'Dire Straits' For Apalachicola Bay

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By: James Buechele
November 4, 2013
10:30 p.m.

Tallahassee, FL - A dire situation. That's what residents in Franklin County are calling Apalachicola Bay due to lack of freshwater flow from Georgia.

"This is the beginning of the end in my opinion," said Grady Leavins of Leavins Seafood in Apalachicola.

Leavins has been in business for more than 40 years. He's seen countless hurricanes and tropical storms but he says nothing compares to today's problems.

"I have never seen it, Apalachicola Bay, in the condition that it is now."

Leavins and others spoke Monday in front of the Florida Senate Agriculture Committee. They're here because of devastated oyster beds in the bay and lack of freshwater flowing from Georgia.

"So you put both of them together then we have quite a dilemma in Apalachicola Bay."

Florida Governor Rick Scott has sued the Peach State to allow more water to flow into the bay. But State Senator Bill Montford wants to be proactive in getting help to the people of Franklin County.

"It's an issue we can't afford the luxury of just depending on the court case that we have going to the supreme court right now," said Montford.

Time is critical for an area that has seen a spike in poverty. According to the USDA, more than 22% live below the federal poverty line in Franklin County. Leavins hopes speaking out will buck that trend.

"Whatever we can do to influence anyone to let us get more freshwater in the Apalachicola Bay down the river system because this is what we love that is correct."

By: James Buechele
November 4, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Florida lawmakers are looking into possible legal action to protect the Apalachicola Bay-- which struggles to survive. It's part of an ongoing battle the state of Florida is having with Georgia to get more freshwater flowing South, and more oysters growing on the bay floor.

The Senate Agriculture Committee is currently meeting about the bay and river basin. It's a chance to talk about the shortage of freshwater flowing into the bay.

As early as Friday, the US Small Business Administration may approve an economic injury declaration. Governor Rick Scott requested this for the commercial oyster fisherman. Many people including Governor Scott think this lack of freshwater flow from Georgia is hurting the oyster crop.

Small businesses will be eligible for as much as two million dollars in low interest loans.

WCTV will have more tonight on Eyewitness News at 11.

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