By PATRICK HRAMIKA
Around 7 to 12 nautical meandering miles long, discharging around 150,000,000 gallons of crystal clear 72 degree water a day, Weeki Wachee River attracts tourists from all over the United States and internationally.
That high volume of people comes with a downside; drugs, alcohol, and litter.
That’s where Corporal Steven Kelly and Deputy Chris Downey of Hernando County Sheriff's Patrol come in.
They are the watchful eyes of a river patrol designed to protect and keep the river safe.
Kelly said they are looking for drugs, alcohol and anything illegal on the river. Especially the dumping of trash.
In a casual survey on the river for three recent days the indication is as expected. The patrol is needed. Deanna Brom said, “Weeki is on the run a lot and If you like it or not drugs and stuff are there.”
Carol Manning, Brooksville, said she would like a shelter on the river for use during unexpected storms. “The Sheriff can protect us,” she added.
At least two visitors weren’t in agreement. One told me, “Simple. Your question sucks. If I want to drink or smoke weed, I will.” Another simply said he feels uncomfortable with the presence of the patrol on the river.
Samantha Burlinham said the HCSO is a welcome sight on the river. “I love seeing them. Makes all of us feel safe.”