Pollution is killing Biscayne Bay, there’s very little time to save it, and it’s going to cost a lot of money to rescue it
Recent studies and reports have concluded that the health of Biscayne Bay is at a tipping point. The ecosystem is threatened by nutrient pollution from storm-water runoff, sewage pipe breaks, septic tanks, fertilizers, plastic pollution and other contaminants.
The pollution is killing seagrass and coral and driving off fish.
The bay also is suffering from hyper-salinity due to a lack of freshwater. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has reported that the damage is so bad that it soon will be irreversible and it will be impossible to restore the bay to its original state.
Biscayne Bay is vital to our economy. Miami-Dade County’s annual GDP is over $100 billion, and a large part of it stems from real estate, trade, and tourism, all of which depend on a healthy environment. A study by the Downtown Development Authority reported the taxable value of the downtown’s property including the waterfront is $39 billion.
Trade and tourism produce an estimated $43 billion annually and over 23 million tourists visited the county last year. Hence, one of the key actions of the 100 Resilient Cities – Resilient 305 plan is to protect the health of Biscayne Bay and our waterways.
In 1974, the Florida Legislature passed the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve Act. Later, the Miami-Dade County’s Biscayne Bay Management Plan was approved. And years later came the Biscayne Bay Partnership Initiative. These have been good faith attempts to protect the bay, but they have been either too slow or shelved. The difference this time is that we have no time; the situation is dire.
The county has created the Biscayne Bay Task Force it is our last shot.
The Task Force has been reviewing reports and studies related to all the issues that are impacting the bay. What we realize is that it is under assault from many sources.
These are serious and complex problems, most of which will require lots of money and a community-wide approach to restoration and recovery. We also recognize that we must quickly draft recommendations that will help stabilize the ecosystem in the short term and set a path toward comprehensive recovery and permanent oversight.
Because our environment is our economy.
Link to the original article posted on The Invading Seas here.
Learn the Spanish translation to popular climate change terms. Please find below the terms and a downloadable PDF at the end of the blog post.
Aprenda la traducción al español de términos populares sobre cambio climático. A continuación encontrará los términos y un PDF descargable al final de la publicación.
Sustentabilidad: La capacidad de un sistema en su estado actual de cumplir con las necesidades económicas, medioambientales y sociales de las generaciones futuras.
Sustainability: The extent of a system in its current state to meet the economic, environmental and social needs of future generations.
Adaptación al clima: Métodos para proteger las personas y las localidades reduciendo su vulnerabilidad a los impactos de los cambios en el clima. Por ejemplo, para protegerse contra el aumento del nivel del mar o de grandes inundaciones, las comunidades puedes construir rompeolas o relocalizar sus edificios a una altura más elevada.
Climate adaptation: Methods to protect people and places by reducing their vulnerability to climate impacts. For example, to protect against sea level rise and increased flooding, communities might build seawalls or relocate buildings to higher ground.
Cambio climático: Cambios graduales y a largo plazo del clima de la tierra, especialmente debidos a un aumento en la temperatura promedia en la atmósfera.
Climate change: A gradual, long-term change in the Earth’s climate, especially a change due to an increase in the average atmospheric temperature.
Mitigar los efectos del clima: Los esfuerzos para tratar de hacer más lento el proceso del cambio climático, usualmente a través de medidas para reducir el nivel de las gases de efecto de invernadero en la atmósfera. Un ejemplo de esta estrategia es la práctica de sembrar árboles que pueden absorber y almacenar el dióxido de carbono.
Climate mitigation: Efforts that attempt to slow the process of global climate change, usually by lowering the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Planting trees that absorb carbon dioxide from the air and store it is an example of one such strategy.
Resistencia: La capacidad de poder recuperarse rápidamente de las dificultades. Sinónimos: flexibilidad, fuerza, elasticidad.
Resilience: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Synonyms include: flexibility, toughness and elasticity.
Estrategia de resistencia: Los resultados de un proceso de planificación durante el cual una comunidad desarrolla un entendimiento mejor sobre los desafíos que enfrenta; reevalúa su capacidad para hacer frente a estos desafíos; y une a las personas, proyectos y prioridades de modo que las ciudades pueden actuar colectivamente para enfrentar los mismos.
Resilience strategy: The product of a planning process during which a community develops a better understanding of the challenges it faces; reviews its ability to address those challenges; and unites people, projects and priorities so that cities can collectively act on their resilience challenges.
Choques: Eventos repentinos y de gran impacto que amenazan una comunidad. Estos eventos incluyen huracanes, tornados, inundaciones en la costa, fallas en la infraestructura, el terrorismo cibernético entre otros más.
Shocks: Sudden, sharp events that threaten a community. This includes hurricanes, tornadoes, coastal flooding, infrastructure failure, cyberterrorism and more.
Factores estresantes: Eventos o circunstancias que debilitan el tejido de una comunidad de forma diaria o cíclica. Estos factores incluyen la pobreza, un sistema de transporte subdesarrollado, una infraestructura envejecida, la falta de viviendas asequibles, el aumento del nivel del mar, y la erosión en las costas.
Stresses: Events or circumstances that weaken the fabric of a community on a daily or cyclical basis. This includes pronounced poverty, an underdeveloped transportation system, aging infrastructure, lack of affordable housing, rising sea level and coastal erosion.
A big thanks to the City of Miami Beach – Rising Above program for producing a special edition of Miami Beach Magazine focused on resilience and climate solutions.
