Miami Beach waterways and canals have become a concern. Lack of attention and sedimentation over the years have made them difficult to navigate in many places.
Biscayne Point, a neighborhood located near 84th St. in the city of North Miami, is among the most affected spots.
“Moving the sediment is the biggest challenge,” said Ronnie Issenberg, president of the Biscayne Point Homeowners Association. “The idea [there] is a lot of years of sediment and other debris down there.”
Miami Beach is in the midst of planning a $6 million waterway restoration project. It is part of a general obligation bond approved by voters in Nov. 2018. The city set aside $250,000 in the 2020 fiscal budget for the project. The Biscayne Point Waterway and Collins Canal located along Dade Boulevard near the Venetian Causeway is among the areas planned for dredging and removal of contaminated species.
No analysis of the canals has been done since 2003. This past December, Miami Beach tentatively chose the South Miami firm of Cummins Cederberg to do the work. Negotiations are ongoing.
“Typically the commission approves the recommendation for the design firm,” said Elizabeth Wheaton, the city’s environmental and sustainability director. “However we now need to negotiate, to make sure both parties are comfortable with the work that is being proposed for the price that it is being proposed.”
The design and permitting will dictate when the construction will be complete. It will likely be several years from now, Wheaton said.
This past August, Miami-Dade County’s Biscayne Bay task force released a report with 62 recommendations. It considered water quality, governance and natural infrastructure, marine debris, education outreach, funding and more.
Wheaton has been digesting the report and looking for opportunities for bay restoration.
Of the 62 recommendations, the city has identified about 41 for action, she said.
“I’m working internally to come up with an action plan,” she adds, ”We’re going to be bringing this to our city commission in November with more information. I’m happy to report that of these 41 actions, we are already doing many.”
Dave Doebler, a co-founder of VolunteerCleanUp.org, has spent years navigating the canals in the area. He has concerns about the lack of natural habitat due to sea walls and concrete structures that are uninviting to sea life.
Doebler began his involvement with water clean-up about ten years ago when he was paddling and started finding a lot of trash. He began collecting more than 75 pounds of trash every week.
He believes citizens and commissioners need to look at the bigger picture.
“Focusing on the canals is too narrow,” he said. We need to be looking at this in totality. The sediment in the canals, it comes and goes in Biscayne Bay. So the water in the canals today will be water that’s in Biscayne Bay tomorrow. And vice-versa.”