Well over half of Florida's nearly 16 million residents live within the geographical area of the Okeechobee Waterway and Central and Southern Florida Projects and nearly one-third of the state's population live in three counties located nearby. With an annual visitation estimated at over 6.6 million and a net economic development value of over $55 million annually, the Okeechobee Waterway is clearly a valuable resource to the south Florida area and the Nation as a whole. The Okeechobee Waterway is primarily used for recreation, but it is also used for commercial navigation, including tug/barge combinations and commercial fishing vessels.
The navigation lock program includes the annual operations and maintenance, major maintenance, and periodic inspections of five locks and dams along the St. Lucie Canal and Caloosahatchee River. The Okeechobee Waterway is a vital slack-water link in Florida commercial water transportation network. It saves about 206 miles of travel time over the open water route around Florida's peninsula. The waterway navigation routes are charted in NOAA Navigation Chart #11428 (online chart does NOT fulfill carriage requirements for regulated vessals under Title 33 and 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations).
The goal of the navigation program is to provide a safe, reliable, and efficient waterborne transportation system (channels, harbors, and waterways) for the movement of commerce, National security needs, and recreation, and to provide a safe harbor from severe storms. For more information on navigation programs, visit the Navigation Branch under our Programs & Project Management Division.