River Lilly Cruises keeping an eye on bacteria levels in St. Lucie River

Worry the bacteria could start to deter business

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- High bacteria levels in some Treasure Coast waterways continue to keep people out of the water.

High Bacteria advisories remain posted in both Martin County’s Leighton Park, as well as the North Fork of the St. Lucie River.

Dana and Deena Wade are keeping a close eye on the water quality.

They’ve owned the River Lilly Riverboat tours for 16 years and enjoy showing off the beauty St. Lucie River and the North Fork to visitors.

"The north fork is a lot more attractive. It looks like the old Florida," Dana said.

The Wades show visitors countless species of wildlife and untouched nature. But what the visitors can’t see is the high amount of bacteria in the water below them.

“Sooner or later, it affects the fish. Once it affects the fish, it affects the rest of wildlife,” said Dana.

High bacteria advisories were posted last week in St. Lucie County, and nearly 3 weeks ago in Martin County.

The bacteria levels will be tested again in St. Lucie County next week.

Test results this week in Martin County came back with the bacteria levels being back in the good range, instead of poor. However, the Martin County Health Department will not be lifting the advisory until there are more consistent good readings.

“Tourists coming into the area, they don’t know what to think,” said Dana.

But for now, business is steady, though they worry what might happen if the advisories last much longer.

“We worry about that all the time,” Dana said.

Now, working to instead boost their guest’s interest in what’s around the water, not what’s in it.