In a significant move, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed Executive Order 23-06, titled “Achieving Even More Now for Florida’s Environment,” reaffirming his administration’s commitment to preserving the state’s natural resources and water quality. The executive order outlines a visionary plan, underpinned by a proposed $3.5 billion investment over four years for Everglades restoration and water resource protection, marking the highest level of funding in Florida’s history.
Commitment to Florida’s Environment
Governor DeSantis emphasized his dedication to Florida’s environment, particularly in light of economic challenges posed by inflation, stating, “Stronger families make a stronger Florida.”
Key Highlights of Executive Order 23-06
The executive order earmarks $3.5 billion over four years for Everglades restoration and water resource protection, surpassing previous funding levels. This substantial allocation underscores Florida’s unwavering commitment to preserving its unique ecosystem.
Indian River Lagoon Protection
The order focuses on safeguarding the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) by securing a minimum of $100 million annually for priority projects to enhance water quality within the IRL.
Wastewater Grant Program Expansion
The existing Wastewater Grant Program will expand to address water quality impacts from nonpoint sources, including stormwater and agricultural runoff.
Advanced Wastewater Treatment
All wastewater facilities discharging into basin management action plan (BMAP) areas or waterbodies failing to meet water quality standards must transition to advanced wastewater treatment by 2033.
The executive order encourages local government long-term comprehensive planning to foster sustainable growth while protecting natural resources.
Basin management action plans will be strengthened, incorporating specific projects essential to achieving water quality standards and restoration objectives.
Funding for statewide resilience projects through the Resilient Florida Program will continue.
Strategic efforts to expedite land conservation, with a particular focus on acquisitions within the Wildlife Corridor, are emphasized.
South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Directives
Continue expediting Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program (CERP) projects.
Collaborate with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to reduce discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, prioritizing environmental benefits and community needs in implementing the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM).
Other key provisions include ongoing efforts by the Blue-Green Algae Task and Harmful Algal Bloom Task Forces, the continuation of the red tide emergency grant program, and the creation of a blue-green algae grant program to support state and local government response efforts.
Governor DeSantis’ ambitious environmental agenda builds upon significant achievements during his first term, reflecting Florida’s commitment to environmental stewardship and a sustainable future.
Original Article By FLGOV Staff- FLGOV