Sen. Janet Cruz secured $7 million from the Legislature-approved budget for projects in her Tampa-based district, she announced Friday.
Cruz prioritized funding Hillsborough County’s water quality and waterways, including nearly $1 million for improving Tampa’s water quality, $950,000 for combating ride tide on the county’s shores and $96,000 for Purity Springs restoration.
According to appropriations requests, the $1 million for Tampa’s water quality will fund a pilot project for PURE (Purify Usable Resources for the Environment). Under the program, the city will redirect highly treated reclaimed water from the city’s wastewater treatment plant to provide a sustainable, long-term solution for the minimum flows on the Lower Hillsborough River, increase the resilience of Tampa’s drinking water source and comply with the state rule that restricts discharges into Hillsborough Bay.
The pilot project will determine how Suspended Ion Exchange (SIX) can further improve the water quality of the city’s reclaimed water, according to the request. Local government is matching the state funding, proving $1 million for the project as well.
The $950,000 red tide appropriation will fund the installation of 210 individual reef sites over a 500-acre project area located in Southwest Tampa Bay, according to the appropriation request. The reefs will be deployed in water depths between 8-to-20-feet. Once installed, the reef relief will provide up to 3-feet of support from the seafloor.
The Purity Springs restoration, which was granted $96,000 in the state budget, will restore the function and habitat value of the spring pool and subsequent run to the river. The spring basin will be enlarged and planted with native submerged aquatic vegetation.
“We were able to secure nearly $7.8 million for the region to invest in water quality, traffic relief, community safety improvements, and preservation efforts for Black history in our community,” said State Senator Janet Cruz. “Many of these budget lines that brought money directly home to Hillsborough County are ones I learned from my constituents, issues important to them to improve the beauty and quality of life for all corners of our great community.”
The two biggest budget items Cruz secured was a $2.6 million investment in Help Me Grow Florida — a program aimed at identifying and addressing developmental and/or behavioral concerns in children from birth to age 14 and through high school — and a $2.6 million investment in the Selmon Expressway that includes safety and multimodal improvements, as well as helping to connect Tampa Heights to Ybor City.
Cruz also successfully advocated for a $750,000 investment in programs that preserve local African American history and cemetery sites through place-based educational programming and curricular materials in K-12 classrooms.
“Preserving our heritage is at the forefront of everything I do while I’m in Tallahassee and that means uncovering and memorializing those who came before us,” Cruz said in a statement. “Particularly African American cemeteries and other sites forgotten and cruelly erased by history. We must bring closure and find answers for these families in Hillsborough County.”
Lawmakers haven’t formally submitted the budget to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk yet, but he’ll have 14 days to take action on it once they do.
The budget doesn’t take effect until July 1.