Pollution from discarded single-use plastics poses a major threat to wildlife and leaves our beaches littered with trash. A portion of that trash is made up of single-use plastic straws and stirrers that do not naturally break down. Plastic straws and stirrers are small enough to be accidentally ingested by wildlife and, rather than break down naturally in the environment like paper or wood-based products, plastic straws break down into smaller and smaller pieces. These “microplastics” are easily eaten by organisms as small as plankton, allowing the ingested plastic to travel up the food chain, even to us humans.
Southwest Florida’s year-long red tide has spread to the east coast of South Florida, forcing local and state officials to close beaches and issue advisories right at the start of the busy winter tourist season. As Florida’s most populous region, the impacts on South Florida could be immense. Red tide also poses a significant threat to Biscayne Bay. Although red tides are notoriously difficult to predict, nutrient pollution and low levels of freshwater influx into Biscayne Bay create conditions known to allow the red tide causing algae, Karenia brevis, to bloom. Upcoming King Tides in October and November can make the outbreak even worse if more algae gets pushed closer to shore and into Miami’s protected bays and canals.
Thank you to our crest sponsor- Biscayne Bank!
Port of Miami was dredged starting in 2013 to create a deeper and wider port for updated shipping vessels. The sediment associated with this dredging impacted the health of nearly 250 acres of the Florida Reef Tract. Soon thereafter, the United States Army Corps of Engineers began plans to dredge at Port Everglades - located just 30 miles up the coast – with the hopes of continuing to make larger ports for these larger ships. The problem? The Florida Reef Tract also extends just offshore from Port Everglades, and without incorporating lessons learned from the dredging in PortMiami, the corals in this area stand to be impacted as well. One of these major lessons was that inadequate baseline data was taken BEFORE the dredging of PortMiami. In order to better account for benthic resources in Port Everglades, Miami Waterkeeper planned a “BioBlitz” event, to include the general public in our surveys of coral health near the new planned dredging site.
FPL’s Turkey Point nuclear plant is contaminating Biscayne National Park, the Biscayne Aquifer (our primary source of drinking water) and filling nearby wetlands with salt. Despite the myriad of environmental and safety problems with the plant, and while currently engaged in corrective action that may or may not work, Florida Power and Light (FPL) is now asking the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to relicense these units. A license from the NRC would make Units 3 & 4 the oldest operating nuclear reactors in the United States and would allow them to operate until 2052 – giving them an unprecedented 80-year operating life! These reactors are already the hottest operating reactors in the U.S. and are the only reactors worldwide that use a cooling canal system rather than cooling towers.
Miami Waterkeeper Staff Attorney, Kelly Cox, delivers comments before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Join Miami Waterkeeper in welcoming Melva Rosa Gil Vera as she joins us for four months to teach us about her work and learn from ours through the Community Solutions Program!
The Community Solutions Program (CSP), sponsored by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and implemented by IREX, is a professional development program for the best and brightest global community leaders working in Environmental Issues, Tolerance and Conflict Resolution, Transparency and Accountability, and Women and Gender Issues. Melva is among 100 individuals from around the world selected to participate in the program this year, and we are so excited to have her expertise on our team.
Lawsuit over Dredging Achieves Restoration of 10,000 threatened corals
Celebrate our legal victory with us!
It's been a long four years of battling the Army Corps of Engineers over the damage they caused to our reefs during the dredging of the Port of Miami, but now there are 10,000 reasons to celebrate.
Miami Waterkeeper and our co-plaintiffs Captain Dan Kipnis, Miami-Dade Reef Guard Association, and Tropical Audubon Society, have finally reached a settlement that will result in the restoration of 10,000 federally protected staghorn corals in Miami-Dade County over the next three years, carried out by the Lirman lab at the University of Miami. Funding will also be provided to the Miami-Dade County Mooring Buoy program to prevent anchor damage on reefs. This settlement is in addition to the hundreds of staghorn corals that we rescued during the dredging, at an estimated value of $14 million to the public.
The state of Florida made a recent grab for federal Clean Water Act authority through a pair of bills, one in the Senate and one in the House. These two bills seek to transfer authority over section 404 of the Clean Water Act from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over to the State of Florida. This part of the law requires permits for any discharge of dredge and fill materials into “Waters of the United States” (wetlands, streams, rivers, canals, you get the idea). The rationale? The state has more expertise and capacity to oversee the Section 404 permitting program which governs which dredge and fill materials may be discharged into “Waters of the United States.” Such waters include wetlands - essential ecosystems for coastal protection, water quality, and habitat. We, here at Miami Waterkeeper, think this would be a very bad idea.
Environmentally-Friendly Gardening Tips
Do you use fertilizer on your lawn or landscape? Do you know if you’ve been applying fertilizer correctly? When over-applied or applied incorrectly, fertilizer can be very harmful for the environment. Over-fertilizing plants in a lawn or landscape can lead to pest problems, excessive growth, and the pollution of waterways and groundwater.
Have you noticed abandoned or derelict vessels in Biscayne Bay? These vessels are both navigational hazards and eyesores for our community. Derelict vessels ranging from large commercial ships to smaller recreational boats can shift during storms, destroying crucial benthic habitat – the bottom of a body of water, such as seagrass or coral reefs. Furthermore, toxic chemicals that were onboard at the time of sinking, or oil spills from the vessel itself, pose a threat to surrounding ecosystems and to human health. Additional debris from the vessels such as fishing gear, nets, and other dispersed trash can harm marine life as well.