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Task force submits more than 60 recommendations to save Biscayne Bay

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The Biscayne Bay Task Force gave an urgent and final call to the Miami-Dade County Commission Monday morning to act now to save Biscayne Bay.

“The bay watershed continues to be threatened by lack of fresh water, sewage pollution, storm water runoff and other pollutants,” Irela Bague, chair of the Biscayne Bay Task Force, said.

The task force was appointed by the commission in February 2019 to study the problems plaguing the bay and how to address them, not knowing that just weeks before this presentation, the dire predictions of scientists would come true -- an unprecedented fish kill in the middle of Biscayne Bay where thousands of fish died from lack of oxygen, and the subsequent devastating algae bloom that stretched from the Haulover Inlet south to North Bay Village.

Scientists urged the commission to not ignore these warning signs.

“Our beautiful (bay) turned into a graveyard earlier this month on August 10,” said Dr. Rachel Silverstein, executive director of Miami Waterkeeper. “This is not normal. Fish kills are not normal in Biscayne Bay.”

With 95 percent of the seagrass lost in the northern section, the task force stresses that Biscayne Bay is in grave danger and submitted over 60 recommendations of action the commission is urged to take right now to begin to reverse the damage.

What’s key is transitioning the 100,000 homes on septic tanks to sewer lines.

The county’s septic tanks continuously leak waste water into our ground water that seeps into the bay and is a major source of pollution.

“It’s such a huge cost, economic issue, for everyone on septic tank,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said.

There was strong push back from Gimenez, who’s worried about the cost to homeowners and believes more studying should be done before the commission does anything.

“Too many times we think we know what the problem is,” he said. “We need to do some additional studies to get to the root causes of this problem that we have.”

But the task force warns Biscayne Bay is out of time.

“The environment is the economy, Louis, and we can’t wait any longer,” Bague said. “This is our last call. We’ve tried to do this so many times every time the bay gets in trouble.”