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Addressing Urgent Environmental Concerns: Stormwater Runoff and Public Health Risks



In a recent communication received via waltoncounty.org, Doug Liles, a Florida Special District Commissioner for South Walton County Mosquito Control, raises a compelling and urgent concern regarding stormwater runoff in Florida.


Liles outlines the potential link between poor stormwater management and the rise of flesh-eating bacteria, particularly Vibrio vulnificus, in water bodies around Choctawhatchee Bay and neighboring counties.


The Gravity of the Situation:


Recent cases of severe infections, some leading to amputations and near-fatal outcomes, have triggered alarm in the affected communities.


Liles suggests a plausible connection between these health incidents and inadequate stormwater runoff management, which might be contributing to the degradation of water quality, creating environments favorable for dangerous pathogens.


Environmental Impact and Public Health Risks:


Liles urges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a comprehensive investigation into stormwater management practices, evaluate the impact on water quality and public health, implement stricter regulations, and enhance monitoring mechanisms for waterborne pathogens.


The presence of pollutants, including PFAS substances, adds an additional layer of risk to both human health and local wildlife.


Call for Immediate Action:


The urgency of the matter prompts Liles to call for immediate action to safeguard the health of Florida's communities and protect precious wildlife and ecosystems from irreversible damage.


He emphasizes the need for whistleblower protections under both state and federal laws, invoking the Florida Whistle-blower’s Act, Florida False Claims Act, Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), OSHA Whistleblower Protections, and EPA Whistleblower Protections.


Legal Protections and Request for Processing:


As a Florida Special District Commissioner, Liles seeks recognition of his whistleblower rights and protection against retaliation under state and federal laws.


He highlights his commitment to reporting environmental violations and public health risks to ensure the well-being of Florida's communities.


Conclusion:


Doug Liles' whistleblowing effort sheds light on a critical environmental and public health issue that demands immediate attention.


The call for comprehensive investigations, stricter regulations, and enhanced monitoring reflects a commitment to safeguarding the well-being of Florida residents and protecting the state's valuable ecosystems.


For Further Information:


Citizens and concerned individuals are encouraged to engage in the ongoing dialogue regarding stormwater management and public health risks, ensuring collaborative efforts for the betterment of the community.



See full letter below:




Subject: Urgent: Whistleblower Complaint on Stormwater Runoff Pollution and Its Impact on Public Health and Wildlife in Florida


Doug Liles

Florida Special District Commissioner

South Walton County Mosquito Control

Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459


February 1, 2024


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

1849 C Street, NW

Washington, DC 20240


Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20460


Dear U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Environmental Protection Agency,


I am writing to raise an urgent concern regarding the management of stormwater runoff in Florida and its potential connection to the proliferation of flesh-eating bacteria, specifically Vibrio vulnificus, in our water bodies.


Recent incidents involving serious infections from these bacteria, including cases leading to amputation and near-fatal outcomes, have alarmed communities around Choctawhatchee Bay, Walton, Okaloosa, and Bay Counties.


The increasing frequency of these health incidents points towards a possible link with poor stormwater runoff management, which may be contributing to the deterioration of water quality, thereby creating environments conducive to such dangerous pathogens.


The presence of pollutants, potentially including PFAS substances, further exacerbates the risk to both public health and local wildlife.

Given the grave nature of this issue, I urge both agencies to:


Conduct a comprehensive investigation into the stormwater management practices in the affected areas.


Evaluate the impact of stormwater runoff pollution on water quality and public health.


Implement stricter regulations and corrective measures to mitigate pollution sources.


Enhance monitoring and reporting mechanisms for waterborne pathogens in recreational waters.


Increase public awareness on the risks and preventive measures against flesh-eating bacteria.


As a Florida Special District Commissioner, I am reporting environmental violations and public health risks to your agency.


I want to ensure that my whistleblower rights, including protection against retaliation, are recognized under state and federal laws.


State Protections:

Florida Whistle-blower’s Act: Protects me from retaliation for reporting any violations of laws or regulations.


Florida False Claims Act: Allows me to report state fraud and protects against employer retaliation.


Federal Protections:

Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA): Protects federal employees who report waste, fraud, or abuse.


OSHA Whistleblower Protections: Protects employees who report workplace safety violations.

EPA Whistleblower Protections: Protects individuals who report environmental violations.


I request that my complaint be processed with these protections in mind to prevent any retaliation for my actions.


Immediate action is essential to safeguard the health of Florida's communities and protect our precious wildlife and ecosystems from irreversible damage.


Sincerely,

Doug Liles

Florida Special District Commissioner

South Walton County Mosquito Control

The opinions expressed here are solely my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the SWDMCD board. According to Florida State statute, the SWMCD is restricted in its scope to focus exclusively on the source reduction of mosquito habitats, thereby excluding stormwater management from its mandate.


Additionally, my experience in the Florida CDO program has significantly reinforced my conviction that the optimal strategy for safeguarding the treasured Choctawhatchee Bay involves undertaking independent research, guided and overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency.


850.225.9409 Cell

850.622.8150 Office

P.O. Box 1440

900 CR 393 N

Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

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