Solution for rising sea levels could pollute Biscayne Bay

Miami Beach plans to spend $300M on pump installations

Feb.February 02, 2015 12:00 PM

Kayakers on Biscayne Bay

Scientists are now worried about another side effect of climate change in South Florida. Biscayne Bay might get inundated by water no longer safe for swimming.

According to a study by Florida International University geologist Henry O. Briceno, the pumps installed to keep Miami Beach dry have flooded Biscayne Bay with pollutants such as phosphorus and nitrogen. The pollutants, described as “caviar for algae,” will kill marine life and turn water bright green.

“You have a dry city. A very safe city,” with increased pumping, Briceno told the Miami Herald. “But you won’t have any beaches to bring tourists.”

Over the next three to five years, the Miami Herald reports that Miami Beach plans to spend more than $300 million to install 20 times as many pumps — for a total of 60 to 70 — capable of pumping up to 20,000 gallons a minute to keep the island dry.

Briceno showed his findings to Miami Beach officials, but the officials said the work needs more monitoring.

“It gives you a good idea of the potential, but it doesn’t really prove anything other than this is something we need to look at,” Miami Beach City Engineer Bruce Mowry told the Miami Herald.

He continued to say the city is also equipping pumps with devices that filter out pollution and plans to increase street sweeping and gutter cleaning to keep contaminants from reaching Biscayne Bay.

Briceno is not convinced this is enough to keep the bay healthy.

“This is not one thing,” Briceno told the Miami Herald. “It’s a big thing and the world is going to have to address it.” [Miami Herald] — Kristina Puga

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