Executive order focuses on stewardship of Florida’s natural resources

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Florida Construction News staff writer

Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed an executive order aimed at protection of Florida’s environment and water quality with $3.5 billion over four years for Everglades restoration and water resources projects.

“This order directs funding and strategic action that will continue our momentum and enhance our ongoing efforts to expedite critical Everglades restoration projects, employ sound science to protect and restore our waterways, and fund infrastructure projects to improve water quality and safeguard Florida’s water supply,” Desantis said.

The department of environmental protection has been directed to:

  • 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 long-term comprehensive planning to encourage successful and sustainable growth while protecting natural resources.
  • strengthen BMAPs, providing 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.
  • 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:

  • expedite Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program (CERP) projects.
  • 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.

“The state has taken unprecedented steps to effectively address our most pressing environmental issues,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “With this renewed support and direction, Florida’s environment will remain a priority and we will continue to have the resources to bolster our long-term environmental programs and meet the needs of our diverse state.”

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