Caloosahatchee River (C-43) West Basin
Storage Reservoir Project

The purpose of the “C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir Project is to improve the timing, quantity, and quality of freshwater flows to the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary.

South Florida's flood reduction system stores water in Lake Okeechobee during the annual wet season. Excess water is released, and the resulting, unnatural surges of freshwater to the Caloosahatchee River reduce estuarine salinity levels. Alternately, during the dry season when irrigation demands are high, little to no water is released to the river. This causes an increase in salinity levels. Both high and low salinity levels can trigger die-offs of sea grasses and oysters, species that are indicators of the estuary'soverall health.

The C-43 West Basin Storage Reservoir will help ensure a more natural, consistent flow of fresh water to the estuary. To restore and maintain the estuary during the dry season, the project will capture and store basin stormwater runoff, along with a portion of the water discharged from Lake Okeechobee, and  water will be slowly released into the Caloosahatchee, as needed.

This project also provides secondary benefits, once the needs of the estuary are met, along with recreational benefits.

Project features include:

  • 10,500-acre storage reservoir

  • 1,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) pump for filling the reservoir

  • Perimeter canal to convey drainage off-site

  • Recreation component

Project Status

On June 10, 2014, the project received congressional authorization in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014. Congressional authorization now makes the project eligible for funding during the appropriations process.

Chief's Report Package CoverChief's Report Package

The Chief's Report is the transmittal package for the Project Implementation Report to the Office of Management and Budget and subsequently to Congress. It contains updated costs and evaluation information for the PIR as submitted. Caloosahatchee River (C-43) West Basin Storage Reservoir Final Integrated PIR and EIS (March 2010)

Final PIR/EIS for C-43 (November 2010)

The Caloosahatchee River (C-43) West Basin Storage Reservoir Project Final PIR/EIS is available for download.

For 5,000 years, the greater Everglades’ ecosystem flourished in South Florida, nurtured by sun and frequent rain. Runoff from the pinewoods and prairies of the Kissimmee River Basin flowed into Lake Okeechobee. The water then spilled over the south shore of the lake, and in shallow sheets flowed through vast stretches of sawgrass in a slow journey to Florida Bay.

In Southwest Florida, the Caloosahatchee River collected the runoff and funneled the water west into the Gulf of Mexico. At the river’s mouth, where fresh and salt water mixed, a large, lush estuary evolved providing shelter and forage for an array of fish, shellfish, birds, and wildlife.

Much has changed in the last 120 years as man sought to tame Florida’s watery wilderness. In 1881, a Philadelphia developer, Hamilton Disston, purchased from the state some four million acres around Lake Okeechobee for 25-cents an acre. A year later he succeeded in cutting a canal that, for the first time,  directly linked Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River and opened the region to navigation and development. In the years since, the river’s navigation channel was enlarged, improved, and eventually incorporated into the 1948 Central and Southern Flood Control Project as the C-43 canal. For most purposes, the C-43 canal and Caloosahatchee River are one and the same.

When water is discharged from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River following a heavy rain, it moves down the river and is quickly released into the Gulf. This surge of fresh water changes delicate estuarine salinity levels and harms brackish marine habitats.

A restudy of the 1948 flood-control project to determine how to reverse such damage led to the 30- year, Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), which was approved by Congress in the Water Resources Development Act of 2000. Congress authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work cooperatively with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), and other federal, state and local agencies, to implement CERP, provided existing flood protection is maintained and the supply of water to current users is not disrupted.

Benefits and Costs

Planning, design, land acquisition, and construction costs are estimated at $201 million. The state and federal governments will share costs equally. The statedesignated local sponsor of this project is the South Florida Water Management District. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2007 and to be completed in the spring of 2011. The environmental benefits of restoration cannot be expressed solely in monetary terms; so alternative costbenefit studies are conducted. This project is vital to restoration of the Caloosahatchee River estuary. It also provides some new flexibility for managing and restoring Lake Okeechobee, which often is referred to as the "liquid heart" of the greater Everglades ecosystem.

Implementation Process

The Project Management Plan (PMP) was approved in February 2002. A follow-on document, the Project Implementation Report (PIR) will evaluate several alternatives, recommend a preferred plan, and provide an environmental-impact assessment of the preferred plan. Public involvement will be sought throughout this process. Public workshops, hearings, and stakeholder meetings are scheduled. The Record of Decision and submission to Congress is anticipated November 2010. Construction is dependent upon congressional authorization (generally in a Water Resources Act).

Project Details:

Project Sponsor:

South Florida Water Management District

Project Schedule:

For scheduling information regarding this project, please see the Master Implementation Sequencing Plan (MISP).

Project Phase:


Design Agreement:

12 May 2000

CERP Component Designation:

D Part 1

Project Cooperation Agreement:



WRRDA 2014


Project Contacts:

Steve Baisden
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Janet Starnes
South Florida Water Management District

Related Links & Project Documents: