Martin County residents bemoan contaminated waterways

STUART, Fla. - Kevin Graham is a fourth-generation Stuart resident who remembers when the Martin County inlets were crystal clear.

"I've got my little boy now, and he's sad that I can't show him what it used to be," said Graham.

Graham said he's one of the many fishing enthusiasts who use the waterways for recreation and food. Lately, though, he wouldn't eat anything he caught.

"If you go further south, it's not as bad, it's blue, green water," he said. "Here, it's nasty, it's like a sewer. "

Martin County Director of Environmental Health Bob Washam said water sample tests show a high result for disease-causing bacteria. He said bacterial levels tend to rise when there have been releases.

"In this case, we don't really know if it's directly related to Lake Okeechobee," said Washam.

"There are a lot of waterways and canals that are released into the St. Lucie River, but that might be one of the sources," he admitted.

Okeechobee resident Dan Hood said he doesn't want to see his city flood, but he wishes the water were directed elsewhere.

"They gotta drain it off," reflected Hood. "I wish they'd shoot it down south through the Everglades, that way it wouldn't mess up the water from here. "

Graham said it's not just about today, it's about leaving the environment a better place for future generations tomorrow.

"There's something that's gotta be done. It's an ongoing thing, everybody talks about it, but there's nothing being done," said Graham. "Makes you want to cry, though, because this place used to be really, really beautiful. "

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