PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — We're getting a look at the St. Lucie Estuary's recovery. It's been more than a year since blue-green algae took over the waterways, crippling businesses and worrying homeowners across the Treasure Coast.
U.S. Rep. Brian Mast said Monday, that in his opinion, a change in management and attitude has led to success and he says, you can tell just by looking at the water.
"Business is excellent this year," said Robert Woodard, who works at Snook Nook in Jensen Beach.
SPECIAL COVERAGE: Protecting Paradise
"The quality of the water is phenomenal. I mean we have more species of fish this year than we did last year. We had more redfish. We’re still waiting for the trout to come up, there’s a lot of snook, an abundant amount of snook," says Woodard.
He wants the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corp of Engineers to keep doing what they've been doing.
"Keep the clean water, you keep the tourists coming, keep the revenue up, it is good for the economy," said Woodard.
That is, slowing down the amount of Lake Okeechobee discharges. With hardly any this year and a wet season, Mast said he's happy.
"By altering the levels of the lake, we’re protecting people’s lives and people’s homes south of the lake and we’re protecting people’s lives and people’s homes that are in the coastal estuaries and that’s good policy all around," said Mast.
Members of the South Florida Water Management District along with Mast toured the St. Lucie Estuary Monday morning to look at what is or isn't working.
"Really the important part is building more infrastructure to keep more water in our system so that we have more water for our estuaries, we have on the Caloosahatchee side, we have more water for the everglades and have more water for people in south Florida," says Drew Bartlett of the South Florida Water Management District.
"I mean, it’s a lot better than it was last year. It’s a direction, and I keep hoping we keep facing that direction and we keep one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward and get this water back, you know," said Woodard.
Mast said they have a lot of short and long-term infrastructure plans in place to continue to keep the water clean.