Biscayne Bay: Miami’s and Florida’s Valuable “Diamond” of our Ecosystem
Home to coral reefs, endangered species, and surrounded by mangroves, Biscayne Bay is a vital part of the state of Florida’s water quality and environmental health. The panel discussion on the restoration of Biscayne Bay, presented by The Everglades Foundation and sponsored by Florida Power & Light, emphasized the critical action plans and current resilience projects by local authorities and from other parts of the state.
The discussion led by Irela Bagué, President, Bagué Group, featured Dr. Steve Davis, Communications Director & Senior Ecologist, The Everglades Foundation, Col. Andrew Kelly, Commander & District Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, John Mitnik, Chief District Engineer, South Florida Water Management District, Susanne M. Torriente, Assistant City Manager & Chief Resilience Officer, City of Miami Beach, and Steven C. Williamson, Director of Capital Improvement, City of Miami.
Early in the program, the Honorable Vice Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa, Miami-Dade County Commissioner, District 6, voiced the importance of bringing the bay back to what it was and in a better state, “Biscayne Bay is such a diamond. Why? Tourism, visitors... We have to defend our tourism. We need our visitors to continue coming to Miami-Dade. If Biscayne Bay is not fixed that is going to be a negative...it’s our responsibility.” We proudly presented Vice Chairwoman Sosa with a distinct piece of the Chamber through a Certificate of Stock for her remarkable work on sea level rise and Biscayne Bay’s restoration.
The morning continued with welcome remarks from Rod Braun, Climate & Coastal Resilience Manager, The Nature Conservancy, followed by remarks from Anabel Evora, Senior Director of Development, The Everglades Foundation and Baldwyn English, Area Manager for Miami-Dade External Affairs, FPL. Mr. English shared FPL’s plan for solar energy with the installation of 10 solar energy centers being built around the state and 30 million solar panels by the year 2030, “We want everyone to play a role in clean reliable energy, not just today but for generations to come.”
The informative conversation covered the stormwater master plan, Biscayne Bay restoration, general obligation bond projects related to water quality, water infrastructure solutions, and more. Dr. Steve Davis stated how restoration efforts taking place in the Everglades does not solve every water problem in South Florida. “The water quality has a direct impact on our economy,” said Dr. Davis.
Susanne Torriente told the crowd, “We want to work with everybody, not just those touching the bay.” The measures being applied locally could be making a difference, such as a plastic-free Miami Beach and their solutions for flooding, including rehabbing canals and using new industry technology to map road drainages in Miami, that can reach outside our local area. On the other hand, Steven Williamson added, "We need to start talking to banks and insurance companies and have them understand what our plan for resiliency is."
In Jacksonville, Col. Andrew Kelly and his team implemented a restoration beach project to protect the shoreline and control sea level rise, as well as, reduce local damages and improve wildlife habitats in the coastal community.
We thank the Resilience committee for their continuous efforts to restore Biscayne Bay’s health. Want to learn more and get involved? Visit: www.miamichamber.com/committees/disruption/resilience