The South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recently awarded the FIU Institute of Environment’s CREST Center for Aquatic Chemistry and Environment (CAChE) its Good 2 Green Award.
The center is funded by the National Science Foundation as a “Center of Research Excellence in Science and Technology” and was selected to receive this honor in recognition of the critical contributions its students and scientists are making in restoring and protecting Biscayne Bay.
“We are really grateful to the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that awarded our FIU NSF-funded CREST center for the research and education efforts and accomplishments that students and faculty are providing to understand water quality issues in Biscayne Bay. A special thanks goes to Chief Bay Officer, Irela Bague, who nominated us,” said Todd Crowl, director of the FIU Institute of Environment and lead PI for CREST CAChE.
Biscayne Bay experienced a massive and seemingly inexplicable fish kill event In August of 2020, where hundreds of fish, rays and other animals were seen gasping for breath at the water’s surface. Within hours, FIU experts were on site working quickly to measure water quality and collect samples in an effort to determine the cause of the devastating phenomenon. It was later determined that a lack of oxygen in the bay was to blame for the tragedy.
For years, FIU scientists have been monitoring water quality in South Florida. The 2020 fish kill only further emphasized the urgency for identifying long-term solutions to protect the bay. Working with local partners like Miami Waterkeeper, the institute has developed a response plan for the bay. Experts have also deployed water quality buoys across the waterway that inform them of real-time conditions that could lead to another potential fish kill.
The Good 2 Green Award honors organizations that have implemented sustainable best practices or an environmental strategy that is helping to reduce the carbon footprint of South Florida. Crowl received the award at the chamber’s “Building a Green and Blue Miami-Dade” luncheon where he participated in a panel discussion on the bay moderated by Miami-Dade County Chief Bay Officer Irela Bague.
The luncheon opened with remarks from U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, who represents Florida’s 26th congressional district. In addition to the institute, awardees included Emmy award-winning WPLG-Local 10 journalist Louis Aguirre and Henry Pino, founder of Environmental Solutions Group Associates.