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    Coalition to monitor water issues

    ©Associated Press
    February 4, 2003

    TALLAHASSEE -- Environmentalists have formed a coalition to keep an eye on legislation they believe threatens supplies of water and to promote bills to better protect its purity.

    Among issues the Florida Water Coalition will follow are efforts to privatize public water supplies. The group also wants to make sure developers consider wildlife as existing or competing water users when they apply for permits.

    The group said Monday, however, that it is too early to give specific details about bills it will oppose or support.

    "We fully expect activity in the legislative session around water issues," said Eric Draper, a lobbyist for Audubon of Florida. "We've seen things coming from the industry side, and we certainly are proposing our own ideas about making sure water is clean and safe, that it is abundant for wildlife, that it is available for natural systems."

    He said he expects lawmakers will focus on making sure water is available for economic interests, and the coalition plans to make sure environmental interests are represented.

    The coalition includes 100 Friends of Florida, Audubon of Florida, Clean Water Network, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Florida Conservation Alliance, Florida PIRG and the Florida Wildlife Federation.

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