CREATED Aug. 30, 2013
FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. - Stephanie Turriago and her family vacation on Fort Myers Beach every year for the last ten years. But this year, something is different. Turriago said she's never seen the water so brown.
"Everybody wants their vacation to be ideal and perfect but unfortunately it's not that way this year," Turriago said. "I just say to myself i can't get in that water."
The brown, brackish water has those in the tourism industry concerned. Ellis Etter, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Pink Shell Beach Resort, said he's had a small handful of guests leave early after seeing the condition of the water.
"When they come here to Southwest Florida, they're looking for nice, clear warm water of the Gulf of Mexico and they like to be able to see the bottom," Etter said.
The Pink Shell is nearly sold out for Labor Day weekend, but Etter said he, and many others in the industry, worry what will happen if the water doesn't entirely clear up soon.
"This is going to affect tourism to the state of Florida," said Bud Nocera, President of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce. "IT's not just an issue for Southwest Florida, it's not just an issue for the East Coast, it's an issue for Florida as a whole... that's about jobs."
Some visitors are reluctant to get in the water, not understanding why it's brown.
"They first ask if it's bacteria or an algea bloom and they just don't understand," said Garrett Sage, instructor for Holiday Watersports.
Several beach workers said the water clarity improved this week after the reduction in releases from Lake Okechobee, but they're still hoping the water clears up entirely soon.