Okeechobee Waterway Navigation Depths and Draft Restrictions

Lake Okeechobee and the Okeechobee Waterway (OWW) water levels share top billing along with bridge clearances as the #1 determining factor that boaters must consider when planning their passage.

Okeechobee Waterway Water Level and Available Navigation Depths

High water levels on Lake Okeechobee may require all locks to be left open to assist in keeping the lake below flood stage. During these periods of discharge, all vessels approaching any lock should exercise caution. The increased water turbulence may affect the handling of your vessel. Additionally there are reports that the water depth over the upper lock sill of St. Lucie Lock is reduced when water is being discharged from Lake Okeechobee.

Okeechobee Waterway Low Water Restrictions

Low water levels in Lake Okeechobee will restrict the timing of lock operations along the Okeechobee Waterway. The prudent mariner will check current lake levels during the planning of their trip through the waterway. When the Lake Okeechobee water level drops below 12.51’, limited operating schedules are put in effect. This results in both the St. Lucie and W.P. Franklin Locks operating on limited schedules. You can view the Lake Okeechobee Low Water Restrictions in the table below.

OWW - Low Water Lock Restrictions
Water Level Restriction St. Lucie Lock W. P. Franklin Lock
> 12.5’ On Demand 0700 - 1700 0700 - 1700
< 12.5’ Every 2 Hours 0700, 0900, 1100, 1300, 1500, & 1630 0700, 0900, 1100, 1300, 1500, & 1630
< 12.0’ 4 Lockage's per day. 0700, 1000, 1300, & 1630 0700, 1000, 1300, & 1630
< 11.5’ 3 Lockage’s per day. 0700, 1200, & 1630 0700, 1200, & 1630
< 11.0’ 2 Lockage’s per day. 0700 & 1630 0700 & 1630

Okeechobee Low Water Restrictions Table - Download

The Federal project depth for the Okeechobee Waterway is 8’ from the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway near Stuart, FL via Okeechobee Lake Route 1 to Fort Myers, FL, then 10’ from Ft. Myers to Punta Rassa and then 12’ to the Gulf of Mexico. A channel 6’ deep in Taylor Creek from the town of Okeechobee to the lake, and a depth of 6’ for Route 2 along the south shore of Lake Okeechobee from Port Mayaca westward to Clewiston.

The Controlling Depth (Navigational Depth) is the primary factor to consider for the transiting mariner; it governs the maximum recommended draft of vessels that can safely cross Lake Okeechobee.

Lake Okeechobee water levels (stages), vary dramatically from season to season, month to month, and quite often day to day, depending on the amount of rainfall received. The Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) takes daily water level readings of Lake Okeechobee and uses this information to compute the recommended draft for vessels transiting Lake Okeechobee along both Route #1 and Route #2.

Okeechobee Waterway Recommended Maximum Drafts

The charts shown below were created to provide mariners with a guide for navigating Lake Okeechobee by way of Route 1 and Route 2 . They are based upon surveys of the Okeechobee Waterway by the Corps of Engineers. Conditions are subject to change and mariners should remain alert and aware of the actual on water conditions. Available water depth may be temporarily impacted up to 1.1 feet by strong winds

US Army Corp of Engineers Lake Okeechobee Draft Recommendations - Route #1

NOTE: The above chart was created to provide mariners with a guide for navigating Route 1. This chart is based upon bathymetric surveys (2007 Channel Condition Survey) of the Okeechobee Waterway performed by the Corps of Engineers. Conditions are subject to change and mariners should remain alert and aware of the actual on water conditions. Available water depth may be temporarily impacted up to 1.1 feet by strong winds
Lake Level in Feet - NGVD 1929   Max. Recommended Draft in Feet
 
15.06’   9.0’
14.56’   8.5’
14.06’   8.0’
13.56’   7.5’
13.06’   7.0’
12.56’   6.5’
12.06’   6.0’
11.56’   5.5’
11.06’   5.0’
10.56’   4.5’
10.06’   4.0’
9.56’   3.5’
9.06’   3.0’
8.56’   2.5’
8.06’   2.0’
7.56’   1.5’
7.06’   1.0’
6.56’   0.5’

Okeechobee Route #1 Draft Recommendations - Download

US Army Corp of Engineers Lake Okeechobee Draft Recommendations - Route #2

NOTE: The above chart was created to provide mariners with a guide for navigating Route 2. This chart is based upon bathymetric surveys (2008 Channel Condition Survey) of the Okeechobee Waterway performed by the Corps of Engineers. Conditions are subject to change and mariners should remain alert and aware of the actual on water conditions.
Lake Level in Feet - NGVD 1929   Max. Recommended Draft in Feet
 
15.06’   7.2’
14.56’   6.7’
14.06’   6.2’
13.56’   5.7’
13.06’   5.2’
12.56’   4.7’
12.06’   4.2’
11.56’   3.7’
11.06’   3.2’
10.56’   2.7’
10.06’   2.2’
9.56’   1.7’
9.06’   1.2’
8.56’   0.7’
8.06’   0.2’

Okeechobee Route #2 Draft Recommendations - Download

Okeechobee Waterway Recommended Routes

  Routes #1 and #2 Available for Navigation
  Only Route #1 Available for Navigation
  Not Accessible
NGVD 1929 Lake Level (in feet) Vessel Draft in Feet
8.0 7.5 7.0 6.5 6.0 5.5 5.0 4.5 4.0 3.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5
15.06                                
14.56                                
14.06                                
13.56                                
13.06                                
12.56                                
12.06                                
11.56                                
11.06                                
10.56                                
10.06                                
9.56                                
9.06                                
8.56                                
8.06                                
7.56                                
7.06                                
6.56                                
6.06                                

Okeechobee Waterway Draft vs. Route #1 and Route #2 Recommendations - Download

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