Helicopter Ride Over the Caloosahatchee’s C-43 Reservoir

The recent Governing Board meeting  of the South Florida Water Management District was held on March 10, 2022, on beautiful Sanibel Island, in Lee County. Prior to the meeting, the board was given a tour of the C-43 Reservoir located in LaBelle, in Hendry County, which is on the way and where the giant reservoir is being constructed.

The C-43 Reservoir is also known as the “Caloosahatchee Reservoir,” as it will help manage water from the river’s basin and from Lake Okeechobee. The reservoir’s construction began in 2015; it will be over twice as large as the recently completed St Lucie Reservoir, or C-44 Reservoir, in Martin County. The Caloosahatchee is a much larger system!

For fun, let’s compare….

~The C-44 Reservoir covers 3000 acres; the C-43 Reservoir covers 10,500 acres

~The C-44 Reservoir stores 50,600 acre-feet of water; the C-43 Reservoir will hold 170,000 acre-feet of water

~The C-44 Reservoir is about 15 feet deep; the C-43’s depth will range from 15 to 25 feet

~Looking across the C-44 Reservoir is about three miles; the C-43 is is approximately six miles!

These reservoirs, along with the EAA Reservoir, once complete, will give greater flexibility to the Everglade’s system in many capacities and help offset damaging discharges and algae blooms from Lake Okeechobee.

Enough talk. Let’s go!

-Jared Ross of welcomes us-On the ground, we get a safety lesson and review a diagram of the project-Pre-helicopter driving tour, with John, SFWMD, our guide  

-Atop the dam-Workers at a giant culvert I had seen the C-43 before, at its major groundbreaking in 2019. It was exciting to see it almost three years later and note the progress that has been accomplished thus far. Today, I will share my photos and videos so you too can see. It is hard to grasp it all as it is so sprawling, but from the air you will get a good idea.

-With Jennifer Reynolds, Ecosystem Restoration SFMWD, and Jennifer Smith, Chief of Staff, SFWMD. My helicopter mates!-Time to fly-Following diagram below, going around the reservoir counter-clockwise, starting middle bottom above my thumb-Townsend Canal allows water to be delivered from Calosahatee to reservoir. Water supply to surrounding agricultural fields will be also met. 


-Perimeter Canal, further away and closer up -James our pilot-Back on the ground, a follow up. Wow, impressive! Let’s get it done! I will write more about the C-43 in the future, but today I just wanted you to have an opportunity to see it by air!

5 thoughts on “Helicopter Ride Over the Caloosahatchee’s C-43 Reservoir

  1. Thank you Jacqui for this aerial tour. It really helps the public conceptualize what is happening. I pray it makes a difference.

  2. Great article and great views. Just to be clear, at 15 – 20 feet deep this is not a stormwater treatment facility, but just an extension of Lake Okeechobee as a reservoir, storing more water for agriculture?

    1. Hi Thomas, the project will reduce harmful discharges to the Caloosahatechee and provide beneficial flow when needed. The Caloosahatchee needs water sometimes to avoid high salinity from salt water intrusion. The high salt can kill seagrass beds in the part of the river closest to Lake O. From what I understand when the Caloosahatchee was dredged in the 1800s and “improved” by deepening and widening it allows salt water intrusion unless there is enough fresh water to hold it off. This is not all the time but quite a bit, I think mostly in the dry season. As far as agriculture, again from what I understand, the C-43 reservoir building required canals that we already in place for agriculture to be moved or reworked. So the District has to return what is being taken away. The land owner’s agreed. I know, a lot is going on here. And it’s so BIG! If you go to the link on my blog at the beginning – C-43 – it will provide the SFWMD’s info sheet, etc. which will give a lot more insight than I can provide. I am learning about the west coast but am not an expert. East Coast, I’m better at…:)

      1. Thanks!! After SB 2508 I am cynical about everything that is touted as “good news.” Earlier news articles cast the reservoirs as primarily a concession to agriculture – very costly alternatives to sending the water south, which is what the stormwater treatment fields do.

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