Rotarians look for those who will take the 'Promise'

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

The Tri County Springs Promise is ready to hit the road and work to preserve the water quality in the area’s waters.

Charlie Smith, president of the Trenton Rotary Club unveiled a new PowerPoint presentation that promotes the program and seeks money to support its projects.

“We’ve gotten involved in this thing and we’ve got to keep pushing. It’s a three-year program,” the Gilchrist County businessman said.

He said storm water runoff is part of the problem polluting area waters.

“You can see what the river’s done,” he said referring to the Suwannee River, “Those of you who have grown up here can see the change.”

A graphic on the amount of nitrates in the water showed a roller coaster rise in one fast-growing area.

“Fanning Springs has skyrocketed,” he said. “A big part is homeowners with septic tanks.”

The project targets homeowners asking them to take three steps to prevent pollution of the springs and aquifer:

• Limit the use of fertilizers

• Have septic tanks inspected and pumped out every five years

• Fill out the IFAS “Florida Yards & Neighborhood Program Form” and consider having a certified Master Gardener evaluate your home site for free.

In one successful step, Smith said Chiefland Feed & Seed has agreed to start selling time-release lawn fertilizer.

Smith said the Rotary is seeking $50 contributions to its water program, which has a local and international component. Half of the money will be used for a local cleanup project, while half will be used for a water project in another county.

Each person who takes the Tri County Springs Promise and donates to the program will receive a manatee yard marker with the Rotary emblem to designate his or her participation.

“This will be a reminder to them (the homeowner) and to everybody that visits.” Smith said.

“So much of this project is just awareness.”

To get children involved in the campaign, Smith is asking the Rotary clubs in Gilchrist, Dixie and Levy counties to purchase and distribute a coloring book published by the St. Johns River Water Management District.

Smith said the book educates children on the need for clean water and how to prevent pollution, and when they bring the book home from schools where it is distributed, the parents become acquainted with that message.

“If you catch ‘em early we’ll get a lot of bang for our buck,” he said.

Smith said the area also has a lot of sinkholes that have been used like dumps that need to be cleaned up and the Fanning Springs Rotary has taken on that project.

“You know it goes right from the sink hole to the aquifer,” Smith said. “Cleaning it up is a lot harder than I imagined.”

For more information on the program, visit the group’s website: www.springspromise.com.