Okeechobee Waterway (O&M)

May 2021

FACT SHEET

Okeechobee Waterway (O&M)
Operations and 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 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 FY21 $3,084,000
President’s Budget FY22 $3,684,000

 

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

Current Working Estimate $200,000
Allocation thru FY18 $0
Allocation for FY19 $0

 

     c. P.L. 116-136: CARES Act 2020, Supplemental:

 

3. SPONSOR

West of and including the St. Lucie Lock:
South Florida Water Management District
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 FY21 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 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 Okeechobee Waterway (OWW) project lands and waters. FY21 funds will be expended for Cost Saving Measures improvements to replace the potable water delivery system to the Ortona South Recreation Area for $90,000. FY 2021 funds will be used for specific work activities that include $30,000 for the operational condition assessment of the recreation facilities. FY2021 Work Plan funding will be used to perform a rehabilitation of the St. Lucie Lock for $4,720,000.

P.L. 115-123: Bi-Partisan Budget Act of 2018, Supplemental Funding is being used to remove approximately 72,000 cubic yards (cy) of critical shoaling material along dredging in the vicinity of Jensen Beach and Stuart (Reach 3) and Palm City (Reach 4) sections of the OWW by July 2021. Dredging operations will be undertaken in 12-hour shifts, seven days per week until completion. The OWW maintenance dredging contract award was $3,082,230 and is 100 percent federal funded.

P.L. 116-136: CARES Act 2020, Supplemental funding will be used to add additional funds to the groundskeeping contact, NISH, for cleaning supplies and materials. This contract is managed at the South Florida Operations Office.