June 13, 2024

From Diver to Dock: How Lake Okeechobee’s Discharges Impact Local Florida Water-Based Businesses

2 min read
Stuart business owners feeling effects of Lake Okeechobee water discharges

Diver Russell Singson has been struggling with the murky waters in Stuart, Florida, caused by discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Every day, he suits up to clean boats underneath, but the decreased visibility makes it challenging for him to complete his work efficiently. Singson, owner of Barracuda Dive Service, has seen a significant impact on his business due to the discharges. He shared that the decrease in visibility has led to smaller paychecks and delays in servicing boats.

Nancy Husk, operations manager at At the Helm Training located downstream of the St. Lucie River, also expressed concerns about the impact of the discharges on their business. They have experienced a significant decrease in bookings for training sessions due to worries about water cleanliness stemming from the discharges. Husk emphasized that this affects younger clients who are hesitant to rent boats and engage in water activities due to current water conditions.

Both Singson and Husk are hopeful that changes will be made by the Army Corps of Engineers to reduce discharges into their area. Singson mentioned that they have a plan underway to release less water in their direction and is optimistic that it will come into fruition. Meanwhile, Husk highlighted the importance of addressing this issue before it escalates into severe algae blooms similar to what occurred in 2018. This could further harm local water-based businesses and deter visitors from enjoying the area.

In conclusion, both divers and business owners are concerned about the impact of murky waters caused by discharges from Lake Okeechobee on their daily lives. While there are plans underway for changes by the Army Corps of Engineers, urgent action is needed before it is too late for these local businesses and communities that rely on clear water for their livelihoods and enjoyment of life near waterways.

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