St Johns River basin hit hard by drought

This week, the federal government’s U.S. Drought Monitor declared that only six percent of nation is impacted by drought conditions.  Still, a moderate-to-severe drought in Florida has contributed to more than 100 wildfires across the state and is hitting some areas particularly hard.

When Derrick Lockhart takes tourists out for an airboat ride at his business along the St. Johns River, he’s been extra careful lately.

“There's just not a lot of room to maneuver around” said the owner of Airboat Rides at Midway," he says, "and you really gotta be on your 'A' game."

Lockhart showed us some of the drought damage on the river.  We saw little room for the alligators in the water, which is putting some of the reptiles at greater risk of being squished by an airboat in the shallow water.

We also saw thirsty cattle staying close to the shrinking water supply, while bald cypress trees with exposed roots appear to be moving farther away from it.  

And what was once an island in the middle of the river, is now just a clump of trees.

Tourists are still taking tours, but Lockhart worries if the river continues to shrink, so will his riverside business.