Environment

Fighting to Protect Florida’s Environment for Future Generations

For decades, people from across the world have come to Florida because the state has more than 1,300 miles of coastline, award winning state parks and world-class beaches. Since taking office, Governor Scott has made historic strides to protect Florida’s lands and ensure that the future of the state’s pristine environment is beautiful for generations to come. Governor Scott has invested record funding in the Everglades and in Florida’s springs, while also supporting the state’s vital produce and agricultural industries. Today, Florida has the most comprehensive nutrient pollution limits, operates one of the highest achieving park systems and produces the highest amounts of oranges and grapefruit by cash-receipts in the nation.

The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget invests more than $3.9 billion to protect agricultural and natural resources and ensure Florida has a pristine environment for future generations to enjoy.

Preparing Florida’s Communities and Environment for Major Storm Events
Hurricanes Matthew and Hermine caused significant damage to Florida, especially to the state’s world-class beaches. Florida’s beaches are not only an economic driver for coastal communities, but also provide critical storm protection and habitat for wildlife. The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget invests $61.2 million to fulfill the state’s share of needed restoration based on the latest hurricane damage assessment. On January 27th, Governor Scott used his emergency executive authority under Executive Orders Executive Orders 16-230 and 17-16 and allocated nearly $15.8 million in state funds for emergency beach restoration projects in response to the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew in St. Johns, Flagler, Volusia and Brevard Counties. This funding immediately addressed critically eroded beaches where an imminent threat to beachfront structures, such as roadways, homes and businesses, was identified. Projects include repairing and reconstructing sand dunes. Together, these investments total $77 million and fulfill the total responsibility of the state to respond to hurricane damage to Florida’s beaches. This funding is in addition to $50 million for statewide beach and dune restoration, beach re-nourishment and other coastal restoration projects. This is the highest amount of funding for Florida’s beaches since Governor Scott took office.

Following Hurricanes Matthew and Hermine, it is clear that investments are needed for wastewater treatment facilities to ensure local governments are prepared to handle major storms. The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget invests $22 million to start a new Wastewater Treatment Facility Storm Preparedness grant program. This program will offer up to a 75 percent state matching grant with local communities to help local wastewater treatment facilities prepare for future storm events and prevent sanitary sewer overflows like those Floridians experienced during the two hurricanes in 2016. These systems are run by local governments, not the state. The amount of grant assistance will be dependent on the size of the facility, with smaller facilities being eligible for a higher level of matching assistance.

Improving Water Quality in Florida
Under Governor Scott’s leadership, Florida established the most comprehensive nutrient pollution standards in the nation and became the first state to adopt complete nutrient standards protecting all lakes, rivers, streams, springs and estuaries. This outstanding achievement has undoubtedly worked to protect water quality in Florida for generations of Floridians – but more must be done. Governor Scott expects Florida to have the best water quality programs in the nation and the Fighting for Florida’s Future budget makes critical investments of more than $360 million in the programs outlined below to safeguard the iconic waterways that are so important to the future of Florida.

The Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee Cleanup Initiative
The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget invests $60 million for Governor Scott’s Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee Cleanup Initiative which is a long-term solution to improving water quality in this area. Governor Scott’s recommendation marks the first time the State of Florida is proposing significant funds to offset homeowner costs associated with septic to sewer conversions. The initiative includes $40 million in new funding for a 50/50 state matching grant program with local communities affected by algal blooms the region experienced in 2016. This voluntary program will provide funding to encourage residents to move from septic tanks to sewer systems in order to curb pollution that is currently entering these water bodies. This proposal will also support local communities to help build wastewater systems to meet the increased demand for wastewater services. The initiative also includes $20 million in new funding that will be used for muck dredging and other capital improvement projects needed to improve water quality and reduce sources of pollution in these waterways.

Protecting Florida’s Estuaries, Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades
Florida’s fish and wildlife, residents and visitors were all severely impacted by the algal blooms last year which resulted from frequent discharges from Lake Okeechobee due to the needed maintenance and repair to the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike. Last year, Governor Scott fulfilled his promise to establish a dedicated source of funding for the Everglades. This includes the $32 million in recurring state funding that had previously been established as a part of the Governor’s $880 million Everglades water quality plan.

