FT. MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis highlighted the signing of the Freedom First Budget and more than $1.2 billion for Everglades restoration and the protection of Florida’s water resources. Through the Freedom First Budget, Florida has now surpassed Governor DeSantis’ four-year goal with a total investment of more than $3.3 billion for Everglades restoration and the protection of water resources since 2019. Details on the environment budget can be found here. Governor DeSantis also announced that he vetoed Senate Bill 2508, which aimed to place additional regulatory hurdles on the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).
“Protecting Florida’s natural resources has been a top priority since my first day in office,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “The health of the Everglades, Florida’s springs, and so many other resources are the foundation of our communities and economy and play an important role in the everyday lives of Floridians. I am committed to leaving our natural resources better than we found them so that future generations can experience what brings people from around the world to our state.”
On his first full day in office, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 19-12, which laid out his bold vision to protect Florida’s environment. Executive Order 19-12 called for a $2.5 billion investment over four years in Everglades restoration and the protection of water resources, a $1 billion increase over the previous four years. The newly signed Freedom First Budget brings the four-year total to more than $3.3 billion, more than doubling the investment of the previous four years.
“Since taking office, Governor DeSantis has demonstrated his continued commitment to protect Florida’s waters and natural resources, which are the foundation of Florida’s communities, economy, and way of life,” said DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ leadership and the historic amounts of funding his administration has secured, the state is in the best position it has ever been to take strategic action to improve our water quality, and Florida is continuing to do just that.”
This historic level of investment has allowed Florida to expedite a number of Everglades restoration projects. Under the Governor’s leadership, 48 Everglades projects have either broken ground, achieved a major milestone, or were completed, including key projects like the C-43 and C-44 reservoirs. Governor DeSantis has affirmed Florida’s commitment to expediting the EAA Reservoir project, which will provide relief from harmful discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries and help send more clean water south to the Everglades. The Governor is committed to continuing to expedite projects that bring the most relief from harmful discharges and send clean water south to the Everglades.
“Today’s announcement represents Governor Ron DeSantis’ ongoing commitment to advance efforts to benefit America’s Everglades,” said Chauncey Goss, Chairman of the South Florida Water Management District. “Floridians can be confident that the investments in Everglades restoration, water quality, and resiliency will all protect the quality of life for all South Floridians. The Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 2508 is yet another example of his commitment to the protection of Florida’s water resources, and we thank Governor DeSantis for his steadfast support of Everglades restoration and efforts to send water south.”
“We thank Governor DeSantis for his strong commitment to advancing Everglades restoration,” said Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg. “Through his actions, Governor DeSantis has shown he understands Florida’s economy runs on water. One of his first acts in office was a pledge to secure $2.5 billion for the environment during his first term in office. He not only met that goal, but he exceeded it.”
“Thank you, Governor DeSantis for standing firm in your commitment to protect Florida’s waterways by vetoing Senate Bill 2508, the bad water policy that would have reversed years of Everglades restoration, water quality progress, the elimination of Lake Okeechobee discharges, and the equitable distribution of water use, all in favor of Big Sugar,” said Captains for Clean Water Executive Director Captain Daniel Andrews. “Our organization and others worked hard to weaken 2508 and this veto is the final nail in the coffin.”
“One of the first things the Blue-Green Algae Task Force encouraged the state to do was to make water quality restoration throughout the state a funding priority,” said Chief Science Officer Dr. Mark Rains. “Over the past three years, we’ve seen historic amounts of funding going to support our natural resources and with the Freedom First Budget, the state far exceeds the Governor’s four-year goal. This will enable us to achieve significant, meaningful, and measurable nutrient reductions in waterbodies throughout the state and continue to implement the task force’s recommendations.”
This funding also supports water projects to protect and restore springs; advances water infrastructure and reduces nutrients in our waterways; utilizes grant programs to assist communities with advanced wastewater treatment and septic-to-sewer projects; implements alternative water supply projects to meet Florida’s future water needs; and combats blue-green algae and red tide that have harmful environmental and economic impacts on our communities.

Additionally, Governor DeSantis announced that the application portal for many of the environmental grant programs is open. Portals to apply for the Wastewater Grant Program, Innovative Technologies, and Water Quality Improvements for Biscayne Bay and Springs Coast Watersheds are now open and can be found here. Portals to apply for additional programs, including the Resilient Florida Program, will be open soon.


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