Un gran agradecimiento al programa Rising Above de la Ciudad de Miami Beach por producir una edición especial de Miami Beach Magazine centrada en la resiliencia y las soluciones climáticas.
What is it?
“King tide” is a popular non-scientific term that people use to describe very high tides, that can cause nuisance flooding on sunny, blue-sky days in low lying areas. They occur a few times per year, typically during a new or full moon and when the moon is closest to Earth. The combination of warm waters off the coast of Florida and the slowing down of the Gulf Stream creates a favorable environment for king tides to occur during the fall season.
This year (2020) king tides are expected to occur on the following dates:
What to do?
Be aware ahead of time, follow your city and/or local county for the latest information and alerts on upcoming king tide events. You can also visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Sea Level Rise Viewer under “High Tide Flooding” and zoom into your neighborhood or areas you frequent to see if they might be affected during king tide.
During king tide events follow the below safety tips while you are out and about and to protect your property:
King tides provide a preview on how sea level rise will affect coastal places. The water level reached during a king tides will be the water level reached during an average day on high tide.
At the turn of the 20th century, Florida was considered our nation’s last frontier. The evidence supported that conclusion, too. Swamplands made travel to South Florida close to impossible and our watery wilderness made growth and development a challenge.
But then came the draining of the marshes south of Lake Okeechobee in the early 1900s. That undertaking provided an excellent landscape for agriculture. In turn, the fertile soil benefited the economy.
And by 1920, the state’s population had grown close to 1 million people. The growth was slow, but the building of drainage canals provided navigational access and brought on a land boom of speculators. After the opening of the Flagler railroad, which ran along the state’s entire eastern coast, Florida became accessible and open for tourism.
There was no looking back, although nature still played an adversarial role in the state’s growth. Following a series of devastating hurricanes in the 1920s, where over 2,000 lives were lost, the call to manage flood waters and protect lives and property became more urgent. Floridians battled against flood waters alone until 1947. Congress then directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct the Central and Southern Florida Project (CS&F).
This project turned out to be one of the most effective water management systems in the world. The CS&F is a combination of levees, gated culverts, and locks encompassing Lake Okeechobee in the north, the coastlines to the west and east, and south to the Florida Keys.
Fifty years later, Congress stepped in again as Floridians realized that the efficient water management system had also severely impacted the natural ecosystem as well as Everglades and Biscayne National Parks. Passage of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) made the federal government and the state 50-50 partners in the endeavor.
Modern adaptation strategies
CERP is a framework for restoring, preserving, and protecting the South Florida ecosystem for the future. Sixty eight CERP project components are currently underway at an estimated cost to taxpayers of over $10 billion.
Meanwhile, Florida’s economy still thrives and depends on land development, agriculture, and tourism. The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) remains the manager of this water control system, which serves over 8 million people, or more than one-third of the state’s population.
However, the water challenge remains relevant. Our coastal cities deal with water quality issues from blue-green algae and red tide to stronger hurricanes and higher sea levels that come through the impact of climate change.
The state’s conservative leadership is no longer in denial and understands that the environment is our economy. Florida continues to invest in restoration of the Everglades and water infrastructure improvements and repairs.
Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has created an Office of Resilience and appointed a Chief Science Officer to implement adaptive solutions and innovations. They are designed to protect our water, maintain property values, and preserve the tourism industry. One intriguing solution is the creation of a five-member task force that is focused on reducing nutrients in Lake Okeechobee and downstream estuaries. The goal is to come up with recommendations that prevent future outbreaks of toxic algal blooms that devasted Florida’s coasts last year.
Regional governments in the southeast part of the state have been collaborating over the past decade to plan to mitigate the causes of climate and plan for higher seas. Our coastal cities are investing in resilient infrastructure and building stronger and higher structures to allow the state to continue to grow and thrive despite our current reality.
As a native Floridian and lifelong resident of Miami-Dade County, as well as a former water manager for the SFWMD appointed by Governor Jeb Bush, I know how challenging our water issues have become. I also know that we drained our state’s swamp over 50 years ago with the engineering and knowledge we had at that time to build the state we currently enjoy.
I do not subscribe to the “doom and gloom” club that looks at sea level rise projections daily and predicts that Florida’s coastlines are as good as gone. I am optimistic about our future and know that our political and business leaders are acting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and embrace technology and innovation to outpace the threat of rising seas.
Florida will again rise above the water and find the solutions to continue growing our economy and protect our citizens' assets and quality of life.
Link to the original post written by Irela Bagué for the George W. Bush Presidential Center: https://www.bushcenter.org/publications/articles/2019/5/florida-history-of-environmental-adaptation.html
This year we launched Resilient Forward a podcast to educate the public and promote resilient solutions to Florida’s most challenging environmental issues. We have recorded 7 podcast episodes featuring a variety of guests from different backgrounds and stories of how they are pushing the climate narrative forward.
We are excited to continue with the rest of Season 1 and to keep pushing the innovative resiliency work from businesses, governments, non-profits and individuals. Subscribe and stay up to up to date on the latest Resilient Forward episodes on your favorite platform:
iTunes : https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/resilient-forward/id1439810864?mt=2
Sticher : https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/resilient-forward
Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/listen?u=0#/ps/Ifzso4ckjboz73u5jioedefj6d4
SoundCloud : https://soundcloud.com/resilientforward
Follow Resilient Forward on Twitter and Facebook.