Florida Invests $23M in Miami-Dade Water Projects

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Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Key Biscayne Thursday to announce seven grants totaling $22.7 million for projects to improve water quality in Miami-Dade County.

The largest of the awards is a $14.5 million grant to Miami-Dade County to improve water quality and reduce pollution.

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But perhaps the most eye-catching award went to the city of North Miami, which landed $2.3 million to convert septic tanks to sewer connections. In other words, yes, a county of 2.7 million people, one that markets itself as an international hub of trade, finance and technology, still has tens of thousands of homes connected to septic tanks rather than sewer lines.

Miami-Dade County public works officials have said rising sea levels hinder the effectiveness of septic tanks. Rising levels of groundwater mean the soil around septic tanks isn’t always dry – and therefore, septic tanks can’t filter waste as they’re designed to.

DeSantis also announced awards of $2 million each to the city of Coral Gables for sewer improvements and to the city of Miami Springs for stormwater infrastructure. Cutler Bay, Key Biscayne and the Miami River Fund received grants of less than $1 million each.

The money was delivered as part of the state’s Biscayne Bay Grant Program.

“These investments to protect Biscayne Bay will improve water quality and help us preserve one of Florida’s most important natural resources for generations to come,” DeSantis said in a statement.

As South Florida experiences a post-COVID building boom, property owners face the uncomfortable reality that flooding is growing more common. The state and municipalities have been taking steps to address the threat of rising waters.

Last year, the state awarded Miami-Dade County and cities within it $20 million, through the same grant program. 

Earlier this year, through the Rebuild Florida Mitigation General Infrastructure Program, DeSantis announced a $16.5 million grant to the city of Boynton Beach. That money is earmarked for drainage, utilities and roadway improvements to mitigate recurrent flooding in the San Castle neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the town of Lake Park received $11.1 million to retrofit its drainage system. That grant will fund a man-made wetland at Bert Bostron Park, part of a larger trend in which nature-based solutions are being sought for climate adaptation and resilience. Work on the flood-control project is set to begin in 2023, the Palm Beach Post reported.

Jeff Ostrowski can be reached at jostrowski@commercialobserver.com.