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Lake O releases harming local businesses

Posted at 12:16 AM, Jun 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-11 00:16:25-04

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla., -- Lake Okeechobee water releases are effecting local businesses on Fort Myers Beach, owners say. Water experts say even though the water looks okay right now, its still can be harmful to your health. 

“We try to ignore it, but behind the scenes something has to be done," says Scott Safford, owner of the Sea Gypsy Inn. 

The Inn sits right on Fort Myers Beach. He says even though his business has survived the last couple of years with Lake O releases turning the water brown, not everyone else around him has been so lucky. 

“[I have] friends that own businesses that are more water related that are losing money, that have gone out of business. I mean this is an economic disaster right now," said Safford. 

John Heim, co-founder of the South Florida Clean Water Movement, says even though the water might look clear right now, it's still carrying harmful chemicals. 

“There’s a huge difference between water clarity, the way it looks, and water quality," explained Heim. "High bacteria levels in water is a human health concern… [It can lead to] ALS, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer.”

Heim says he wants more transparency on the health of the water from the City, which begins with putting up warning signs on the beach. 

“If these waters are unhealthy let us know. If they are healthy, let us know. That’s what we’re asking for.”

Heim tells Fox 4, the South Florida Clean Water Movement will be hosting a rally on Fort Myers Bridge against the Lake O releases on Saturday, June 16th from 12:30 to 3:30 PM. 

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