Water-dependent businesses along St. Lucie River, lagoon struggle
- By Jon Shainman, WPTV NewsChannel 5
- Posted July 31, 2013 at 7:02 p.m.
PORT SALERNO — At Coastal Paddleboards, Don Neumann takes out the flag that would have signified he was open. A sign nearby declares you can’t rent boards from his dock in the Manatee Pocket.
“We have slowly seen a decline in our business and now it has reached a crescendo,” said Neumann.
He and his wife Rochelle are in their fourth summer of operation, and this one is clearly trouble.
“The simple fact that 100 percent of our business takes place on these waters, it has completely pulled the rug out from under us,” said Dan Neumann.
Rochelle Neumann says before the Lake Okeechobee freshwater releases, she could see to the bottom from her dock. But not anymore. Wednesday’s warning to stay out of the water because of toxic blue-green algae in the area couldn’t have come at a worse time. Their business does best in the summer because of the warm water.
“People are not afraid to fall in the water … until now. Nobody wants to fall in the water period,” said Rochelle Neumann.
So the Neumanns have to become explorers, and find new places to put in. Wednesday, they brought a few customers to Jimmy Graham Park in Hobe Sound. While these out of town customers didn’t cancel, many others have shied away.
“We have had cancelations due to the water issues without a doubt,” said Dan Neumann.
The Neumanns are hoping they can make it through the rest of the summer.
They’ll be joining a protest planned for 10 a.m. Saturday at Phipps Park in Stuart right by the St. Lucie Locks where all the freshwater is coming in from Lake Okeechobee.