Today, Governor DeSantis was joined by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Shawn Hamilton, and Chief Science Officer Dr. Mark Rains to announce the awards for 103 wastewater and springs projects totaling $481 million.
The projects awarded will improve water quality in water bodies across Florida, reducing total nitrogen loading by a combined more than 700,000 pounds per year.
“These awards are going to make a big difference for our world-renowned springs and water quality all throughout the state of Florida,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Florida’s water resources are what our economy runs on – they are an economic driver, but even apart from that, our environment is really integral to what these communities are all about. We’re blessed to have it and we have a responsibility to leave it better than we found it.”
The more than $481 million awarded today was made available through three grant programs administered by DEP – the Wastewater Grant Program, Springs restoration grants, and the Small Community Wastewater Grant Program.
- $394 million from the Wastewater Grant Program for wastewater treatment improvements, including septic to sewer projects and projects to upgrade to advanced waste treatment. The $394 million awarded today is from federal funds.
- $67 million for projects to protect Florida’s world-renowned springs including land acquisition/conservation easements and wastewater infrastructure improvements. Of the $67 million awarded today, $50 million is from state funds and $17 million is from federal funds.
- $20 million for the Small Community Wastewater Grant Program for wastewater facility improvements in Rural Areas of Economic Opportunity and financially disadvantaged communities. The $20 million awarded today is from federal funds.
DEP’s wastewater grant program was established in the Clean Waterways Act, which Governor DeSantis championed and signed into law in 2020. The program prioritizes wastewater projects in basin management action plans, restoration plan areas, and rural areas of opportunity and also requires at least a 50% match, which may be waived by DEP for rural areas of opportunity.
Wastewater infrastructure projects that are eligible for grant funding include projects to construct, upgrade, or expand wastewater treatment facilities to provide advanced waste treatment and projects to upgrade or convert traditional septic systems.
All projects funded through the wastewater grant program within DEP will reduce nutrient pollution to Florida’s waterways.
Florida is home to more first- and second-magnitude springs than any other state in the nation. Florida’s springs can support entire ecosystems, offer many recreational opportunities, and serve as economic driver for communities. Governor DeSantis has made a significant financial commitment to springs restoration, dedicating $225 million since Fiscal Year 2019-20.
This funding has enabled DEP to assist local governments and other stakeholders to identify and construct projects that are imperative to achieving restoration goals.
The Small Community Wastewater Grant Program funds septic to sewer conversions and wastewater treatment facility improvements in Rural Areas of Opportunity and Fiscally Constrained Counties, as defined in Section 288.0656 and 218.67(1), Florida Statutes.
On September 24, Governor DeSantis was in Brevard County to announce the award of $114 million for the first grants from the Wastewater Grant Program. Out of the $114 million awarded, more than $53 million – 46 percent of the funding – was granted to the Indian River Lagoon, the most biologically diverse estuary in North America and an important resource for species such as the Florida scrub-jay, manatees and sea turtles.
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