Why Do WE Support Save Our Bay?

I'm increasingly concerned about the health of the water in the Bay - to marine life, and humans. - Anna Balfour

Because it's the right thing to do. - Carla Tunello

Walton County officials appear to have mismanaged many things over the years and need to be investigated. - Julie Hefner

Clean water is imperative to our health and also the health of native marine animals. Please investigate what is happening. We need people who are honest and transparent to look into this. - Heather Jackson

Toxins in our Bay are unacceptable not to mention an anathema to the way of life we chose when we located in South Walton. How horrific that the gentleman who started this petition has had to see two of his friends endure amputations. This needs to be reported and addressed immediately. - Jan Ortego

Although this may be a purely natural phenomenon, it should be fully and fairly investigated to determine the causation whatever that may be. - Evan Jones

Everyone should have clean drinking water. - Kimber Armstrong

I have lived on the bay for over 20 years and seen the loss of crabs, oysters, and fish. Huge amounts of nitrogen from yard and SanDestin/Baytown runoff have contributed to decreased bay plants and mullet. Dolphin sightings have decreased due to decreased fish for them to feed on. - Wes Wyrick

I was stationed at Hurlburt Field from 2000-2012 as a medic. We always knew when the Special Tactics students swam in the sound because an entire class came in to be seen for respiratory and GI illness. We started matching dates of their swim with the dates of recent storms and found a correlation. - Joseph Haynes

Our area needs to be preserved and managed better! - Allyson Raymond

I love this area and am afraid it will be ruined. - Rebecca Lee

Our bay needs to be protected. - Brenda Speller

We've got to take care of this beautiful area and our magnificent beaches. We are killing so many animals, and running them out of their habitats. - Carolyn Gavares

Because we live here and give a damn, especially what's left of our wildlife, wet or dry. Save our county before it's all gone. - Jorg Junghann

This is my home and I care about the environment. - Lisa Apple

I care about our neglected environment, and the overbuilding in our area. - James Sanders

I love clean water. - Diane Austin

I care. - Marie Economus

I live in the area surrounded by both the Choctawhatchee Bay (Choctawhatchee Bay is a bay in the Florida Panhandle's Emerald Coast region. It's located in Walton and Okaloosa counties, east of Pensacola Bay. The bay is 27 miles long.) and the Gulf of Mexico. My parents live on the bay. - D Myers

I live on Choctawhatchee Bay and want it protected from pollution. - Davis Jr. Leland

I believe in this cause! - Beverly McManus

I care about water quality! - John Hefty

I've been observing multiple serious issues regarding our waters. - Sandy Majesky

As humans we are obligated to protect our God-created, God-given natural resources. To learn this has been ignored for well over 20 years by our county elected officials is a travesty. We must stop those that bring harm to our natural resources and our quality of life for their own personal gain. - Todd Roark

This is like our second home and we have many friends who call this home! Whatever makes it safe. - Traci Gruenwald

I want the Bay to be a safe and beautiful body of water. - Jennifer Grubbs

We all live downstream. - Karen Doyle

The Bay shouldn't be a sewer. - Buz Livingston

I'm signing this petition because our coastal waters, gulf, and bay need to be protected. This flesh-eating bacteria is a hazard to our citizens, our tourists, and our lives. - Kindal Kenndy

What's the problem?

The Choctawhatchee Bay is priceless to our culture and economy and it's being polluted at a shocking rate. Contaminated stormwater is flushing into our bay estuary because of record development and tourism. Erosion, algal blooms, and pollution are devastating our priceless ecosystems and wildlife and are a threat to public health. This unregulated and unfiltered stormwater is rapidly degrading one of our most beloved natural resources. 

While local governments and conservation groups are aware of issues, little has been done to ensure a comprehensive, collaborative, and effective plan to save the Bay. 



Walton County's pristine beaches and bays are vital economic and environmental assets for our region. However, rapid development is putting increasing strain on our stormwater infrastructure. 

As an elected official, one of the key questions I'm asking is: Are we investing enough in stormwater management to protect our precious natural resources?


Based on Walton County's fiscal year 2023 budget of $318 million, applying the typical range of 1-3% that municipalities allocate to stormwater, Walton County should be spending between $3.2 - $9.5 million annually on stormwater management.

However, details on Walton's actual stormwater budget are limited in the public records. One data point is the $14.8 million allocated in 2023 for a new stormwater treatment plant. While a good start, this one-time capital expense doesn't necessarily reflect adequate ongoing funding for operations, maintenance, and additional needed projects.

Potential Funding Solutions

Walton's Tourism Department, funded by bed taxes, maintains a reserve fund for emergencies. With water quality so critical to tourism, perhaps some of these emergency funds could be utilized for urgent stormwater needs, if the governor would declare a state of emergency.

The governor has authority under state law to reallocate funds during emergencies. Just this year, Governor DeSantis issued emergency declarations for major storms in the Panhandle and for Hurricane Ian. Could a case be made that Walton's stormwater challenges rise to that level?

Need for Transparency and Collaboration

At minimum, we need a clear public accounting of Walton's total stormwater funding and spending to assess if it aligns with the recommended 1-3% range. We should also collaborate with our Tourism Department on potential funding partnerships. Clean beaches and bays benefit everyone.


Stormwater may not be the flashiest issue, but it's one of the most important for Walton's long-term sustainability. It's time to ask the hard questions and make the investments needed to safeguard our environment and economy for generations to come. Our bay and beaches are counting on us. 


Written by Florida Special District Commissioner Doug Liles as my opinion, and not necessarily that of the district.

Who are the stakeholders?

Stakeholders include organized entities like county governments, state agencies, conservation groups and individual citizens. Stakeholders will reduce pollution by building and maintaining solutions in their unique area of governance. Below is a map of 24 major stakeholder areas where sensors will be installed around the Bay to monitor water quality in real time. The sensors will monitor turbidity, contaminates like e.coli, algae, and Nitrogen. The data will be used to inform water management systems, local government regulations,  and conservation efforts. 

The stakeholders group will be organized and managed through a Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAO) using blockchain technology. The DAO system will allow voluntary participation and incentives for stakeholders to work together for mutual benefit. Each stakeholder is responsible for their area of governance and to support the long term goals of the project. Anyone who is impacted by the Bay can and should be a part of the solution!  Click on the map for more details of stakeholder locations.