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Black Water Saturday

Gulf Gusher symbolIn Choctaw the name of my county, Okaloosa, means “black water”, although they put the adjectives after the nouns, so literally it’s “oka” water and “loosa” black. There is a Blackwater River with a sand bottom and the Blackwater River State Forest in Northern Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties is Florida’s largest.

Of course, now “Okaloosa” has a different connotation.

The local officials are still playing town council of Amity with our problems. Rick Outzen provides a sample:

So here is the SRIA [Santa Rosa Island Authority] message: Come swim in the Gulf. Spend your money at our hotels and condos. Ignore the workers in Haz Mat suits, gloves and rubber boots that have been told to stay out of the water. If you get sick, it’s your fault that you aren’t like Gov. Crist.

This is insane. You can’t put icing on a brick and make it a cake.

The Pensacola News Journal reports Close beach? County won’t take risk yet

Escambia County commissioners have not considered closing beaches — despite a now constant posted health notice for the full stretch of Escambia’s beaches — because the federal government has not set a health standard on whether the oil in the water is a health risk.

That was Commissioner Gene Valentino’s reasoning for not taking a vote on it yet, he said Friday, the same day the County Health Department issued a new “oil impact notice,” replacing any future oil-related health advisories.

The new notice means signs are being posted along the 43 miles of Gulf beaches from the Florida-Alabama line to the Santa Rosa County line telling beachgoers to avoid contact with oil in the water.

The Pensacola Beach Blogger has been hammering on this issue notes that Santa Rosa county still hasn’t issued an advisory.

The Local Puppy Trainer covered a town hall meeting in Walton county where the issue was raised

Hands were raised asking officials if the water is safe to swim in and if the beach is safe to walk on.

“If you see tar balls in the water, I wouldn’t get in there,” said DEP [Florida Department of Environmental Protection] representative Darryl Boudreau. “The data is telling us that if you can see an impact, don’t get in.”

Audience members asked to see more advisories and “swim at your own risk” notices rather than notices stating the water is fine for swimming.

“We’re putting people at risk here when we don’t know the answer,” said Ed Berry with Reclaim Our America. “Instead of saying everything’s safe and the waters are open, let them know it’s swim at your own risk.

“We need to be truthful in our statements.”

Regular people understand that if you lie to tourists they won’t be back. This area is dependent on repeat business, people from neighboring states, who come year after year. Once they stop coming, it is a loss for years, not just one season.

If you have a chronic illness, especially respiratory problems, don’t come. If you are pregnant or have small children, don’t come. Crude oil is a hazardous material. The dolphins, fish, turtles, and birds that are washing ashore dead should make it obvious that the crude oil in the Gulf is not just a minor problem of stained sand.

Finally, Joel Pett of the Lexington Herald-Leader is becoming my favorite editorial cartoonist. He has a response for people complaining about losing jobs on the offshore drilling rigs.