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Water-Related News

A quest to get an amendment guaranteeing a right to clean water pushed back

The Florida Rights of Nature Network has gotten only a fraction of the roughly 900,000 signatures needed to get an constitutional amendment on the 2024 ballot. So it is regrouping and moving its goal to 2026.

Florida's waterways have been in the news recently - and not in a good way. Massive fish kills plaguing Tampa Bay. Manatees starving in the Indian River Lagoon as seagrasses wither. And blue-green algae chasing away tourists and anglers alike.

One nonprofit group thinks it has one solution. It is proposing an amendment to the state constitution that would compel state environmental officials take action to clean up Florida's waters.

Joseph Bonasia of Fort Myers is chairman of the group proposing the Right to Clean and Healthy Waters amendment.

"Clean and healthy waters are absolutely vital to our way of life, our health, local economies, our property values, the wildlife we love," he said. "And so we need to protect our best interests for ourselves, for our children, for our grandchildren."

They had hoped to get the initiative on next year's ballot. But Bonasia says they have collected only 115,000 of the roughly 900,000 signatures needed. So they plan to regroup after New Year's and push to get it on the 2026 ballot.

"People ask, 'Well, don't we have enough laws on the books already?' And very evidently we don't, otherwise our waters would be in better conditions than they are," he said. "So this gives us a legal tool that we don't have to use when other means fail us."