Legal Advocacy

One of the biggest threats to our clean water is an epidemic of sewage system leaks and spills. Over the past several years alone, tens of millions of gallons of raw sewage have been illegally discharged due to the County’s failure to operate, maintain, and improve the sewage system. Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper (BBWK) has been working with other community groups to educate residents about immediate and long term threats these issues are creating. Through collaborations and social media alerts BBWK seeks to bridge the information gap between the current infrastructure failures, lack of government transparency, and much-needed local leadership on this issue. BBWK has advocated for the prioritization of funding and improvements that ensure our sewage system all citizens throughout Miami-Dade County safe and healthy.
            Below is a letter that the Mayor of Key Biscayne sent to the Mayor of Miami about Village of Key Biscayne’s concerns about the decrepit state of the sewage system and problems that may create for the Key Biscayne community:

On Monday May 13, Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper sent a letter, undersigned by 16 organizations, asking that EPA and Miami-Dade take a holistic approach to address these sewage issues. (see letter below)

In the pursuit of the best science to help us understand how to move forward with sewage system improvements we have enlisted the help of scientists in the Miami-Dade area. Here are two expert reports that have helped us understand Miami-Dade’s situation:

Challenge to FDEP Permit to Deep Dredge the Port of Miami

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s draft permit to the US Army Corps of Engineers locally sponsored by Miami-Dade County presented one of the largest construction projects in the history of Biscayne Bay proposing to dredge 415 total acres of our tropical shallow lagoon home to over 12 threatened, endangered or protected marine species. Construction will last approximately 2 years and require 600 events of confined blasting to deepen the channel used by cargo ships from @42 to @50 feet. BBWK and partners challenged what we considered insufficient environmental reparations, mitigation efforts and use of the best management practices available today.Since the project could be completed within Florida’s water quality laws, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection proposed to issue variances to multiple significant laws in place specifically written to protect water quality. This project is based on projections of jobs and economic gain that BBWK did not find sufficient information to support and considered unlikely and unsubstantiated – wasting billions of tax dollars and resources with guaranteed environmental impacts.

After an intensive month-long mediation process, BBWK and partners negotiated a settlement due to the costly nature of continued litigation action. The settlement provides for improvements to the project as well as increased mitigation measures, including: 1.310 million to the Biscayne Bay Trust Fund for unfunded but much needed Bay restoration and enhancement projects; Increased mitigation for corals including increasing numbers of corals to be removed and replanted instead of being destroyed; greatly improved the seagrass mitigation plan including increase in acreage of replanting and care methods for grasses to be disturbed; moved blasting events to 1000 as opposed to 200 feet within the crumbling sewage pipeline under the Bay; Limited blasting events from occurring within most heavy feeding times for dolphins, fish and other animals as well as spawning season for large game fish populations.

Comment letters 
Authored and co-authored advocacy letters to local and national agencies regarding Port of Miami Tunnel, North Point of Virginia Key, unremediated Virginia Key Landfill