In coastal areas, waters from rivers flow into bays, lagoons and estuaries brimming with biological diversity. Maintaining this diversity is a key part of maintaining the health of Florida's ecological systems and future resources.
South Florida's coastal systems support spiny lobster, shrimp, blue crab, oyster, spotted sea trout, stone crab and many other marine and freshwater species of commercial and recreational interest. Coastal ecosystems are especially vulnerable to harmful impacts because they attract intense human development, making these areas prone to habitat loss and changes that can alter the very nature of natural systems.
The South Florida Water Management District's goal is to manage stormwater flows to rivers and freshwater discharge to South Florida's estuaries in a way that preserves, protects and, where possible, restores these essential resources. We work in partnership with federal, local and other state governments to, within the system's limitations, ensure that rivers and estuaries receive not only the right amount of water at the right time but also clean, high-quality water.
Coastal Watersheds Projects
Coastal ecosystems associated with South Florida watersheds include the southern reaches of the Indian River Lagoon, the St. Lucie River and estuary, Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay and the Caloosahatchee River and estuary.
Many of these coastal ecosystems are interconnected. Projects to restore or protect one part of the system will have benefits for those areas connected to it, whether upstream or downstream. For example, on Florida's west coast, the Caloosahatchee River and estuary and Estero Bay, Charlotte Harbor and San Carlos Bay are interdependent systems. The Caloosahatchee also receives flows from Lake Okeechobee, so projects targeting the lake have impacts on its tributaries. On the east coast, the St. Lucie River and estuary and the Indian River Lagoon as well as Lake Okeechobee are closely tied ecosystems.
In addition, the state-federal partnership to restore the Greater Everglades includes projects and initiatives that will benefit most coastal resources. Other projects to acquire lands, to reserve water supplies for natural systems or to plan for current and future water supply also have impacts on Florida's coastal watersheds.