Governor Ron DeSantis signs bill to further strengthen Florida’s resiliency efforts

Historic and largest investment in Florida’s history will ensure communities are prepared for rising sea levels and flooding
Tarpon Springs, Fla. – Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law Senate Bill 1954. This comprehensive legislation will ensure a coordinated approach to Florida’s coastal and inland resiliency. The new program will enhance our efforts to protect our inland waterways, coastlines, shores and coral reefs, which serve as invaluable natural defenses against sea level rise.
Additionally, this bill and the 2021-2022 budget are part of the largest investment in the state’s history – over $640 million – to support efforts to ensure state and local communities are prepared to deal with the impacts of sea level rise, intensified storms and flooding.    
  • $12.5 million for the Resilient Coastlines Initiative for resilience projects and coral reef protection.      
  • $29 million for establishment and planning efforts of the Resilient Florida Grant Program.      
  • $500 million in federal funding for implementation of statewide resilience projects through the Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan.
  • $100 million for Resilient Florida Grant Program projects in partnership with local communities, beginning in 2022.      
“Since day one, the resiliency of our state has been a top priority for my administration,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “This legislation will allow us to build on historic investments and progress by ensuring communities have the resources they need for resilience planning and project implementation as well as creating a framework for a cohesive, coordinated approach to address the impacts of sea level rise, intensified storms, and localized flooding.” 
“When Governor DeSantis and I were elected in 2018, we made protecting Florida’s environment one of the top priorities of our administration,” said Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez. I applaud the Legislature for unanimously voting to protect our coastal communities and waterways from the threats of storm surge and tidal flooding. As Floridians, we have a solemn responsibility to protect our natural treasures. Today, we put  Floridians first. We are proud of our efforts to mitigate the effects of flooding and sea level rise for future generations to come.”
“We are making pivotal strides in resilience efforts as a result of the support of Governor DeSantis and the Florida legislature,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “This legislation will create the essential collaboration to successfully address the state’s most challenging resiliency issues.” 
“This great legislation elevates flood mitigation as a critical part of Florida’s public safety infrastructure.  With 35 coastal counties containing the majority of our population and economy, our risks are only going to increase with time,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson. “With this legislation, Florida can become a national example of resilient communities. I’m grateful to Speaker Sprowls for his vision and leadership on this key issue, to Senator Rodrigues for his tremendous work in moving this key legislation through the Senate, and to Governor DeSantis, who has made environmental restoration and protection a pillar of his agenda over the last three years.”
“To protect Floridians and their communities, the Legislature passed the most robust flooding legislation that addresses the impacts of flooding and sea level rise in the nation,” said House Speaker Chris Sprowls. “I’d like to thank Governor DeSantis for supporting not only our flooding agenda to prepare our state and our residents for the effects of flooding and sea level rise, but for being a champion for Florida’s environment. Today, we are making our state ‘Always Ready’ for decades to come.”
“With 1,350 miles of coastline at relatively low elevations Florida is particularly vulnerable to coastal flooding. Over time, the combined effects of sea level rise, storm surges, and extreme rain events will have a significant impact. We have a duty to responsibly plan for the future to address this emerging public safety issue,” said Senator Ray Rodrigues. “I’m honored to be a part of this important collaboration between the House, Senate, and Governor DeSantis to address a critical infrastructure need that will benefit generations of Floridians.”
“The future of our state is at risk of flooding and sea level rise. These threats have the potential to impact our residents, their homes, and their businesses. Left unaddressed, consequences would be far-reaching, devastating infrastructure, tourism, and the entire economy, said Senator Ben Albritton. With Governor DeSantis’s leadership, we now have a Resilient Florida Grant Program to fund research, innovations and technologies that will strengthen the resilience of our communities and protect our state against flooding and sea level rise. Thank you, Governor DeSantis for your signature on Senate Bill 2514.”
“I am honored to sponsor this foundational piece of legislation that strengthens Florida against disasters caused by sea level rise and flooding and will undoubtedly make us a leader in flood mitigation,” said Representative Demi Busatta Cabrera. “Sea level rise and flooding do not care who you are or which zip code you live in. It affects all Floridians. It’s time to protect our homes, it’s time to protect our communities, and it’s time to protect our state as a whole. It’s time to make sure that we’re Always Ready.”
Julie Wraithmell, vice president and executive director of Audubon Florida said, “Audubon recognizes that climate change is the biggest threat to Florida’s future prosperity and well-being.  This legislation represents a commitment to meeting this challenge with ingenuity and resources. Florida already has some of the nation’s best examples of working with nature to meet rising sea levels while preserving our iconic coastal communities and habitat, and we look forward to 21st century green infrastructure solutions leading the way. Audubon thanks Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature for recognizing climate-fueled extreme weather and pollution are universal experiences in Florida and for taking this important step towards climate recovery in the Sunshine State.”
Temperince Morgan, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Florida said, “With the Resilient Florida program, Florida will now have tools and funding to reduce the impacts of climate change — including sea level rise and flooding — on people and critical assets including shorelines and conservation lands.  Importantly, this bill promotes the use of nature-based solutions to reduce flood risk and authorizes funding for regional climate/resilience collaboratives to allow communities to join in resilience planning efforts and share technical assistance. The Nature Conservancy works hand-in-hand with the state’s climate/resilience coalitions in developing strategies to strengthen community resilience. Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature have made their focus on conservation and support for the environment a priority through the allocation of significant funding to programs that are critical to a sustainable future for our state and our health and well-being. Thanks to the positive strides taken by Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature, conservation in our state continues to move in a productive direction.”
Chief Science Officer Dr. Mark Rains said, “The signing of this bill is yet another proactive step towards a more resilient future. Once complete, the Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan will serve as a crucial guide for the coordination of statewide efforts to protect our valuable natural resources and coastal infrastructure, and the overall quality of life for all Floridians.”
“Sea level rise and climate change are global problems with real consequences for Floridians,” said Dr. Tom Frazer, dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science and former chief science officer. “Mitigation and adaptation will be essential moving forward. This important piece of legislation provides the resources needed for comprehensive planning across the state to address the increasing challenges associated with flooding due to tides, storm surge and changes in rainfall patterns. I am extremely pleased to see it move forward and applaud the Governor for his leadership.”
Randy Deshazo, director of planning and research, Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council said, “This legislation is a major step forward in addressing the long-term planning and capital investment challenges of sea level rise in Florida. It also makes Florida a national leader on one of the most important issues facing the country.”
“This legislation will help Florida safeguard our communities from climate change impacts and help local communities invest in their resilience,” said Dawn Shirreffs, state director of The Environmental Defense Fund. “We look forward to continuing to work with the legislature and DeSantis administration on this unprecedented opportunity to ensure natural infrastructure is leveraged as a defense against sea level rise, flooding, and increasingly strong hurricanes in Florida”.”
For the first time ever, Senate Bill 1954 requires the development of the Comprehensive Statewide Flood Vulnerability and Sea Level Rise Data Set, led by the Chief Science Officer. Additionally, it facilitates the development of statewide sea level rise projections and other data necessary to determine the risks to inland and coastal communities. The data set is to be completed by July 1, 2022, and the Comprehensive Statewide Flood Vulnerability and Sea Level Rise Assessment is to be completed by July 1, 2023. The Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan is to be submitted by Dec. 1, 2023.  
This bill authorizes local governments to develop Regional Resilience Coalitions to allow communities to join in resilience planning efforts and share technical assistance. It also creates the Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation at the University of South Florida to coordinate efforts between the academic and research institutions of Florida.