As part of BTT’s Win Back Our Water campaign, we asked Youth Ambassador Jack Walker to weigh in on the water quality issues affecting Florida.
As an angler and a Floridian, what do you think about the value of Florida’s waterways?
I believe the reason why Florida has become so successful as a state is largely part to the unique position in which it sits as a peninsula. Florida’s waterways are an extremely important resource – vital for both the health of habitat and wildlife and the immense revenue that these produce, and as our drinking water.
What water quality issues have you experienced?
Unfortunately, water quality issues are present among many bodies of water in Florida, ranging from small ponds to the open ocean. I have experienced these issues firsthand in both environments. The first time I witnessed serious water quality issues was the deadly red tides that were amplified due to the release of toxic waste from Piney Point into Tampa Bay in 2021. The red tide decimated millions of fish and acres of vital marine habitat, such as seagrass. I witnessed this tragedy along the beaches of Sarasota, and although it was a devastating sight to see, it made it clearer to me the importance of conservation and winning back our water.
Excess nutrient pollution also happens in much smaller bodies of water that aren’t as looked upon as much as the coast. As an avid bass and tarpon angler, I’ve come across many ponds that show early signs of eutrophication, the explosive plant or algae growth due to excessive nutrients in a body of water. This is mainly due to fertilizers that are commonly used in communities and golf courses. As these ponds are generally on the smaller side, the use of nutrients and glyphosate affect them to a much greater extent.
Do you think Floridians are generally aware of water quality issues?
I do not believe that many Floridians truly understand the issues that our waterways are experiencing. This can be due to the fact that there is a large influx of people moving into Florida that were previously out of the state and they can’t comprehend that these beautiful waters are only a fraction of what they once were. Additionally, I believe that there are many Floridians that recognize the issues with our water, but they aren’t sure what causes these problems and how they can support fixing them.
What have you learned from the Win Back Our Water campaign?
Through BTT’s Win Back Our Water campaign, I have learned the detrimental effects that pharmaceutical drugs have on fish, such as behavior change and decreased spawning capabilities. I became well informed of the negative effects that glyphosate can have on native plants and marine life. It is my hope that more Floridians like me become aware of the sources of our water problems and their solutions.
Learn More about the solutions we have to Win Back Our Water, Florida!