Waterkeepers Florida is a regional entity composed of all 15 Waterkeeper organizations working in the State of Florida to protect and restore our water resources across over 45,000 square miles of watershed, which is home to over 15 million Floridians. Part scientist, teacher, and legal advocate, Waterkeepers combine firsthand knowledge of their waterways with an unwavering commitment to the rights of their communities and to the rule of law. Whether on the water, in a classroom, or in a courtroom, Waterkeepers speak for the waters they defend – with the backing of their local community and the collective strength of Waterkeeper Alliance.
2022 marked the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act — one of the most effective U.S. laws ever enacted and a model for clean water laws across the globe. By establishing citizens’ right to enforce it, the Clean Water Act served as a powerful tool to end the culture of dumping raw sewage and industrial waste into our rivers without consideration of public health, public use, or environmental repercussions. The Clean Water Act sought to ensure every American had access to safe, clean water, but that promise is not yet fulfilled.
Overwhelmingly, Americans support clean water, healthy waterways, and safe drinking water for ourselves and our children, yet the Clean Water Act’s legacy is incomplete and important provisions are constantly under attack. Florida’s waters are continually plagued by harmful algal blooms. 2021 set a new record for manatee deaths due to starvation caused by poor water quality. Florida ranks first in the U.S. for total acres of lakes classified as impaired for swimming and aquatic life and second for total square miles of impaired estuaries.
The goals of the Clean Water Act – drinkable, swimmable, fishable water - represent the unified vision of Waterkeepers Florida. Throughout 2022 Waterkeepers Florida focused on 'taking back the Act' underscoring the importance of comprehensive enforcement of this critical piece of legislation. Waterkeepers Florida stopped the state from fast-tracking permits, held politicians accountable for their actions, and demanded stronger water quality criteria to protect human health.