Stuart Business Owners Feeling Effects of Lake Okeechobee Water Releases

The Dirty Waters of Stuart: How Businesses Are Suffering Due to Lake Okeechobee Discharges and Environmental Concerns

Diver Russell Singson’s business, Barracuda Dive Service, has been struggling in Stuart due to the discharges from Lake Okeechobee. The water has become so murky that visibility is nearly impossible, making it difficult for his divers to complete their work efficiently. As a result, Singson’s divers are earning smaller paychecks as they are unable to clean as many boats in a day.

On the other side of the St. Lucie River, At the Helm Training is also facing challenges. Operations Manager Nancy Husk reported that their bookings are down by 50% compared to last year due to concerns about water quality. Clients have expressed worries about the cleanliness of the water, impacting their willingness to participate in boating activities.

Husk is particularly concerned about the continued discharges and recalls the severe algae bloom in 2018. She fears that if the discharges persist, it will deter 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 the discharges on both businesses and on local residents who rely on boating activities for tourism and recreation.

Singson shared videos comparing January’s clear water with February’s murky water caused by lake discharges. This has resulted in smaller paychecks for his divers as they are unable to clean as many boats in a day due to poor visibility.

Husk expressed concern about sanitation after diving in darker waters. She feared that if customers continue to worry about their safety while participating in boating activities, it could further damage her business and discourage people from coming back.

Despite these setbacks, both Singson and Husk remain hopeful that things will improve soon. They are eagerly waiting for any news or updates from local authorities regarding changes made by them towards reducing lake Okeechobee’s discharge into St Lucie River.

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