Biscayne Bay has reached a crisis point. A grand jury convened by the state attorney’s office says that if we don’t act, the Bay’s “declining quality may become irreversible.”
The community is paying attention – and we need meaningful action to protect our marine ecosystem, so vital to our region’s environment and economy, before it’s too late.
I have been sounding the alarm about the health of our Bay for years. Since joining the Commission, I have fought for the County to do more to combat pollution, by sponsoring resolutions to ban Styrofoam in our parks and expand the Bay water quality monitoring network. I’ve pushed for enhanced storm drain maintenance and cleaning, to prevent trash from clogging pipes, flooding streets and flowing into the Bay. I worked to pass legislation requiring a report on the health of the Bay, called for a study on seagrass die-off, and have pushed for the Biscayne Bay Task Force to urgently complete its much-needed work.
We also need our advocates and scientists to continue steering the path forward on Bay protection policy. That’s why my office proudly sponsored the Biscayne Bay Marine Health Summit since its beginning (the next summit is September 20). And we recently participated in a joint meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Interior, and other groups on the critically important second phase of the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands project – which would restore natural freshwater flows to the southern Bay. I’ve advocated to restore county environmental education grant funding covering topics like water pollution, climate change, and recycling.
But it’s not enough to correct the damage already done; we must also look to the future. National parks in South Florida are intimately connected to the sea and uniquely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. We are already seeing the erosion of our drainage infrastructure’s efficiency due to sea level rise and saltwater intrusion, and the effects of rising groundwater on our septic system. As a community we must prioritize and fund plans to repair our failing infrastructure while incorporating adaptation and mitigation strategies to guard against future climate impacts.
All of the positive progress we’ve made so far has been a result of community collaboration and advocacy. We need all members of our community who care about our environment and our region’s future to continue raising their voices about the Bay crisis – and I will continue to fight for change from the Commission dais.