May 22, 2024 5:19 pm
Stuart Business Owners Feeling Effects of Lake Okeechobee Water Releases

Every day, diver Russell Singson prepares to clean boats below the surface. He stated that business in Stuart has been struggling due to the discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Singson, owner of Barracuda Dive Service, explained that the water has become so murky that visibility is almost non-existent, making it difficult for his divers to work efficiently.

Singson shared videos comparing the clear water in January to the murky water caused by lake discharges that began in mid-February. This has resulted in smaller paychecks for his divers as they are unable to clean as many boats in a day. He also expressed concerns about sanitation after diving in the darker water.

On the other side of the St. Lucie River, At The Helm Training is facing its own set of challenges. Operations Manager Nancy Husk mentioned that their bookings are down by 50% compared to last year, citing poor water quality as the reason behind this decline. Clients have raised concerns about the cleanliness of the water, which is affecting their willingness to participate in boating activities.

Husk is concerned about continued discharges and recalls the severe algae bloom of 2018. She fears that if these discharges persist, it will discourage younger clients who enjoy renting boats and visiting sandbars. Despite these challenges, Singson remains hopeful that the Army Corps of Engineers will adjust their approach to reduce the impact of these discharges on both businesses and clients alike.

In summary, businesses operating near Lake Okeechobee are facing significant challenges due to ongoing discharges from Lake Okeechobee into nearby rivers and estuaries. These challenges include reduced visibility for divers due to murky waters and concerns about sanitation and cleanliness among clients participating in boating activities. However, both businesses remain hopeful that changes can be made by government agencies such as The Army Corps of Engineers to reduce these negative impacts on their operations and customers alike.

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