“The Corps’ report misleadingly and conveniently blames the disease and warm temperatures for the destruction of our corals, but all of the available evidence, including evidence from every other federal, state, and local government agency involved, shows that the Corps’ dredging that was smothering the reefs long before the disease even began,” said Miami Waterkeeper executive director Rachel Silverstein.
The Corps is required to monitor the area for at least another year to determine whether permanent damage occurred that would need to be addressed.
“One big awareness-raiser was a lawsuit that Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, a clean-water advocacy group, filed against Miami-Dade County in 2012. That year, Albert J. Slap, an environmental lawyer working on Waterkeeper’s behalf, asked a research geologist at Florida International University named Pete Harlem to work up some maps that would illustrate the degree to which the three largest sewage-treatment plants serving the county were vulnerable to seawater inundation. Waterkeeper’s suit argued that the county’s plan to upgrade these leaky, aging plants was inadequate because it didn’t take into account the threat of sea-level rise.”
“Silverstein is Miami’s Waterkeeper: protector of coral reefs and sea life, staunch advocate for the peoples’ right to clean water, and empowerer of everyday people to protect Biscayne Bay. She also boasts a track record of holding others accountable.”
“The corps claims it’s a ‘learning agency,’ but all plans so far show that the corps is not intending to improve its practices in Port Everglades after destroying over 200 acres of reef in Miami, and with this letter we show our intent to push for better protection for Fort Lauderdale’s reefs,” said the executive director of Waterkeeper, Rachel Silverstein.
“The Corps is conducting this project like a bull in an environmental china shop.”
“The Corps has been dragging their feet and not providing the information,” said Rachel Silverstein, a marine biologist and executive director of Miami Waterkeeper.
The more time that passes without an accurate survey, she said, the harder it will be to save struggling coral or determine just how much damage has been done. In June, Silverstein surveyed the area and found surrounding reefs dusted with silt. Fisheries Service divers found a similar moonscape, with sediment about a half inch to four inches deep.
“Everything is being eroded out there and it’s hard to tell what has died,” she said. “That information is critical to holding the Corps accountable.”