Fort Myers Beach packed for holiday despite water issues

Posted at 1:05 AM, Jul 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-05 18:54:14-04

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. -- Tourists and locals alike started Fourth of July celebrations on Fort Myers Beach, Sunday, despite water issues in Lee County.

Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in Lee County after blue-green algae, known for giving some people rashes, started drifting down waterways in Southwest Florida. Water released from Lake Okeechobee also has been causing dirty water to appear on Southwest Florida Beaches.

However, residents and tourists still enjoyed festivities at Fort Myers Beach, as hotels filled up and restaurants boomed. "All the hotels we know are full, our friend's hotels are full, the beach is packed, the water sports are going," said Jacki Liszak.

Liszak owns The Sea Gypsy Inn on Fort Myers Beach, and said the water quality issues have been on her mind. "It's always a concern, our businesses live an die by the beach and we need our water to be clean," she said. "It's very important to all of us on the island."

Some locals at the beach Sunday said dirty water wouldn't quite deter them from the beach, but make them think twice about getting in. "I'm going jet skiing, but would I go swimming? No," said one local beach goer.

"I put in my feet only, that's it. I'm not trying to get all the way in," said another.

Others, like Dodie from Kansas City, said the water is not a concern for her. "It doesn't bother me in the slightest," she said.

"It's a little murky, but it's still nice out. It's not going to stop us from going to the beach," said Rachel from Illinois.

The water clarity can change depending on which direction the tide is moving. Business owners like Jacki said they're grateful people still go out to enjoy the beach and activities such as tomorrow's Fourth of July parade and fireworks.