Environmentalists Rally For Clean Water in Florida

Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda Photo by JhaRonte James

Florida environmentalists and legislators came from all over the state to support the Floridians For Clean Water & Amendment 1 Rally at the old Capitol building.

The clean water supporters came together to let state legislators know that the money for Amendment 1 should go solely toward the conservation and preservation of Florida water and wetlands.

The Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, Amendment 1, was passed in Nov. 2014.

There were close to 400 people who attended the rally, including Chris Costello who is the coordinator of the Floridian Clean Water Declaration Campaign. Costello also serves as the Senior Regional Organizing Representative for the Sierra Club.

Costello stated, “Our job is to send a resounding message to all of the decision-makers whether they be the Governor the legislature or the high level water managers of the state. That Florida can’t live without clean we can’t prosper without clean water. 

Costello went on to say that “they” should do whatever it takes to ensure water is protected in the state of Florida.

“They [legislature] need to do what they need to do to make sure that water is protected, that pollution is stopped at the source that pollution is regulated, and that the public lands that are necessary to clean and store clean water for Florida are preserved and protected. Through Amendment 1 funds or whatever funds. But if we don’t have clean water we don’t have anything in this state — we are lost,” Costello said.

Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, who played a key role in getting the rally site, greeted the supporters with a call to action.

Vasilinda said, “Each Floridian has to take personal responsibility for their water usage, conservation, efficiency, and to move forward making sure we do other things to protect aquifers and springs in Florida.”

Rep. Vasilinda also made a resounding reference to fracking in Florida. The practice of fracking is a leading cause to ground water pollution in the state.

Estus Whitfield coordinator of the Florida Conservation Coalition shared his thoughts on the usage of the states wetlands and water.

“Long before statehood, Florida land and water was being exploited. Unrelentingly [Florida land and water] treated as a commodity, polluted, drained, bridged, abused in every kind of way. Only for the benefit of development,” Whitfield said.

Whitfield also gave a brief history on the state’s history in regards to environmental responsibility and integrity.

Whitfield stated, “the first state legislature declared the Everglades totally valueless, and petitioned congress to get an engineer to develop a reclamation plan.”

Whitfield said in 1972 Congress passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, which is commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act. In that year Florida was best known for its growth management, water management, and environmental land acquisition program in the nation – “unqualified.”

During the programs success in the 80s and 90s, Florida’s population rate had grown more than ever. Whitfield said, “The year 1972 was the year of the environment.”

Whitfield said in 2011, 80 percent of the rivers and streams in Florida were “impaired [polluted].” 90 percent of the lakes, ponds and reservoirs were impaired. 97 percent of the bays and estuaries were impaired as well. 

For more information visit http://wewantcleanwater.com