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Natural Floodplain Functions

Humans have always been attracted to floodplains for their many benefits, due to abundant resources these areas provide; however, poor planning and development in floodplains took a toll on the natural functions of floodplains, causing erosion, degradation of water quality, loss of habitats, loss of valuable property, and an increase in severity and frequency of flood losses. Understanding the importance of maintaining the natural functions of floodplains can lead to better floodplain management approaches that will better protect the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains.

Wildlife resources in floodplains can be managed for observation, recreation, hunting, and fishing. Parks, bike paths, open spaces, and wildlife conservation areas are all aesthetic features that are important to citizens, increasing a communities overall quality of life and making the community more appealing to potential employers, investors, residents, property owners, and tourists.

Rainfall slowly drains into floodplains such as the Everglades and our many wetlands, depositing sediments, filtering through these areas, and are eventually stored underground.

Those Wetlands are a major element of the historical and current South Florida landscape, providing vital functions which are essential to the health and welfare of the people of Miami-Dade County. Wetland areas in Miami-Dade County protect water quality, and provide groundwater recharge to the Biscayne Aquifer, filtering and replenishing the County's major source of drinking water.

Miami-Dade County is internationally recognized for its sensitive ecosystems, including beaches, coral reefs, Biscayne Bay, Coastal Wetlands, Everglades’ marshes, hardwood hammocks and globally imperiled pine forests are so unique that two National Parks, a National Marine Sanctuary, Florida aquatic preserves and water conservation areas have been established within Miami-Dade, a circumstance that occurs nowhere else in the United States.

Mangrove Wetlands

A mangrove wetland can be one of the most productive ecosystems in world.  Mangrove communities along the coastal areas of Biscayne Bay stabilize bottom sediments and protect shorelines from erosion, providing protection from storm surge and potentially reducing damage to upland areas from hurricanes. The sediments deposited in these areas are nutrient-rich and create a fertile environment for vegetation, support a high rate of plant growth, maintaining biodiversity. These natural floodplain resources support productive fisheries and wildlife habitat, recreation and tourism.

Mangrove trees provide nesting and roosting habitat for many resident and migrating birds in addition to providing shelter and a safe nursery to growing marine life. Mangrove leaves are also a large component of the near shore food web. Development pressures on mangrove wetlands have reduced their size over the last 40 years. With this loss of mangrove wetlands, a subsequent decline in the animal and plant life supported by these ecosystems – including a number of commercial fish - has been observed.

No Dumping/No Discharge

Because of the importance of floodplains and the many benefits they provide, Miami-Dade County has enacted regulations to protect these areas, making it ILLEGAL to throw away or discharge anything into the rivers, canals, lakes, bays or any waters in Miami-Dade County. Chapter 24 of the Code of Miami-Dade County states that nothing but rainwater is allowed to be discharged into the storm drains. If you witness dumping of any liquid or materials into storm drains or waters of the County, please call the 24-hour Environmental Emergency Hot-Line, at 305-372-6955, or the Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers, at 305-471-TIPS (8477).

Floodplain Permits

Miami-Dade regulates the development activities within the floodplain. In most cases, no fill or other alteration shall be made to the topography or vegetative cover in any floodplain, without a permit. In cases where placement of fill and impacts to the floodplain are unavoidable, compensating volume must be provided and mitigation for the impacts must be provided. Often times, when development occurs on a property, the floodplains located on the property are placed in a conservation easement to protect the resources in perpetuity.

Environmentally Endangered Lands Program

Miami-Dade County works to preserve open space areas within the floodplain and maintain them in their natural state. This is done through flooded property acquisition, creation of greenways and parks, limiting development in the floodplain, and protecting features with conservation easement.

The Miami-Dade County’s Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL) Program’s focus is the protection and conservation of endangered lands, such as wetlands, pinelands and other natural areas. The EEL Program and its partners have brought more than 20,700 acres of environmentally endangered lands into public ownership since 1990. Additionally, the EEL Program manages 2,800 acres of natural lands within Miami-Dade County Parks, for a total of more than 23,500 acres protected.

Wetlands Advisory Task Force

In July 2011, the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) adopted Resolution R-561-11, which established the Wetlands Advisory Task Force (WATF). The WATF consisted of seven voting members, six appointed by the BCC and one appointed by the Mayor, and three non-voting members, representing the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the South Florida Water Management District.

Back to Top Page Last Edited: Mon May 23, 2016 11:42:08 AM
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