Biscayne Bay to get a license plate. Options include Stiltsville, sailboats, paddleboarders

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Biscayne Bay is getting a specialty license plate to help fund conservation work and protect Miami-Dade County’s crown jewel.

The public will have a chance to pick a design out of three options: two paddleboarders against Miami’s iconic skyline with a hot pink and turquoise background; a Stiltsville house at sunset; and colorful sailboats on a white backdrop with the bay and Miami skyline in light blue. They all say “Protect Biscayne Bay.”

The Miami Foundation will manage the funds in partnership with the county, according to a statement Friday. Proceeds from the sale will generate revenue for efforts to protect Biscayne Bay and educate the community about conservation.

“The specialty license plate will generate critical funding to protect Biscayne Bay, the cornerstone of our economy, environment, and public health — while at the same time raising awareness and helping educate people across the state of Florida about the role we can all play in saving our precious Bay,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in the statement.

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Voting has begun on the license plate design

Florida residents can go to to vote on their favorite specialty license plate design from Oct. 15 through Nov. 5. The winning design is expected to be announced on Nov. 10, according to the county.

Once the winning design is announced, the public will be asked to help reach a pre-sale voucher goal of 3,000. That’s how many tags must be pre-sold before the Department of Motor Services agrees to produce the plates, the county said.

One of the proposed designs for a Biscayne Bay specialty license plate features a Stiltsville house.
One of the proposed designs for a Biscayne Bay specialty license plate features a Stiltsville house.

Biscayne Bay’s health is getting worse

The health of Biscayne Bay has been declining in recent decades and reached a critical moment last year when thousands of dead fish turned up in the northern part of the bay. Scientists believe that a perfect storm of nutrient pollution going into the bay from failing septic tanks and stormwater runoff, high water temperatures and low circulation led dissolved oxygen levels to drop to near zero where the fish died.

This year, a smaller fish kill was spotted in the northern bay but closer to Miami Beach.

In recent months, the county and some cities have taken steps to reduce pollution flowing into the bay. Miami-Dade in April approved a ban on fertilizers during the rainy season, for instance.

The county has also started to connect problematic septic tanks to sewer lines in low-lying and vulnerable areas like Northwest 79th Street in the Little River area. But it will take time and about $4 billion to shift more than 120,000 homes and businesses off septic and onto county sewage.

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