MELBOURNE BEACH, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced $116 million in grant funds the state is dedicating to water quality improvement projects with more than $53 million going toward improving the Indian River Lagoon.
The governor was joined by Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton for the news conference at Sebastian Inlet State Park Friday morning.
DeSantis said the $53 million would be dedicated to 13 water-quality projects that will eliminate over 3,000 septic tanks and upgrade three wastewater treatment facilities, which is in addition to the $30 million that has already gone into improving water infrastructure in the lagoon’s basin.
“We took a strategic approach when reviewing these projects. These projects and the resulting nutrient reductions will have a really positive effect on all these areas but particularly the lagoon, and this is continuing with our commitment to protecting and improving Florida’s water resources,” he said.
The governor credited Senate Bill 2512 and the Clean Waterways Act for making “investment in the Indian River Lagoon possible.”
“This lagoon covers 40% of Florida’s east coast, is the most biologically diverse estuary in North America. It’s an important resource for many plant and animal species. The lagoon’s also a key driver of the economy of the region,” DeSantis said.
Hamilton said the lagoon is experiencing “significant challenges due to excess nutrients” and three specific maps were developed for the lagoon to assign targeted projects.
“Once implemented, [it] will obviously help reduce the nutrient and improve the water quality of the lagoon, specifically targeting things like nitrogen and phosphorus, all of which can increase the property, you know the intensity, and the duration of algae blooms, which leads to the degradation of seagrass,” he said.
Earlier this year, local governments began working to clean the water as a record-breaking number of manatees were dying in the lagoon.
DeSantis said this move “is just one more step” to improve the health of the lagoon.