New Miami Dade Advisory Board Focused On Addressing Biscayne Bay Pollution And Water Quality Problems | Biscayne Key

The new advisory board formed three weeks ago to help Miami-Dade County focus on implementing meaningful action to clean up pollution in Biscayne Bay – = – who is responsible for fish kills and from the death of vast expanses of underwater meadows – has its work cut out for it.

The recommendations made by the Biscayne Bay Watershed Management Advisory Council impact all residents of the county. Its mission is to help the county do what is necessary to save the troubled bay.

The board’s top priority – helping secure state funding for a septic tank to sewer conversion project – will have a direct impact on Key Biscayne, which has 28 unconverted homes.

A septic system serves as an on-site wastewater treatment system in places where public sewers are not available. One-third of all homes in Florida, about 1.6 million homes, use septic systems. Key Biscayne management is working with the county to help convert the 28 houses in the village.

The advisory group, which will eventually number 21 members, met three weeks ago to begin crafting a plan that Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and county commissioners can adopt to address pollution concerns and improve the quality of the bay’s water.

Other water bodies targeted for improvement are the Miami River, Biscayne Canal, and the Little River.

Key Biscayne Mayor Michael Davey told Islander News the village will be affected by the board’s decisions, particularly the fact that 28 homes have yet to be converted from the septic tank to the sewer.

“We are very careful with Biscayne Bay and want to make sure that we are doing the best way to protect and improve it,” said the mayor. “Conversion is a big issue facing the village and doing what we can do to make it happen. “

Village Councilor Edward London said the village did not have authority to enforce Miami-Dade County’s septic to sewer conversion bylaws, but was in communication with the county.

“In Key Biscayne we have homeowners who haven’t converted to sewers and a few houses are coming out,” he said. “The village… will remain in communication with the county to enforce it as soon as possible.

One method that is gaining traction in the United States to help solve water quality problems is to seed waterways to grow shellfish, said Joshua Reitsma, marine specialist with the Woods Hole Sea Grant Program and Cape Cod Cooperative Extension. Shellfish like oysters reduce nitrogen levels in the water. They also work quickly and cost less than building sewers and wastewater treatment systems that could cost billions of dollars, he said.

A local citizen scientist is seriously involved in the Biscane Bay clean-up effort.

Alberto Aran, a citizen-scientist from South Florida, advocates the mollusc cleaning method through the work of his organization, Watershed Action Lab. His nonprofit is recruiting citizen scientists to help restore health to the watershed.

On December 16, Aran was a guest speaker at a presentation on Restoring Biological Filtration in the Bay hosted by the Key Biscayne Community Foundation and the Key Biscayne Citizens Science Group.

Aran said that by involving residents and promoting soil health and improving water quality, we can regenerate habitats, recharge aquifers, combat saltwater intrusion, and strengthen water quality. resilience in the face of future challenges.

As an example, he said that after toxic algae blooms in 2020 and massive fish deaths, his group launched a native oyster restoration project for Biscayne Bay. They raised $ 15,000 for the project.

“Biscayne Bay is a great mountain to climb,” said Aran, noting the cleanup could take years.

Oysters are essential tools in the cleaning effort. Aran said they are effective filter feeders that help remove excess nitrogen from the waters by incorporating it into their shells and tissues as they grow. Adult oysters can filter up to 50 gallons per day, and one oyster can make 100 million babies per year, he said.

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plants and animals, but too much nitrogen – usually from fertilizer runoff and septic tanks – accelerates algae growth, which in turn overwhelms plants. water and ultimately reduces oxygen levels.

Aran encourages people to get involved in the effort to clean up the area’s waters. “Anyone can be a citizen scientist,” he said. “You don’t have to be a politician to help heal our berry. “

Members of the Biscayne Bay Watershed Management Advisory Council include:

Miami-Dade County Commissioners Danielle Cohen Higgins, Jean Monestime and Rebeca Sosa; Vince Lago, Mayor of Coral Gables; North Bay Village Commissioner Rachel Streitfeld and Miami Shores Board Member Crystal Wager; Brett Bibeau, Miami River Commission representative, Todd Crowl of Florida International University; Diego Lirman of the University of Miami; Joan Browder of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Erik Stabenau from Biscayne National Park; Julissa Kepner, of the Greater Miami Visitors and Convention Bureau; Spencer Crowley, representing the Builders Association of South Florida; Jannek Cederberg, Florida Engineers Society-Miami; Gerald C. McGinley Jr., of the Marine Council; John L. Alger, representing the Dade County Farm Bureau; Roberto Torres, Nature Conservancy; and Dave Doebler from the Biscayne Bay Marine Health Coalition.

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