Florida budget earmarks $1.5 billion for environmental projects in 2024-25

by | Apr 22, 2024

Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced a $1.5 billion allocation in Florida’s 2024-25 budget for Everglades restoration and statewide water quality improvements, part of a broader $3.5 billion environmental commitment during his second term.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has approved $1.5 billion for Everglades restoration and water quality improvements in the state’s 2024-25 budget, he announced during a Monday press conference.

The funding is part of a larger commitment totaling $3.5 billion pledged for ecological projects during his second term. The funding serves as part of a broader environmental initiative, with the state committing to spend $3.5 billion over four years, starting from January 2023. With the latest allocation, Florida has now earmarked a total of $3.1 billion towards these goals in the first two years of that timeframe.

“My view is that we as Floridians — as Americans — we want to utilize natural resources. We want to enjoy natural resources,” DeSantis said. “It’s great that people take annual trips to come to Florida to fish or to go boating or to enjoy our beaches.”

This investment includes $850 million specifically for Everglades-related projects and $614 million to support the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) and the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) reservoir, marking the highest single-year investment in CERP since its inception in 2000.

The approved budget also allocates $100 million for the second phase of the C-51 reservoir project, which aims to enhance water supply to Palm Beach and Broward counties and reduce freshwater discharges into the Lake Worth Lagoon. Additionally, the budget includes $530 million for targeted water quality improvement projects across the state, with $135 million directed towards the Water Quality Improvement Grant Program.

DeSantis also highlighted the role of recent legislation in supporting these initiatives. Senate Bill 1638, which he signed earlier, directs approximately $750 million annually from Seminole Tribe gaming compact revenues to environmental restoration. This legislation also allocates an additional $150 million to support the state’s water management systems, integrating state and tribal funds for comprehensive environmental management.

“We don’t want to waste resources. We don’t want to rob future generations have that same enjoyment that we’re having. And I think what we’re doing what we’ve done over these last five plus years, is really ensure that we’re leaving the state of Florida better to the next generation than what we found it and we’re happy to do that,” DeSantis said.

At the federal level, Sen. Marco Rubio and members of Florida’s Congressional Delegation formally petitioned President Joe Biden in March to allocate $725 million in Fiscal Year 2025 budget for the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration (SFER) efforts.

In a letter to the President, the coalition stated that recent weather phenomena, including El Niño conditions, have exacerbated water management challenges, leading to harmful water discharges into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers, necessitating enhanced infrastructure to manage. The requested funding would accelerate restoration projects, such as the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir that will reduce discharges from Lake Okeechobee and improve water flow southward.

Joining Rubio were U.S. Representatives Carlos GimenezByron DonaldsBrian MastGus BilirakisLaurel LeeJohn RutherfordMike Waltz, and Jared Moskowitz.


%d bloggers like this: