St. Lucie River Estuary
The St. Lucie River and Estuary is an ecological jewel on Florida's Treasure Coast that is integral to the environmental and economic well-being of Martin and St. Lucie counties. The St. Lucie is part of the larger Indian River Lagoon system, the most diverse estuarine environment in North America with more than 4,000 plant and animal species, including manatees, oysters, dolphins, sea turtles and seahorses.
Extensive historical modifications to the St. Lucie River and its watershed have altered the hydrology of the region. As a result, heavy rainfall can bring large influxes of fresh water into the St. Lucie Estuary from stormwater runoff within the basin, Lake Okeechobee releases or both. The increased freshwater flows affect salinity levels and water quality in the estuary, potentially causing environmental harm.
To address these issues, the South Florida Water Management District is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal, state and local partners on a variety of strategies to improve the health of the St. Lucie Estuary.
Follow construction progress on the C-44 Reservoir and STA project with the daily webcam photos.
Where is the Latest Data for the St. Lucie?
Using SFWMD's monitoring network and technical information, a wealth of data is available on this website for the District's 16-county region, including the St. Lucie River and Estuary:
- Operational Planning – Find weekly operational reports and other information on the current state of the system and water control operations, including water quality and environmental conditions such as salinity levels, Lake Okeechobee water control structure operations recommendations, rainfall outlook models and more.
- Live Data – Check real-time water levels in lakes, canals and waterways or see whether coastal gates and other water control structures are open or closed.
- Rainfall Maps – See maps with historical rainfall totals, current radar-based rainfall estimates and more.
- DBHYDRO – Search this extensive environmental database for historical or up-to-date surface or groundwater information, as well as meteorological, hydrogeological and water quality data.
Data and Reports from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- Daily Water Management Reports
- Lake Okeechobee Report
- Graphical Report for S-308 (Port Mayaca) [PDF]
- Graphical Report for S-80 (St. Lucie) [PDF]
Background / Local Watershed
Historically, the St. Lucie was a freshwater river with no permanent connection to either the Atlantic Ocean or Lake Okeechobee. Beginning in the late 19th century, the river and its watershed underwent a series of modifications for navigation, flood control and water supply purposes.
As a result of these changes, the St. Lucie River is today part of the Central & Southern Florida Project, one of the world's largest interconnected public works systems. The C-44 Canal now connects Lake Okeechobee to the South Fork of the river. In addition, the C-23 and C-24 canals move stormwater runoff directly into the North Fork of the river instead of allowing the natural system to gradually absorb the water.
- Managing Every Drop [PDF]
- What YOU Can Do to Improve Water Quality
- Water's Role in South Florida History
Strategies for Improving the St. Lucie River and Estuary
The ecological health of the St. Lucie River and Estuary is essential to sustaining the overall way of life and economy of local communities. The District and its partners are developing short- and long-term solutions that are designed to improve water quality and better manage flows into the estuary by increasing water storage in the regional water management system and moving more clean water south to the Everglades.
CERP: Indian River Lagoon - South (includes the C-44 Reservoir)
St. Lucie River Issues Team »
Initiated in 1998 by the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Working Group, the St. Lucie River Issues Team represents 17 different federal, state and local governments, as well as agricultural and environmental organizations. The goal of the issues team is to accelerate and implement "ready-to-go" projects that provide immediate results toward improving water quality and ecosystem functions in the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon.
Since the inception of the issues team, the Florida Legislature has funded more than $63 million in its recommended projects in Martin and St. Lucie counties for the St. Lucie River. Additional funding has included more than $65 million from local partners and $2 million from the federal government. Accomplishments include the restoration of more than 4,671 acres of habitat, 4,358 acres of wetlands and 25,940 feet of shoreline throughout the watershed.