Governor Ron DeSantis pledged the distribution of $481M to 100 water-related projects across the state as part of a grant initiative launched by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
“This is what Florida’s quality of life is all about. This is what our economy runs on,” said DeSantis in a media conference at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. “You can’t find this anywhere else in the country, really. This is unique. We’re blessed to have it. And we have a responsibility to leave it better than we found it.”
The funding is facilitated through prior reappropriation of the state budget, splitting the documentary stamp tax fund between wastewater grants, the affordable housing trust fund, and sea level projects.
$394M of the distributed money will go toward 72 wastewater-treatment projects in an effort to improve the 1.6 billion gallons of water that Floridians use and consume each day.
The state is looking to shift properties from using septic tanks to the implementation of a sewer system. DeSantis claims that septic to sewer conversion will yield a drastic improvement in statewide water quality.
As of 2016, Florida had an estimated 2.6 million operational septic tanks, accounting for roughly 12% of septic wastewater systems in the nation. The average cost of transition averages $15,000 to $20,000 per unit, according to various government databanks.
“As a result of the governor’s leadership and these resources, we’re making meaningful strides,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “This is a big jump toward starting to make a meaningful difference in what’s going to be a complex and challenging issue that we’ll have to work through in the years to come.”
The remaining funding will be utilized toward 28 projects involving natural spring sustainability and improvement, as well as wastewater facility improvements in rural and financially depressed regions of the state.
This announcement marks the latest bolstering of DeSantis’ environmental campaign that garnered him bipartisan support through actions like the appointment of a Chief Science Officer, allocated funding for natural spring restoration, and the allocation of $2.5B to protecting Florida waters.