Stuart business owners feeling the effects of Lake Okeechobee water releases

Diver Russell Singson, 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.

At the Helm Training, located down the St. Lucie River, is also feeling the impact of the discharges. 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.

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.

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

By Riley Johnson

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