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Proposed Florida constitutional amendment aims to give waterways legal rights

Floridians and organizations within the state could take legal action on behalf of waterways under the amendment.
Credit: AP
In this Oct. 20, 2016 photo, a white ibis eats in an oyster bed in the Indian River Lagoon, Fla. Once plentiful oysters have died off in the lagoon due to increased boat traffic as the region's population and development has swelled faster than anywhere else in the state. Last year, baby oysters died off en masse for the first time, a victim of increasing brown algae in these once pristine waters.An AP analysis of water testing data found that phosphorus pollution from farms and urban development, which the algae feed on, increased by 75-percent in the lagoon from 2000-2016. (AP Photo/Jason Dearen)

FLORIDA, USA — Florida environmentalists have begun collecting signatures to introduce an amendment to the state's constitution that would recognize a person's legal right to clean water.

The amendment aims to do this by recognizing a waterway's legal right to "exist, flow, be free from pollution, and maintain a healthy ecosystem." Meaning, Floridians and organizations within the state could take legal action on behalf of waterways, according to the proposed amendment.

RELATED: Tampa Bay area cleanup efforts to get involved with for World Oceans Day

If the waterway's rights were violated, then the amendment requires the penalty to be paying whatever the cost is to restore the water to its "pre-damaged state."

The petition would need to reach nearly 900,000 signatures by February 1, 2022, in order to be placed on Florida's ballots.

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