MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – For 45 straight days Miami has been in the grips a heat index of over 100 degrees, and that spells danger for fragile Biscayne Bay.
And while Miami-Dade County leaders are currently meeting with scientists to discuss an action plan should the bay experience more signs of stress, the county also just launched a new campaign aimed at getting every resident to do their part to help save the watershed.
“We’re very concerned,” said Miami-Dade Chief Bay Officer Irela Bague. “And we’re watching daily, the oxygen levels on the bay.”
All eyes are on Biscayne Bay as Miami-Dade County continues to experience record breaking heat with water temperatures also soaring, day after day topping 90 degrees.
“If we’re beating records right now, there’s nothing saying we’re not going to be much higher in August, which most of the problems happen,” said Dr. Piero Gardinali with the Florida International University Institute of Environment.
FIU researchers are among the army of scientists working with county leaders and other stakeholders to execute a plan of action at the first signs of another fish kill on the bay.
“The mayor is assembling scientists that also serve on our Biscayne Bay advisory board to really give us the information of the state of the bay today and what we should be doing to prepare,” said Bague.
It is a perilous game of beat the clock.
The county is working with urgency to reduce the enormous amount of nutrient pollution causing the rapid decline of the health of the bay. On-going projects include upgrading the storm water system countywide, replacing aging sewer pipes, getting properties off septic tanks and connecting them to new sewer laterals. All of this will take years and millions of dollars in capital improvements.
“The government is doing everything it can to lower those nutrient pollution levels,” said Bague. “But we have to do our part.”
Now an urgent call to action — in the form of a new multimedia, multi-language public education campaign — was just launched.
“Biscayne Bay Friendly is a campaign to let everyone know if they love the bay, they can make a difference,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
“We did recognize that there isn’t enough messaging out there,” said Bague. “Helping people understand why the water quality is in the condition that it’s in, helping us kind of activate communities to take part in the restoration and the recovery of Biscayne Bay.”
Soon, signage and billboards in English, Spanish and Creole will be seen throughout Miami-Dade County, reminding folks not to fertilize their lawns during the rainy season, to pick up their pet waste and to stop littering.
“Just be conscious of where you are, because it’s all connected,” said Bague. “Everything we do on land ends up in Biscayne Bay.”
Added Levine Cava: “Everyone needs to realize that we have a lot of rain, we have our storm drains, and the stuff just washes right out to sea. It pollutes our bay, it kills our fish. So everyone needs to be responsible.”
PSAs starring Captain Baywatch will soon blanket social media, TV and radio, reminding everyone that good environmental stewardship is on all of us.
“We really got to get tough with folks about littering, and about cleaning up and about their personal responsibility and stewardship,” said Miami-Dade Commissioner Raquel Regalado.
The whole point of the campaign is to get all of us, every single resident of Miami-Dade County, to realize that there are things we can do every single day, choices we can make every single day to help restore the health of Biscayne Bay.
And with so much at stake, our beautiful backyard is counting on every one of us to step up.
“The bay is really the blue heart of our community,” said Levine Cava. “It fuels our economy, our recreation, our visitors, our health.”
“So why wouldn’t we all want to do the best thing for Biscayne Bay?” asked Bague.
For more information on being Biscayne Bay friendly, visit https://www.miamidade.gov/biscaynebay.