Gov. DeSantis announces $1.5B more toward Everglades, water improvement projects
Image via AP.

Ron DeSantis
‘These are really ambitious projects.’

Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to spend $1.5 billion more on Everglades restoration and water quality improvement in the coming fiscal year, bringing the total allocated since his election in 2019 to $6.5 billion.

That’s the largest investment in Everglades-related projects in Florida history, even when adjusted for inflation, he said.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” he said. “This is a big state. You’re talking about restoring the plumbing of the state to how God intended it, (which) requires a lot of things. These are really ambitious projects.”

DeSantis’ spending plan for the coming fiscal year is part of a $3.5 billion, four-year plan to tackle Everglades restoration and water quality problems that he unveiled in January 2023, shortly after his re-election.

The new round of funding, starting in July, would bring the state within $300 million of that goal with two years to spare, he said during a Palm Beach press conference Monday at the Cox Science Center and Aquarium.

Projects and spending include:

— $850 million for Everglades-specific projects, including $614 million to support the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir.

— $530 million for targeted water quality improvement projects to prevent nutrient contamination of waterways, including wastewater treatment upgrades and septic-to-sewer conversion efforts, among other things. Big pieces include $135 million for the Water Quality Improvement Grant Program, $100 million for water quality improvements in Indian River Lagoon and $45 million for improvements to Biscayne Bay and the Caloosahatchee Estuary.

— $100 million for the second phase of the C-51 Reservoir to support water needs in Palm Beach and Broward counties while reducing freshwater discharges into Lake Worth Lagoon.

Florida spent $3.3 billion on such projects during DeSantis’ first term, during which the state completed, reached a milestone or broke ground on more than 70 Everglades- and water restoration-related projects.

That included removing a roadbed on and raising Tamiami Trail to restore freshwater flows in Miami-Dade County, completing a portion of the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area, upgrades to the C-43 Reservoir on the western side of Lake Okeechobee, and breaking ground on treatment of a wetland portion of the EAA a year ahead of schedule.

Last year, during the first year of DeSantis’ second term, Florida spent close to $1.7 billion. Earlier this month, the Governor also signed legislation to funnel 96% of revenues from the state’s Gaming Compact to water quality, wildlife protection and state park preservation programs. State economists predict Florida will receive $4.4 billion under the compact over the next six years, including $355 million this year.

“At the end of the day, my view is that we, as Floridians and Americans … want to utilize (and) enjoy natural resources,” DeSantis said Monday.

“It’s great that people take annual trips to come to Florida to fish or go boating or to enjoy our beaches and enjoy all these things, and I want people to do that. I think that’s good. I’m not somebody that thinks we should all live with no electricity in some hut somewhere because of the environment. … But what we don’t want to do is to waste resources (and) rob future generations of that same enjoyment … and I think what we’ve done over these past five years is really ensure that we’re leaving the state of Florida better to the next generation than (how) we found it, and we’re happy to do that.”

DeSantis announced the planned $1.5 billion earmark alongside Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Shawn Hamilton; DEP Deputy Secretary Drew Bartlett; Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg; Republican Reps. Peggy Gossett-Seidman of Highland Beach and John Snyder of Stuart; Cox Science Center CEO Kate Arrizza; several Board members of the South Florida Water Management District; and the District’s Executive Director, Drew Bartlett.

Hamilton said DeSantis’ commitment to Florida’s environment has blown his expectations “out of the water.” He joked that the speed with which the Governor has allotted funding suggests a mindset better suited for sprinting than long-distance running.

“The Governor would have been a horrible marathon runner, because he does believe in straining every first five miles. But if you’re going to sprint, I can think of a no more noble cause than our environment and natural resources,” he said.

“I’m somebody who’s been with (DEP) for 18 years and understands the challenges that we face, the focus or lack thereof, and having a Governor who’s willing to commit those types of resources (and) put his money where his mouth is — again, it’s a really great day for the environment.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Dont Say FLA

    April 22, 2024 at 12:03 pm

    When he says “restoration” I will infer Rhonda means “make suitable for developers to build more condos”

    • Anna

      April 22, 2024 at 4:31 pm

      do online work at home here go..… M­­­­­o­­­­­n­­­­­e­­­­­y­­­­­P­­­­­a­­­­­y­­­­­1­.C­­­o­­­­m

  • CW

    April 22, 2024 at 12:36 pm

    The everglades is, and should stay, a nonpartisan issue.
    Finally a decision that will benefit all Floridians.
    More of this please Gov D.

    • Dont Say FLA

      April 22, 2024 at 3:24 pm

      I agree and I hope you’re right. Problem is that whenever developers smell money, whatever the developers want, that is what happens because that is why they compensate their politicians so well, oh well.

  • Hi, Jesse:

    I know your major focus is not on the SW of FL, but please consider covering the race in District 2 of the Cape Coral City Council. (We are at the tail end of the food chain, at the edge of the mangrove swamp, four feet above sea level).

Comments are closed.


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