People and springs need rights to clean water

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neweriverjane2 In: People and springs need rights to clean water | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River

We urge you  to sign the petition outlined below, and to ask your friends to do the same.  We have found that lawsuits demanding that our water laws be obeyed are often ineffectual, and this state constitutional amendment may be our only solution.

We are re-posting this article from the Gainesville Sun and which also appeared here in the Lake City Reporter on Thursday June 17, 2021.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
[email protected]
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum


 

People and springs need rights to clean water

Lucinda Faulkner Merritt Guest columnist
June 19, 2021

Florida’s freshwater springs — the largest concentration of such springs on the planet — are dying, and our elected representatives and state officials are permitting that to happen. But now there’s something we, the people, can do to slow and even reverse that pattern of destruction.

I’m considered an “old timer” because I first visited Ichetucknee Springs before it became a state park, and I’ll never forget my first visit. My two friends and I were the only people at the headspring on a clear autumn day when the leaves were just beginning to turn color. The water was clear as glass and shimmered and sparkled like an earthbound star.

I received a message that day, in the form of some ghostly voices borne on a gentle fall breeze — a message that, in hindsight, bound me to the Ichetucknee forever. This emotional kinship with a spring is something that I think many of us feel here in the Springs Heartland of Planet Earth.

More from Lucinda Faulkner Merritt:

Legal system isn’t set up to protect environment

The slow death of a small spring

Why aren’t water laws protecting water?

Much later in life, I’ve had the opportunity to work with several nonprofit groups that have been trying to save Florida’s springs. What I’ve learned is horrifying: The state of Florida is very good at promoting the illusion that it’s protecting our springs, but the reality is completely different. The state is allowing them to die.

In 2020, 89% of voters in the Orlando area approved a Right to Clean Water county charter amendment. The Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis acted quickly to preempt that law, understanding that it could threaten the profits of major special interest donors to their political campaigns — never mind that clean water is a common interest, not a special one, and never mind that our state’s tourist-driven economy depends upon clean water and a healthy environment.

Any registered Florida voter can sign a petition that will help put a Right to Clean Water amendment on the state’s ballot in 2022 (and if you are not registered, being able to sign the petition is a good reason to take that step). You may sign up to receive a copy of the petition via email by visiting the website fl5.org; you can then sign, date and mail it in.

A state constitutional amendment would help to fix Florida’s broken system that has resulted in statewide springs flow losses, 80% of our springs being polluted by excessive nitrogen, and more than half of our springs receiving “D” health grades or lower by the politically independent scientists and the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute.

The benefits of a constitutional amendment would be great. Florida could save billions of dollars over the long term, since we’ve learned from the Everglades example that it’s more expensive to fix problems after they’ve occurred than it is to prevent problems in the first place.

An amendment would help us fulfill our sacred duties of stewardship for creation, would help individuals take legal action to protect property values threatened by extractive and polluting industries, would defend home rule and local control, and would allow the free market to reward responsible business models.

Lucinda Faulkner Merritt lives in Fort White.

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