It is clear that even more must be done to complete critical water quality projects. That is why the Fighting for Florida’s Future budget recommends $225 million for Everglades restoration which includes $140 million to complete the state’s portion of funding for the C-44 reservoir and keep the C-43 reservoir on schedule, together will ultimately provide 75 billion gallons of water storage to protect estuaries. The budget also includes an additional $20 million for the C-51 reservoir, which once complete will provide more than 24 billion gallons of water storage, in addition to providing a needed water supply source for South Florida. On top of this funding, the budget includes $4 million for targeted land acquisition necessary to construct the C-23/C-24 project which will provide an additional 30 billion gallons of water storage once complete.

Protecting Florida’s Springs with Record Funding
Just as with Everglades funding, the Governor fulfilled his promise to establish a dedicated funding source to protect the future of Florida’s springs. Florida contains more first-magnitude springs than anywhere else in the nation. In addition to being critical habitat for numerous species, these natural jewels bring families, visitors and jobs to Florida. Recognizing the value of this resource, the Fighting for Florida’s Future budget includes a record $65 million in state funding for springs restoration. Working with local partners, Governor Scott has already invested a historic $267.8 million in Florida’s springs over the last four years.

Protecting the Florida Keys
Governor Scott fulfilled his promise to help the Florida Keys complete the repair of their wastewater treatment facilities to ensure that south Florida’s reefs and waters were protected for the local communities and fish and wildlife that depend on these resources. There is still more work to be done to ensure that these natural treasures in the Florida Keys are preserved for future generations. The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget includes $10 million for additional water quality improvement projects, such as stormwater or canal restoration to protect water resources in the Florida Keys. In addition, the budget provides $5 million for land acquisition in the Florida Keys.

Providing a Sustainable Water Supply
The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget ensures that Florida continues to be a leader in addressing the future water needs of business, growth, and the environment. The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget proposes $100 million for water supply focused on critical needs by working with water management districts, local communities and established regional water supply partnerships. These funds will help ensure the sustainable growth of Florida’s economy and environment, and also assist economically challenged communities to maintain a long-term water supply.

Investing in Florida’s Parks and Natural Lands
Under the Governor’s leadership in 2014, Florida’s State Park System won its third National Gold Medal for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, the first of any state to do so. The Governor is committed to continuing improvements and wise investments in Florida’s parks, greenways, wildlife management areas, beaches and other natural lands to ensure current and future generations can enjoy these beautiful areas.

The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget invests more than $50 million in new funding into state parks, the most since Governor Scott took office. This includes $44 million for park repairs and enhancements across the state - $10 million of which will be focused on those improvements that bring the greatest return on investment to state parks by enhancing park users’ experiences. Also included is $6 million to manage the land, protect the natural resources and improve access to state parks.

Preserving Florida’s Natural Lands
Governor Scott understands that maintaining Florida’s natural beauty means preserving natural lands for future generations to enjoy. The Fighting for Florida’s Future budget includes more than $178 million for land acquisition and management statewide. This includes $55.7 million for targeted land acquisition to create more recreational opportunities and preserve Florida’s natural lands, including $30.2 million to purchase lands for Everglades restoration projects and $5 million to purchase land within the Florida Keys. In addition to new land acquisitions, the Fighting for Florida’s Future budget provides more than $122 million for statewide land management to ensure the stewardship of lands currently owned by the state.

Protecting Florida’s Agriculture
Florida ranks highest in the nation in value of production for tomatoes, watermelons, grapefruit and oranges. Florida accounts for 59 percent of total U.S. citrus production and Florida agriculture supports two million jobs and contributes more than $120 billion annually to the state’s economy. Florida has 47,500 commercial farms, occupying a total of 9.50 million acres. In order to ensure Florida’s citrus industry continues to lead the nation for generations to come, the Fighting for Florida’s Future budget dedicates $1.7 billion for agriculture. This includes $8 million in funding for short-term research projects on how to stop the spread of citrus greening and $7.6 million in funding to help protect the economic well-being of the citrus industry.