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Randy Fine seeks funding for Indian River Lagoon

His bill would establish a grant program to transition properties from septic to sewer.

State Rep. Randy Fine wants to put some cash into restoring the Indian River Lagoon.

The Brevard County Republican filed a bill Thursday that would establish the “Indian River Lagoon State Matching Grant Program” which would fund projects such as transitioning properties from septic to sewer.

In addition to HB 153, Fine filed an appropriations request (HB 2053) for $50 million. That money would be used to fund the program’s 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,” Fine said in a news release.

“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 continued.

Fine’s assessment of the problems facing the lagoon is shared by environmental groups such as the Audubon Society, which says the body of water is in an “ecological crisis.”

Fine has attempted to secure funding for Indian River Lagoon projects before. In 2018, he filed a similar bill that died in committee.

This year, the lawmaker says he’s optimistic given the Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature’s progress on water quality funding in the 2019 Legislative Session.

“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.

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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