LocalTAU top scientists move closer to securing pilot program in Miami

First fellows from LocalTAU Pitch Competition return to Miami to present "Hybrid Biofilters" solution at the 2019 Biscayne Bay Marine Health Summit and participate in high-level meetings

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Top scientists Dror Avisar, Yaron Zinger and Tamar Lanir from Tel Aviv University know that their innovative Hybrid Biofilters invention can capture and treat the stormwater runoff that ends up polluting Biscayne Bay. That’s why, just a few months after winning the first LocalTAU Pitch Competition, the inaugural fellows return to Miami to present at the 2019 Biscayne Bay Marine Health Summit (BBMHS) on Friday, September 20, and move closer to securing a pilot program in South Florida.

Launched in 2017, a group of Biscayne Bay enthusiasts and activists — ranging from environmental NGOs to business leaders and politicians — joined forces to draft a comprehensive 10-year report. The recommendations addressed the preservation of this shared natural resource, which provides over $6 billion in annual revenue to the local economy.

The goal of this year’s symposium, held at Florida International University (FIU), is to initiate efforts toward the creation of long-term, sustainable Biscayne Bay environmental health initiatives with financial and political support needed to restore and maintain the health of the Bay. Symposium special guests include State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, who will provide an update on the Grand Jury Report on the Health of Biscayne Bay; Miami Mayor Francis Suarez; Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber; and FIU President Mark G. Rosenberg.

The TAU delegation will feature a presentation and exhibit by Zinger and Lanir that explains how their system of building multi-layered biofilters to direct stormwater away from city streets, purify it and turn it into an easily accessible water source is an innovative solution to promoting marine health and resiliency in South Florida.

The Summit will include representatives from all Miami-Dade County municipalities around Biscayne Bay, including inland communities along canals and Miami River, environmental NGOs, businesses and educational institutions, and many others. Zinger and Lanir will also attend high-level meetings with local stakeholders, academics and public officials that hope to produce a roadmap for preselecting pilot sites and kicking off research in the coming months.

The TAU delegation’s visit comes on the heels of winning the first-ever LocalTAU Pitch Competition in May in front of an audience of nearly 100 people, including government, former United Nations and State Department officials, as well as national American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU) leaders. The Hybrid Biofilters team won first place and $20,000 to begin researching and piloting the practical implementation of their solution in South Florida.

The pilot project is also supported by the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities as well as Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF).

The BBMHS steering committee includes: Luiz Rodrigues, Biological Oceanographer, Urban Sustainability Consultant and Biscayne Bay Summit Founder and Coordinator; Albert Gomez, Lead Project Coordinator, Innovation Advisor at South Florida Resilience System and Miami Sea Level Rise Committee Board Member; Camila Quaresma, Member of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Sustainability & Resilience Committee of the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce; Dave Doebler, Founder of VolunteerCleanup.org, Chair of the City of Miami Beach Sustainability Committee and Environmental Activist; Emilio Lopez, CEO of SOP Technologies; Irela Bagué, Public Affairs Consultant and President and CEO of Bagué Group; Steve Sauls, Former FIU Vice President for Governmental Relations and Consultant for FIU Strategic Issues; and Dr. Tiffany Troxler, Director of Science at the FIU Sea Level Solutions Center.

The goal of the symposium is to initiate efforts toward the creation of long-term, sustainable environmental health initiatives.