STUART (CBSMiami) – Florida’s Treasure Coast is known for its beautiful beaches that resemble post cards.
Recently it has become known for something much different though.
Foul smelling algae blooms from nutrient rich water released from Lake Okeechobee are dirtying waters and stinking up the air.
“The only way to describe how it smells is like a hundred dead animals that have been sitting in the street for weeks,” said John Skinner with Central Marine Stuart. “And that’s probably still an understatement.”
Aside from the putrid smell, algae has caused beaches to close.
Bathtub Reef Beach on Hutchinson Island is currently open, but you can hardly tell by looking.
To see just a few people out here is really sad,” said beachgoer Tory Osborne. “This beach is usually packed with lots of families and kids because the water’s so shallow.
It’s running off tourists too, like at Ohana Surf Shop in Stuart.
“It’ a ghost town here in Stuart,” said Jordan Schwartz with Ohana Surf Shop. “The discharge has affected our tourism it’s the height of 4th of July weekend and we should be packed in here.”
Senator Bill Nelson got a firsthand look at the situation.
He said for the moment, the lake should not accept any more water from the north and any water released should go into canals and holding areas to the south where there is more room.
The Army Corp of engineers has now announced it will reduce flow from the lake to the east and west.
“The idea is to put into these water storage areas and then into water restoration areas where the grasses in there cleanse the nutrients out of the water before you send it further south,” said Senator Nelson.
Aside from Senator Nelson, Senator Marco Rubio is coming to Stuart on Friday to get a good look at all this algae that’s blooming in the area, and it’s not done yet.
After that, local residents plan on holding a rally on the beach on Saturday.