TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced nearly $20 million to support water quality improvement projects along the Indian River Lagoon (IRL). These projects will help collect stormwater runoff and treat it to reduce the amount of pollutants and nutrients that enter the IRL. These projects are in addition to the $255 million Florida is already investing to protect the IRL, including targeting wastewater, septic to sewer, and other needed restoration projects.
“Investing in the protection of our waterways is a great way for us to ensure the long-term health of our natural resources,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “This funding will help build the infrastructure needed to improve water quality as we continue to make investments to protect and restore the Indian River Lagoon.”
“Decades of human impacts have resulted in impaired water quality in the Indian River Lagoon, specifically from nutrients,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “As a result of the leadership of Governor DeSantis and unprecedented investments in water quality, the Department, in conjunction with project partners, is focusing on tackling the root cause of nutrient pollution.”
Last week, Governor DeSantis signed Executive Order 23-06, continuing his historic commitment to the stewardship of Florida’s natural resources, including pledging to secure $3.5 billion over the next four years for Everglades restoration and the protection of water resources and establishing the Indian River Lagoon Protection Program to expedite water quality restoration of the IRL.
Over the past three years, Florida has invested more than $500 million in coastal communities to address excess nutrients entering our waterways. The Freedom First budget signed by the Governor this year includes more than $558 million for targeted water quality improvements across the state.
The IRL is the most biologically diverse estuary in North America and an important resource for species such as the Florida scrub-jay, manatees, and sea turtles. Currently, the water quality of the IRL is impaired for total nitrogen and total phosphorus. The nutrients flow into the lagoon from overland runoff, drainage canals, groundwater seepage, and rainfall. Excess nutrients can contribute to increased frequency, duration, and intensity of algal blooms and negatively impact the growth of seagrass in the lagoon. Seagrass is the most important resource within the IRL, providing habitat and food for manatees and other species.
A list of projects selected for funding can be found here.
Originally published at https://www.flgov.com/2023/01/19/governor-ron-desantis-announces-nearly-20-million-for-water-quality-projects-to-restore-the-indian-river-lagoon/