Stuart Business Owners Feeling Effects of Lake Okeechobee Water Releases

Diver Russell Singson has been battling challenges in his business due to the murky waters caused by Lake Okeechobee discharges. His Stuart-based Barracuda Dive Service has been affected as visibility is nearly impossible, hindering his divers’ efficiency. Singson shared videos of the clear water in January compared to the murky water caused by the lake discharges that began in mid-February. This has resulted in smaller paychecks for his divers and concerns about sanitation after diving in the darker water.

On the other side of St. Lucie River, At The Helm Training is also facing difficulties. Operations Manager Nancy Husk stated that their bookings are down by 50% compared to last year, which she attributes to water quality issues. Clients have expressed worries about the cleanliness of the water, impacting their willingness to participate in boating activities. Husk is concerned about the continued discharges and recalls the severe algae bloom in 2018, fearing that if it persists, 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 discharges on businesses like his own.

By Samantha Johnson

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