Calkins to Propose “Protect Our Water, Save Our Jobs” Alternative Plan for Well Field Protection Area

Posted on February 8, 2021 by Romi White

District 3 Commissioner James Calkins during tomorrow morning’s commission work session will present his “Protect Our Water, Save Our Jobs” Plan, an alternative to the county’s proposed comprehensive plan amendment, which sparked controversy for removing key protections to the county’s designated Well Field Protection Area, located in East Milton.

Planning and Zoning Director Shawn Ward today confirmed the county has canceled plans for a required February 25 public hearing on the original proposed amendment, following receipt of a January 19 letter from Northwest Florida Water Management District, stating the county needed to gather more data and pursue further analysis before moving forward.

Calkins told South Santa Rosa News that he recently started working to develop an alternative plan with local water departments, environmental experts and Kyle Holley, one of the citizens who helped the county establish the Well Field Protection Area in 2013.

Calkins on Friday received support for the alternative plan from the Northwest Florida Water Management District (NWFWMD).

Brett Cyphers, NWFWMD executive director, in a February 5 letter thanked Calkins for working to resolve concerns over the county’s initial amendment. Today he signed off on Calkins’ plan, agreeing it would further protect the water and provide greater assurance to Santa Rosa County residents, while also providing a practical path for landowners to maintain the economic viability of their property.

“I very must appreciate your willingness to explore and implement measures that will enable the Comprehensive Plan to better meet the functional needs of landowners within the Wellfield District while also ensuring a regionally important water source resource continue to be protected,” Cyphers stated.

Calkins plan calls for:

  • Maintain boundaries of Well Field Protection Area, prohibiting any solid waste disposal facilities, including Class I, II or III facilities), construction and demolition debris landfills and hazardous waste facilities;
  • Establish a 2,000-foot well protection zone around any potable wells within the Well Field Protection Area
  • Existing resource extraction within 2,000 feet of a well would be “grandfathered in” to allow the continuation of operations with no expansion allowed once operations are discontinued at which point non-conforming uses shall terminate;

Additionally, pursuant to the above limitations, expanded or new borrow pits may be allowed with the Well Protection Area subject to the following criteria:

  • Siting must be outside zone defined above
  • An onsite analysis and plan must be submitted for County review and approval, to include a geotechnical survey identifying depth to the seasonal high-water table and any confining or semi-confining layers;
  • Effective integrity of lowest confining layer about seasonal high-water table must be protected or, absent a confining layer, a minimum of 20 feet must be maintained between lowest point of excavation and top of seasonal high-water table;
  • Proposed new or expanded pits shall be conditioned to prohibit future conversion to any type of disposal facility – other than for vegetative debris;
  • If used for vegetative debris, the facility shall maintain a monitor onsite during open house to inspect all debris and ensure only approved vegetative debris is received, plus the facility must provide a spill response plan to ensure expeditious reporting, evalution and remediation of any potential spills or discharges.

Calkins plans to make a detailed presentation about his alternative plan during the board’s 8:0 a.m., Tuesday, February 9 work session, which will take place at the County Administrative Complex, located at 6495 Caroline Street in Milton. 

The work session will be available to viewing via live stream or replay via