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Governor's Executive Order Pledges Funding to Preserve Florida's Water Resources; Indian River Lagoon Among the Priorities

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Florida - Tuesday January 10, 2023: Governor DeSantis Monday issued an Executive Order calling for record funding to preserve Florida's water resources, including millions dedicated to restoring water quality in the ailing Indian River Lagoon.

Executive Order 23-06 pledges a total of $3.5 billion dollars over the next four years, with a focus on Everglades restoration and the reduction of harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

“I’m directing the South Florida Water Management District to continue expediting Everglades restoration projects," said DeSantis, "including projects that reduce the risk of harmful discharges and that will send more water south to the Everglades and Florida Bay.”

The order also prioritizes the protection of the Indian River Lagoon. “We are looking to establish an Indian River Lagoon Protection program directing the Department of Environmental Protection to identify and prioritize projects to restore the Indian River Lagoon and to secure at least $100-million dollars each year for projects to improve water quality in the Indian River Lagoon.”

The Governor said preserving the state’s water resources is a priority for economic reasons, as well as environmental ones.

“The people that are coming to visit, they want to go to the beaches, they want to go fishing, they want to go boating. That’s just the life-blood of our state’s DNA. So it’s the right thing to do, but it also re-enforces our economic objectives," said the Governor.

CLICK on this link to READ Executive Order 23-06 - AchievingEven MoreNow for Florida’s Environment

Key provisions of Executive Order 23-06 include directing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to:

  • Secure an historic $3.5 billion over the next four years for Everglades restoration and protection of our water resources, including water quality and water supply.
  • Prioritize the protection of the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) and secure at least $100 million annually for priority projects to improve water quality in the IRL.
  • Expand the existing Wastewater Grant Program by broadening project eligibility to address impacts to water quality from nonpoint sources such as stormwater and agricultural runoff.
  • Ensure that all wastewater facilities discharging to waterbodies within a basin management action plan (BMAP) area or waterbody not attaining water quality standards upgrade to advanced wastewater treatment by 2033.
  • Coordinate with the Department of Economic Opportunity to improve local government long-term comprehensive planning to encourage successful and sustainable growth while protecting natural resources.
  • Strengthen BMAPs, which provide a roadmap to restoring water quality and reducing pollutants, to include the specific projects necessary to meet the requisite water quality standards to achieve restoration goals.
  • Ensure continued funding for statewide resilience projects through the Resilient Florida Program.
  • Take all necessary steps to expedite the state’s land conservation efforts, including a strategic focus on acquisitions within the Wildlife Corridor.

The order also directs the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to:

  • Continue to expedite Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program (CERP) projects.
  • Make every effort to ensure meaningful progress on Everglades restoration projects undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), including the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project.
  • Work with the Corps to ensure the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM) is implemented in a manner that reduces discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries and sends more water south to benefit the environment and meet the needs of our communities.

Other key provisions include:

  • Continuation of efforts by the Blue-Green Algae Task and Harmful Algal Bloom Task Forces.
  • Continuation of the red tide emergency grant program and creation of a similar blue-green algae grant program to support state and local government response efforts.