Published on: Oct 18, 2022, Updated Oct 19, 2022
Environmentalists and clean water advocates from South Florida will celebrate the golden anniversary of the Clean Water Act during the upcoming 2022 State of the Water event. During the event, one group will unveil new programs to upgrade the safeguarding of waterways, including Biscayne Bay.
The State of the Water event will take place at 6 p.m. October 25 at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway.
Among other topics, participants will learn about the Clean Water Act, which guarantees the right to swimmable, drinkable and fishable water for all people to enjoy.
Miami Waterkeeper, the Coral Gables-based non-profit focused on ecosystem protection in Biscayne Bay and sea level rise resiliency, is organizing the event. Guest speakers include Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levin Cava, Waterkeeper Executive Director Rachel Silverstein and WLRN environmental reporter Jenny Staletovich.
The State of Water event is an opportunity for clean water advocates, government leaders and the community to discuss the ongoing threats to watersheds and pitch solutions.
Silverstein will anchor the public forum portion of the event. She will also divulge Miami Waterkeeper's key strategic initiatives to beef up protection of Biscayne Bay.
Through its 1000 Eyes on the Water program, the group will recruit people passionate about keeping the waterways pollution free – who are called citizen scientists – and train them how to observe, document and report pollution and contamination in South Florida's waterways.
Since the infamous fish kill in Biscayne Bay in 2020, which Miami-Dade County said resulted from a combination of factors including extremely low tides and a large discharge of stormwater due to heavy rain, the group has been recruiting more citizen scientists to join the efforts.
Through trained eyes they can spot algae blooms, sedimentation, sewage leaks, leaking containers, like dumpsters, illegal dumping, oil slicks and fish kills.
Participants also will learn how to spot rare and endangered species, like smalltooth sawfish and sea turtles, that are prone to toxic chemicals and other pollution, and then document the cases and environmental conditions for local agencies such as Miami-Dade County's Department of Environmental Resource Management (DERM).
Amalia Fernandez, executive assistant Miami Waterkeeper, said the training allows more eyes to be focused on potential problems “connecting which DERM and other inspectors to take action."
Tyler Mominey, Miami Waterkeeper's education and outreach coordinator, has been lecturing at venues throughout Miami-Dade County about the group's efforts to rid toxic chemicals from Biscayne Bay. He recently spoke at the Key Biscayne Community Center.
Mominey told Islander News that the 1000 Eyes on the Water training covers the history of Biscayne Bay, including historic water flow through Florida's watershed and current water flow.
"Some changes include the increase in salinity in Biscayne Bay. It used to be truly considered an estuary with documented freshwater springs within,” he said, adding that water control structures changed the direction and intensity of flow.
The group’s three approaches to protecting the water are education and outreach programs, science and advocacy.
For more information on the 2022 State of Water event, call (305) 905-0856 or visit www.miamiwaterkeeper.org.