FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a $1.2 billion budget approval for Everglades restoration and protection of water resources from Fort Myers Beach Wednesday.
The governor made the announcement inside Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille on Fisherman's Wharf.
Wastewater and sewer-to-septic conversion funding is included in the spend, as well as stormwater projects, springwater restoration support, and alternative water supply projects.
Continued funding will be allocated for red-tide and toxic algae bloom mitigation programs and research.
An approximate $3.3 billion will be spent on water protection initiatives over the four years he's been in office, the governor said.
DeSantis also announced he vetoed Senate Bill 2508 which would have affected the Lake Okeechobee management system. According to a petition written by the Calusa Waterkeeper, there were "harmful elements" of the bill, including an allowance for the Department of Agriculture to buy conservation land outright, which they said would compete with the Florida Forever land acquisition program.
"I think everybody sees when there's counter-efforts to water quality issues, you're going to get steamrolled by the governor," said Capt. Daniel Andrews of Captains for Clean Water.
Audubon Florida also applauded the bill's veto. In a statement released after his announcement, the organization said in part, "This legislation would have undermined Florida Forever and stymied the momentum so recently gained to improve resilience in the River of Grass and protect drinking water for millions."
Joining the governor were Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton and Chief Resilience Officer Dr. Wes Brooks.
Following their appearance in Fort Myers Beach, the trio are set to speak at a similar event in West Palm Beach.