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Florida to spend $1.5B in additional funds for Everglades, water quality

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(The Center Square) — Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday an additional $1.5 billion to restore the Everglades and provide water quality improvements for fiscal 2024-25.

Approximately $850 million will be allocated to Everglades restoration, this includes $614 million for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir.

DeSantis said that when he became governor in 2019, there had been persistent neglect of Everglades projects and other natural resources.

“We needed a jolt to move forward, we needed to do something,” DeSantis said. “So we set out a very ambitious agenda to be able to tackle these challenges, and not just with Everglades, but with water quality more broadly in the state.”

DeSantis said that in January 2019, the Legislature allocated $2.5 billion over four years.

“That more than doubled what had been done in the previous four years,” DeSantis said. “Rome wasn’t built in a day, this is a big state, you’re talking about restoring the plumbing of the state to how God intended it, it requires a lot of things…These are ambitious projects.”

At the beginning of DeSantis’ second term in 2023, the governor and the Legislature pledged another $2.5 billion over the next four years, upping it to $3.5 billion. In the current fiscal year, $1.7 billion has been spent on water quality and the Everglades projects.

Florida has invested $6.5 billion into environmental protection, restoration efforts, water quality, and infrastructure since 2019. Planned projects have also been able to break ground up to a year ahead of schedule.

“If you look at the flow of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades…in 2018, and compare that to now, there has been a huge difference,” DeSantis said. “The amount of water that is flowing south through the Everglades…this has been really meaningful.”

Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton thanked DeSantis for following through on promises to protect Florida’s most precious assets.

“With record investments since 2019, Florida has ushered in a new era of stewardship for Florida’s natural resources, especially for America’s Everglades,” Hamilton said.