In late April of 2021, the states of Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida celebrated the announcement that over $400 million of federal funding from the BP oil spill disaster fines would fund projects that will help restore their coastal biodiversity, boost community climate resilience and revitalize their fishing industries.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced that an additional $79 million is being made available as part of the RESTORE Act, the law created to respond to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill.
The amount, which accounts for 26% of the $302 million in grant funds approved today by the RESTORE Council, is one of five “buckets” of funds allocated under the Act.
Previously, $88 million was made available to Texas under Bucket 1, to fund 15 projects directly affecting its coastal counties.
Projects funded under Bucket 2 implement the RESTORE Council’s Comprehensive Plan. These funds can be used for ecosystem restoration and protection in the Gulf Coast region.
“In the more than ten years since the Deepwater Horizon spill, tens of millions of dollars have been allocated and spent to improve the coastal areas,” said TCEQ Executive Director Toby Baker, who also serves as Governor Greg Abbott‘s appointee to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. “We’re excited to announce this latest round of funding and look forward to seeing continued restoration and improvements to the Gulf Coast.”
TCEQ is expected to use the grant funds to finance projects within four approved Texas programs:
- The Texas Land Acquisition Program for Coastal Conservation will use $24.3 million to secure high-quality coastal zone properties in Texas such as urban green corridors, properties near rivers, as well as prairie and wooded wetlands;
- The Shoreline Protection Through Living Shorelines Program will use $12.25 million to support the construction of large-scale living shorelines that will enhance the resiliency of coastal Texas through stabilization. This includes the creation of habitats for fish and oysters, removal of excess nutrients and sediments, protection of seagrass, and water quality improvements;
- The Texas Coastal Water Quality Program is allocated $22.5 million to restore water quality and freshwater inflows on the Texas coast by the implementation of best management practices, repair and enhancement of drainage channels and outfalls, and construction of living shoreline features to reduce erosion; and
- The Chenier Plain Ecosystem Restoration Program at $20 million intends to restore and conserve high-quality coastal habitats within the Cheniere Plain complex of Texas.
Governor Tate Reeves announced that the RESTORE Council approved a plan today that includes two restoration projects for Mississippi. The RESTORE Council voted to approve a Funded Priorities List that includes 20 projects across the Gulf Coast under the RESTORE Act’s “Bucket 2.” The projects will be managed by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
“I am pleased the RESTORE Council is moving forward with these restoration projects including two projects in Mississippi. These projects will improve our Gulf Coast’s water quality and enhance coastal habitat for fish and wildlife that are so vital to commercial and recreational opportunities,” said Governor Reeves.
The two projects are:
- Coastal Nearshore Habitat Restoration and Development Program in Mississippi ($34.6 million): this program will restore and conserve habitat through activities to create, restore, and enhance coastal habitat, including marsh, beach, and dunes through the dedicated sourcing of materials. Program activities include planning, engineering and design, and construction of habitat in the three coastal counties of Mississippi, and builds off work funded by the plan as well as National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund projects.
- Water Quality Improvement Program for Coastal Mississippi Waters ($34.25 million): this program’s goal is to restore water quality and quantity on the Mississippi Gulf Coast through the identification and implementation of water quality improvement projects. Program activities include planning, engineering and design, septic-to-sewer conversion, implementation of new stormwater and wastewater systems, and repairing/upgrading existing stormwater and wastewater systems. This program would be coordinated with water quality improvement efforts under other funding streams to maximize effectiveness.
“For several years we have listened and heard Mississippians ask us to implement projects that improve water quality that in turn improves the ecology of the Coast. These projects will augment initiatives and projects already underway and will help us work to improve water quality and its subsequent benefits,” said Chris Wells, MDEQ Executive Director.
Governor Kay Ivey announced that the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council) approved $302 million in funding decisions for restoration activities spanning the Gulf Coast states. Alabama will benefit with projects totaling more than $81 million for restoration activities to address injuries in Alabama resulting from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
Alabama’s projects, approved as part of Funded Priorities Lists 3a and 3b, include:
- Perdido River Land Conservation and Habitat Enhancements ($28 million);
- Coastal Alabama Regional Water Quality Program ($35 million);
- Perdido Watershed Water Quality Improvements & Restoration Assessment Program ($1.5 million);
- Enhancing Hydrologic Connectivity in Justin’s Bay (Mobile Bay) ($1 million);
- Enhancing Gulf Waters through Forested Watershed Restoration ($10 million to Alabama Forestry Commission);
- Gulf of Mexico GulfCorps Program ($2 million);
- Flow Decision Support Tool for Mobile and Perdido River Basins ($3.4 million); and
- Tribal Youth Coastal Restoration Program ($225,000).
“These projects continue Alabama’s recovery from the Deepwater Horizon disaster by investing our restoration funds in large-scale regional programs such as water quality improvements and habitat conservation. These efforts restore our coast and contribute to its resilience. I thank the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Federal RESTORE Council for their continued leadership and collaboration in these efforts,” Governor Ivey said.
ADCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship stressed the cooperative nature of the work. “The activities identified in Funded Priorities Lists are developed through collaboration among RESTORE Council members from all five Gulf States and six federal agencies with input from multiple stakeholders. This investment in restoration brings Alabama’s DWH funded projects to more $850 million. ADCNR is honored to continue to work for the people of Alabama and to secure funding approval for the stewardship of our natural resources.”
