Emerald CoastKeepers

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Bayou Texar Agreement

by Larry B. Johnson

As someone who learned to swim in the Bayou Texar as a little boy, heard stories of dolphins and alligators swimming in our bayou and as who lives on the bayou, I look forward to the day these activities will return to my Bayou Texar. Consequently, it gives me great pleasure to announce because of the efforts of the Emerald Coastkeeper the creosote pilings in Bayou Texar at the CSX trestle are coming out, definitely a step in the right direction.

Coastkeeper, Taylor (Chips) Kirschenfeld, representing the EMERALD COASTKEEPER®, INC. signed an agreement Monday, April 24, 2006, with CSX Transportation. As result of the agreement, the Coastkeeper has agreed to dismiss pending litigation regarding the removal of creosote pilings in Bayou Texar previously filed in March, 2006. In an effort to resolve any threat of continued legal actions with the Coastkeepers, representatives of CSXT and their legal counsel met with the Coastkeeper along with board members Carol Moore Executive Director and their attorney, Jemison Mims with the Levin Papantonio Law Firm. Steve Medina headed up legal team. The EMERALD COASTKEEPER®, INC. a Florida non-profit corporation dedicated to protection of the waterways in an area of the Gulf of Mexico along Northwest Florida, which includes Bayou Texar, Pensacola Bay and Escambia Bay have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to pursue the removal of these pilings. Coastkeeper’s experts were prepared to testify regarding the importance of removal of these pilings for the future health of Bayou Texar. Coastkeeper, Chips Kirschenfeld, stated the Coastkeeper/CSXT agreement is the best for the protection of water quality and future dredging events in Bayou Texar, and the Coastkeepers are very appreciative of the efforts of CSXT and their demonstration of good corporate citizenship. We applaud CSXT for their willingness to meet with the Coastkeepers organization, to understand our important local water quality issues, and to reach an agreement that is both responsible and environmentally friendly. Creosote is a carcinogenic and toxic substance that leaches from pilings into the sediment and water column, so removing this source of biological contamination will help protect future generations of aquatic species including mullet, shrimp, oysters, speckled trout and redfish.

Monday’s agreement between CSXT and the Coastkeeper is a very positive step in improving water quality in Bayou Texar. With the total removal of the creosote pilings and the replacing them with fewer and more environmental safe pilings at the mouth of the Bayou will be able to be dredged deeper and wider. This will greatly improve flushing and tidal flow.

Representing the Coastkeepers as a Board member and Bayou Texar Committee Chair, on Monday, April 24, 2006 during the Pensacola City Council meeting, I encouraged the Pensacola City Counsel to approve the proposed agreement between CSXT and The City of Pensacola in the best interest of Bayou Texar. The combined agreements and cooperation between the City of Pensacola, CSXT and the EMERALD COASTKEEPER®, INC. serves as pattern for other entities to follow when there are environmental issues between the citizens and corporations.

The Coastkeepers also want to thank the thousands of Coastkeeper members, other individuals, agencies and organizations for their support and for adopting resolutions that supported the Coastkeeper’s position. Those include George Tourat, the County Administrator, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners, Cliff Fiveash, the Escambia Soil and Water Conservation Board, the Escambia Democratic Executive Committee and the City of Pensacola.

The Coastkeeper organization was founded in 1999 by Mike Papantonio, Steve Bozeman and Hiram Eastland with the help of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the founder of the Waterkeeper Alliance, otherwise known as the “Riverkeepers”. As a Coastkeeper board member, I was proud to lead the Coastkeeper campaign to improve Bayou Texar. I will make this promise to the community that the Coastkeepers will continue to fight for our waterways across Northwest Florida. We have and will continue to make a difference and invite citizens who care about your waterways to come join us. The Coastkeeper is dedicated to improving and protecting water quality throughout Northwest Florida and will bring whatever necessary actions against polluters.

Thanks to all who won this huge victory for our Bayou and community.


Taylor (Chips) Kirschenfeld, Emerald Coastkeeper

Analyzing data from two popular Orange County beaches, Newport and Huntington, researchers estimate that swimming in these coastal waters costs the public $3.3 million per year in health-related expenses. The calculation is based on lost wages and medical care to treat more than 74,000 incidents of stomach illness, respiratory disease and eye, ear and skin infections caused by exposure to the polluted waters in a typical year.

A public health cost assessment like this can be a useftil tool for public officials evaluating the cost-benefit of projects to treat sewage and urban stormwater runoff headed for local waterways. This health cost estimate helps us begin to understand the economic burden imposed on society from polluting our coastal recreational waters. The Orange County beaches used in the study receive pollution primarily from treated sewage discharge, and untreated urban stormwater runoff which flows directly into the water This is similar to the situation in Pensacola with treated sewage discharges from the Main Street Wastewater Treatment Plant, and untreated stormwater runoff from. the urban area, flowing into Pensacola Bay.

During the time of the Orange County study, both beaches had water quality well within accepted levels, as defined by the U.S. EPA and the state of California. In fact, researchers estimate that if bacteria levels in these coastal waters were exactly at accepted levels, the total health cost would be greater than $7 million per year.

EMERALD COASTKEEPER®, INC. is working with local, state and federal government officials to encourage the relocation of the Main Street Plant to an area of the county where the treated sewage discharge can be beneficially reused without having to discharge directly to our recreational waters. You can help by writing your elected state and federal representatives to encourage them to help seek finding to relocate the Main Street Plant in Pensacola.

Emerald CoastKeepers
Volume VIII, July 2006

"Cleaning Up Our Waterways Campaign"

The CoastKeepers and many volunteers have made a difference in the appearance of the shorelines of Pensacola Bay and will continue our monthly cleanups as an effort to help Northwest Florida repair from the devastation of Hurricane Ivan and now Hurricane Dennis.

Noticeable improvements to Hawk Shaw Lagoon shorelines can be appreciated, as well as the entire Project Green Shores shoreline. Our cleanup efforts were evident after our series of cleanups over the past few months. There are miles of waterways and shorelines in Northwest Florida that need our attention and cleanup efforts.

Our next series of cleanups will be held announced soon.

As with all previous cleanups, cleanup materials will be provided including trash bags, bottled water and sanitary gloves. We ask that you wear sturdy shoes and plenty of sunscreen and if you have work gloves, they may be beneficial to picking up of certain items. Heavy-duty yard rakes are needed for pulling large items out of the water.