DeSantis visits Key Biscayne to sign new law to help protect Biscayne Bay

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill to help protect Biscayne Bay on Thursday at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in Key Biscayne. It allocates $20 million for projects.

The bill establishes the Biscayne Bay Commission, prohibits sewage disposal facilities from disposing of any wastes into Biscayne Bay without providing advanced waste treatment.

“The Biscayne Bay Commission will spearhead both current and future efforts to protect and preserve the integrity of the bay as Florida’s population continues to grow,” DeSantis said in a statement.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein also attended the ceremony in Key Biscayne, and he said the new effort will help the bay to rebound “exponentially.”

Two Republicans from Miami-Dade County were behind the bill. On Feb. 19, state Rep. Bryan Avila filed Florida House Bill 1177 and state Sen. Ileana Garcia filed an identical bill in the Florida Senate. Both the Senate and the House passed it unanimously in late April.

Officers presented the bill to DeSantis on Tuesday. Garcia, who is not an environmentalist, read a statement during the ceremony in Key Biscayne.

“The Biscayne Bay Commission will serve as the official clearinghouse for all public policy and projects related to the bay and its surrounding areas,” Garcia said.

Irela Bague, Miami-Dade County’s first chief bay officer, said she had been waiting for a bill like that for decades. She said the health of Biscayne Bay is in peril.

“Now the state has finally made Biscayne Bay a top priority,” Bague said.

Garcia also said state officials will cooperate with local officials. Bague said she is looking forward to the team effort.

“We are excited the bill includes references to the Biscayne Bay task force, so we are ready to work together with the state,” Bague said.

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The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.