Headed into committee week in Tallahassee, state Rep. Randy Fine, R-South Brevard, is pushing for the Legislature to protect the Indian River Lagoon.
Last week, Fine showcased his “Indian River Lagoon State Matching Grant Program” and is calling on the Legislature to fund it including $50 million for its first year.
“There is no more important issue to the future to the central East Coast of Florida – including Brevard County — than saving the Indian River Lagoon,” said Fine. “This is a multi-billion problem, and it will require a multi-billion dollar solution. We will never solve this problem if we do not get vulnerable areas off of septic systems that are not designed to stop pollution and if we do not upgrade our municipal wastewater systems to remove nutrients from wastewater.
“Under HB 2053, projects that tackle the core of the problem – upgrading existing sewage treatment plants to higher nutrient removal standards, extending sewer lines into existing developments that are on septic systems, and providing funding to connect homes that are on septic but have a sewer line available – will be eligible for 50-50 matching grants from the state,” Fine added.
“We are proposing a first-year funding allocation of $50 million, which when matched by local governments in the five county Indian River Lagoon region, would fund at least $100 million of these critical upgrades. I am optimistic that with the leadership that Governor DeSantis and the Legislature showed last session on water quality funding, we have a great opportunity to successfully launch this program this year,” Fine continued.
“A final note – this legislation does not reduce the home rule obligations of local governments to adequately maintain and operate their wastewater systems, nor will it subsidize new plants necessary as part of their development strategies. Illegal sewage spills remain a crisis across our state, and I look forward to announcing additional statewide legislation to tackle that issue in the coming weeks,” Fine concluded.
Fine championed a similar proposal last year but was not able to get it across the finish line.