US Army Corps of Engineers
Jacksonville District

Okeechobee Waterway (O&M)

March 2019

 

FACT SHEET
Okeechobee Waterway (O&M)
Operations & Maintenance
Congressional Districts: 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25

 

1. DESCRIPTION

The project provides a 155-mile long channel across the state from Ft. Myers to Stuart.  Maintained depth ranges from eight to ten feet. The waterway runs through Lake Okeechobee and consists of the Caloosahatchee River on the west side of the lake and the St. Lucie Canal on the east side. Included in the project are navigation locks at Ortona, Moore Haven, and St. Lucie. Additional locks at W.P. Franklin and Port Mayaca authorized under the Central and Southern Florida project are also located within the waterway. Each lock provides recreational and public access facilities for year round use that include campgrounds at Ortona and St. Lucie locks, boat ramps and a Class A visitor center. The waterway serves navigation, recreation as well as flood risk management as regulatory releases of water from Lake Okeechobee can be made into the St. Lucie Canal and the Caloosahatchee River.

The Okeechobee Waterway is a popular and heavily used waterway. The lake is primarily used for recreation, but it is also used for commercial navigation, including tug/barge combinations and commercial fishing vessels. Based on the 2002 Inland Navigation Economic Evaluation, the waterway serves over 6.6 million visitors and generates over $55 million annually. Should this waterway be lost it would result in a $22.7 million annual loss to the surrounding economy.

2. FUNDING

a. Regular Civil Works Funds:

Allocation for FY19 $2,622,000
President’s Budget FY20 $2,736,000

 

b.  P.L. 115-123: Bi-Partisan Budget Act of 2018, Supplemental:

Current Working Estimate $200,000

Allocation thru FY18

$0
Allocation for FY19 $200,000

 

3. SPONSOR

West of and including the St. Lucie Lock:
South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)
3301 Gun Club Road
West Palm Beach, Florida 33406

East of the St. Lucie Lock:
Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND)
1314 Marcinski Road
Jupiter, Florida 33477

 

4. STATUS

The O&M funding allocated in FY 2019 will be expended for the annual routine operation and routine maintenance of the Ortona, Moore Haven and St. Lucie navigation locks. Funds will be expended for the operation and maintenance of visitor and recreation areas and facilities that serve over three million visitors along the waterway. Also, funds will be expended to manage habitat, fire, wildlife, fisheries, aquatic plants, endangered and protected species, control encroachments and trespasses, and provide shoreline management, boundary line surveillance, and cultural resources protection on OWW project lands and waters. FY 2019 funds will be expended for sustainability energy improvements to Lock Control Building at Ortona Lock and Dam Control building and to improve water and waste water systems at St. Lucie Camp ground.

P.L. 115-123: Bi-Partisan Budget Act of 2018, Supplemental Funding is being used to conduct cultural resource investigations along the OWW within areas of critical shoaling and for the development of plans and specifications to support upcoming O&M maintenance dredging.