ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - Millions of gallons of treated sewage water dumped into the Tampa Bay during and after recent storms and it's causing an image problem that has spilled onto some small business owners.
Jon La Budde runs a business that rents out and teaches paddle boarding.
"Oh, I'm out thousands of dollars," La Budde said. "People started canceling on me saying they didn't want to be in the water."
Perception is keeping people away. La Budde says previous dumping has created an image problem for the whole area.
"It's perceived that it's not healthy and when people have a choice, they're just not going to take that risk, and visually, it just seems like it's not that attractive," he explained.
He operates his business off North Shore Beach. The City of St. Petersburg says testing throughout the downtown beaches shows no elevated levels of bacteria. St. Pete Communications Director Benjamin Kirby says the water is safe and the beach is open.
Meanwhile, other area beaches continue to post health warnings related to sewage in the water. In Hillsborough County, samples from E.G. Simmons Park beach, Ben T. Davis north beach and Davis Island Beach tested moderate or poor in the last two weeks, since Hurricane Hermine.
In Pinellas County, Honeymoon Island beach, Indian Rocks beach, Redington Shores, Sand Key beach and Fort DeSoto's north beach had moderate or poor sample testings in the last two weeks.
In Sarasota County, samples tested from Siesta Key beach, North Lido beach and Venice Fishing Pier tested moderate or poor in the last two weeks.
In Pasco County, results came back moderate or poor from Robert J. Strickland beach, Anclote River Park beach and Gulf Harbors beach.
Water quality categorizations are based on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) standard for enterococci and beaches with a beach action value of 70.5 or higher are given an advisory.
The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough and Pasco counties has been conducting weekly coastal beach water quality monitoring at nine sites since August 5, 2002 through the Healthy Beaches Monitoring Program.