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Gov. DeSantis signs bills to protect and improve water quality, increase penalties for environmental violations

The announcement in Juno Beach follows DeSantis' signing the state budget, which includes more than $600 million for the Everglades and water resources.
Credit: 10 Tampa Bay
Governor Ron DeSantis holds a press conference in Tampa

JUNO BEACH, Fla. — A day after signing the state's budget, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach to sign two bills related to protecting the state's environment.

The governor was joined by first lady Casey DeSantis and Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein. 

The bills signed Tuesday afternoon relate to improving and protecting the state's water quality and increasing penalties for those who violate Florida environmental laws. 

With the water quality bill, DeSantis said it creates a database to better track and make improvements to wastewater, septic systems, stormwater and agricultural water systems. Florida has around 2.6 million septics systems around the state, and DeSantis said the bill transfers inspections of those systems from the health department to the Department of Environmental Protection to better regulate environmental impacts.

Before signing the environmental accountability bill, DeSantis said the old penalties "didn't pack the punch they needed to" to deter people or companies from violating environmental laws.

Some penalties are being increased by 100 percent and the bill authorizes the DEP to assess daily penalities until a violation is addressed.

"All these changes are strong steps forward for Florida's environment," DeSantis said. "Further protecting Florida's treasured natural resources."

The visit comes after DeSantis signed and approved more than $625 million for restoration in the Everglades and the protection of water resources through the budget.

RELATED: Florida governor signs $92.2B budget after slashing $1B

Included in the budget's Everglades funding is $50 million for springs restoration, $160 million for water quality improvements, $40 million for alternative water supply and $25 million to fight harmful algal blooms and red tide.

With this budget, DeSantis said he's more than halfway to his goal of giving $2.5 billion for Florida's environment.

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