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Environmental Coalition Drafts 'Declaration' Of Water Rights, Asks For Governor's Signature

Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) joined environmentalists in Waller Park to call for water restoration.

The same day Governor Rick Scott announced he’d be asking for $130 million in Everglades restoration funding for the coming year, members of more than 100 environmental groups held rallies in 16 Florida cities to raise awareness of Florida’s water issues. Tallahassee’s conservationists are demanding Scott do more than just “throw money” at the problem.

Members of an environmental coalition that includes the groups Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, and Florida Conservation Commission are happy with Governor Scott’s $55 million springs and $130 million Everglades restoration funding proposals, but say they’re still skeptical about his commitment to environmental protection. The statewide coalition wants the governor to sign what they’re calling a “declaration of water rights.” Earthjustice lawyer David Guest thinks Scott’s signature would show he’s serious about solving the problem.

“We have a crisis all over the state with contaminated water, threatening people’s drinking water, threatening our children. This is simply a declaration of rights saying that Floridians have a right to clean water and government and industry have a responsibility to work together,” Guest said Wednesday.

The Sunshine State has been plagued with water woes ranging from toxic algae blooms in the central and southern parts of the state to decreased freshwater flows to the Apalachicola River in the North. A bipartisan group of lawmakers is working on a comprehensive bill to restore and regulate Florida’s springs, lakes and aquifers.

**Correction: The story previously stated that the Florida Conservation Commission was part of the environmental coalition. However, it was actually the Florida Conservation Coalition. The story has been changed. WFSU regrets the error.