"One man with belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interests"John Stuart Mill
Jim Plant knew something was wrong. The former Gloucester Catholic track and cross country standout, and 1978 graduate could tell the water in his Pompano Beach Florida stand was polluted even though the beach flags said "all clear" to swim.Update: Jim Plant's latest CD has been remastered and is available on itunes and Amazon:
Plant, a full time Life Guard who had saved numerous people in the surf, knew the water contained enough bacteria to make swimmers seriously sick no matter what the flags or tests said. He knew the water.
Plant investigated with the same tenacity that made him an outstanding runner at Gloucester Catholic and Stockton College. He found out that bacteria levels in the water were ten times the safe limit. He also found out that the EPA had changed the rules in 2003 making it easier to discharge waste into the water.
Plant fought to make changes in the discharge process and also to close the beaches when the water was unsafe. The beaches were only being closed when the water levels were unsafe for 3 days in a row. There was a lot of tourist money at stake. Plant knew it only took one day of swimming in the unsafe surf to make someone very sick.
South Jersey Running Legends Jim Plant and Jamie Bagley
At first there were repercussions-- attempts to force Plant
off his job, lawyers refusing to take his case. At one point
Plant even got sick from working in the water. But Plant refused to be intimidated.
Through Plant's hard work and his one man crusade, things eventually started to turn around.
Plant appeared on NPR to talk about the water quality to millions of listeners. The feedback was quick and loud.
The opposing side suddenly was not as intimidating, not as threatening when the public became aware of how bad the water really was-- how dangerous it was to do a wholesome activity-- swim in the surf with your family.
Thanks to Plants efforts, the water is now tested daily by the Pompano high school science classes and results are posted online for all to see http://www.surfrider.org/broward/
Plant has been a successful runner, a professional musician with two CD's released and an award winning life guard, but his greatest contribution may have been having the courage to do the right thing against the odds, and to fight to make sure that the ocean where he lives and works is safe for everyone.