By Capt. Karl R. Deigert
The active Florida “Right to Clean and Healthy Waters” citizen ballot petition campaign is working to amend the state constitution in 2024. Please note: This petition is yours. With your signature, you create this Right to Clean Water. This is not about asking politicians to do this for you. You are recapturing your right to self-governance. It’s a gift to yourself, family and Florida.
Florida state waters are in an emergency state of decline. Time is of the essence and we need expedient and effective action. There is no time for more drawn-out studies and untimely projects that delay remediations while polluters act with impunity.
We do not have time to hope legislators will stop the degradation. Our current legislative and regulatory agency environmental protection framework has failed us. We only need to look out our windows to see that more than 9,000 miles of our waterways and 80 percent of our springs are now classified as “impaired.”
I’m not much for euphemisms. Our waters across the state are “toxic.” International awareness of this is growing. Everything “Florida” is centered in clean and healthy waters; our economy is at risk – tourism, jobs, real estate values, tax revenue, public services and, most importantly, our health. My own two water-based businesses have suffered the impacts of our polluted waters. My life dreams, forever tarnished and lost. We must follow a new path to correct this situation.
That path is this creation of a civil, indefeasible, constitutional right to clean waters. This law includes all waters of the state and is not limited simply to drinking waters. Your ballot initiative was drafted and refined extensively over several months ensuring it meets the rules for state amendments; furthermore, it was reviewed by multiple constitutional law attorneys to ensure it will survive Florida Supreme Court review once enough petition signatures are collected.
Your signatures are need – 900,000 of them. Once in place by the voters, every citizen, including advocacy groups and cities of Florida, will have the legal standing to sue state executive agencies that harm or threaten to harm our waters.
The Home Rule Authority of 412 chartered cities in Florida will be bolstered by this new law. It will supersede many environmental preemptions already in place that prevent towns from creating protections for their communities. We believe in home rule and this recapture of that authority is vital to save our waters.
You, we the people, will decide what is best for our waters. You don’t need the approval, permission, or action of any politician to make this happen. Your signature and vote creates your right to clean water.
That done, you will have the power to enforce your new right. No longer will we stand by and wonder “Why don’t they do something?” Imagine if we had this tool in our arsenal for the past 50 years to oppose Tallahassee regulators that today allow continued, chemical spraying, phosphate mining destruction, over development, water bottling companies to profit and big agriculture pollution.
The true and original source of Florida’s toxic waters is our own state capitol. This law is the 16-pound hammer to smash the rigged framework mentioned above.
We all want clean waters. Exercise your right to create this new law. Find the #FLRTCW2024 petition at FloridaRightTo CleanWater.org. Sign it, mail it and share it widely.
Our waters, your family and children’s futures, and the life we know as Florida are depending on you. Please join the effort as a volunteer, business partner or simply make a donation of support. You can find, like and follow us on all social media for updates. For information, contact email@example.com.
Capt. Karl R. Deigert is the chairman of the Florida Right to Clean Water and director of the Florida Rights of Nature Network. He wrote this piece for the Citrus County Chronicle, which is part of the Invading Sea collaborative of Florida editorial boards focused on the threats posed by the warming climate.