Friday, December 13, 2013

Clean Water Advocates from Panhandle to Keys Launch Floridians’ Clean Water Declaration Campaign

Clean water advocates representing every corner of the state came together on Thursday to announce the launch of the Floridians' Clean Water Declaration Campaign.  The Declaration, signed by 50 organizations as of today , is a positive vision to inspire people to work together to find solutions to Florida’s water quality and quantity problems and to send a clear message to the state’s water managers that the people of Florida demand clean water:

FLORIDIANS’ CLEAN WATER DECLARATION

In recognition that:
Clean water is essential for healthy people and a healthy economy.
Florida water quality and quantity are inseparably linked.
Florida waters are held in public trust by the State of Florida for the benefit of its people and the maintenance of natural ecosystems.
We the undersigned hereby declare:

The people of Florida have an inalienable right to:
1.      Clean drinking water whether that water is drawn from public sources or private wells.
2.      Safe lakes, streams, springs, rivers, canals and coastal waters for swimming and fishing.
3.      Protection from water pollution and its effects.
4.      Know the sources of pollution that threaten Florida’s waters.
5.      Protection from water privatization and its effects.
6.      Abundant water for drinking, fishing and recreation.

The people of Florida, the state government, and the industries that benefit from Florida’s natural resources have the responsibility to:

1.      Stop pollution at its source rather than allowing it to enter our waters.
2.      Protect Florida’s waters, as well as the people who depend on them, from overconsumption and privatization.
3.      Protect the natural environment which is critical to the health of Florida's people, wildlife and economy.
4.      Provide clean water for future generations.

By signing this declaration, we agree to its principles and resolve to work together in good faith to ensure that the future of our waters will be driven by the concepts contained within this FLORIDIANS’ CLEAN WATER DECLARATION.

The Campaign launches with a website and Facebook Page to reach out to Floridians of all stripes; individuals, businesses, organizations, and elected officials are asked to sign the declaration.

The activists were joined by FL Representative Linda Stewart (Orlando) who signed the declaration along with the 50 others at the announcement. 

The crowd displayed signs representing the participating organizations, photos of an array of slime-choked waterways all over the state, banners reading “Stop Pollution at its Source” and “I signed the Floridians’ Clean Water Declaration” stickers.

The declaration campaign is the result of the Citizens’ Clean Water Summit held last November 16 where 253 activists representing 121 organizations and businesses came together to find a way to work together more closely.  A collaborative planning committee of 19 organizations drafted the declaration to reflect the state’s clean water advocates’ collective “bottom line” for protecting Florida’s waters, wildlife and the health and livelihoods of the people who depend on them. 

"The sad fact is that Florida's polluters don't see clean water as their responsibility, and our State Government lets them get away with it.  Florida needs to use the Clean Water Act to stop pollution at its source, instead of waiting for toxic algae blooms to grow so large that they kill our rivers, lakes and coastal estuaries.   If Rick Scott's DEP were to embrace and follow the principles in the Citizens Clean Water Declaration, it would save taxpayers millions of dollars spent now to clean up red tide and green slime when it becomes a crisis." said Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club Senior Staff Manager.

Chuck O’Neal, Natural Resources Chair of the league of Women Voters of Florida stated:  “Our supply of fresh water is in jeopardy.  Our waterways are polluted with wastewater and fertilizers. Our spring water is no longer healthy to drink.  Our population has doubled since 1980 and yet our water standards have not kept pace with the growth.  We need to protect our springs and our aquifer before we lose this paradise for all of eternity.  The goal of this campaign is to mobilize enough citizens to let those who control water policy in this state know that we demand protection of our waterways and our aquifer.  Our voices are growing stronger and our numbers are growing larger.”

Patrick Rose, an aquatic biologist and the Executive Director of the Save the Manatee Club stated: “With this year’s catastrophic loss of manatee lives the already difficult job to ensure the survival of the gentle and defenseless manatees has been made all the more challenging, and it’s not over yet.  What we put into our waters, how much we pump from our aquifer and draw from our springs and rivers, together with how we use our waterways, all has an impact on our own lives and the lives of every aquatic species.  We must be better stewards of our waters and waterways or suffer even more severe consequences going forward.”

The event was covered by the Orlando Sentinel, Univision, News 96.5, NPR affiliates, and The Ledger.

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