TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis awarded more than $30 million in state funding to support six water quality projects in the Caloosahatchee River Watershed. These projects will help address excess nutrients, which are known to contribute to increased algal blooms, by investing in wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.
“We have had remarkable success improving water quality in the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary over the past five years,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “These projects will continue our momentum and further our commitment to preserving the important role Florida’s environment plays in our economy.”
The health of the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary is integral to sustaining the overall way of life and economy of Southwest Florida. Since taking office, Governor DeSantis has been working with local, state and federal agencies to improve water quality in and better manage the timing and quantity of water flows from Lake Okeechobee, which serves as the entrance point for the St. Lucie River and the C-44 canal to the east and the Caloosahatchee River and C-43 canal to the southwest.
“The Caloosahatchee River and Estuary, along with other key waterbodies, is vital to the environment and way of life for Southwest Florida,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “With funding from the Governor and Florida Legislature, these priority water quality improvement projects are being implemented and progress is being realized.”
Projects awarded today include:
- Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District and Lee County ($15,500,000) – Frank Mann Preserve Water Quality Improvement Project.
- Florida Governmental Utility Authority ($7,000,000) – Wastewater Treatment Nutrient Reduction and Effluent Disposal Project.
- Florida Governmental Utility Authority ($2,764,706) – Lehigh Acres Advanced Wastewater Treatment Project.
- Lee County ($2,500,000) – Bob Janes Preserve Nutrient Reduction Project.
- Lee County ($1,500,000) – Palm Creek Water Quality Filter Marsh.
- Glades County ($1,250,000) – Northeast Service Area Septic-to-Sewer Project.
To view the project list, click here.
Extensive historical modifications to Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River Watershed have affected the region’s natural hydrology, and Governor DeSantis outlined key environmental initiatives in Executive Order 19-12 and Executive Order 23-06 focused on reversing negative trends affecting Florida’s water quality and America’s Everglades.
In November 2012, the Caloosahatchee Estuary Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) was first adopted to implement water quality restoration goals, also known as total maximum daily loads for total nitrogen in the watershed. Following Executive Order 19-12, the BMAP was updated in January 2020 to expand the watershed area to include the Caloosahatchee River tributaries. Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ commitment to funding enterprising efforts, improving infrastructure and providing record resources for invested stakeholders, in January 2023, DEP announced that an estimated 80% of reductions in the tidal portion of the watershed have been achieved with implemented projects and strategies.
Governor DeSantis’ Focus on Florida’s Future budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2024-25 continues funding by including an additional $25 million for water quality investments in the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary.