CREST amplifies importance of Miami River to stakeholders

The most recent grand jury report stated that the health of Biscayne Bay is in a state of emergency. The Bay connects to and is fed by the Miami River. It’s an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to monitoring water quality. Understanding these flows is critical to implementing overall corrective action for polluted local waterways and regional watershed.

On Dec. 13, over 100 FIU students and researchers, local elected officials and interested stakeholders joined the CREST Center for Aquatic Chemistry and Environment (CAChE) aboard the Venetian Lady to discuss the challenges facing the Miami River’s urban environment.

Participants – including Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, State Representative Bryan Avila, and CEO of the Everglades Foundation Eric Eikenberg – witnessed the River’s contribution to Miami’s culture and economy first-hand. As the group cruised along the water, researchers highlighted the critical research that FIU is spearheading to protect and restore the waterway.

The innovative approaches allow for improved monitoring of the River’s water quality while supporting the preservation of this important ecosystem. Several research projects showcased at the event were:

  • Water quality monitoring sensors (including a research buoy)
  • Sophisticated surface drone
  • Augmented reality, 3D modeling and digital fabrication techniques

Scientists gained insights from attendees about their interest in understanding water quality and other environmental challenges that affect the waterways, Bay and quality of life in Miami. Attendees were asked to provide comments in response to 3 key questions:

  1. What quality of life attributes do you connect with good water quality, environmental health and community resilience?
  2. Who needs to be part of a community network to collect, interpret, use and communicate data?
  3. What kind of data would be most useful to you in your work or community, or for your recreation or health?

Over 130 comments were collected as stakeholder feedback. The answers to all three questions are being analyzed and synthesized. In addition, the discussions led to several actionable “next steps” to cultivate additional research around restoring and protecting the Miami River. CREST CAChE, housed in FIU’s Institute of Environment, plans to:

  • Develop a full 3-D visualization of the Miami River and the connected canal system
  • Along the Miami River, establish discharge gauges at critical points, identify areas for green infrastructure demonstration projects and create long-term comprehensive design for water quality monitoring system
  • Support a Miami-Dade County candidates forum and other convenings with science and education about the Miami River and Biscayne Bay

This work will be part of the Institute’s ongoing mission to actively partner with universities, community organizations and local governments to advance knowledge and science-based solutions.