TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the award of over $57 million for 23 statewide springs restoration projects to protect Florida’s iconic springs, as well as increase spring flow and improve water quality. Florida’s springs attract visitors from across the world and the preservation of these springs play an important role in the economic resilience of the state.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and four of Florida’s water management districts have identified projects such as wastewater, stormwater, pollution control projects and water-quality projects to protect and restore our springs. Additionally, these projects will help conserve and acquire land in spring recharge zones to prevent nutrients from entering the groundwater that feeds our springs.
“Florida is home to more than 1,000 springs, with more large springs than any other state in the nation, which attract visitors from across the world,” said Governor DeSantis. “This $57 million investment will continue to protect water quality and allow Florida’s springs to continue to be a world class tourist destination for years to come.”
“Thanks to Governor DeSantis for once again continuing to protect one of Florida’s greatest assets — our invaluable springs,” said DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “In partnership with our water management districts, local governments and community leaders, implementation of these projects will help to continue the protection of this precious resource for generations to come.”
“Florida is committed to its investment in projects focused on protecting and restoring the state’s unique springs,” said Chief Science Officer Dr. Mark Rains. “With this diverse suite of water quality improvement projects, and in tandem with the state’s other ongoing initiatives, we will continue our efforts to reduce nutrients and improve water flow in our iconic springs.”
The selected projects reflect a collaborative effort with DEP, water management districts, community leaders and local stakeholders. Combining efforts and leveraging resources from various agencies across Florida allows for a more efficient and comprehensive restoration effort.
Highlights from the 23 statewide springs projects include:
Northwest Florida Water Management District:
- $1.75 million for the Southside Triangle Sanitary Sewer Construction to benefit Wakulla Springs. This project is the first phase of a multi-phase effort for the construction of a sanitary sewer to ultimately connect homes from septic to sewer in the springshed and Priority Focus Area of Wakulla Springs.
“We applaud the vision and the commitment from Governor DeSantis, the legislature, and DEP for continued support of springs restoration projects,” said Lyle Seigler, Executive Director, Northwest Florida Water Management District. “This marks another positive step forward in the protection of our precious natural resources in northwest Florida.”
Southwest Florida Water Management District:
- $4.46 million for the Crystal River Wastewater Treatment Facility to benefit Crystal River and Kings Bay. This project will upgrade the city’s wastewater treatment facility to achieve a higher nitrogen removal rate and meet advanced treatment quality.
“Our local springs are vital resources to the state’s ecology, economy and quality of life,” said Brian Armstrong, Executive Director, Southwest Florida Water Management District. “The funding awarded by Governor DeSantis helps reduce the financial burden on the local community while working to improve the springs’ water quality and natural systems.”
St. Johns River Water Management District:
- $3 million for the Marion Silver Springs Shores Septic-to-Sewer Phase I to benefit Silver Springs. This phase of the project includes decommissioning 212 septic tanks in the Silver Springs Shores community and installing sewer system expansion and transmission force main.
“I want to thank Governor DeSantis, DEP and all our local partners for their commitment to safeguarding Florida’s springs,” said Mike Register, Executive Director, St. Johns River Water Management. “This substantial funding demonstrates the state’s dedication to preserving our natural systems, with a special focus on our springs that uniquely defines the spirit of Florida. Governor DeSantis’ persistent dedication to their preservation is not only commendable, but is also a testament to his unwavering commitment to securing a sustainable future for generations to come.”
Suwannee River Water Management District:
- $1.67 million for the Poe Springs Addition to benefit Poe Springs in Alachua County. This project is for the acquisition of 250 acres of slash pine plantation adjacent to Poe Springs that will be permanently placed into conservation.
“With more than 450 springs in the Suwannee River Water Management District, the seven funded projects for our District are truly beneficial to restoring and protecting these important water resources,” said Hugh Thomas, Executive Director, Suwannee River Water Management District. “We are thankful to Governor DeSantis, our legislature and the DEP for their continued commitment to protecting our environmental assets and addressing the needs of our communities.”
Since 2019, Florida has made an unprecedented financial commitment to springs restoration, allocating $325 million in state funding to assist local governments and other stakeholders to identify and construct projects that are imperative to achieving restoration goals. Through this investment, more than 130 projects have moved forward, resulting in Total Nitrogen (TN) reductions estimated at more than 666,024 pounds per year. This includes the projects announced today, which will provide an estimated TN reduction of 106,143 pounds per year.
Lists of the recent spring’s protection projects and projects funded in previous years can be found HERE.