July 2023 Newsletter

Leveraging a $5M investment

We have launched a new era of growth and impact, accelerated by a $5 million investment from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The investment will expand our ability to inform and engage residents in South Florida in developing climate resiliency solutions by leveraging cutting-edge technologies and digital tools. Click below to read more.

Junior Ambassador Applications – Deadline extended to July 31

We’re looking for South Florida’s young environmental leaders! The Junior Ambassador program is a school year-long curriculum that combines classroom education and field experiences to empower South Florida's high school students to become community leaders. Junior Ambassadors gain an understanding of the issues impacting our waterways through civic engagement and advocacy training, hands-on service learning, and a culminating advocacy project.

Know a high school student who would make a great Junior Ambassador? Tell them to apply before July 31!

Free Our Shores (of Marine Debris)

Dozens of volunteers came out for our 2nd Annual National Clean Beaches Week event, Free Our Shores (of Marine Debris). The 4th of July is our country's busiest beach day of the year, and National Clean Beaches Week promotes the importance of keeping our beaches clean -- for the ecosystem benefits, for the wildlife that calls our beaches home, and for our own enjoyment. On July 5th, International Seakeepers Society, Blue Missions, Ballyhoo Media, and more came together to lead volunteers in a celebration of our beaches that removed more than 230 pounds of marine debris from Historic Virginia Key Beach Park.

2023 Legislative Session Update

Bad news: All three items that we asked the Governor to veto were signed into law – despite thousands of you advocating against them by sending letters. Back in January, the Governor issued Executive Order 23-06, promising a new era in environmental protection in Florida – yet these bills let us know his real priorities. Read Waterkeeper Florida’s statement here.

  • SB 540, which we referred to as the “Bad Growth Bill,” threatens concerned community members with potentially enormous legal fees if they challenge harmful Comprehensive Development Master Plan amendments.  This legislation is anticipated to have a significant chilling effect on citizen challenges to environmentally harmful development.

  • The Fertilizer Ordinance Preemption (line Item 146 in SB 2500) prohibits local governments from adopting or amending fertilizer application ordinances that propose a key summer blackout period. Read more about the issue here.

  • The Radioactive Roads bill (HB 1191 / SB 1258) allows the use of cancer-causing toxins, currently banned by the Environmental Protection Agency, to be used in Florida road construction. These chemicals could then leach into the surrounding environment, harming both our waterways and public health. Read the Miami Herald article about this here.

Green Infrastructure Explained

Miami Waterkeeper Policy Analyst Jack Kranes discusses the impacts of green infrastructure (GI) on stormwater management. GI is a type of nature-based solution (NBS) that often uses wetlands and vegetation to slow water down and treat it naturally. We’re very excited about GI and its possibilities - so much that we were awarded a significant grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to partner with Florida International University and Brooklyn-based consulting group Local Office Landscape & Urban Design to design and study 6-8 GI pilot projects around Miami-Dade County. These 6-8 projects will show the community what a new paradigm looks like, one that integrates humans with environmental values to solve stormwater flooding and pollution.

Impacts of green infrastructure on water quality at a park in Puerto Rico. Courtesy of Local Office Landscape & Urban Design.

You can be part of the process, too! Stay tuned for information on how to share your insights on the future of our shared community.

Back Bay Study Update

Speaking of nature-based solutions, lots of folks from the community have been telling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Miami-Dade County that we prefer, where possible, natural solutions to address storm surge – instead of a wall!  Keep it up! They’re listening – but the wall is still an option and has not been eliminated as an alternative.

Miami Waterkeeper’s latest blog post explains the benefits of coral reefs for slowing down storm surge. Reef restoration and enhancement should be Miami’s first line of defense– a first “speed bump” to slow down storm surge–in addition to other nature-based solutions like sand dunes and mangrove planters.  We also let you know in this article how you can keep contacting the Corps directly so that they get the message loud and clear.

Grant Awards 

Miami Waterkeeper is thankful to the following foundations and corporations for entrusting us with their philanthropy to carry out the work to ensure clean water:

  • Knight Foundation is supporting organizational growth and innovative technologies to inform and engage even more members of the community in making South Florida the place for climate change solutions.
  • Jacarlene Foundation is protecting our coral reefs through policy advocacy that will restore lost corals and protect others from dying off.
  • HSBC, through a partnership with the Waterkeeper Alliance, is engaging members of the community in volunteer activities. Get involved at any of our events listed below.

Events & Activities

With new events and new ways to protect our waterways, this year will be a summer to remember! Join us at our upcoming events:

July 16: Ghost Trap & Marine Debris Rodeo

Have access to a boat? Protect our waterways while enjoying a day on the water! Join us and Ocean Aid, Miami-Dade County, Friends of Biscayne Bay, VolunteerCleanup, and more to remove ghost traps from our waterways.

Don't have access to a boat? Protect our waterways by removing marine debris from our shores.

July 22: Snorkel Clean-up

We're hosting our first-ever snorkel clean-up! Register by tomorrow, July 14th, to secure your spot.

August 8: Let's Talk Septic

Join Miami Waterkeeper's Executive Director and Waterkeeper, Rachel Silverstein, Ph.D., and Miami-Dade County District 7 Commissioner Raquel A. Regalado, for a lunch 'n learn conversation about the critical issues surrounding septic systems and what's being done to address them.

This program was made possible by a Community Giving Program grant from the Coral Gables Community Foundation, which inspires impactful philanthropy through charitable funds and programs using local knowledge, expertise and trusted relationships. Learn more at GablesFoundation.org or [email protected].

We’re Growing!

Miami Waterkeeper is at a pivotal point of organizational growth and is expanding our team. We’re looking for dedicated water warriors to support all areas of programming and operations. Check out our job openings below:

Learn more about the positions and how to apply here.

In the News

Thank you to our PartnerSHIP crew

The PartnerSHIP program recognizes and engages our most dedicated supporters throughout the year. Thank you to our PartnerSHIP crew for embarking on the journey with us to ensure swimmable, drinkable, fishable water for all.

Members of the PartnerSHIP crew provide unrestricted funding to enable the Miami Waterkeeper team to pivot to address sudden crises and tackle slow-moving, yet critical, policy issues. For more information about becoming a member of the PartnerSHIP crew, click here.

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