the diving tank from 12 feet to 3.5 feet, remove the existing concrete decking and to replace with new concrete decking.

All other components of the project are not that difficult (construction wise) and should easily be installed within the planned time frame.

For example, the water slide is a pre-constructed item of equipment, shipped to the site and then put together very much like a playground structure. The building of the waterside when placed on site would be no more than a week or so.

The other components of the project are not difficult in nature to install. They include deck shade covers, piping for the water spray features and the installation of a sand filter tank which will be purchased and installed near the renovated dive tank.


MSW Source Reduction, Recycling, and Composting

Please take a minute to read the following from Mary Gutierrez with the West Florida Regional Planning Council. Her message contains some valuable tips on how we can all reduce our environmental impact.

Source reduction: Altering the design, manufacture, or use of products and materials to reduce the amount and toxicity of what gets thrown away. Between 1960 and 2008 the amount of waste each person creates has almost doubled from 2.7 to 4.5 pounds per day. The most effective way to stop this trend is by preventing waste in the first place.

Waste prevention, also know as "source reduction," is the practice of designing, manufacturing, purchasing, or using materials (such as products and packaging) in ways that reduce the amount or toxicity of trash created. Reusing items is another way to stop waste at the source because it delays or avoids that item's entry in the waste collection and disposal system.

Source reduction, including reuse, can help reduce waste disposal and handling costs, because it avoids the costs of recycling, municipal composting, landfilling, and combustion. Source reduction also conserves resources and reduces pollution, including greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. More specifically, Source Reduction refers to any change in the design, manufacture, purchase, or use of materials or products (including packaging) to reduce their amount or toxicity before they become municipal solid waste. Source reduction also refers to the reuse of products or materials.

Source Reduction and Reuse Facts
More than 55 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) were source reduced in the United States in 2000, the latest year for which these figures are available. Containers and packaging represented approximately 28 percent of the materials source reduced in 2000, in addition to nondurable goods (e.g., newspapers, clothing) at 17 percent, durable goods (e.g., appliances, furniture, tires) at 10 percent, and other MSW (e.g., yard trimmings, food scraps) at 45 percent.

There are more than 6,000 reuse centers around the country, ranging from specialized programs for building materials or unneeded materials in schools to local programs such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army, according to the Reuse Development Organization. Between two and five percent of the waste stream is potentially reusable according to local studies in Berkeley, California, and Leverett, Massachusetts.

Since 1977, the weight of 2-liter plastic soft drink bottles has been reduced from 68 grams each to 51 grams. That means that 250 million pounds of plastic per year has been kept out of the waste stream.

Benefits of Reduction
Saves natural resources. Waste is not just created when consumers throw items away. Throughout the life cycle of a product from extraction of raw materials to transportation to processing and manufacturing facilities to manufacture and use waste is generated. Reusing items or making them with less material decreases waste dramatically. Ultimately, less materials will need to be recycled or sent to landfills or waste combustion facilities.
Reduces toxicity of waste. Selecting nonhazardous or less hazardous items is another important component of source reduction. Using less hazardous alternatives for certain items (e.g., cleaning products and pesticides), sharing products that contain hazardous chemicals instead of throwing out leftovers, reading label directions carefully, and using the smallest amount necessary are ways to reduce waste toxicity.

Reduces costs. The benefits of preventing waste go beyond reducing reliance on other forms of waste disposal. Preventing waste also can mean economic savings for communities, businesses, schools, and individual consumers.

Communities. More than 7,000 communities have instituted "pay-as-you-throw" programs where citizens pay for each can or bag of trash they set out for disposal rather than through the tax base or a flat fee. When these households reduce waste at the source, they dispose of less trash and pay lower trash bills.

Businesses. Industry also has an economic incentive to practice source reduction. When businesses manufacture their products with less packaging, they are buying less raw material. A decrease in manufacturing costs can mean a larger profit margin, with savings that can be passed on to the consumer.

