Treasure Coast man's mission to clean up waterways is on hold due to last year's discharges

STUART, Fla. - People on the Treasure Coast are still waiting to hear about possible discharges from Lake Okeechobee.  The Army Corps of Engineers was expected to announce a decision by Thrusday but so far we've heard nothing.

Last year's discharges caused big problems in our local waterways and people continue to feel the effects.

Capt. Donald Voss started Marine Cleanup Initiative in 2000. Since then he and his team of volunteers have collected 400,000 pounds of debris found underwater. They dive to the bottom and pick up discarded items such as metal hooks, fishing nets, litter and sometimes large item like  a metal hand cart.

"Now we're doing 96 miles from the Sebastian inlet to the Donald Ross Bridge," says Capt. Voss.

It's a community effort.

"The dive shops give us free air, people let us put our boats in here for free," says the Vietnam War veteran.

But now his boats sit on trailers in Fort Pierce. They've been sitting since last summer.

"We just haven't attempted to do it because the poison is so bad," says Capt. Voss, " We just had an algae bloom the other day."

Last year's discharges caused algae blooms and toxic conditions in local waterways. Many people say the water hasn't recovered. 

Capt. Voss says he won't put divers in the water now because of visibility and health concerns. He monitors weekly water quality tests by the Florida Oceanographic Society. 

He was hoping to get back to work in March; however, that depends on possible new discharges.

The Army Corps could decide anything from no discharges to maximum discharges. Many people hope to hear something on Friday.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments