Water-Related News

Water Quality Perceptions Cost Lee County Businesses

The quality of Florida’s coastal and inland waters is everyone’s business.

But business people in Lee County feel more than just anger and anxiety when they see murky water in local bays and the Gulf following Lake Okeechobee freshwater releases: They feel a pain in their wallets.

This year, that pain sharpened following an unseasonably wet January that pumped-up the frequency and volume of freshwater releases from the lake, sending brown and black plumes into San Carlos Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Hotel rooms, real estate and boat excursions became tougher sells, with some outright cancellations. Fishing guides spent more on gasoline trolling for formerly plentiful bait fish – and to get customers away from the icky water. They also lost bookings.

Making matters worse: The dirty water troubles peaked this year just in time for the to-late-February start of winter high tourism season.