Mission: Biscayne bay waterkeeper's (aka miami waterkeeper's) mission is to protect south florida's watershed through citizen engagement and community action rooted in sound science, ensuring swimmable drinkable, fishable water for all. Through our work, we hope to ensure clean and vibrant south florida waters and a coastal culture for generations to come.
Programs: In 2017, biscayne bay waterkeeper (aka miami waterkeeper) continued to pursue our mission of swimmable, drinkable, fishable water in south florida through a program of community outreach, education, scientific research, and legal advocacy. We have been leading efforts to protect florida's reefs and to safeguard south florida's waterways in a number of ways. Facing litigation from miami waterkeeper for endangered species act and national environmental policy act violations -- and more than 10,000 public comments asking for stronger reef protections -- the u. S. Army corps of engineers must now conduct new environmental studies for their dredging project for port everglades planned around fragile coral reefs in ft. Lauderdale- that project is now delayed until at least 2020. Our efforts to protect coral reefs in miami also continue. In 2017, we contributed comments to a successful push for a new port miami anchorage zone, which has restricted areas where ships and other vessels can anchor on the reef, through a new coast guard rule. This rule and our involvement was featured in the coast guard's journal of safety and security at sea. Miami waterkeeper also discovered an ongoing sewage leak from a miami-dade county outfall pipe that the county had known about, and had ignored for a year. Within days of miami waterkeeper filing a notice of intent to sue the county for clean water action violations, the leak was plugged. Miami waterkeeper also lead the local movement to oppose a state rule change that would impact the level of cancer-causing chemicals in our water, securing 10 resolutions from municipalities and thousands of signatures and comments about the issue, while also submitting expert scientific comments to the florida department of environmental protection, and publishing an oped in the miami herald. In a major victory, the rule was recently withdrawn and the state of florida is reassessing fish consumption data and risk analyses as a result. Miami waterkeeper has also supported several successful polystyrene, plastic bag, fracking, and offshore oil drilling bans in miami-dade county and local municipalities, including speaking to commissions and garnering public support. In 2017, our efforts contributed to a plastic bag ban in the city of coral gables - the first of its kind in the state. In collaboration with florida sea grant and community partners, miami waterkeeper led numerous educational boat tours for elected officials and community leaders. These tours focused on threats to biscayne bay, including algae blooms, degraded water quality, and sea level rise and were funded in part by the national oceanic and atmospheric administration's habitat focus area program. We are also proud of the growth of our junior ambassador program, which now includes a competitive student selection process and a rigorous series of leadership training combined with service learning events. This program was also expanded to include a senior ambassador series in 2017 to cater to an adult audience and generate civic engagement among senior citizens. In 2017, hurricane irma severely impacted our region. Miami waterkeeper was one of the first organizations on the ground, reporting pollution and water hazards, and mobilizing volunteer efforts for debris clean-up. We were recognized for these efforts in the miami herald. In 2017, we hosted more than two dozen community outreach events - including bay day, our signature event and yearly celebration of biscayne bay. We garnered more than 300 petition signatures and submitted more than two dozen public comments for policy change. Our volunteers collected more than 2,500 pounds of trash and debris from our shorelines. We published two op-eds, one law review paper, and 1 peer-reviewed paper. We were on the road speaking to diverse audiences an average of three times per month. Miami waterkeeper is backed by more than more than 300 members and in 2017, was staffed by a team of only three people. Our executive director and waterkeeper, rachel silverstein, was also recognized for her work in 2017 as one of the "most interesting people in miami" by the miami new times.