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Governor Ron DeSantis signs an executive order in Bonita Springs on conservation efforts

Posted at 6:31 AM, Jan 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-10 11:57:29-05

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis was in Bonita Springs on Tuesday morning to discuss the future conservation efforts through additional state funding.

He made the announcement at Coconut Jack's Waterfront Grille with Florida Department of Environmental Secretary Shawn Hamilton, Chief Resilience Officer Dr. Wes Brooks, and Chief Science Officer Dr. Mark Rains.

Governor DeSantis says they plan to allocate more than $3.5 billion over the next four years to help with the future of conservation in the state.

This funding also supports water projects to protect and restore springs; advances water infrastructure and reduces nutrients in our waterways; utilizes grant programs to assist communities with advanced wastewater treatment and septic-to-sewer projects; implements alternative water supply projects to meet Florida’s future water needs; and combats blue-green algae and red tide that have harmful environmental and economic impacts on our communities.

Key provisions of Executive Order 23-06 include directing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to:

  • Secure $3.5 billion over the next four years for Everglades restoration and protection of our water resources, including water quality and water supply.
  • Prioritize the protection of the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) and secure at least $100 million annually for priority projects to improve water quality in the IRL.
  • Expand the existing Wastewater Grant Program by broadening project eligibility to address impacts to water quality from nonpoint sources such as stormwater and agricultural runoff.
  • Ensure that all wastewater facilities discharging to waterbodies within a basin management action plan (BMAP) area or waterbody not attaining water quality standards upgrade to advanced wastewater treatment by 2033.
  • Coordinate with the Department of Economic Opportunity to improve local government's long-term comprehensive planning to encourage successful and sustainable growth while protecting natural resources.
  • Strengthen BMAPs, which provide a roadmap to restoring water quality and reducing pollutants, to include the specific projects necessary to meet the requisite water quality standards to achieve restoration goals.
  • Ensure continued funding for statewide resilience projects through the Resilient Florida Program.
  • Take all necessary steps to expedite the state’s land conservation efforts, including a strategic focus on acquisitions within the Wildlife Corridor.

The order also directs the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to:

  • Continue to expedite Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program (CERP) projects.
  • Make every effort to ensure meaningful progress on Everglades restoration projects undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), including the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project.
  • Work with the Corps to ensure the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) is implemented in a manner that reduces discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries and sends more water south to benefit the environment and meet the needs of our communities.

Other key provisions include:

  • Continuation of efforts by the Blue-Green Algae Task and Harmful Algal Bloom Task Forces.
  • Continuation of the red tide emergency grant program and creation of a similar blue-green algae grant program to support state and local government response efforts.