Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced $114 million for wastewater treatments grants in order to improve water quality across Florida. The Wastewater Grant Program was a part of the Clean Waterways Act intended to reduce nutrient pollution in Florida’s waterways.
A large chunk of the money, $53 million, is going to the Indian River Lagoon to help with connecting approximately 3,000 septic tanks to the central sewer and upgrading wastewater treatment facilities.
“Since I first took office, expediting water quality restoration has been one of my top priorities,” said DeSantis in a press release. “The Indian River Lagoon covers 40% of Florida’s East Coast and is one of our state’s most iconic and critical natural resources, contributing an estimated $2 billion annually for tourism and recreation and $767 million to the marine industry. I am happy to join DEP and project partners here today to celebrate these projects that will help protect and restore the lagoon for future generations.”
Florida State Rep. Randy Fine (R-FL-53), who lives and represents south Brevard County, expressed his support and thanks for the funding to the Indian River Lagoon.
“The Indian River Lagoon is the lifeblood of Brevard County,” said Fine. “It is our primary source of recreation, tourism, and economic growth. And for far too many years, it has suffered and its future has been ignored. So I am extraordinarily grateful that today Governor DeSantis has worked with all of us in Brevard to deliver on our collective promise to repair and preserve this national treasure.”
Water policy has been a mainstay in Florida’s political landscape, especially after Red Tide and algal bloom occurrences in recent years. As a result of phosphate reservoir leaks requiring the state to allocate over $100M to a cleanup effort at the Piney Point reservoir and Lake Okeechobee discharges flowing south to the Everglades, protecting Florida’s water quality has garnered much attention.
The recently appointed Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary, Shawn Hamilton, said efforts like the grant program will help alleviate Florida’s water of nutrient-rich discharges.
“The Governor’s commitment and advocacy for water quality in our state has been unwavering,” said Hamilton. “Today we are celebrating a suite of projects that will help prevent or reduce the amount of nutrients going into the Indian River Lagoon, to help reduce the frequency and duration of harmful algal blooms, help restore seagrasses, and protect marine ecosystems. DEP is proud to be a partner in these critical projects, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with local governments to address water quality across the state.”
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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Background Photo “Water Treatment Plant” by Florida Water Daily CC BY 2.0.