Senate budget slots $3.3 billion for DEP, just over $470M for FWC

biscayne bay dep
Lake Okeechobee nutrient reduction projects are to receive $19M.

Senate Republicans rolled out their budget in the Committee on Appropriations this week, and a number of conservation and resiliency efforts are getting top billing. 

Perhaps none more so than the Everglades and other impaired waterbodies like the Indian River Lagoon.

Sanford Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur noted earlier this week in his committee that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Everglades restoration and water quality funding goal of $3.5 billion over the next four years. The budget includes more than a billion dollars to put those policies into action.

Specifically, it allots $614.6 million for Everglades restoration and $555.1 million for water quality improvements.

Those water quality improvements include $50 million for the Everglades; $71 million for the C-51 Reservoir to protect the Lake Worth Lagoon; $50 million for springs restoration; $40 million for alternative water supply efforts; $100 million for septic-to-sewer and wastewater programs; $25 million to deal with total maximum daily loads, the top level of pollution a waterbody can tolerate; and $70 million for water quality improvements in the Indian River Lagoon, Caloosahatchee River Basin and Biscayne Bay.

“We are continuing our longstanding efforts to preserve Florida’s unique natural resources and make critical improvements to our environmental and clean water infrastructure,” Brodeur said. “These investments benefit current and future generations of Floridians, while also safeguarding Florida’s economy, as our pristine natural features continue to attract visitors from across the country and around the world.”

Another $50 million is set aside to restore the state’s springs.

Nonpoint source pollution programs received $10 million, while there’s $31 million to improve water quality and handle harmful algal blooms. That $31 million breaks down to $10.8 million for the Blue-Green Algae Task Force, with $10 million each designated for harmful algal bloom management and innovative technologies.

The budget recommendations close out with more than $180 million set for local water projects.

There’s another $452 million for land acquisition, areas of critical state concern and Florida Forever programs.

In the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), there is, among other appropriations, $15 million for feeding programs to address food insecurity throughout the state including Farm Share and Feeding Florida.

There’s also $19 million for Lake Okeechobee nutrient reduction projects and best management practices through FDACS and the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Office of Water Policy and Ecosystems Restoration.

DEP would receive $3.3 billion overall, including $50 million for beach restoration, $46 million for Florida State Parks facilities improvements and $508.9 million for drinking and wastewater revolving loan programs. Another $11 million would go for small county wastewater treatment grants and 33 new jobs to deal with the permitting program.

“This budget is fantastic for the environment, and we’re investing in some very key areas, as most people are keenly aware,” Senate Majority Leader Ben Albritton, a Bartow Republican, said in a committee meeting earlier this week.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is budgeted for $471.1 million, including $11 million for law enforcement, $5 million for nuisance and invasive species, $6 million for boating improvement programs and $10.6 million for artificial reefs. 

Along with that are $2 million for lake restoration, $5.6 million for wildlife habitat restoration repairs and $1.4 million for wildlife management area improvements.

“With increases in revenue, we have the amazing opportunity to make key generational investments in many areas of our infrastructure, from housing to transportation, to clean water, to our iconic Wildlife Corridor,” said Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican.

“While this is positive, we cannot ignore the economic challenges already impacting Florida families and those clearly on the horizon nationally. Rather than spending all we have, this budget holds the line, setting aside historic reserves and providing for tremendous tax relief opportunities that will reduce the cost of living for Florida families in a meaningful way.”

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is a reporter who's worked for newspapers across the South, winning press association awards for his work in Georgia and the Carolinas. He lives in Jacksonville and previously covered state politics, environmental issues and courts for the News-Leader in Fernandina Beach. You can reach Wes at [email protected] and @WesWolfeFP. Facebook:


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