Florida’s growing commitment
The state of Florida is on course this fiscal year to spend more than $1 billion in a new effort to help local communities mitigate the effects of sea level rise, storm surge, and inland flooding. The latest installment is $404 million for 113 projects across the state through the Resilient Florida Grant Program.
The Governor last week joined House Speaker Chris Sprowls, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Shawn Hamilton, Chief Resilience Officer Dr. Wes Brooks, and other stakeholders to make announcements in Miami-Dade and Pinellas Counties. The list of projects include many stormwater upgrades, seawall construction, and even seagrass renourishment.
Combined with the $270 million in December to fund 76 similar projects over three years, this is truly the most significant investment in resilience in Florida. The $404 million in federal money along with local matching funds brings the total investment to $1.2 billion.
The Resilient Flood Grant Program, housed within DEP, is part of last year’s Senate Bill 1954. The plan required DEP to complete a comprehensive statewide flood vulnerability and sea level rise data set and assessment, develop a scoring system to assess projects submitted by local governments and water management districts, and then produce a three-year plan for annual submission to the Governor and legislature.
As we reported in this week’s Bill Watch, bills now before the Florida Legislature, SB 1940 and HB 7053 by Senator Jason Brodeur (R-Lake Mary) and the House Environment, Agriculture & Flooding Subcommittee and Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera (R-Miami), will further augment last year’s legislative efforts. The bills:
- Create the Statewide Office of Resilience and mandate a State Highway System resilience action plan;
- Augment the Resilient Florida Grant Program and amend the statute outlining the University of South Florida’s Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation; and
- Seek to create a searchable database of flood elevation certificates to modernize the current paper-based system.
In his remarks, Governor DeSantis said “For the first time ever, Florida has strategic coordination of statewide efforts to protect our coastal and inland infrastructure, and the dedicated funding to support these projects.”
LMA Newsletter of 2-7-22