Okeechobee Waterway (O&M)

April 2022

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 FY22 $3,710,000
President’s Budget FY23 $4,556,000

 

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

Current Working Estimate $200,000
Allocation thru FY21 $200,000
Allocation for FY22 $0

 

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

Current Working Estimate

$79,100

Allocation thru FY20

Allocation for FY21

  $79,100

 $0

 

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 in FY 2022 will be expended for the annual routine operation and maintenance of the Ortona, Julian Keen Jr., and St. Lucie navigation locks. Funds will be expended for the operation and maintenance of recreation areas and facilities that serve over 400,000 visitors each year along the waterway. Also, funds will be expended to manage habitat, wildlife, aquatic plants, threatened and endangered species, and provide shoreline and project boundary management, and cultural resources protection on Okeechobee Waterway project lands and waters. $26,000 will be allocated for sustainability improvements for Solar powered lighting/charging picnic tables at St. Lucie and Ortona South Recreational Areas. FY2022 specific works funding includes $75,000 for the Lock Maintenance Fleet.

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.