Miami grapples with how to save treasured bay from rising seas and pollution

10/18/2020 6:50:00 AM

An unprecedented fish kill in Miami's Biscayne Bay this summer has brought a new push to address issues caused by sea level rise and pollution.

about the challenges facing Biscayne Bay."We have over 100,000 septic tanks in Miami-Dade County -- still to this day. And we need to transition those septic tanks and connectors to our sewer system, which is also aging, ASAP because those septics are just spewing wastewater into our groundwater. You know Miami-Dade only stays 6 feet above sea level, so whatever goes through our groundwater goes into our bay, and that's pretty disgusting," he told ABC News.

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In a typical septic system, waste from the house enters the tank, the solid waste settles to the bottom and the water goes to the drain field to be clarified. But when sea levels rise it interferes with that process, and the drain field mixes with groundwater and the septic tank fails.

That means waste from a toilet can go directly into the groundwater.The Miami Dade Water and Sewer Department tells ABC News they have identified 10,000 tanks today that are not high enough anymore, and in 20 years, that number will reach 50,000.Lynskey explained they are not just focused on septic, they're also concerned about the canal systems keeping South Florida from turning back into a swamp. As sea levels rise, the canals pick up more trash, nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer used on farms and lawns and carries it right into Biscayne Bay.

Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald via AP, FILEIn this Aug. 12, 2020, file photo, trash and dead fish float on the surface of the water in Downtown Miami, on Biscayne Bay.In this Aug. 12, 2020, file photo, trash and dead fish float on the surface of the water in Downtown Miami, on Biscayne Bay.

But there is cause for hope.Tampa Bay faced a similar challenge in the 1970s when the water was so covered in algae the seagrass died and fish and wildlife was driven out. Afterdecades of effortto prevent polluted water from entering the bay, the seagrass has returned to nearly the same level as 1950, an area the size of Manhattan.

But Miami Waterkeeper said the city needs big changes in its sewage infrastructure to prevent more fish kills and preserve the bay."So we urgently need to be doing these investments and taking these opportunities we have to retrofit how our city is built and how it functions to be ready for sea-level rise," Silverstein told ABC News.

MORE: Government looks for solution to growing wild horse population in American WestThe city of Miami agrees the problem is serious, but Lynskey said local leaders haven't agreed on a path forward. The department is in the process of raising key infrastructure as high as 20 feet above sea level to reduce risk.

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"Nobody's come up with a magic bullet, we've already built billions of dollars of buildings and infrastructure. How do we make those survive? We're still very much grappling with all that," Lynskey said.He said that as the sea level continues to rise tough decisions may have to be made from expensive septic tank replacements to decisions on whether to relocate.

Read more: ABC News »

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But no, it couldn't be that realDonaldTrump relaxed epa restrictions thus increased dumping of harmful solvents into lakes & rivers to oceans? Damned right he's to blame! GreedKills☠ WeWontForget🇺🇸 EnoughIsEnough👊 🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊 More ppl at home, less sewage treatment, more dumping of waste. Intelligent ppl understand why; stupid ppl vote...

Clim change is real! Is that garbage floating in the water? Why isn't that cleaned up? Maybe the bozo GOP in Florida will see with their own eyes the effects of climate change and pollution. (Doubtful...but at least they get to see the disgusting results and then come up with whatever circus reasons to explain it).

They should try electing governors who give a shit ☑For a responsive business website, Click ↆ Happened I'm my hometown downix Can we find the same energy to restore what we took apart?GW and septic tanks may be exacerbating this crisis, but ag. interests like sugar growers have been polluting the waters for decades with impunity, increasing algal blooms, fish kills, degrading oxygenation and clarity.

Hmmmmm wonder why there would be a rise in sea levels? LMFAO 😅. climatedeniers Vote for Biden so we can curb Climate Crisis and vote all Blue in Florida too It’s too late. Tried to tell ya 15 years ago These days it would be unprecedented to actually not hear or see the word “unprecedented” in the news for one whole day.

Get a net out and start cleaning it up abc

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