On May 28, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 7065, which will pump $32 million annually into the $880 million Everglades Restoration Plan. The plan seeks to restore water quality and flow to improve the health of Everglades habitat and the South Florida economy.
The plan includes an additional 2630 ha (6500 ac) of stormwater treatment wetlands for nutrient removal. It also calls for 136 million m3 (110,000 ac-ft) of storage capacity in flow-equalization basins. The basins capture and store peak stormwater flows. The water is slowly released into stormwater treatment wetlands for optimal treatment efficiency. Finally, engineering projects will focus on existing treatment areas and modifying conveyance features that move water through the South Florida Water Management District’s flood control and water delivery features. Read more.
On May 20, Scott also approved the Florida Families First budget investments, which provides $553 million for natural resource projects, including $70 million for Everglades programs.
The budget bill includes $81.8 million for Florida Forever, a conservation and recreation lands acquisition program. It also focuses on projects for protecting local waters, springs, and beaches, such as dune restoration, regional sediment management, and water conservation programs. The bill also provides funding for constructing wastewater treatment plants and hybrid wetland projects for removing nutrients. In addition, the bill covers specific waterways, such as the St. Johns River and Apalachicola Bay. Read more.