Lee County and five others in the state are considering giving waterways like the Caloosahatchee River their own bill of rights.
Nonprofit Clean Water Now is advocating for protections to be given to the Caloosahatchee, so this pivotal water resource may thrive. The organization held a public meeting at Lakes Regional Library in south Fort Myers Monday.
Giving rights to important water bodies is something that is trending among other areas in the U.S. and other countries. These rule and regulations are helping important waterways recover and flourish.
“If a corporation can have rights of personhood, why can’t nature?” community activist Joseph Bonasia said. “Right now, Lake Erie has rights.”
Bonasia said rivers in Ecuador, New Zealand and India also have rights.
Clean Water Now wants to add an amendment to the Lee County ballot for the 2020 presidential election that would include the Caloosahatchee’s right to “pure, clean and unpolluted water.”
“But we have commissioners, and we have legislatures that are not going to recognize this,” Bonasia said.
If a bill of rights was passed, Lee County would be responsible to enforce it.
Clean Water Now continue working to get the amendment on the ballot for the 2020 election. Without commissioner approval, approximately 40,000 signatures can automatically put this on the ballot for voters in Lee County to decide on.
“I don’t expect this to happen overnight,” Bonasia said. “But I also believe that eventually politicians will follow the will of the people.”