Governor DeSantis acted quickly this week to sign an executive order which directs Florida’s environmental agencies to take action on a broad range of water quality and natural resources issues. These broadly sweeping actions have the potential to affect industry, growth and business in Florida.

Actions to speed up restoration include expediting improvements to the Army Corps of Engineer’s management of Lake Okeechobee, including updating the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule and expediting key Everglades restoration projects, including the EAA Reservoir, the C-44 reservoir, the C-43 reservoir and Tamiami Trail bridging.

Numerous measures are aimed at improving water quality, including creating a Blue-Green Algae Task Force, updating restoration plans for Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries, adding stormwater treatment to the C-43 reservoir, identifying water quality treatment technologies to install near water control structures on Lake Okeechobee, establishing a septic conversion and remediation grant program, and continuing to support FWC’s Harmful Algae Bloom Task Force and DEP’s red tide emergency grant program.

Water supply measures include engaging to develop alternative water supply sources and an education and outreach program focused on conservation and reuse efforts.

The executive order also creates several government positions through appointing a Chief Science Officer and creating the Office of Environmental Accountability and Transparency and the Office of Resiliency and Coastal Protection. It also opposes off-shore oil and gas activities off every coast in Florida and hydraulic fracturing in Florida.

Governor DeSantis will seek $2.5 billion over four years to implement Everglades restoration and his water resource protection goals.

It will be important for Florida’s businesses and industry to stay engaged on these water resource issues, particularly updating the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule. For additional information on this executive order and any of the activities directed, please contact Luna Phillips, Gunster’s environmental law practice group leader, or Debbie Madden, who both work regularly on water resources issues.

Read the full text of E.O. 19-12, “Achieving More Now for Florida’s Environment.”

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