Miami Waterkeeper (formerly Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper) is a non-profit organization that advocates for South Florida's watershed and wildlife. Our goal is to educate locals and visitors about the vital role of clean water in Miami's clean water economy, and to empower them to take an active role in community decision making. We hope to ensure a vibrant coastal culture and ecosystem for generations to come. Launched in 2011, MWK is the first Waterkeeper in South Florida and the only advocacy organization solely dedicated to protecting Biscayne Bay and its surrounding watershed.
MWK advocates for South Florida's watershed and wildlife. The diversity of habitats in Biscayne Bay support a variety of recreationally and economically important species throughout their life cycles.
Our waterkeeper, Rachel Silverstein, inspects a dense, clay-like sediment produced by the Port Miami dredging project, which has buried the reef.
MWK investigates water quality at a local waterway in Coral Gables after receiving a pollution report from a resident.
Participants paddle out for Miami Waterkeeper's annual celebration of Biscayne Bay -- Bay Day!
Miami Waterkeeper staff and volunteers pose in front of a newly cleaned Biscayne Bay shoreline after International Coastal Cleanup.
Water Quality Monitoring
Miami Waterkeeper is responding to the lack of almost all sewage bacteria monitoring in Biscayne Bay by launching a water quality monitoring program with routine, weekly testing for the sewage bacteria. If water quality issues are detected, we follow up our sampling with source tracking DNA tests and alert local agencies and recreational groups, acting quickly to address pollution. Our water quality lab is located at Ransom Everglades School in Coconut Grove where students actively participate in collecting and processing samples.
Swim Guide is a free web and phone application that shares the latest water quality testing data with the public. This is an effort to overcome the communication issue between the Department of Health and the public. This app not only encourages the community's connection to our waterways, but also to water quality. In 2011, we built out the application for local sites in South Florida and we will soon be adding 5 new sites to Swim Guide app based on the data collected from our new Water Quality Monitoring program. With more than 4,000 Swim Guide users, we are one of the highest user groups in the country and growing.
The Water Patrol program is a citizen engagement program designed to expand our network of observers trained to recognize, document, and report pollution on our waterways. The program informs and empowers citizens to participate in keeping our water clean as they go about their lives on or around the water in Miami. If pollution is reported, we will take action to stop or correct the problem. The goal of this program is to reach "A Thousand Eyes on the Water," or to train 500 community members through this work. In partnership with Ransom Everglades School, we have launched a branch of this program targeted specifically at middle and high school student teams to identify pollution in Biscayne Bay via monthly boat patrols. Free Water Patrol trainings are also being offered to members of the public.
The Junior Ambassador program educates local youth and promotes student involvement in protecting and defending Biscayne Bay and surrounding waters. This free, competitive environmental education program selects students from local high schools across Miami-Dade County. The Ambassadors complete four advocacy trainings and four service learning events throughout the year where they learn about environmental threats, civic engagement, creative problem solving, public speaking, and more. At the end of the year, the students give a presentation to a community group about our watershed, Biscayne Bay, current threats, and possible solutions. The Junior Ambassador program is designed to engage students in taking an active role in protecting the environment and to inspire future leaders in the community.
Miami Waterkeeper is one of the few environmental organizations in Miami who is willing to use one of the most powerful tools at our disposal to protect our watershed: the law. We take polluters to Court to protect our water, wildlife, and health. Our recent litigation work includes improving degraded and high flood risk sewage infrastructure in Miami, pushing for best practices in PortMiami's Deep Dredge Project to protect our coral reefs, and asking for more resilient energy infrastructure in the face of sea level rise at Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant. Our advocacy team is actively engaged in the legislative process as well, representing our membership before local, state, and federal governmental bodies. Most recently, Miami Waterkeeper catalyzed a straw ban ordinance through the Village of Key Biscayne and secured dedicated funding for water quality monitoring in the face of prolific beach closures in several municipalities.