St. Lucie Canal

  (Redirected from St. Lucie Canal (C-44))

The St. Lucie Canal, also known as the C-44 Canal or simply C-44, is a man-made canal in Martin County, Florida, connecting Lake Okeechobee to the Indian River Lagoon. The canal was built between 1916 and 1924 to divert floodwaters from the lake into the St. Lucie Estuary via the South Fork of the St. Lucie River. Deepend in 1937 to enable the passage of boats, the St. Lucie Canal is now the eastern segment of the Okeechobee Waterway.[1]

St. Lucie Canal
St Lucie Canal - panoramio.jpg
The St. Lucie Canal as seen from US 98 looking east
LocationMartin County, Florida
CountryUnited States
Coordinates27°02′22″N 80°23′00″W / 27.0394°N 80.3832°W / 27.0394; -80.3832Coordinates: 27°02′22″N 80°23′00″W / 27.0394°N 80.3832°W / 27.0394; -80.3832
Specifications
Length26 miles (42 km)
Locks2
Total rise11–12.5 feet (3.4–3.8 m)
Navigation authorityU.S. Army Corps of Engineers
History
Construction began1916
Date completed1924
Geography
Start pointLake Okeechobee
End pointIndian River Lagoon
St. Lucie Canal
Southwest Martin Highway
South Branch St. Lucie River
I-95.svg I-95
Florida's Turnpike
St. Lucie Lock and Dam
CR 76A jct.svg CR 76A
Florida 710.svg SR 710
Auburndale Subdivision (CSX)
K Branch (SCXF)
US 98.svg US 98
Port Mayaca Lock and Dam
Lake Okeechobee

The C-44 has been a source of contention since its construction.[1] The canal has had significant environmental impacts—restoration projects in the St. Lucie River are the northernmost component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.[2]

DescriptionEdit

The St. Lucie Canal connects to Lake Okeechobee at Port Mayaca, Florida. The canal is 8 feet (2.4 m) deep as a result of its second deepening in 1949. It has a rate of flow of 9,000 cubic feet (250 m3) per second. In 1933, 16 fixed spillways were approved for construction to reduce shoaling.

The C-44 has a drainage basin of 185 square miles (480 km2), equivalent to 117,000 acres (47,000 ha).[1]

Water flowEdit

In 1924, the canal′s original flow capacity was 5,000 cubic feet (140 m3) per second. In 1937, the canal was deepened to 6 feet (1.8 m) increasing its flow capacity. In 1949, it was deepened to 8 feet (2.4 m), which increased the flow capacity to 9,000 cubic feet (250 m3) per second.

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the St. Lucie Canal flows both east to the St. Lucie Estuary and west to Lake Okeechobee "on about an equal basis."[1]

NavigationEdit

The St. Lucie Canal connects to the Caloosahatchee Waterway, which connects Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico at Fort Myers, Florida.

Locks and structuresEdit

There are two locks on the St. Lucie Canal. The Port Mayaca Lock and Dam (also known as S-308) is located at the western end of the canal at its outlet to Lake Okeechobee. Its rise is typically 0.5–2 feet (0.15–0.61 m).[3] The St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80) divides the canal from sea level on the eastern side, a rise of about 10.5 feet (3.2 m).[4]

A structure known as S-153 regulates water flow from the Levee 65 Borrow Canal into the St. Lucie Canal.

Environmental and navigation problemsEdit

Fresh water dischargeEdit

One of the major problems resulting from the construction of C-44 is that control of the water levels of Lake Okeechobee causes too much fresh water to discharge from the canal into the St. Lucie Estuary. Large discharges from Lake Okeechobee into C-44 cause salinity levels to drop rapidly, killing many species in the estuary.

TurbidityEdit

High flow rates in the canal result in erosion and the transport of sediment into the St. Lucie Estuary that can smother benthic habitats. The increased turbidity of high flow rates also results in sediment filling navigation channels.

Drainage basinEdit

Drainage from the canal′s drainage basin into the St. Lucie Canal creates water quality problems in the St. Lucie Estuary.

HistoryEdit

Construction of the C-44 Canal began in 1916 and was completed in 1924. The original purpose of the canal was to allow for an improved way to divert floodwaters from Lake Okeechobee. The canal was originally designed to flow into Manatee Pocket instead of the South Fork of the St. Lucie River.

The C-44 has been a source of contention since its construction in 1916.[1] Records indicate that people have been complaining about the negative impacts of the canal since the early 1950s.[1]

TimelineEdit

  • 1916: Construction begins on canal C-44.
  • 1924: Construction is completed, providing a flow capacity of 5,000 cubic feet (140 m3) per second.
  • 1937: The C-44 is deepened to 6 feet (1.8 m) to allow for the navigation of vessels to and from Lake Okeechobee.
  • 1949: The C-44 is deepened to 8 feet (2.4 m), increasing the flow capacity to 9,000 cubic feet (250 m3) per second.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Florida Department of Environmental Protection -- Ecosummary: C-44 Canal, Martin County, Florida" (PDF). Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Florida Department of Environmental Protection. March 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 December 2016.
  2. ^ "Florida Department of Environmental Protection -- Significance of North Fork St. Lucie River Aquatic Preserve".
  3. ^ "Jacksonville District – Port Mayaca Lock and Dam". www.saj.usace.army.mil. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  4. ^ "Jacksonville District – St. Lucie Lock and Dam". www.saj.usace.army.mil. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Retrieved 19 February 2022.