Speaking in Oldsmar on Tuesday afternoon, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the first-ever statewide flooding resilience plan that would allocate over $200 million of state dollars towards rising sea levels and flood-susceptible regions in the state.
DeSantis said the spending in the plan will cover 76 infrastructure projects, including solutions to protect coastal communities from sea-level rise and flooding. With local governments anticipated to match Florida’s spending, DeSantis predicted $500 million in total would be directed toward environmental infrastructure projects in the state.
The governor said he plans to propose hundreds of millions more in funding over the next couple of years.
“We have really worked hard across the range of issues, but one thing we’ve focused on in Florida is supporting infrastructure, particularly modernizing and expanding it,” said DeSantis. “You’re going to end up seeing probably well over a billion dollars in this over the next couple of years, which is going to be really, really good.”
DeSantis also seeks to fortify low-lying and inland locations of the state where flooding has been of recent concern in regions like Apalachicola, The Acreage, and the Lake Okeechobee surrounding areas.
Projects to be worked on under the plan were submitted by local communities, which were then ranked based on their level of risk relevant to flooding and water damage.
“Before the last legislative session began, the Speaker [Chris Sprowls] saw the need for the state to prioritize the impacts of flooding and sea-level rise for Florida’s businesses, homeowners, and residents,” said Chief Resilience Officer Dr. Wes Brooks, who joined DeSantis in Oldsmar. “He developed the most robust legislation in the nation to address the devastating impact these water issues can have.
DeSantis announced plans to spend over $1 billion on environmental projects statewide in the next year, including $660 million toward Everglades restoration, $50 million for Florida springs restoration, $35 million to tackle harmful algal blooms, and an overall increase in spending amounting to $550 million.
“I’m pleased to say with our recommendations, and as we work with the Legislature and next year’s legislative session, we will not only have kept the promises and met the standards that we set, we will have exceeded what we promised to do,” said DeSantis at his environmental budget announcement on Nov. 16th.
DeSantis continues to strongarm environmental protection in the state of Florida, allocating more money than ever before to undergo preventative projects to protect changing ecosystems amid a rise in population and an endemic sprout of invasive species in our wetlands.