When our children were small I never dreamed we would meet for our summer vacation on the Pacific Coast. Getting to their ancestral home meant negotiating three miles of bad dirt road, gnat swarms and the occasional rattlesnake. Now vacation involves rental cars and westbound planes.

When we visited California it was dry. So barren is the land even Republicans support tax increases for water-related infrastructure projects.  It takes a mighty parched piece of dirt to make that happen. California Republicans are a squirrelly lot. My neighbor Mike Huckabee pointed out in a 2008 presidential debate Ronald Reagan signed off on a billion dollar tax increase his first year as governor. Truth be told, Reagan was dealt a bad hand. The state had a tremendous budget deficit and the legislature would not go along with scorched earth austerity. So Reagan compromised and the world’s axis did not shift. Richard Nixon, also a Californian, signed the Clean Water Act … we know what a radical concept clean water is. I, too, like clean water and we share affection for Mexican dishes. Nixon’s favorite restaurant, El Adobe de Capistrano, has yummy ceviche, perhaps the best ever. 

Off the coast of Newport Beach, Catalina Island sometimes blocks the sunset and its infrastructure woes may be a harbinger for South Walton. Like us, Catalina Island finds their tourism industry straining infrastructure. Catalina has little fresh water and supplements their desalination plant with water piped from the mainland. When we couple tourism demand with increased residential units, how long will our water supply last? Fortunately for us, we have the Walton County Planning Commission directing things. After all, they would never lead us astray. What, me worry?

Stinson Beach, a tourist destination north of San Francisco, instituted a strict water rationing policy. When municipal water tanks fall below 70 percent of capacity seven consecutive days, homes are limited to 125 gallons per day or face fines and higher fees. North Florida residents will be surprised to see their water district gives locals a break. Full-time residents with four or more occupants can use up to 185 gallons daily without incurring additional charges.

In the northern reaches of the Floridian Aquifer, “blue holes” or deep springs, not unlike those on Econfina Creek, periodically run dry during periods of drought or heavy withdrawals. If we don’t plan now, we may live the lyrics, “you don’t miss your water, till the well runs dry.”  Take this story with how many grains of salt you choose.  In the late 70s, a geologist hired by the state of Georgia stated emphatically that farmers would never run out of water in South Georgia. About a decade later the man admitted he was wrong. The same thing could happen here. South Walton needs to ensure sufficient water and sewer capacity for the coming development. If your finances are linked closely to South Walton property values, inadequate infrastructure could derail your retirement. Don’t blithely flush it down the drain.

Even though Buz Livingston is a fee-only certified financial planner this should not be considered personal advice. For specific recommendations visit online at livingstonfinancial.net or at the office in Redfish Village, 2050 Scenic 30A, M-1 Unit 230.  Follow on Twitter @BuzLivingston.