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South Florida Canal Aquatic Life Study

From 2013 through 2016, the Department conducted a comprehensive assessment of South Florida canals and the aquatic life associated with the canals.  The objectives of the South Florida Canal Aquatic Life Study included:

1) assessing the aquatic life of South Florida canals;

2) evaluating the physical, management, and biogeochemical differences among South Florida canals;

3) determining any interrelationships between aquatic life in canals and other physical, hydrologic, and chemical variables (e.g., water quality, flow, management activities) that affect the aquatic life; and,

4) collect information that can be used to guide management decisions.

Background Information

Most of the South Florida canals were constructed as part of the Central & Southern Florida (C&SF) Project, which was authorized by Congress in 1948. The C&SF Project has dramatically altered the waters of south Florida, and currently includes 2,600 miles of canals, over 1,300 water control structures, and 64 pump stations. The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) operates the C&SF Project to provide water supply, flood control, navigation, water management, and recreational benefits to South Florida.

There is a great deal of variation in the design, construction and operation of the South Florida canals. The hydrology of the canals is highly managed by a series of water control structures and levees. To maintain the hydraulic capacity of the canals, a great deal of vegetation management is also necessary. Because of their design, management, and maintenance, the aquatic life expectations for canals are different from natural flowing waters with the biological expectations for natural streams being inappropriate and unachievable for most canals.

Study Results

Results of the South Florida Canal Aquatic Life Study have been analyzed and are available in the following report:

Preliminary Results of the South Florida Canal Aquatic Life Study (October 7th, 2019)

For more information about this meeting, please contact Kaitlyn Sutton at or Garry Grover Payne at

Two public meetings were held by DEP on February 19 and 20, 2020, in Ft. Myers and West Palm Beach, respectively to present and discuss the results of the study.

South Florida Canal Study Public meeting Agenda

South Florida Canal meeting Presentation

Last Modified:
September 1, 2020 - 11:34am

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