1/21/2020 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Lisa Rinaman, Chair of Waterkeepers Florida and St. Johns Riverkeeper
Jen Lomberk, Vice Chair of Waterkeepers Florida and Matanzas Riverkeeper
Waterkeepers Florida caps first year with a slate of achievements, new website, and important objectives for the 2020 Florida legislative session
Waterkeepers Florida is pleased to announce the launch of the Waterkeepers Florida website and to present its first annual report.
Waterkeepers Florida Website
Waterkeepers Florida 2019 Annual Report
Waterkeepers Florida is a regional entity licensed by the international Waterkeeper Alliance, composed of all 13 Waterkeeper organizations working in the state of Florida. While Waterkeepers have been working to protect Florida’s waters individually for over 20 years, in December of 2018, Waterkeepers from across the state banded together to strengthen their efforts to ensure drinkable, fishable, swimmable water. Waterkeepers Florida works collaboratively to protect and restore water resources for over 15 million Floridians across 45,000 square miles of watershed in the state of Florida.
In their inaugural year as a regional entity, Waterkeepers Florida tackled issues ranging from harmful algal blooms, to pollution, to land conservation, starting in January of 2019 with a resolution against phosphate mines in Florida - spearheaded by Suwannee Riverkeeper. Waterkeepers Florida also engaged the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) on their Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards with Calusa Waterkeeper taking the lead on cyanotoxin (blue-green algae) criteria and Miami Waterkeeper taking the lead on turbidity standards to protect coral reefs. Waterkeepers Florida also joined the fight to fully fund the Florida Forever program by drafting an amicus brief for the contentious Amendment 1 lawsuit and participating in Florida Forever Action Days around the state.
The nascent organization proved a powerful force for advocacy and change in its inaugural year. Water quality is poised to be a top issue in the 2020 legislative session and Waterkeepers Florida stands ready to fight for stronger protections for our water resources. “While we are encouraged that many of our elected officials have made water quality a top priority, none of the bills that we have seen are strong enough,” says Waterkeepers Florida Vice-Chair and Matanzas Riverkeeper, Jen Lomberk. “Florida Forever is still slated to be woefully underfunded and the legislation focused on water quality protection is only a small step in the right direction. The fact of the matter is that in order to repair the damage that has been done, we need regulatory changes and programs that can be implemented now.”
Whether due to unbridled growth, aging infrastructure, or sea level rise, the past several years have presented some of the most complex and daunting challenges ever for waterways around the state of Florida. Answering the call to confront these water quality challenges, Waterkeepers Florida will serve as a powerful unified voice advocating for drinkable, fishable and swimmable water.
Waterkeepers Florida members include (in alphabetical order) Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Calusa Waterkeeper, Collier County Waterkeeper, Emerald Coastkeeper, Indian Riverkeeper, Kissimmee Waterkeeper, Lake Worth Waterkeeper, Matanzas Riverkeeper, Miami Waterkeeper, St. Johns Riverkeeper, St. Marys Riverkeeper, Suncoast Waterkeeper, and Suwanee Riverkeeper.
Waterkeepers Florida members elected St. Johns Riverkeeper, Lisa Rinaman to serve as its first Chair and Matanzas Riverkeeper, Jen Lomberk, Esq. to serve as its first Vice-Chair.