Defend The Wetlands That Protect Our Communities!

The Biscayne Bay Watershed Management Advisory Board (BBWMAB) and Board Of County Commissioners (BCC)

This May, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Sackett v EPA that reduced the types of wetlands protections regulated under the Clean Water Act. The Supreme Court's new definition that only waters with a "continuous surface connection" can receive federal protections threatens many of the wetlands in Miami-Dade, that may have seasonal or sub-surface connections to protected waters.

Wetlands are critical to a flourishing South Florida for people and the environment. Wetlands provide unique habitat essential to a broad range species and provide reliable, cost-free services to residents including flood attenuation, filtering pollutants harmful to Biscayne Bay, and recharging our drinking water aquifer. Weakening protections jeopardizes decades of work and billions of taxpayer dollars invested in Everglades restoration programs and infrastructure in jeopardy. Locally, when we destroy wetlands, we create a need for expensive engineering to provide stormwater and flood control in nearby areas.

The good news is we can act locally to protect remaining wetlands and continue to enjoy the ecosystem benefits they provide. Florida has already lost more than 9 million acres of wetlands, the most of any state, so we must act rapidly to defend and restore those that remain. The Hold The Line Coalition urges Miami-Dade County to take the following steps to prevent further losses of wetland areas.

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To: The Biscayne Bay Watershed Management Advisory Board (BBWMAB) and Board Of County Commissioners (BCC)
From: Emily Hale

Distinguished Members of the BBWMAB and BCC,

We add our signatures to this petition to insist you act quickly to defend our remaining wetlands areas, retain the quantifiable ecosystem services wetlands deliver, and the incalculable biodiversity they nurture. To safeguard these areas we urge you to take pass legislation to achieve the following goals:

1. Remove all Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan wetlands from Urban Expansion Areas in order to eliminate the contradiction within the county's Comprehensive Development Master Plan (CDMP) to preserve Wetlands of Regional Significance from development as suggested in the Urban Expansion Area Task Force Report of 2018.

2. Approve and fund the Biscayne Bay Watershed Plan proposed by Miami-Dade County staff.

3. Miami-Dade County should conduct a study, similar to the Agricultural Lands Study, to delineate the acreage needed, composition and location of wetlands in Miami-Dade County, enumerating the value of ecosystem services provided by these wetlands, and documenting wetlands lost to date by development in MDC.

4. Add language to the CDMP, Chapter 24 of the County Code, or ideally both, ensuring that all wetlands in Miami-Dade County remain subject to environmental protection notwithstanding the recent Supreme Court decision in Sackett, and bolstering existing protections. We suggest the language below or similar language that supports the goals and investments identified in the Bay Watershed Plan, wetlands study, and other relevant policies.

“All wetlands in Miami-Dade and the greater Everglades must be protected from destruction and require careful consideration and permitting for any type of impact. Florida's porous geology makes our watershed unique because of its hydrologic transmissivity and direct connection to groundwater. The land surface is connected hydrologically to the aquifer below and we live, work and play directly above our water supply. Wetlands are critical to Miami-Dade and the greater Everglades for water supply, water quality, sustainability, restoration activities, flood and storm protection as we are ground zero for the impacts of climate change and sea-level rise.”

We believe these steps are necessary to close the gap between the historical standard of wetlands protections guaranteed under the Clean Water Act and any loss of benefits that will negatively impact residents. Miami-Dade should preserve the existing standards, preserve local wetlands, and preserve a vibrant wetlands ecosystem for the benefit of all.