Okeechobee Waterway (O&M)

May 2024


Okeechobee Waterway
Operations and Maintenance (O&M)
Congressional Districts: 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23


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, Julian Keen Jr., 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, day use areas, and a visitor center at St. Lucie. The waterway serves navigation, recreation and 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.


a. Regular Civil Works Funds:

Allocation for FY24 $5,238,090
President’s Budget FY25            $4,538,000


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

Current Working Estimate          $200,000
Allocation thru FY23        $200,000
Allocation thru FY24 $0


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

Current Working Estimate           $79,100
Allocation thru FY23       $79,100
Allocation thru FY24 $0


     d. P.L. 117-58: Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act 2021, Supplemental: 

Current Working Estimate            $360,000
Allocation for FY23 $360,000
Allocation thru FY24    $0


     c. P.L. 117-43: Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act 2022, Supplemental:

Current Working Estimate             $40,000
Allocation thru FY24 $40,000
President's Budget FY25 $0



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


The O&M funding in FY 2024 will be expended for the annual routine operation and maintenance of the Ortona, Julian Keen Jr., and St. Lucie navigation locks. Funds will be used for the operation and maintenance of recreation areas and facilities that serve approximately 300,000 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. FY2024 specific works funding $875,000 to develop plans and specification to replace the St. Lucie Sector Gates with more resilient Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) composite gates.

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 grounds keeping contract, NISH, for cleaning supplies and materials.  This contract is managed at the South Florida Operations Office. 

P.L. 117-58: Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act 2021, Supplemental funding was used for Energy Efficiency Improvements at Ortona South Campground. This work was performed by government contractors.

P.L. 117-43: Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act 2022, Supplemental funding will be to repair damages due to Hurricane Ian. Funds will be used for critical repairs to SF 51 lock control building at Ortona Lock and Dam.

Working with FIND to enter into a Contributed Funds Agreement in FY24. It will allow over a 10-year period to except funds from FIND to maintain the navigable waterway. Funding in FY24 is being used to work on updating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for future dredging events.