The newly minted governor allocated $2.5 billion for Florida water quality issues
On Jan. 10, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order to implement major water reforms across the state. The reforms include $2.5 billion over the next four years for Everglades restoration and establishes a water quality task force to target the state’s blue-green algae problem, exacerbated by polluted storm water runoff coming from sugarcane farms.
In addition to funding for Everglades restoration, the order establishes a Blue-Green Algae Task Force, creates the Office of Environmental Accountability and Transparency, appoints a Chief Science Officer, and instructs the South Florida Water Management District to start the next phase of the Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir Project design, reports ABC Action News.
“Our water and natural resources are the foundation of our economy and our way of life in Florida,” DeSantis said. “The protection of water resources is one of the most pressing issues facing our state.”
According to The Tampa Bay Times, DeSantis issued the executive order on his second day as governor of the state, citing the importance of water quality issues to all Floridians. In addition to increased water quality monitoring and data collection, he ordered construction accelerated on a 17,000-acre Everglades reservoir in farm fields south of the lake in an attempt to end polluted discharges that trigger algae blooms.
“It’s a little bit like Christmas morning to see all of the things in this executive order, everything from fully funding and accelerating Everglades projects to standing strong on keeping the eastern Gulf of Mexico closed to drilling, to creating an office of resilience,” said Audubon Florida Executive Director Julie Wraithmell to The Tampa Bay Times.
While the sweeping water quality reforms are being praised by some, others worry that the $2.5 billion–more than $1 billion more than the previous administration’s water cleanup funding–will overwhelm the state’s budget.
“Is the plan to cut into other programs to raise the needed funds?” said Florida Sen. Audrey Gibson in a statement. “Will Floridians lose services in one area to offset the costs for water cleanup?”