Since taking office, Governor DeSantis has implemented major reforms to achieve more now for Florida’s environment. Under the Governor’s leadership, record funding for Everglades restoration and the protection of water resources was appropriated this year, and the Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget builds upon these significant investments. As part of more than $4 billion in funding to protect our environment, agriculture and natural resources, the Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget recommends over $2 billion specifically for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Continued Improvements for Water Quality, Quantity and Supply

In Executive Order 19-12, among other major environmental reforms, Governor DeSantis called for $2.5 billion to be invested over four years for protection of water resources, an increase of $1 billion over the previous four years. The current year budget was the first step towards reaching that goal, appropriating more than $625 million for this purpose. The Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget continues this investment, dedicating more than $625 million of recurring funding for Everglades restoration and the protection of water resources. Establishing recurring funding will ensure that $625 million is appropriated each year to restore our natural resources, and that the goal of the $2.5 billion investment is reached.

This Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget includes more than $322 million for Everglades restoration projects, including $32 million for Restoration Strategies, $170 million for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and $47 million for the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program. This level of funding will put Florida on track to complete the C-44 Reservoir and stormwater treatment area, the C-43 Reservoir, and additional projects over the next four years. These projects will provide 672,000 acre-feet of storage and remove more than 200,000 pounds of total phosphorus annually, a major source of nutrient pollution. The budget includes $64 million for the EAA Reservoir to continue the momentum of this critical project to reduce harmful discharges and help send more clean water south of the Everglades.

The Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget also includes $200 million in General Revenue for targeted water quality improvements to achieve significant, meaningful and measurable nutrient reductions in key waterbodies across the state and to implement the initial recommendations of the Blue-Green Algae Task Force. This includes: $150 million for cost-share grant funds for water quality improvements, including septic conversions and upgrades, other wastewater improvements, and rural and urban stormwater system upgrades; and $50 million to accelerate projects to meet scientific nutrient reduction goals (called Total Maximum Daily Loads), which may include green infrastructure investments or land conservation to protect our water resources.

On top of the investment in targeted water quality improvements, the budget includes $50 million to restore Florida’s world-renowned springs. This funding may also be used for land acquisition to protect springsheds and is crucial to supporting homeowners and local communities as they work with the state to achieve the septic and nutrient reduction requirements of the 2016 Water Bill.

The Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget supports a more than $22 million investment to improve water quality and combat the effects and impacts of harmful algal blooms, including blue-green algae and red tide. The budget recommends the following: $10 million for innovative technologies and short-term solutions to aid in the prevention, cleanup and mitigation of harmful algal blooms. $10.8 million to increase water quality monitoring, support the Blue-Green Algae Task Force, and to improve and maintain the water quality public information portal. This portal is focused on accountability and transparency, providing monitoring data for all of Florida’s outstanding springs and key waterbodies, as well as allow the public to track the investment in projects and progress in attaining water quality goals. $1.9 million and two dedicated positions to continue supporting the Center for Red Tide Research within the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and to support the Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force and partnerships for mitigation and technology development with a renewed focus on red tide.

Governor DeSantis also recommends $40 million in General Revenue for the alternative water supply grant program to help communities plan for and implement vital conservation, reuse and other alternative water supply projects. DEP will continue to engage local governments, industry, universities and water management districts to identify and research all viable alternative water supply sources and is working to provide an assessment of funding needs critical to supporting Florida’s growing economy.

Further Protection of our Valuable and Vulnerable Coastlines

Protecting Florida’s 1,300 miles of coastline is critical to our growing economy and quality of life, as millions travel from around the world to visit our world-renowned beaches. Governor DeSantis’ Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget recommends $50 million in beach nourishment funding to continue addressing Florida’s critically eroded shorelines.

The Governor’s budget recommends $6 million for the Resilient Coastlines Program within the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection within DEP. This program helps prepare Florida’s communities and habitats for changes resulting from sea level rise by providing funding and technical assistance and continuing to promote and ensure a coordinated approach to planning among state, regional and local agencies. The funding for coastal resiliency grants will also help protect Florida’s coral reefs, which serve as the state’s first line of defense from storm surge and are a major tourism attraction, and support emergency sand placement to help fortify coastal areas ahead of storms. Governor DeSantis’ budget includes $8.9 million to protect our coral reefs, and $600,000 for artificial reef planning and development which will provide additional habitat to protect marine reef fish and enhance coastal community economies.

Investing in Clean Lands and Air

The Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget recommends $150 million for the cleanup of contaminated sites with a focus on promoting redevelopment of these areas once cleanup has been completed. Working with federal and local partners, cleanup and redevelopment of these sites will ensure Florida’s new businesses and growing communities can safely develop and our economy can continue to grow. Specific recommended investments include: $125 million for Petroleum Tanks Cleanup; $8.5 million for Dry Cleaning Solvent Contaminated Site Cleanup; $6.5 million for Hazardous Waste Contaminated Site Cleanup; and $10 million for Cleanup of State-Owned contaminated sites.

The budget also recommends $67.5 million for the implementation of the State Mitigation Plan for the $166 million Volkswagen Clean Air Act settlement. The plan addresses diesel emission reduction, including funds for electric vehicle infrastructure and electric buses.

A Commitment to Florida’s Prized Properties and Waters

The Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget recommends $154 million to protect our prized properties and waters in Florida. This funding will ensure all Floridians have access to enjoy our pristine natural environment, while protecting these unique natural resources and investing in the management of our state-owned lands.

As land acquisition is vital to both our economic growth and environmental protection, Governor DeSantis recommends $100 million for the Florida Forever Program, the state’s premier conservation and recreation land acquisition program. This includes: $84 million for the Division of State Lands to acquire land with a focus on protecting our water resources for Floridians and visitors; $10 million for Florida Communities Trust (FCT); and $6 million for the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP).

Florida’s State Parks have won the National Gold Medal a record four times for having the best park system nationally. Governor DeSantis recommends devoting $54 million to infrastructure improvements and resource management with the goal of maintaining this high standard, and ensuring all visitors and residents alike have access to these prized properties for generations to come.

Defending Florida’s Everglades from Invasive Species

Governor DeSantis has prioritized efforts to remove Burmese pythons from the Everglades. Pythons are an invasive species that disrupt the natural food chain balance and have no natural predators, causing them to multiply without impediment and further threaten endangered species. Pythons also decimate other animal populations, disturbing Florida’s delicate ecosystem and threatening the biodiversity in the Everglades and surrounding areas. The Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget dedicates $1 million for FWC to remove pythons from the Everglades.

Investing in Florida’s Agriculture

The Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget recommends more than $1.7 billion for Florida’s agricultural industry. In order to preserve Florida’s iconic citrus industry, Governor DeSantis recommends investing $19.5 million for citrus research, the Citrus Health Response Program and for consumer awareness marketing efforts. Also, recognizing how important it is to effectively combat wildfires, the Governor recommends $3.3 million for wildfire suppression equipment and $4.9 million for road and bridge maintenance to allow for better access for land management and wildfire suppression activities.