United Way of Martin County surveying economic damage from the toxic water

United Way of Martin County sending out survey


John Meskauskas opened Flying Fish Paddle Sports in Port Salerno in January. Business was great until July.


"We had to stop our group paddles over the summer because of the water safety," said Meskauskas.


High bacteria levels persisted in the Indian River Lagoon for months from the Lake Okeechobee freshwater discharges.


For Meskauskas it wasn't just a tough summer on the paddleboard front. He's also a charter boat captain.


"I would say I lost 45-50 percent of my business this summer," said Meskauskas. 


It's that type of information that Jim Vojcsik is collecting.  


A few weeks ago, the United Way of Martin County sent out a survey on the toxic water impact.


"We thought it was an important issue to our community. Not just an environmental issue, but one that affected our health, one that affected our economic vitality," said Vojcsik, who is the Executive Director of the United Way.


So far, the response has been slow. In fact, only 29 responses have come back, but Vojcsik says he's not surprised by what he's seen.


82% of the respondents claim lost wages from the toxic water.


90% say the local economy is dependent on out of town visitors.


96% say the quality of the water was very important or important to them.


John Meskauskas says while the money he lost over the summer can't be recovered, he's just looking forward to a cleaner, healthier waterway.


If you want to fill out the survey, it can also be found here

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