Two days into his term, Governor Ron DeSantis called for the resignations of the nine-member South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) governing board. This act followed public backlash against decisions made by the board that favored special interests and disregarded public pleas. Four board members have resigned and five remain, of which there are three whose terms expire in March 2019.
On January 29, 2019, Gov. DeSantis visited Southwest Florida again where he made his first appointment to the SFWMD governing board: Chauncey Goss.
Goss is a Sanibel City Councilman, a member of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, a member of Captains for Clean Water Board of Directors, and serves as a liaison and board member for several other committees and organizations. As a resident of Sanibel, Goss has suffered the water crises firsthand and has long been an advocate for cleaning up our waters. Goss has pledged to bring transparency to the board and acknowledges that the SFWMD governing board is vital to solving our water quality issues.
Gov. DeSantis also announced his environmental budget that he’ll propose to state lawmakers on Friday, seeking $625 million toward water protection and restoration projects, including $360 million for Everglades restoration. This funding will help expedite completion of the C-44 Reservoir and stormwater treatment area, the C-43 Reservoir, and 20 other projects over the next five years.
The completion of these projects would provide significant water storage and remove an estimated 200,000 pounds of phosphorus annually, a primary pollutant causing harmful algal blooms. Together with an updated Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule, discharges from Lake Okeechobee would be significantly reduced. Nearly $107 million is allocated for the EAA Reservoir and $40 million will be used to complete the final phase of raising the Tamiami Trail, restoring the flow of more than 900 million gallons per day of water south to the Everglades and Florida Bay.
The Governor later visited Everglades Holiday Park where he appointed “Alligator Ron” Bergeron to the board, an environmentalist, Broward County developer, and former board member for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.