In his “State of the State” address yesterday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke about the importance of Everglades restoration and water quality to the state, pledging $625 annually for the next three years on water projects.
“When I took office, I issued a sweeping executive order outlining a bold approach to protecting our natural resources, improving water quality and restoring the Everglades,” DeSantis told the Florida legislature, as it came back into session yesterday. “I did so in part because I believe that stewardship of our natural resources is key to our economic well-being — our water is the foundation of our tourism industry, makes Florida the top fishing and boating destination in the world, and enhances our property values.”
DeSantis said that because of last year’s initial $625 million investment by the state, the federal government has also invested another $200 million in Everglades restoration projects.
“Key water projects are proceeding apace, including the EAA reservoir, which will be a welcome relief to so many Floridians who have been negatively impacted by things like blue-green algae,” he said. “Florida is in the process of realizing a vision that has been widely desired but stubbornly elusive. We have strong momentum and need to keep it going.”
The governor also said that the state legislature should pass water-quality legislation that he has proposed. “The bill represents the initial recommendations of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force that I launched upon taking office,” he said. “It is based on sound science and provides a road map to reduce nutrients in our water.”
DeSantis said that municipalities that allow untreated wastewater into Florida’s waterways should be penalized. “Too many municipalities have failed to invest in needed upgrades to their water infrastructure in part because it is cheaper to violate the law and pay a nominal fine,” he said. “This is unacceptable and needs to change.”
The state will also be distributing more than $1 billion to cities for flood mitigation in areas that have been impacted by hurricanes.
“The bottom line is we have a chance to take bold action to make a lasting positive impact upon Florida’s environment,” DeSantis said.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley introduced a bill (SB 1878) that would require spending $625 million a year through June 30, 2023. That would be the end of four state fiscal years under DeSantis.