Florida Senate Bill (S.B.) 1954: Statewide Flooding and Sea-Level Rise Resilience
On May 12, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill (S.B.) 1954, Statewide Flooding and Sea-Level Rise Resilience, into law (Fla. Stat. § 380.093 (2021)). Among other provisions, the law establishes the Resilient Florida Grant Program to build regional and local resilience and requires the state develop a statewide flood vulnerability and sea-level rise data assessment and Statewide Flooding and Sea-Level Rise Resilience Plan. The purpose of the law is to determine flooding risks related to increased precipitation, extreme weather, and sea-level rise and initiate a coordinated statewide effort to adapt to these risks. The law is the Florida legislature’s most recent state-led initiative to study and adapt to the risks of flooding and sea-level rise, coming after the Florida senate passed its March 5, 2020 resolution expressing an intention to begin preparing the state for climate change impacts.
S.B. 1954 advances Florida’s adaptation response in five primary ways:
- Establishes the Resilient Florida Grant Program, which will enable the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to provide grants to local governments to fund the costs of community resilience planning, necessary data collection, and projects to adapt critical assets to flooding and sea-level rise risks. The law also authorizes DEP to offer grants to regional resilience entities established by local governments to coordinate community resilience needs. Funding may be granted for technical assistance, the development of multijurisdictional vulnerability assessments, and the development of regional projects to be proposed for the Statewide Plan (see number three below).
- Directs DEP to create a comprehensive statewide flood vulnerability and sea-level rise data set and assessment. Together, the data set and assessment will be used to identify the greatest risks and inform statewide resilience planning.
The data set will include information on elevation, tidal flooding, and precipitation. The purpose of the statewide data set and assessment is to identify Florida’s specific sea-level rise risks and to ground a coordinated statewide response.
The data set will inform the development of a statewide risk assessment, which will incorporate locally-developed risk analyses and mitigation plans arising from the Resilient Florida Grant Program. The assessment must also include an inventory of critical assets, including infrastructure, community services, and environmental assets. Both the data set and the assessment must be updated every five years.
- Directs DEP to develop a Statewide Flooding and Sea-Level Rise Resilience Plan (Statewide Plan) by December 1, 2021. The Statewide Plan will compile and rank projects that can be implemented to decrease statewide sea-level rise risks. The law authorizes local governments, regional resilience entities, water management districts, and flood control districts to propose projects for the plan. Projects included in the Statewide Plan require at least 50 percent of costs to be shared by a proposing local government or entity unless the project assists or is within a “financially disadvantaged small community” as defined by the law.1 The law requires the plan to be updated annually.
In December 2021, the state released its first Statewide Flooding and Sea-Level Rise Resilience Plan. The plan consists of a list of 76 proposed priority projects that the state can fund to "enhance Florida’s efforts to protect inland waterways, coastlines, shores, and coral reefs, which are invaluable natural defenses against sea-level rise and flooding."
- Establishes the Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation (Hub) at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science. The Hub is tasked with organizing existing statewide flooding risk data and identifying data needs. The Hub will also be responsible for coordinating research and innovation efforts between Florida’s academic and research institutions, private partners, financial sponsors, and government agencies.
- Requires the Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) to include an analysis of the costs of implementing resilience measures for flooding and sea-level rise adaptation in EDR’s annual assessments of Florida’s water resources and conservation lands.
Funding for Statewide Flooding and Sea-Level Rise Resilience
Through S.B. 1954, the state appropriated a total of over $640 million for Fiscal Year 2021–2022. Of that total amount, $129 million will go toward the Resilient Florida Grant Program, which will be funded via the newly-established Resilient Florida Trust Fund. Separately, the state is planning to commit $500 million in federal funding toward implementing projects included in the future Statewide Flooding and Sea-Level Rise Resilience Plan.2
The legislature also passed S.B. 2512, an accompanying funding bill, to help finance initiatives in S.B. 1954. S.B. 2512 amended how the state will allocate its documentary stamp tax revenue, which also funds the state’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.3
Publication Date: May 13, 2021
- State of Florida
- Adaptation plan
- Modeling tool
1. Fla. Stat. § 380.039(5)(e) defines “financially disadvantaged small community” as a municipality or county with fewer than 10,000 and 50,000 residents, respectively, and a lower annual per capita income than the state’s annual per capita income.
2. Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Bill to Further Strengthen Florida’s Resiliency Efforts. Staff News Release (May 12, 2021).
3. Renzo Downey, Lawmakers boost Sadowski fund after affordable housing advocates decry funding deal, Fla. Politics (Apr. 6, 2021), https://floridapolitics.com/archives/417428-lawmakers-boost-sadowski-fund-after-affordable-housing-advocates-decry-funding-deal/).