Stuart business owners feeling the effects of Lake Okeechobee water releases

Clear Waters, Clear Skies: The Economic Impact of Lake Okeechobee Discharges on Stuart’s Local Dive Service and Training Businesses

Diver Russell Singson, the owner of Barracuda Dive Service in Stuart, is facing a decline in business due to the discharges from Lake Okeechobee. The water has become so murky that visibility has decreased significantly, making it difficult for his team to clean boats efficiently. This has resulted in smaller paychecks as they are unable to service as many boats in a day.

Singson shared that sometimes they have had to completely take off work because the water is so murky that they can’t see anything underwater. About 50 boats are currently waiting for cleaning services, putting a strain on the business. In response to the unclear water, Singson and his team are taking extra precautions with sanitation after diving to avoid infections.

At At the Helm Training, located down the St. Lucie River, operations manager Nancy Husk mentioned that their bookings for trainings have decreased by 50% compared to the previous year due to concerns about water cleanliness. Customers are apprehensive about being in the water, especially after recalling the severe algae bloom in 2018.

Husk expressed worry about the future if the discharges continue, especially for younger clients who enjoy renting boats and going to sandbars. She hopes that the Army Corps of Engineers will adjust their approach to releasing water, which may help alleviate the impact on local businesses. Both Singson and Husk are concerned about the economic and environmental implications of ongoing discharges and hope for a positive change

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