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It is the mission of Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper to defend, protect, and preserve the aquatic integrity of Biscayne Bay and its surrounding waters through citizen involvement and community action. As its advocate, BBWK utilizes a solutions-oriented approach to identify and then mitigate threats to the Bay. BBWK encourages and inspires citizens to reclaim the natural and civic heritage of the Bay as the biological, cultural and economic heart of the region.
With the creation of BBWK, South Floridians finally gained a champion, an advocate, and most importantly, a voice for the water body truly at the heart of our magic city but often overlooked and assumed to be far less fragile than it is in reality. BBWK stands up to polluters, unites and informs the community and works to reclaim our rights to safely swim, drink and fish in our waters. We work with young people, the art and music communities, fisherman, other civic organizations, government agencies, and we are not afraid to ask the tough questions and demand local government accountability for the way they treat our communal waterways, and especially our beloved Biscayne Bay, which is at the heart of our economy, our lifestyle and what makes Miami such a special place to live and visit.
In its first year beginning in January 2011, BBWK has focused on four very significant threats to the health of Biscayne Bay:
1) Proposed "Deep Dredge" of the Port of Miami Harbor: BBWK formed a coalition with 12 civic and environmental groups to submit a comment letter echoing concerns of government agencies regarding the scope and mitigation methods of this project; Met with FDEP, Army Corps and the County to discuss terms of permit; when permit terms provided increasingly less environmental safeguards and talks failed, BBWK challenged the Deep Dredge permit in a state administrative hearing.
2) Chronic sewage spills plaguing the Bay: Tracking the all too common sewage leaks in the Bay to increase public awareness of dangerous swimming areas via social media; speaking to City and County Commissioners on this issue; Launching SWIM GUIDE, a free mobile app to help tourists and locals track which beaches are safe for swimming; interview on the news when Governor Scott cut funding for the Dept of Health beach testing budget.
3) Lack of community cohesion and awareness concerning our natural resources:
BBKW collaborates with local music community to hold periodic concerts via SWIM DRINK FISH MUSIC to raise awareness about environmental stewardship and issues relating to clean water; partners with Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve as National Geographic Education Grant Recipients to create the first of its kind "Paddle Out" Guide - a waterproof companion with wildlife/safety/tips information that also provides a map of the "put-in" spots spanning all of Biscayne Bay for passive users (stand up paddleboards and kayak and canoers) to get a greater understanding and appreciation of the Bay.
4) The long-overdue clean up and remediation of the toxic Virginia Key open dump site:
Submitted comment letter concerning the City and County's plan to use fill from the Port Tunnel project to cap the decades old Virginia Key dumpsite without completing proper clean-up assessment. The neglected dumpsite was closed in the 1970's but has yet to be assessed or cleaned up leaving toxic leachate seeping in to the Bay. Also co-authored letter to the EPA re: this issue and calling for federal oversight. Met with City and County government to express citizen concerns and urge action. Alerted media to this issue and the stalemate to clean up.
- Lauren Hornor
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