Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed an executive order calling for massive funding for environmental projects and directing state officials to prioritize projects to clean water in important areas, including the Everglades and the Indian River Lagoon.
The order calls on lawmakers to spend $3.5 billion on those projects over the next four years, including $100 million for projects to restore the Indian River Lagoon on the east coast, which experienced damaging blue-green algae in the years before DeSantis took office in 2019, leading to massive loss of marine life.
“We’ve made this a priority in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said at an event in Bonita Springs. “We need to leave Florida to God better than we found it.”
The announcement came four years after he made a similar pledge for environmental funding shortly after taking office, when he called for $2.5 billion over four years. Lawmakers eventually appropriated $3.3 billion. That funding is having an effect, South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Chairman Chauncey Goss said.
“We’re starting to see better water quality down in Florida Bay,” Goss said. “We’re starting to see the results that we want to see that are good for Florida’s ecology and good for Florida’s economy.”
DeSantis said the new order builds on that momentum by pushing the SFWMD to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on maintaining the water level of Lake Okeechobee.
When water levels get too high, the Corps may issue discharges on either side of the lake. If they include harmful blue-green algae, it can befoul estuaries on both sides of the state important to wildlife and the state’s tourism-reliant economy. But keeping the water levels too low can threaten stakeholders who rely on that water in the case of a drought, leading to a battle over where those lake levels should lie.
The SFWMD already works with the Corps on that issue but DeSantis said the order requires them to “hold accountable” the Corps for making progress on the C-43 reservoir project designed to send water south to the Everglades. Everglades restoration projects received $1.7 billion over the last four years.
“It wasn’t until this Governor took office and made that project a priority to make that project a reality,” Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg said of the C-43 reservoir. “Today Gov. Ron DeSantis has cemented himself as the Everglades Governor.”
The funding called on in the order must gain approval from the Legislature, but with a two-thirds majority in both chambers held by DeSantis’ fellow Republicans and leaders who haven’t rebuffed his agenda as they often did with DeSantis’ predecessor, Rick Scott, the money is likely to flow to the projects.
“Gov. DeSantis once again is making a huge investment in protecting the natural resources of Florida. These investments will be the lifeblood of the continued prosperity of Florida in the future,” said Evan Power, Chair of Chairs for the Republican Party of Florida.
January 10, 2023 at 7:56 pm
To improve Florida’s water safety it is critical to locate, identify and replace the three million dilapidated, unregulated and leaking septic tanks throughout the FREEDUMB STATE OF FLORIDA.
January 11, 2023 at 10:21 am
How much of this funding is sponsored by the Federal Government under Biden ????
Desantis allocates federal funding to agencies and takes ALL the credit .
Comments are closed.