Biscayne Bay in 2008. Averette / Creative Commons License

FL - Task Force Says Biscayne Bay Has Reached its Tipping Point, Proposes Recommendations

In 2019, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned of an environmental “regime change” occurring in Biscayne Bay’s ecosystem.

On Aug. 31, the Biscayne Bay Task Force proposed 60 recommendations to restore the health and economic value of the bay.

In February 2019, the Board of County Commissioners formed the Biscayne Bay Task Force. The nine-member advisory board includes appointed professionals representing civil engineers, coastal real estate developers, water quality and ecology experts, coastal managers, environmental regulators, resilience experts and the community at large.

The purpose of the task force is to provide recommendations and develop an action plan identifying problem areas and prioritizing projects for Biscayne Bay.

Based on Miami-Dade County survey data and academic research, the task force determined that the Biscayne Bay is at its tipping point. At the center of the issue is the lack of freshwater and the discharge that flows into the bay.

“The bay watershed continues to be threatened by lack of fresh water, sewage pollution, storm water runoff and other pollutants,” said Irela Bague, chair of the Biscayne Bay Task Force.

What was once natural freshwater has since been replaced by polluted water streams. Hydrological changes, water management practices, upland development and aged infrastructure have contributed to degraded water quality.

Sea level rise allowed waste and nutrients to permeate the Biscayne Aquifer. Biscayne Bay has suffered notable seagrass loss as a result of the infiltration of these pollutants.

Low levels of seagrass are detrimental to the bay’s ecosystem and economy. Seagrass is essential for marine life along with sediments that provide protection from storms and economical endeavors such as fisheries.

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