‘Right to Clean Water’ petition aims to give waterways legal rights

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne
Published: Updated:
An aerial image of Lake Okeechobee in July 2020. Credit: WINK News.

Environmentalists are wanting to give waterways a “voice” in the court system.

Right now, they are working on a state constitutional amendment that would recognize your legal right to clean water.

The amendment aims to do this by recognizing a waterway’s legal right to “… exist, flow, be free from pollution, and maintain a healthy ecosystem.

That means you and organizations within the state could take legal action on behalf of waterways.

If the waterway’s rights were violated, then the amendment would require the penalty to be paying whatever the cost is to restore the water to its “pre-damaged state.”

The amendment would cover waterways like those in the Everglades, the Caloosahatchee River, and all other waters within the state.

Now, if this story sounds familiar, a similar law was passed by voters in one Ohio town in 2019. But a federal judge dismissed allowing Lake Erie as being part of the suit over the law aiming to protect the lake’s ecosystem.

Those in Toledo had been pushing for a Lake Erie Bill of Rights since 2014, when they could not tap into its water supply for three days because of a harmful algal bloom.

A federal judge eventually ruled the law unconstitutional.

The petition here in Florida would need to reach nearly 900,000 signatures by Feb. 1, 2022, in order to be placed on the ballot.

If you want to sign The Right to Clean Water petition, click here.

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