Miami Herald, Letter to the Editor: Smart planning for the county’s future

On Thursday, the Miami-Dade commissioners will take up a number of issues critical to the future of our county.

Our planning staff has presented recommendations designed to strengthen the county’s development plan by bolstering policies curtailing traffic-inducing urban sprawl and redirecting energy and resources away from farmland and climate and storm-vulnerable wetlands. Agriculture remains a vibrant and critically important industry in our community, and with the inclusion of market-based Transfer of Development Rights incentives into our Master Plan, our ever-resilient and resourceful growers will have another tool to help them persevere.

New proposed policies also solidify our commitment to confronting the impacts of climate change and double-down on our goal to put Miami-Dade on a clean, renewable-energy course. Miami-Dade faces a challenging future as we confront climate change and this reinforces the need to accelerate Everglades Restoration. Simultaneously we must do all we can as a county to support and improve restoration success, not impede projects.

I recently participated in discussions with the leadership of the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Interior, the South Florida Water Management District, Sen. Marco Rubio’s office, and key environmental organizations on renewed efforts to advance critical Biscayne Bay restoration projects. The good news is that all of the partners involved are actively engaged and working hard to accelerate these key projects — and long dormant components of

Everglades Restoration, like the Bird Drive Basin and the second phases of both C-111 canal and Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands are now being advanced.

An important effort to protect critical Everglades project areas has been put forward by state Rep. Bryan Avila and co-sponsored by Vance Aloupis through HB 775, as it will serve to bring back the Everglades as an area of critical state concern, requiring greater state oversight and protect against development that would impede Everglades restoration.

I pledged to do everything I can to make sure Miami-Dade is an active and effective partner in these efforts. After all, it is our home, our water, our environment.

Daniella Levine Cava

District 8 Commissioner

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Caribbean Today, The Everglades Coalition honors Commissioner Levine Cava with prestigious Public Service Award

The Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners today (Feb. 4) passed legislation to help improve water testing for contamination of our Bay and Beaches.

Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava sponsored the item with the intent to better inform the public, with greater precision and with quicker feedback, when our waterways and beaches are unsafe due to fecal contamination.

The resolution directs the County to investigate alternative water testing methods that could produce faster results for fecal indicator bacteria. The legislation also requests that the County engage in the use of DNA screening technology to identify the source of the bacteria – be it wildlife, domestic pets, or human origin – and report the results of the County’s experience to the Board. 

The resolution, in line with the County’s Open Data Policy championed by Commissioner Levine Cava, also establishes County requirements to make the volumes of water quality data collected over decades easily available to the public and to researchers. And finally, the legislation urges the State Department of Health – the Agency tasked with monitoring our beaches for contamination – to also embrace DNA and other testing methods to better pinpoint the cause of contamination and publish water testing results online for public access.

“The County needs to take the lead in the use of advanced technologies that will help identify the sources and trace the causes of pollution in our Bay,” said Commissioner Levine Cava. “We need to make sure the public is informed as quickly as possible, and then find and fix the problems. By doing these things and by being open and transparent with all of the data we have available, my hope is that we will be able to find solutions to reverse the downward trend for Biscayne Bay and further protect our economy from the shocks caused by beach closures.”

While the Florida Department of Health is responsible for testing marine beach waters for the presence of fecal bacteria, the County conducts testing of Biscayne Bay, canals and other bodies of water. The State tests beach waters once per week, and it can take two days before they issue a swimming advisory for a particular site.

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