The Okeechobee Waterway or Okeechobee Canal is a relatively shallow man-made waterway in the United States, stretching across Florida from Fort Myers on the west coast to Stuart on Florida's east coast. The waterway can support tows such as barges or private vessels up to 50 feet (15 metres) wide x 250 feet (76 metres) long which draw less than 10 feet (3.0 metres), as parts of the system, especially the locks may have low water depths of just ten feet. The system of channels runs through Lake Okeechobee and consists of the Caloosahatchee River to the west of the lake and the St. Lucie Canal (C-44) east of the lake.
A downloadable map of the Okeechobee Waterway can be found by clicking here. Geologically and geographically, the north bank of the canal is the official southern limit of the Eastern Continental Divide.
It was built/finished in 1937 to provide a water route across Florida, allowing boats to pass east–west across the state rather than traveling the long route around the southern end of the state.
Lake Okeechobee and the Okeechobee Waterway Project is part of the complex water-management system known as the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project. The projects cover 16,000 square miles (41,000 square kilometres) 16,000 square miles starting just south of Orlando and extending southward through the Kissimmee River Basin to the Everglades National Park to Florida Bay.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages five locks and dams along the Okeechobee Waterway.
St. Lucie Lock and Dam
The St. Lucie lock was built in 1941 for navigation and flood-control purposes. In 1944, the connecting spillway structure was built for flood and regulatory flow control through the St. Lucie Canal to manage the water level in Lake Okeechobee.
Port Mayaca Lock and Dam
The Port Mayaca Lock and Dam was built in 1977 for navigation purposes, to permit the raising of water levels in Lake Okeechobee, and to moderate the effects of higher lake stages along the St. Lucie Canal (C-44).
Ortona Lock and Dam
Moore Haven Lock and Dam
W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Lucie Locks webpage.
- "U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Okeechobee Waterway".
- "U.S. Army Corps of Engineers- St. Lucie Lock and Dam".
- "U.S. Army Corps of Engineers- Port Mayaca Lock and Dam".
- "U.S. Army Corps of Engineers- Ortona Lock and Dam".
- Wright & Ratzlaff (1985). Glades County: Florida History. P.O. Box 1069, Moore Haven, Florida 33471: Rainbow Books / Betty Wright.
- "U.S. Army Corps of Engineers- Moore Haven Lock and Dam".
- "U.S. Army Corps of Engineers- W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam".
- Cruising the Okeechobee Waterway - BlueSeas
- Okeechobee Waterway - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District
- Lake Okeechobee Watershed - Florida DEP