Miami Waterkeeper works with community leaders on policies that are good for the community and the environment. When necessary, Miami Waterkeeper will pursue legal advocacy to defend our environmental laws.
Examples of legal advocacy work:
PortMiami Endangered Species Act litigation
For four years, Miami Waterkeeper and co-plaintiffs have been pursuing legal channels to protect Miami’s threatened coral reefs from the impacts of dredging. The Port Miami expansion produced massive sedimentation that smothered over 250 acres of Miami’s coral reefs. Over 98% of these corals have disappeared since the 1970s. We continue the fight to get a full restoration of this reef for our community and the wildlife that depend on these diverse, rare, and productive ecosystems. Read more about this litigation.
Port Everglades Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act Litigation
Miami Waterkeeper and co-plaintiffs have sued to halt a dredging project at Port Everglades. The agencies responsible have failed to correct mistakes in their environmental assessments and have not incorporated “lessons learned” from the irreparable damage caused by PortMiami. We will closely watch the process to ensure that the same "dredgeful situation" doesn't happen again. Read more about this litigation.
Stopping sewage leaks
Miami Waterkeeper uncovered a partially-treated sewage leak in the ocean outfall pipes near Key Biscayne and Fisher Island in 2016. Records requests revealed that the County had ignored this leak for over a year. Sending a notice of intent to sue and alerting the public, the leak was shut down within days. We estimate that over 10 million gallons spilled before it was finally stopped. You can read more about it here.
Keeping Florida Power and Light's nuclear reactor safe
Miami Waterkeeper and co-litigants are challenging FPL’s lengthy operating extension request for Turkey Point power plant. Miami Waterkeeper joined with co-litigants NRDC and Friends of the Earth to challenge FPL's request to extend the operating license of Turkey Point for an unprecedented 80-year operating time (until 2053). The plant currently emits significant pollution into Biscayne Bay and is severely unprepared for impending sea level rise. We are currently appealing to the D.C. Circuit Court. You can read more about it here.
Miami Waterkeeper works with elected officials to pursue sound policies for our communities and our waterways. We are currently working towards more sustainable resiliency policies for South Florida, and we have successfully campaigned for bans on Styrofoam, plastic bags, and harmful chemicals. We have also worked with municipalities around South Florida to enact fertilizer ordinances, which aim to reduce nutrient pollution and algae blooms in our waterways. You can read more about this effort here.
Limiting nutrient pollution
Fertilizer is great for plants, but it’s harmful for our waterways. It’s full of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which can lead to algae blooms that smother and choke our Bay. In order to address this, Miami Waterkeeper has developed a model fertilizer ordinance specifically for our region. These ordinances include a summertime ban on fertilizer use, setbacks from waterways, and more. We’ve so far successfully implemented ordinances for the Village of Key Biscayne, North Bay Village, Islamorada, and the City of Miami. We are also now monitoring nutrient pollution in waterways to measure the effectiveness of these ordinances. Learn more here.
Stopping toxic chemicals
Miami Waterkeeper, along with Waterkeepers across Florida, advocated against a rule proposed by the state which would have allowed more of 83 different types of chemicals in our water, including neurotoxins and some that are cancer-causing. Working with the public, scientists, the City of Miami, the Seminole Tribe, and Miami-Dade County, we collectively succeeded in having this rule withdrawn. Learn more here.
Reducing harmful herbicides
Miami Waterkeeper developed a sample resolution in response to increasing concern from constituents about the potential adverse effects from exposure to the probable carcinogen Glyphosate. Regulation of herbicides is preempted by the State of Florida, so we recommend that municipalities consider passing a resolution that would represent a voluntary transition away from this chemical on municipal property. We have worked on these municipal bans for Miami Dade County, City of Miami Beach, City of North Miami, and the City of Key West. Learn more.
Stopping marine debris at the source
Pollution from discarded single-use plastics poses a major threat to wildlife and leaves our beaches littered with trash. Miami Waterkeeper has advocated for various initiatives banning plastic bags, plastic straws, and Styrofoam at the county and municipal levels. However, Florida’s legislature has worked to preempt local regulations against plastic pollution, tying the hands of municipalities that want to keep their water, parks, and beaches plastic-free. Miami Waterkeeper wrote an amicus brief for the Florida Supreme Court on this topic. Learn more.
"Those people who have a meaningful relation to that body of water – whether it be a fisherman, a canoeist, a zoologist, or a logger – must be able to speak for the values which the river represents and which are threatened with destruction….." –Sierra Club v. Morton (1972) (Douglas, J., dissenting)