Safe Water for Walton, a non-profit membership organization, has added several volunteer leaders. The group has members and support from well beyond Walton, across the 6-county watershed that supplies our drinking water and recreational diversity. They also have members who own investment property and second homes in the region.
Emily Ellis and Lee Perry have been added to the Technical Advisory Council, and Mary Chris Murry has joined the Community Council.
Capt. Hunter Ray, a local fourth-generation fisherman who previously served on a council, has joined the Board of Directors.
Ellis is the co-founder of Lake Powell Community Alliance, Inc. and for decades has done the water quality testing in that large coastal dune lake with her husband. She also organizes the popular monthly bird species survey at Camp Helen State Park, and has been honored by the Florida Lake Management Society. Throughout 2018, Safe Water for Walton assisted Lake Powell Community Alliance in opposition to a proposed sewage treatment plant up against the shoreline of that waterbody. The Walton County Commission later denied the land-use change requested by the applicant.
“I’m lending my time to Safe Water for Walton because we have to maintain our global water quality, and it’s up to each of us to act locally,” Ellis said.
Murry was born in DeFuniak Springs and works on freelance marketing projects. She worked more than 25 years for McRae, a fully integrated marketing agency. While in Atlanta, Mary Chris helped established a non-profit “community foundation” dedicated to protect the uniqueness of a neighborhood while preserving the quality of its natural resources.
“I joined Safe Water for Walton because some of my closest friends and clients were getting involved, and I can see why,” Murry said. “I’ve never really been involved in these specific kinds of issues, but it’s amazing how much we take water for granted. I also know the importance of a community coming together over things it thinks are important, so I look forward to this group getting even bigger and better.”
Perry has been a Walton County resident for more than three decades. After a career in real estate and development projects, he founded Azland Mining and Azland C&D Recycling, both of which are privately funded. The state-of-the-art construction recycling facility in northeast Walton required extensive State-level permitting, and is the only such recycling and disposal center serving the Northwest Panhandle.
Perry also serves as the vice chairman of the Walton County Planning Commission and spearheaded the effort to pass legislation supporting what is now the new Highway 331 toll-free bridge in Walton County.
“We have a unique groundwater system in this region, features of which exist nowhere else in Florida. People enjoy the natural freshwater springs without always understanding how much we depend on them to carry out each day, especially our rural folks on private water wells,” Perry said. “We all have a special responsibility to keep this fragile production area protected, and I would urge fellow business owners to get involved right now.”
Ray was born and raised near the banks of the Choctawhatchee Bay. Captain Ray is featured on the video on the home page of Safe Water for Walton’s website. He is the owner and lead guide for Florida Boy Adventures and works from two charter boats. He has fished and hunted in all the tributaries in the Choctawhatchee watershed and outlying region for more than 20 years. Hunter and his family live in Freeport.
“I need my fellow charter guides to keep joining this good organization. We’ve done a lot so far, but you see what I see every day,” Ray said. “Less seagrass, and seeing fish and wildlife in different places than we’re used to. Some of that is definitely upriver water issues—so get on board, let’s make a difference for our area and our kids.”
For more, see www.safewaterforwalton.org and follow the Facebook page @safewaterforWalton