DeSantis announces $13 million in grants for water quality in Hernando

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, shown in a file photo, announced the $13 million for the county and $481 million for statewide projects that will include wastewater projects and septic to sewer projects.

WEEKI WACHEE -- The county will benefit from grants set up to improve water quality, Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at Weeki Wachee Springs Park.

“This has been a top priority of mine,” the governor said as he announced the $13 million for the county and $481 million for statewide projects that will include wastewater projects and septic to sewer projects.

The idea is to safeguard water resources and minimize the impact of nutrient pollution in the state’s waterways, he said.

“We are excited to partner with the state in protecting Weeki Wachee Springs from the impact of conventional septic systems," said Hernando County Administrator Jeff Rogers. "This funding not only removes 224 septic systems from the Weeki Wachee springshed, but also upgrades the master infrastructure needed to implement the County’s 20-year plan to convert nearly 3,400 septic systems to centralized sewer.”

Florida is home to best springs in the country, and Weeki Wachee Springs is historic, DeSantis said. His daughter Madison was with him, and said she wanted to meet the mermaids.

“Our springs can support entire ecosystems, and of course they offer great recreational opportunities and they serve as economic drivers for communities because people want to come,” the governor added.

"As a lifelong Floridian, I see this $481 million investment in future water quality projects as good news, especially with so much of the funding going towards mitigation of septic and sewer issues that have contributed to red tide issues in our state," said Capt. C.A. Richardson, Captains for Clean Water Ambassador. "Never has our state seen so much support from a Governor on behalf of water quality and our natural resources. It gives hope to all of us who call Florida home! Captains for Clean Water stands behind these initiatives and knows they will make a difference for future generations."

Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton and Chief Science Officer Mark Rains also were present.

“The projects being announced today are exactly the kind of projects we need,” Rains said. “They will result in demonstrable water quality benefits.”

With the securing of long-term funding, he added, the projects are not an end point, but a new beginning.

DeSantis said partnerships in Hernando County will help in this, and he said he felt an obligation to leave things in Florida better than as he found them.

“This is what Florida’s quality of life is all about,” he said. “You can’t find this anywhere else in the country. This is unique. We are blessed to have it.”

The more than $481 million awarded Tuesday was made available through three grant programs administered by DEP – the Wastewater Grant Program, Springs restoration grants, and the Small Community Wastewater Grant Program.

$394 million from the Wastewater Grant Program for wastewater treatment improvements, including septic to sewer projects and projects to upgrade to advanced waste treatment. The $394 million awarded today is from federal funds.

$67 million for projects to protect Florida’s world-renowned springs including land acquisition/conservation easements and wastewater infrastructure improvements. Of the $67 million awarded today, $50 million is from state funds and $17 million is from federal funds.

$20 million for the Small Community Wastewater Grant Program for wastewater facility improvements in Rural Areas of Economic Opportunity and financially disadvantaged communities. The $20 million awarded today is from federal funds. 

State wastewater projects in Hernando County are:

  • Hernando County Utilities Department Elgin Boulevard Forcemain, $1,030,000
  • Hernando County Utilities Department Septic to Sewer Conversion for District A phase 1B, $5,050,000
  • Hernando County Utilities Department The Hut Pumping Station and Force Main, $1,500,000
  • Hernando County Utilities Department Northcliffe Force Main, $1,400,000

The state springs project in Hernando County is:

  • Southwest Florida Water Management District Hernando County Airport WRF Total Nitrogen Reduction, $1,158,500

The federal springs project in Hernando County is:

  • Southwest Florida Water Management District Septic to Sewer District A, Phase 1b, $3,000,000

For a complete list of all projects, visit here and here