Water World Day – Hopjacks

By IN reporter Ryne Ziemba

Local Environmental Group to Host World Water Day Event at Hopjacks

According to the website www.worldwaterday.org, 1.1 billion people in the world rely on unsafe drinking-water sources. Similarly, a report on the United States’ water quality done by the EPA in 2002 stated that 45 percent of stream miles, 47 percent of lake acres, and 32 percent of bay and estuarine square miles that they surveyed were polluted. And of course, there are the 45 chemicals that were reported by the Environmental Working Group to be in Pensacola’s drinking-water in the report on national drinking-water quality released by the group last December.

In 1992, the U.N. declared every March 22nd to be World Water Day in order to help raise awareness about such global water problems. Each year has had a different theme and this year’s theme is, ‘Clean Water for a Healthy World’. One local environmental group, Emerald Coastkeeper, is working hard to make a local contribution to the global clean water effort. Since 1999, the group, which is an affiliate of the Waterkeeper Alliance, has been working on a variety of campaigns to help improve our local waterways. As part of this effort, they will be holding a World Water Day benefit event at Hopjacks on Thurs. Mar. 4th.

Emerald Coastkeeper was started by Mike Papantonio (yes the same guy that is featured in the movie Jesus Camp), Hiram Eastland, and Laurie and Steve Bozeman. Chasidy Fisher Hobbs, who is Coastkeeper for the group, as well as a professor of Environmental Studies at UWF, says she is excited about a recent victory that the group had in getting CSX to remove creosote laden pilings from the mouth of Bayou Texar.

When asked about the recent attention to Pensacola’s poor water quality, Fisher Hobbs had this to say, “First, we have an extremely shallow aquifer which is very vulnerable to pollution. Secondly in our aquifer we have 5.5 times the national average of number of different pollutants.” She also spoke of the importance of the World Water Day event at Hopjacks to Emerald Coastkeeper, “Sometimes we go to government meetings and scream and yell, sometimes we ask our pro-bono attorneys to file suit to force industry to adhere to rules and regulations and sometimes we simply need to come together with like-minded individuals to renew our faith and find solidarity in our fight for swimmable, drinkable water.” She will be at the event at Hopjacks to answer questions people have about the organization and local water issues.

The event will feature music by the Billy Howell String Trio and art by local artist Ashton Howard, who will be creating a painting at the event which will later be raffled off to anyone who signs up to become a member of Emerald Coastkeeper. Howard, who was born in Pensacola and recently moved back to the area from California, stated that his love of surfing sparked his interest in the environment, “I think it is essential to educate people on the importance of ‘Water’, the oceans, and how significant it is in our lives in every town! You cannot live without it, simply put; Water = LIFE.”

There will be a suggested donation of $5 for the event, the proceeds of which will go to Emerald Coastkeeper. Those who attend will also have the opportunity to become members of Emerald Coastkeeper for the reduced price of $20 and will be automatically entered in a raffle to win the painting created by Ashton Howard.

As to what regular people can do to improve water quality and accessibility, Chasidy Fisher Hobbs had this to say, “1) Use less. 2) Filter what you drink/eat. 3) Be careful what is sent down the drain and what washes off your yard/property. 4) Report activities which jeopardize the health of drinking and surface waters. 5) Tell others.” One ‘other’ you could tell is our local Congress person, Jeff Miller. Give him a call and ask what he’s doing to detoxify our drinking water. Here are his office numbers:

Congressman Jeff Miller
D.C. office (202) 225-4136
Pensacola office (850) 479-1183

WHAT: Emerald Coastkeeper benefit/celebration of World Water Day
WHEN: 6-9pm Thurs. Mar.4th
WHERE: Hopjack’s Pizza Kitchen & Taproom, 10 South Palafox St.
COST: $5 suggested donation, $20 to become an Emerald Coastkeeper member and be entered in the raffle to win the painting by Ashton Howard
DETAILS: www.emeraldcoastkeeper.org, or call (850) 429-8422