Ron DeSantis Asks Legislature for $1.5 Billion for Everglades, Water Protection, Handling Rising Sea Levels

Appearing in Naples and Miami on Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis asked the Legislature for more than $1.5 billion for Everglades restoration, water protection and helping the Sunshine State with rising sea levels and floods.

The governor is asking for the funds as part of his budget which the Legislature will consider when it meets in Tallahassee for the regular session at the start of 2022.

“The proposed $960 million investment will bring the total four-year investment for Everglades restoration and protection of water resources to over $3 billion, more than doubling investments from the previous four years and surpassing Governor DeSantis’ ambitious goal of $2.5 billion over four years. The proposed $550 million investment for resilience will build upon the historic funding already received this year. This would bring the total state investment in resiliency to more than $1 billion over two years,” the governor’s office noted.

“When I took office, I outlined a bold vision to protect Florida’s environment, and we have not only kept the promises we made, we’ve exceeded them,” said DeSantis. “We are excited to announce this historic support for Florida’s environment, Everglades restoration, and our water resources. We have seen great results so far, but we are not yet at the finish line. It’s nice to see so many coming together to support these initiatives. We will be pushing hard to continue the momentum this legislative session.”

“Growing our economy and protecting our environment must go hand in hand,” said Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez. “That is why we must continue the important work our administration has been doing to preserve and restore our natural resources. Governor DeSantis and I remain steadfast in protecting our environment, and our critical investments in these projects fulfill our efforts in keeping our Everglades and coastal communities resilient.”

“Recognizing that Florida’s economy is inextricably linked to its unique environment, Governor DeSantis continues to champion historic investments in Florida’s environment and water quality to ensure the delicate balance of environmental protection and a healthy economy is maintained,” said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Sec. Shawn Hamilton. “Under his leadership, Florida continues to make aggressive strides to expedite Everglades restoration projects, advance efforts to reduce nutrients in Florida’s waterways, and strengthen resilience for inland and coastal communities.”

“The historic momentum for the Everglades continues,” said Chauncey Goss, the chairman of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board. “Governor DeSantis’ calls for significant investment in Everglades restoration and water quality demonstrates the Governor’s leadership and commitment to Florida’s natural resources. These investments will allow the South Florida Water Management District to expedite and finish more projects than ever before. With record funding from the Legislature, we will continue to do everything we can to send water south to the Everglades, reduce harmful discharges to our estuaries, and improve how water is managed for the people of South Florida.”

“In Florida, our environment is the foundation of everything from our economy to our way of life,” said DEP Chief Science Officer Dr. Mark Rains. “Today’s announcement demonstrates the Governor’s continued leadership and commitment to securing necessary funding to address our complex water quality and coastal resiliency challenges and implement a strategic course of action that leads to a more secure and resilient future.”

According to his office, DeSantis is asking the Legislature for the following:

$660 million for Everglades restoration including the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), the EAA Reservoir Project, and the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project.

$175 million for targeted water quality improvements, including the wastewater grant program which provides grants to improve infrastructure in BMAP areas.

$40 million for the Alternative Water Supply Grant Program.

$50 million for projects to restore Florida’s world-renowned springs.

$35 million for increased water quality monitoring and to combat harmful algal blooms including blue-green algae and red tide. This includes $15 million for innovative technologies and $5 million specifically to aid in local government red tide cleanup efforts.

$3 million to remove invasive Burmese pythons.

$500 million for the Resilient Florida Grant Program for projects to make communities more resilient to sea level rise, intensified storms, and flooding.

More than $50 million to close the gap in resiliency planning and to protect our state’s coral reefs.

Environmental activists praised the proposal on Tuesday.

“Thank you, Governor DeSantis, for recommending $660 million for America’s Everglades — the largest investment in the history of the program,” said Eric Eikenberg, the chief executive officer of the Everglades Foundation. “Because of Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida’s one-of-a-kind environment and water resources will have the funding to be protected and restored. At the start of his term, Governor DeSantis pledged to seek at least $2.5 billion over four years in Everglades restoration and water resources in the state, and with this budget, he has delivered. This continued investment in America’s Everglades will not only help build critical water infrastructure that will advance the restoration of a national treasure, but it will create and save jobs, boost our state’s tourism-based economy, and yield tangible benefits for Floridians.”

“We are pleased to see Governor DeSantis’ proposal for continued historic investments to protect Florida from the impacts of climate change,” said Dawn Shirreffs, the Florida director of the Environmental Defense Fund. “This continued investment in the Resilient Florida Program will help ensure our communities have the tools to deal with the challenges sea level rise and increased flooding pose.”

KEVIN DERBY
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