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A favorite way to celebrate our nation’s sovereignty is by spending time out on the water.
In Martin County, thousands of people were able to do so this year without the worry of toxic blue-green algae.
In downtown Stuart, people were able to spend their time watching an air show and fireworks above the river, rather than worrying about the health impacts they might feel by being near the water.
They credit drier weather and no discharges this summer from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie Estuary.
Previous summers, like in 2018 or 2016, the Stuart Sandbar did not see many boaters. Toxic blue-green algae were detected across the Indian River Lagoon.
That changed for 2019.
“Beautiful. Beautiful out there,” said Stuart resident Stanley Paps.
“Oh the water’s beautiful,” said Stuart visitor Ashley Phillips.
“I’ve never seen that inlet so busy,” boater Thomas Sheerman said.
Sheerman has lived in the Stuart area for more than 20 years. The 4th of July on the water is a tradition. But, it’s a tradition he does not always count on.
“Every year you look and go OK is it alright? And you wonder is it going to be good?” Sheerman said.
Conditions last year kept him on dry land.
“I stayed home because the water was so bad.”
People flocked to the docks in Stuart this year without worry.
“It seems like this year, there’s a lot more people. There’s definitely a lot more people on the water, a lot more boats,” said Palm City resident Julie Mitchell.
She could sense the difference a year makes.
“It's just an overall sense of the water is cleaner and it just feels better. People tend to worry when there’s any concerns with your health, so the fact that that’s not out there is a big difference for people,” Mitchell said.
The Army Corps of Engineers has still not indicated any need in the near future to release water to the St. Lucie Estuary.
The current lake level is 11.3 feet.