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Guest Commentary: Support Florida Right to Clean Water

By CAPT. GEORGE TUNISON - | Feb 9, 2023

Capt. George Tunison

Concerning the possible, some say inevitable, collapse of the local marine environment unless substantial changes are made in a timely manner there is some good news to report. We “the public” are the key to it all by getting involved in an easy to do but vital service for our environmental future statewide.

Here’s the deal — if you like to fish, boat, swim, shell, surf, use a personal watercraft, row or just sit on the beach watching incredible gulf sunsets, the call is out, citizens of Florida! We need your help!

These days millions across the nation feel frustrated, invisible, voiceless, in the face of wasteful and intrusive big government, big money politics, incredible corruption, lawlessness and nowadays a politically charged media that too often helps cover it up. No secret the enemy of clean water is green money and the big polluters spend lots of it each year to promote their agenda.

I’m sure the readers of this month’s Florida Sportsman Magazine have read the recent extremely important article titled “The Right to Clean and Healthy Water.” I’ll gladly borrow a few important facts to pass on to non-readers.

According to the article by Senior Editor Blair Wickstrom, two major Florida polluters, the sugar and phosphate mining industry, spend millions yearly, as in $11 million last round, employing teams of lobbyists, all to serve their corporate profit interests with Florida’s environment, our environment, always the causality.

Certainly Southwest Florida has been getting the bad end of the east west Caloosahatchee River summer flow from contaminated Lake Okeechobee and its ongoing Army Corps mismanagement. Once again I applaud the positive environmental efforts by Gov. Ron DeSantis but now it’s time for the public to get seriously involved, get things moving along helping make real change or leave nothing for future generations. Picket? March? Sit-ins? No, nothing that strenuous. The power is simply in your hand and the pen you hold in it.

We the voiceless have the power through the state petition process to actually change the state Constitution.

“It’s time yet again for citizens to do the work our legislators choose to ignore,” Wickstrom says. “We need the Right To Clean and Healthy Water written into the state constitution”

This Florida petition process is not new and in the past has proved highly successful in the positive management of our environment and the creatures in it trying to survive the profit based war against them.

Starting in 1994 concerned Floridians collected nearly a half million signed petitions which resulted in the great net ban legislation. A few more times petition drives like this resulted in other incredibly important constitutional changes in Florida’s law favoring our environment.

“Under this amendment, a person, corporation, nonprofit or other entity could sue the state for harming water by introducing pathogens, contaminants, or toxins or disrupting the natural water flow, processes, or functions,” Wickstrom writes.

At the present rate of habitat loss, steps currently being taken by the state of Florida further hampered by politics (spelled money interests) may be too little, too late.

The plan, to amend the state constitution, the Florida Supreme Court must first review the wording. To make that happen, 223,000 signatures must be presented by March 1, 2023.

To qualify for the 2024 ballot, we’ll need a total of 892,000 signatures by Nov. 30, 2023.

To print your form, please go to: floridarighttocleanwater.org. Please fill it out and send it before the end of the month to:

Florida Right to Clean Water

13300 S. Cleveland Ave.

Suite 56

Fort Myers, FL 33907

Time is short but the task has certainly shown to be doable requiring minimal time and effort on your part. Please spread the word, sign and get friends to sign then mail those petitions, helping make a real and lasting change for the environment and for we the people, guaranteed to us forever by the Florida constitution.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide whose weekly fishing column appears in The Breeze. You can contact him at 239-282-9434 or via email at captgeorget3@aol.com.