Miami Herald, Letter: Miami-Dade’s water is safe to drink – let’s keep it that way

We have the good fortune to be able to take clean drinking water for granted in Miami-Dade County. Turn on the tap, and clean, safe water flows.

But we shouldn’t take it for granted — Miami-Dade gets nearly all of its drinking water from an aquifer only a couple feet below the ground. The aquifer is threatened by pollution from countless potential sources.

The county’s environmental watchdogs at Department of Environmental Resources Management, who work around the clock to protect our aquifer from contamination, and the great public servants at our Water and Sewer Department, who take immense pride in delivering clean drinking water to all of us, certainly don’t take our access to clean drinking water for granted.

Imagine what a day without water at our hospitals, farms, hotels, restaurants, and of course, our homes would be like.

I have been critical of the political decisions that have led to chronic under-investment in our water and sewer infrastructure. I have been frustrated by the regularity of reports of pipe and pump failures and beach closures due to dirty water.

We must step up and accelerate the replacement of old infrastructure, continue to work to improve system performance, and plan for a future where our water supply is stressed by sea level rise.

Wednesday, Oct. 23 is “Imagine a Day Without Water”. On this day, I salute the hard work and vigilance of the many professionals who make sure that we never go a day without it.

Daniella Levine Cava,


Miami-Dade County

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Miami’s Community Newspapers: “ConverPack celebrates roll out of 60 million paper straws”

ConverPack celebrates roll out of 60 million paper straws
Celebrating the proclamation are (l to r) Vice President of Sales & Marketing Todd Mauer, Medley Mayor Roberto Martell, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine, and General Manager Franz Fernandez. (Credit: All Star Event Photo)

ConverPack, Inc., cut the red ribbon to inaugurate its new 70,000 square-foot facility in nearby Medley, Sept. 12, as the company’s assembly line began rolling out the first of at least 60 million paper straws per month. This is the company’s second manufacturing facility in Medley, which is not only adding 55 new jobs, but is making it the largest manufacturer of paper straws in the state of Florida.

Since 2010, ConverPack has been a leading global manufacturer of hot and cold single-use paper cups and accessories, distributing products to clients throughout the U.S. and around the world. The addition of biodegradable and compostable paper straws made with gluten-free glue to its lineup of products is in keeping with a company philosophy based on a commitment to protecting human health, natural resources, and the environment.

“We are proud to be producing the paper straws in accordance with the strict guidelines set forth by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI),” said Franz Fernandez, General Manager of ConverPack. “Under ConverPack’s Ecolyptus® label, the paper straws, along with all of our products, reflect our commitment to responsible forest management and protection for our marine life.”

During the celebration and ribbon cutting, Thursday, September 12th was proclaimed “ConverPack Day,” via proclamations presented to ConverPack by Medley Mayor Roberto Martell and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava.

Americans use 500 million plastic straws daily – and ConverPack is working hard to curb that statistic by offering sturdy, biodegradable, paper straws. Because they are small and lightweight, plastic straws often never make it into recycling bins, and the evidence of this failure is clearly visible on Florida’s beaches. Their small size makes plastic straws one of the most insidious polluters, as they are often consumed by fish, thereby making its way into our own food consumption.

“We need to break the misconception that an equitable and economically feasible transition away from plastic straws is impossible, and we applaud ConverPack’s commitment to providing an environmentally safe alternative,” said Salome Garcia of the Florida Plastic Free Initiative. “In Florida alone, fishing, tourism, and recreation support roughly 281,000 jobs and generate about $36.6 billion in GDP in the Atlantic portion of Florida.”

Communities and businesses worldwide are finally taking seriously the detrimental impact of plastic straws on the environment and on our health, and South Florida has a heavy corporate punch behind the movement to curtail or ban them, with Bacardi and Disney among the many companies who have pledged to stop using plastic straws. Other companies pledging to ban, or greatly limit, the use of plastic straws are American Airlines, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott International, Royal Caribbean, Starbucks, and Whole Foods.

“As longtime stewards of the environment, we have a responsibility to ensuring its health and well-being,” added Fernandez. “From equipment and paper selection, to inks and cleaning solvents, we implement eco-friendly standards to reduce carbon footprints and minimize the environmental impact of our products and operations. We look forward to expanding that commitment with the addition of paper straws to our lineup.”

ConverPack’s Worldwide Headquarters and Paper Cup Manufacturing Facility is located at 9230-9250 NW 102nd Street, Medley, FL 33178. Its Distribution Center & Paper Straw Manufacturing Facility is at 6891 NW 74th Street, Medley, FL 33166. For information, visit

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Doin’ the Work: “Social Workers Against Solitary Confinement”

In this episode, I talk with Rachel Frome, who is the Program Coordinator of Social Workers Against Solitary Confinement, a national task force dedicated to ending solitary confinement. Rachel discusses the negative impacts of solitary confinement, especially how it can cause and exacerbate mental health issues. She describes alternatives to solitary confinement, as well as the challenges of organizing for an end to solitary, and how lawmakers and those running prisons use wording such as “administrative segregation” as a way to deny that prisoners are held in solitary. We explore the connection between the work to abolish solitary confinement with the work to end mass incarceration, as well as the dialogue Social Workers Against Solitary Confinement has with social workers who work in these settings. Rachel shares the story of how she got into this work and urges all social workers to work to abolish solitary confinement and mass incarceration. I hope you enjoy the conversation.

Click here to listen.