Governor Ron DeSantis announced that more than $148 million has been awarded to communities through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s (DEO) Rebuild Florida Mitigation General Infrastructure Program. The program, administered by DEO, allows local governments to develop large-scale infrastructure projects to make communities more resilient to future disasters.
“My administration remains committed to providing the resources necessary for Florida communities to build back stronger and be more resilient to future storms,” said Governor DeSantis. “This transformational mitigation funding will go a long way in helping Florida’s communities invest in their futures through critical infrastructure improvements.”
“This Lake Bonnet project is a perfect example of government working well,” said Representative Scott Franklin. “It is a model for what success looks like in a public, private partnership that will help a needed community, clean up a lake ecosystem and provide a new park that the entire Lakeland community can enjoy. It is a shining example of government and the private sector at all levels, working together on behalf of our community. I applaud Governor DeSantis for his support of this project and thank everyone at every level who has supported the vision for this project and contributed to this momentous occasion.”
The funds are allocated to the state through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant – Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) program formed in response to the 2016 to 2017 presidentially declared disasters.
DEO is awarding the following communities funding through the Rebuild Florida Mitigation General Infrastructure Program:
- Broward County ($6,250,000) – to construct an interconnect between the Broward County Reuse Facility and the City of Pompano Beach’s OASIS Reuse facility.
- City of Arcadia ($4,823,579) – to widen a stormwater tributary to provide additional storage during storm events to better control flood volume.
- City of Avon Park ($670,623) – to improve the existing potable water system through replacement of asbestos pipes with PVC piping, adding additional bore to improve water pressure, and to install an upgraded chlorine system.
- City of Doral ($1,000,000) – to reduce the frequency and severity of stormwater flooding by providing a positive-gravity drainage outfall discharging into the NW 58th Street canal.
- City of Fort Lauderdale ($10,500,000) – to replace aging and undersized stormwater infrastructure with new infrastructure systems that help with neighborhood flooding issues and provide better water quality treatment prior to releasing into the intracoastal waterway.
- City of Key West ($3,099,159) – to install tide valves at 40 stormwater outfall points of discharge to address saltwater flooding of roadways, sidewalks, and low-lying properties caused by high tides.
- City of Key West ($6,336,165) – to design and construct a pump-assist injection well to address flooding in a low-lying area that collects significant runoff.
- City of Lakeland ($42,986,390) – to establish a multi-component project in partnership with Bonnet Springs Park which focuses on increasing flood storage capacity to the drainage basin by improving the stormwater infrastructure and watershed quality.
- City of Lauderhill ($3,125,215) – to complete water and sewer line improvement projects.
- City of Miami ($13,497,843) – to retrofit portions of existing seawall, construct new sea wall sections, and other coastal resiliency improvements.
- City of Miami ($1,216,963) – to implement roadway resiliency improvements to NW 17th Street, between NW 27th Avenue and NW 32nd Avenue. Improvements include the installation of a drainage system, exfiltration trench, storm inlets, accessibility ramps, and swales.
- City of North Miami Beach ($6,000,000) – to implement system-wide improvements to the sewer collection system that protects public health and natural water resources.
- City of North Miami Beach ($11,700,000) – to enhance the water transmission and distribution system to improve water quality, fire flow capacity, reliability, and resiliency.
- City of Orlando ($2,850,000) – to develop six resiliency hubs that will provide services to low- and moderate-income communities in the recovery phase of a disaster.
- City of Sebring ($2,605,428) – to complete fire protection resiliency, water quality, and water conservation infrastructure improvements.
- City of Sebring ($3,515,580) – to harden facilities that are part of the cities sanitary sewer collection system.
- City of West Palm Beach ($16,764,610) – to build resilient seawalls, improve storm water quality, and develop living shorelines, pedestrian hardscaping, and native landscaping.
- DeSoto County ($3,757,012) – to replace decaying drainage system infrastructure to significantly increase service life and reduce the possibility of flooding.
- DeSoto County ($3,273,575) – to repair a bridge used as an evacuation route during storms.
- Osceola County ($4,689,320) – to modify and adapt existing drainage elements to substantially reduce repetitive flooding.
In addition, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council) approved over $83 million in funding for restoration efforts benefiting Florida.
The funding has been approved as part of the Council-Selected Restoration Component Funded Priorities List (FPL) 3b, developed through collaboration among the RESTORE Council’s state and federal members with input from Gulf of Mexico stakeholders. FPL 3b includes 20 activities that will address a range of ecosystem needs.
“In the wake of an environmental disaster as severe as the BP oil spill, remediation and recovery funding is critical to continuing research and restoration,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein. “The Gulf is an incredibly interconnected system, and our restoration efforts have been successful because of the many different groups involved. The continued collaboration between state and federal partners will restore economies, ecosystems and way of life in the Gulf.”
The $302 million FPL 3b includes $69 million for large-scale Florida programs to address water quality and quantity, habitat acquisition and conservation, and coastal resilience. Other approved activities include $5 million for longleaf pine and hydrology restoration within the Apalachicola watershed, as well as $9 million for Gulf-wide programs that provide multi-state benefits.