Florida’s springs are receiving an additional $50 million for restoration and recovery projects across the state.
That funding, announced Friday by Gov. Ron DeSantis, comes on top of $100 million allocated for springs last year. Together, the Governor touted the combined spending as the largest two-year investment for springs in the Sunshine State’s history.
More than 20 projects statewide will benefit from the latest disbursement, including those for land acquisition, septic and sewer conversion, and enhanced water monitoring.
“Florida’s springs are integral to both our economy and environment,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Our state is home to more large springs than any other state in the nation and they serve as a fun source of recreation for our residents and visitors to enjoy. The projects announced today continue our mission to restore and protect our water quality throughout Florida.”
The Department of Environmental Protection and four of Florida’s five water management districts selected the array of projects at the springs, which provide a window into the state’s groundwater and drinking water.
Despite the more than $1 billions in budget vetoes the Governor issued in June, he has repeatedly noted environmental funding as a priority to his administration.
“We had a tough budget year just given the changes is the circumstances that we are facing, but I really felt that it was important to preserve the environmental funding in a prudent investment,” DeSantis told reporters during a stop at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park on Friday.
Secretary Noah Valenstein said that under the Governor, the department doesn’t need to worry about funding and support.
“Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ leadership, DEP is engaged in a broad suite of water quality improvement efforts across the state,” he said in a statement. “Of particular importance to the state are those projects tied to springs restoration. This diverse selection of projects will be complemented and enhanced by Department initiatives to increase facility inspections, water quality monitoring, and enforcement.”
The Secretary also praised the Governor for installing a Chief Science Officer, Dr. Tom Frazer, at the Department.
“We’re now doing it with a chief science officer on board,” Valenstein told reporters, “and to have Dr. Frazer as part of our team looking through these projects and making sure that they’re meeting the goal … making the right choices, to get as much benefit as possible for the tax dollar has been a critical change.”
“Florida’s springs are among our most precious water resources,” Frazer said in a statement. “They reflect the quality of our drinking water and nourish some of the most iconic surface waters in the state. The projects announced by Governor DeSantis today are intended to increase spring flows and improve water quality so that these springs systems and the resources that they support can be accessed and enjoyed by generations to come.”
First Lady Casey DeSantis and their children Madison and Mason joined the Governor for day excursion to Hernando County.
“We told them when I was a kid, I went to Buccaneer Bay,” the Governor said. “I told them sometime when we they get a little older, we’ll take them and have some fun.”
The Governor has made the push to revitalize Florida’s tourism, leisure and hospitality industries in recent weeks. That’s included theme parks and a new campaign from VISIT FLORIDA to get residents to take an in-state vacation.
While in the neighborhood, DeSantis also scheduled a visit Friday to Spring Hill for a Citrus High School vs. F.W. Springstead High School evening volleyball game.