WHITE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – Water is being let out of Lake Freeman to help save endangered mussels in the river below, and several business owners on the lake said their bottom lines are drying up just as quickly as the lake.
- RELATED | Photos: Dangerously Low Lake Freeman
“We’ve already had to lay three folks off already on Lake Freeman,” Twin Lakes Enterprises co-owner Doug Hovermale said.
It’s a devastating blow to the business.
“We’re actually stuck at one of the ports we use to load equipment and supplies for other people on the lake,” Hovermale said.
The company has three barges on Lake Freeman. Now those barges are beached forcing the business to lay off three people and maybe another six by the end of the week.
“These people are used to working seasonal anyway, and they count on getting as many hours as they can in the summer. It was very difficult to have to say, ‘I’m sorry we’re going to have to lay you off this week,'” Hovermale said.
It is the same story just a few miles away at Tall Timbers Marina and the Madam Carroll.
“If we don’t go out, I don’t have a job,” Madam Carroll Captain Kit Caster said. “There’s going to be a few staff members we won’t be working on the weekends.”
“I have several kids and other employees on the service end that we’re probably going to have to lay off,” Tall Timbers Marina vice president of sales Gary Creigh said. “There’s no gas to pump, no ramp to run, and no boats to tow in to be able to fix.”
The water level has dropped on the lake due to lack of rain and because more water is being pumped down into the Tippecanoe River to protect endangered mussels.
“If it continues to go down our only option is to move the boat away from the dock, take it out to the main river, and anchor it,” Caster said.
He said if that’s the case, all events will have to be canceled including weddings on the boat.
As the water level goes down, Creigh said so does the bottom line.
“We do 20 percent of our selling season in August, so it is very devastating,” Creigh said.
All businesses say they want to find a solution to protect the mussels and their businesses.