The Legislature has set aside $9.5 million for Pinellas County to complete vital infrastructure improvements on the county’s northern stormwater system.
The funds, detailed in appropriation requests filed by Sen. Ed Hooper and Rep. Nick DiCeglie, would be for a project to improve both stormwater treatment and stormwater capacity within several areas of northern Pinellas County. The goal of the project is to improve the water quality discharges to St. Joseph Sound, which is an Outstanding Florida Water as well as an Aquatic Preserve.
The original funding requests ask for $5.7 million received a significant boost in the actual proposed budget. The project had not previously gotten any state funding, according to the request. The project also has secured $5.7 million from local government.
According to the request, about $570,000 will be used for design and permitting, and the remainder would be directed toward construction.
The area set for the improvements in Pinellas County suffers from flooding issues, according to the request, which adds capacity improvements will protect and mitigate flooding impacts to both public and private infrastructure investments.
The project also will help improve the quality of water being discharged into the St. Joseph Sound, which has significant seagrass meadows and wildlife dependent on good water quality. Seagrass beds are a vital habitat in Florida, known for cycling nutrients, supplying food for wildlife, stabilizing sediments and providing habitat for juvenile and adult finfish and shellfish.
The budget represents the consensus between the House and the Senate for the state’s financial priorities. Individual spending items are still subject to the Governor’s veto pen, however. Last year Gov. Ron DeSantis was thought to have wielded a relatively light touch when he slashed $1.5 billion out of the $101 billion budget.