On April 26 2021, a group of freshwater ecosystems in Orange County, Florida – Lake Mary Jane, together with Lake Hart, the Crosby Island Marsh, and Wilde Cypress Branch (stream), and Boggy Branch (stream) – filed a case in Florida state court suing Beachline South Residential (a development company) and Noah Valenstein (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) over a proposed development that the plaintiffs argue violates their right to exist—as established by the Orange County Charter that gives all waters in Orange County, Florida legal rights.
The plaintiffs claim violations due to “cutting off and/or restricting the sufficient flow of clean water into these protected bodies of water.” and that “roadways constructed near these two streams will discharge polluted stormwater into the streams and wetlands thereby violating their right to be protected against pollution.” The bodies of water have a co-plaintiff, Chuck O’Neal, who is the Chairman of the Florida Rights of Nature Network.
The developer, Beachline South Residential, is pushing to have the waterway’s case dismissed, arguing that the rights they are invoking do not—and cannot—exist.
A judge has yet to hear this case.
**In June 2020, Florida passed a Constitutional Amendment – Florida Right to Clean Water – which established all Florida waters to have a right to clean water, and the rights of those waters to exist, flow, be free from pollution, and maintain a healthy ecosystem.