Gov. Ron DeSantis’ environmental budget will include a “historic commitment” to water resources and Everglades restoration, including projects with Everglades, water quality and a “historic amount of money” for red tide research, he said Tuesday.
At a press conference after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, DeSantis alluded to announcements planned for later in the afternoon in Naples and in Fort Lauderdale.
“We meant what we said, and we think this is the time for us to tackle these problems that have been persistent in our state,” he said.
When asked about what will be done to address nutrient-rich water flowing from farms and polluting Lake Okeechobee, the governor said the Legislature and his new blue-green algae task force will take the helm.
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“You can stop the pollution today, but if you did discharge this summer it would still be bad,” he said. “We need to make some headway there. I want to listen to what their recommendations are going to be on that.”
The blue-green algae task force was just one of the governor’s proposals included in his announcement Jan. 10 of sweeping measures he would take to clean up Florida’s water. Other promises included spending $2.5 billion and launching more aggressive policies to address the algae that is building up in Lake Okeechobee and polluting the state’s coasts. He also promised to increase water monitoring, ban fracking, clean up septic tanks and speed up the construction of a 17,000-acre Everglades reservoir south of the lake.
At the press conference, the governor also announced that by March 1, he plans to appoint at least six of the nine board members to the South Florida Water Management District, which oversees Everglades restoration for the state. Earlier this month, DeSantis requested that all water managers resign. Right before his request, to the governor’s dismay, the board had agreed to extend a lease to sugar farmers on land slated for the reservoir.
“We’ll have folks on there who will listen to the broader Florida community, who understand how these problems have affected the communities,” he said. “Not just coastal communities, but communities throughout the state.”