Water-Related News

Coastal estuaries are no longer what nature designed

The St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries have been extensively changed from the systems designed by nature.

During an online public webinar on May 28, Patti Gorman of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, explained how development and flood control efforts have drastically changed the natural estuaries.

Historically, the St. Lucie River was a freshwater river with no connection to the Atlantic Ocean and no connection to Lake Okeechobee, she explained. The inlet was initially opened by businessmen in 1898 for boat traffic.

“The St. Lucie, for most of its history, was mostly a freshwater system,” she said. “As things got developed and the inlet was dug and hardened, it because a saltier situation.

“That was before the major watershed development was done,” she said. As development continued, the salinity levels changed again.

In addition, the C-44 Canal was dug to connect Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie River, as part of the Lake Okeechobee Waterway, both for navigation and for drainage.