The Intracoastal and Okeechobee Waterways are important navigation channels and part of our country’s heritage.
The history of navigation in the United States is a long one that is difficult to put into perspective within the context of today’s modern world. Military, commercial and communication centers were imperative goals to the newly established United States and remain so today, but these things are now taken for granted and have also inadvertently caused massive environmental destruction.
The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is a 3000 mile inland waterway along the east coast of the US from Maine to Florida. The Okeechobee Waterway is a few hundred miles across the state, from Stuart to Ft Meyers, linking the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico through canals and Lake Okeechobee.
These canals are directly supported by the public though a tax. If you look at your tax bill you will notice you are charged a .3045 mill to maintain the Florida Atlantic and Okeechobee Intracoastal Waterways. After a long evolution, today, the state’s Florida Inland Navigational District or FIND is the entity that acts in cooperation with the US Government, Army Corp of Engineers, to oversee these tax funds in order to maintain these important canals that serve many purposes. Some we don’t like…
One of the purposes of the Okeechobee Canal, built in the late 1920s and “improved” many times since, by being deepened and widened, is to release water from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon when Lake Okeechobee gets too full, as the lake has been diked for the safety of agricultural lands and urban communities living around and south of the lake.
The mission of FIND is very broad actually; if we look at the mission statement of FIND it reads:
“The Florida Inland Navigation District has two primary missions: (1) to perform the functions of the “local sponsor” of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway project and a portion of the Okeechobee Waterway project in Florida, both of which are State/Federal navigation projects, and (2) provide assistance to other governments to develop waterway access and improvement projects. As the local sponsor of the Waterway, the District provides all lands required for the navigation project including rights of way and lands for the management of dredged materials removed from the waterway channel during dredging activities.”(http://aicw.org/index.jsp)
FIND is overseen by commissioners from the twelve counties along Florida’s east coast. Commissioners are appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate. Our local commissioner is friendly and well known, Mr Don Cuozzo.
FIND also serves other purposes very close to the people and local communities that I do care about, such as providing grant funding for local waterways improvements, and maintaining the important manatee signage and protection zones. We all know this iconic and endanger species, a gentle, distant relative of the elephant, is often stuck by speeding boaters.
Thank you to FIND, but it sure would be nice if we could FIND another way to for the lake’s water to go than through the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon.
For 2013, Ed and I paid $13.31 to FIND. Although I would prefer not to support the Okeechobee Waterway atrocity, I do like manatees, boating, and the Town of Sewall’s Point has benefited from FIND grant programs as well. So, I guess, for now, Ed and I will pay the tax; but one day, I have the feeling, I might just rebel!
Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Intracoastal_Waterway)
Okeechobee Waterway, ACOE: (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/LakeOkeechobee/OkeechobeeWaterway(OWW).aspx )