Consumers. Consumers also can share in the economic benefits of source reduction. Buying products in bulk, with less packaging, or that are reusable (not single-use) frequently means a cost savings. What is good for the environment can be good for the pocketbook as well.

Recycling: Sorting, collecting, and processing materials to manufacture and sell them as new products. Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. Collecting used bottles, cans, and newspapers and taking them to the curb or to a collection facility is just the first in a series of steps that generates a host of financial, environmental, and social returns. Some of these benefits accrue locally as well as globally.

Benefits of Recycling

  • Recycling protects and expands U.S. manufacturing jobs and increases U.S. competitiveness.
  • Recycling reduces the need for landfilling and incineration.
  • Recycling prevents pollution caused by the manufacturing of products from virgin materials. Recycling saves energy.
  • Recycling decreases emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.
  • Recycling conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals.
  • Recycling helps sustain the environment for future generations.

Steps to Recycling a Product
Recycling includes collecting recyclable materials that would otherwise be considered waste, sorting and processing recyclables into raw materials such as fibers, manufacturing raw materials into new products, and purchasing recycled products. Collecting and processing secondary materials, manufacturing recycled-content products, and then buying recycled products creates a circle or loop that ensures the overall success and value of recycling.

Step 1. Collection and Processing Collecting recyclables varies from community to community, but there are four primary methods: curbside, drop-off centers, buy-back centers, and deposit/refund programs.

Regardless of the method used to collect the recyclables, the next leg of their journey is usually the same. Recyclables are sent to a materials recovery facility to be sorted and prepared into marketable commodities for manufacturing. Recyclables are bought and sold just like any other commodity, and prices for the materials change and fluctuate with the market.

Step 2. Manufacturing Once cleaned and separated, the recyclables are ready to undergo the second part of the recycling loop. More and more of today's products are being manufactured with total or partial recycled content. Common household items that contain recycled materials include newspapers and paper towels; aluminum, plastic, and glass soft drink containers; steel cans; and plastic laundry detergent bottles. Recycled materials also are used in innovative applications such as recovered glass in roadway asphalt (glassphalt) or recovered plastic in carpeting, park benches, and pedestrian bridges.

Step 3. Purchasing Recycled ProductsPurchasing recycled products completes the recycling loop. By "buying recycled," governments, as well as businesses and individual consumers, each play an important role in making the recycling process a success. As consumers demand more environmentally sound products, manufacturers will continue to meet that demand by producing high-quality recycled products. Learn more about recycling terminology and to find tips on identifying recycled products.

Composting: Decomposing organic waste, such as food scraps and yard trimmings, with microorganisms (mainly bacteria and fungi) to produce compost. Compost is organic material that can be used as a soil amendment or as a medium to grow plants.


Black Lab found in East Hill

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The East Hill Neighborhood Association forwarded me the following email:

Good morning!
I found a male black lab jogging down 12th around 5 am this morning. I picked him up at 12th & Mallory, right by Sacred Heart Church. If anyone knows who's dog this may be, please have them call me at 850-637-8161 so he can go home.



Bayou Texar dredging

I received the following update from Al Garza, the City's Public Works director, on the Bayou Texar dredging project:

Councilman Johnson,

The Bayou Texar Channel Dredging Project is approximately 80% complete and it is anticipated that the work should be complete before the Christmas holidays with the exemption of channel marker pile. To date approximately 30,000 cubic yards of material of sand has been removed from subject channel area; thereby reestablishing the channel depth of 10 feet and an operational with of 60 feet at MLW. The addition of 15 channel marker piling between the CSX trestle and the Cervantes Street Bridge will greatly aid boaters with navigating the channel along with providing additional information with regard to subject area being a NO WAKE ZONE.
This very exciting project will open up the channel and should maximize the daily tidal exchange of water within Bayou Texar, improving overall water quality.


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