Sanibel Island affected by Lake O releases
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla. - The mayor of Sanibel Island is speaking out on how the murky water releases from Lake Okeechobee are affecting the local economy of the tourist hot spot. Now, he's taking those concerns all the way to the state senate.
"This is certainly gonna be a marathon, this is not gonna be a hundred-yard dash," said Kevin Ruane, Mayor of Sanibel Island.
He spoke to Fox 4 before a special city council meeting that he called, on a game plan to fix the problems at hand thanks to the current releases from Lake O.
"People are concerned," said Mayor Ruane. "Is it a health issue? Obviously what's it gonna do to tourism, what's it gonna do to jobs?"
Those questions are met with uncertainty and skepticism from Sanibel residents.
"The merchants outta be concerned, small businessman on the island like myself are concerned. It's gonna be devastating to the economy," said Terry Malik, Sanibel resident.
While the water at Sanibel is tested regularly to insure that it's not harmful to humans, the unpleasant color is keeping tourists from taking a dip.
"The water is safe right now. The color isn't what we want it to be," said Mayor Ruane, "but we just had it tested just four days ago, we'll continue to monitor that."
"People are going out one day and saying 'What's with the water? I didn't expect that,'" said Todd Runfledt.
Runfledt works at a Sanibel kayaking and paddle boarding rental shop and he says the concerns over water quality are already starting to affect business.
"It's definitely going to perhaps cut-down on the repeat business," said Runfledt.
That message doesn't sit well with the mayor.
"We put people in office, so hold them accountable with what they're supposed to do. And the federal government is where we need the most help as humanly possible," said Mayor Ruane.
Mayor Ruane will be taking all of the comments heard today to a special state senate select committee meeting tomorrow where hopefully he can get some state backing for solutions to the problems that are facing our beaches and wildlife here in Southwest Florida.