Local environmentalists call out lawmakers who don't support their calls for a cleaner river

Posted at 5:25 PM, Aug 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-19 00:39:13-04

Local environmentalists are putting in days and weeks of work to call out lawmakers whom they say aren't doing anything about Florida's blue-green algae issues.

Activists with the group Bullsugar are making hundreds of calls, to every politician in Florida, from each state legislator to every commissioner in all 67 counties.

The volunteer activists are asking lawmakers to sign the Now or Neverglades Declaration.

It's an online declaration in support of buying land south of Lake Okeechobee to store and treat the lake's water, then send it south.

The declaration was created about a month ago and already has more than 26,000 signatures, including some big names.

"Erin Brockovich signed, Guy Harvey signed," said Bullsugar co-founder Kenny Hinkle Jr.

Hinkle says it's his goal to get out the word about the declaration to everyone in or running for elected office.

"This is to get a feel, to find out which politicians want to get on board with us and fix this plumbing issue we have in South Florida," Hinkle said.

He also promises to post and send out lists of the politicians who get behind the cause for clean water and those who don't.

All five of Martin County's commissioners were some of the first to sign.

"It's a great idea," said Martin County commissioner Sarah Heard. "We just need to spend the upcoming months and years educating and convincing everyone in the state of Florida that it's a great idea, and they should vote for it and they should be very proud to vote in favor of it."

After a slow summer in cities like Stuart, local business owners are also signing and hoping lawmakers will jump in too.

"Hopefully they really feel for small businesses, brick and mortar stores that are involved with the water activities," said Ryan Pippins, who manages his family's shop, Surf Central in Stuart.

Pippins signed the declaration early on. He says the summer months are usually already slow for business, and being hit with bad algae this summer, business has slowed even more.

"We all should be aware of the politicians that are going to come forward and be for clean water, opposed to the ones that are supporting big sugar," Pippins said.