On Wednesday evening, March 11th, 2020, Miami Waterkeeper hosted our second annual State of the Water address. An intimate group of community leaders and members of the public were welcomed by two of our very own Junior Ambassadors at the front doors of the Coral Reef Yacht Club. Attendees enjoyed cocktails and conversation prior to Miami Waterkeeper, Dr. Rachel Silverstein's, State of the Water address.
The yearly State of the Water address provides a unique forum for Miami Waterkeeper to highlight ongoing threats to our watershed and innovative stakeholders finding solutions to these complex problems. For example, North Bay Village Vice Mayor Marvin Wilmoth gave remarks on the unique challenge of incorporating sustainability and resiliency into concepts such as municipal ordinances and building codes. Other community leaders also weighed in on dynamic approaches to address multi-faceted water resource problems in South Florida.
This year, Dr. Silverstein's State of the Water address included key strategic initiatives for the coming year and shared a fact-based overview of the state of the water in South Florida from the lens of business, government, and science, focusing on the intersection between sea-level rise and water pollution. The presentation dove into the myriad of issues threatening South Florida’s watershed, including the exponential impacts of sea-level rise. Giving further rise to complex problems including sewage leaks, stormwater runoff, septic tanks, FPL’s nuclear power plant, all contributing to beach closures, algae blooms, seagrass die-offs, and more.
“With the most coastline in the continental US, our beaches exist beyond for more than relaxing on. They are serious business. Tourism to the state brings in $112 billion a year, and visiting a beach or waterway is the top tourism activity [. . .] And as with most things, Miami is the magnifying glass for these issues. We have the most resources at risk worldwide from sea-level rise.” - Rachel Silverstein, Ph.D.
The “State of the Water” also featured Miami Waterkeeper’s efforts and accomplishments over the course of 2019. Notably, the impact figures changed the very next morning as the City of Miami Commission unanimously passed a strong fertilizer ordinance on second reading in an effort to address nutrient pollution in nearshore waters.
This year, the State of the Water also involved an announcement and presentation of the Porter Prize. The inaugural Porter Prize was presented to Jim Porter, Miami Waterkeeper's legal counsel, for his incredible contribution to South Florida environmental protection. Jim's legal work has been instrumental in safeguarding South Florida's water and marine resources. As Miami Waterkeeper's legal counsel, Jim has catalyzed the restoration of 10,000 threatened staghorn corals, stopped sewage leaks, and delayed the expansion of Port Everglades -- among many other victories.
We are indebted to Jim not only for legal work but also for his unwavering commitment to the cause of swimmable, drinkable, fishable water. The Porter Prize will be awarded each year to an outstanding individual who embodies the ethic and dedication of Jim Porter, Esq.
“Jim is a man who has given thousands of hours to our organization, something I could never have asked anyone else to do, and he’s done it willingly. And he’s done it all for a deep and abiding love to Biscayne Bay.” - Rachel Silverstein, Ph.D
A special thank you to our sponsors who made the event possible; Atlantic Sapphire, Rugby Realty, TUUCI, and Uniesse.
“The common perception is that business and environmental interests move in opposite directions. While this may often be the case, I have seen that when the two interests are aligned the results can be extremely positive. Miami Waterkeeper plays an important role in creating this alignment. It is why Rugby Realty is proud to support their efforts.” - Aaron Stauber, President, Rugby Realty, Co,. Inc.
We would also like to thank all our elected officials for being our leaders and our partners for change:
Francis Suarez, Mayor, City of Miami
Phil Stoddard, Mayor, City of South Miami
Marvin Wilmoth, Vice Mayor, North Bay Village
Daniella Levine Cava, Commissioner, Miami Dade County
Ken Russell, Commissioner, City of Miami
In sum, we celebrated another great evening coming together to strategize for clean water in the year ahead. Thank you to everyone who made this event and all our accomplishments possible! A collective water-win for all!