We've recently released our annual report! A lot of exciting things happened in 2018, and we're happy to share some of them with you!
Last year, we secured the restoration of over 10,000 Endangered Species Act-listed staghorn corals after four long years of litigation with the Army Corps of Engineers over the damage caused to reefs during the Port Miami dredging project. This work will occur over the next three years and will be carried out by the Lirman Lab at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. Funding will also be provided to the Miami-Dade County Mooring-Buoy program to prevent anchor damage to reefs. This settlement is just a first step to help local populations of threatened staghorn corals! We are continuing our work to ensure that the entire area that was damaged gets the proper mitigation.
In 2018 we also launched our in-house Water Quality Monitoring program! This program fills an important gap in water quality data and focuses on key locations where our community recreates in Biscayne Bay. Last summer, eight Miami beaches closed at once due to elevated bacteria levels. We now survey 7 locations weekly for the presence of fecal indicator bacteria. The results are then posted online via our free web and phone application, Swim Guide!
We challenged Florida Power & Light's request to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the life of their aging nuclear reactors at Turkey Point until 2053, making them the oldest operating reactors in the United States. These reactors are already contaminating our Bay and aquifer. They are also in an area vulnerable to sea level rise, which makes this license extension not a sustainable safe solution for our community.
We also launched our 1,000 Eyes on the Water program. It's a volunteer-based water patrol program that is designed to train members of the public to observe, document, and report problems on our waterways. Our goal is to train 500 community members to become water watchdogs!
In 2018 we also organized Miami Waterkeeper's first Bioblitz event at Port Everglades. We partnered with Sea Experience to train citizen science divers in coral species identification. Each citizen science diver was paired with a highly trained scientific diver and completed coral surveys at two dive locations near the site of the planned Port Everglades dredging project. Participants identified more than 100 colonies of federally protected coral species. This baseline data will be included in Miami Waterkeeper's comments to federal agencies charged with oversight of the dredging project.
We submitted over 30 public documents advocating for policy change, collected more than 2,100 pounds of trash from our shorelines, graduated 22 Junior Ambassadors, and participated in (or hosted) more than 60 community outreach events! We were supported by over 300 volunteers and alerted the public 68 times after beaches failed water quality tests.
Overall, it was an eventful 2018! We're working hard to ensure swimmable, drinkable, and fishable water for all!