Charlotte Harbor Estuary, Florida26.9N 82W
Peace River and the Caloosahatchee River flow across the state of Florida into the Gulf of Mexico (lower left quadrant). The Peace River (left, above center) flows first into the Charlotte Harbor Estuary, a natural estuary spanning the west coast of Florida from Venice to Bonita Springs.
The Charlotte Harbor Estuary is classified as a bar-built estuary, formed when sandbars build up along the coastline. The sand bars block the waters behind them from the sea. Such estuaries are tend to be shallow with minimal tidal action.
The estuary is one of the most productive wetlands in Florida; however, it is also a threatened ecosystem resulting from the rapid increase of growth and development, poor land use policies, and the overuse of natural resources.
The Caloosahatchee River (south of Peace River) is also part of the estuary’s watershed and is connected to it via Pine Island Sound. It drains rural areas on the northern edge of the Everglades, northwest of Miami. An important link in the inland waterway system of southern Florida, the river forms a tidal estuary along most of its course and has recently become the subject of efforts to restore and preserve the Everglades.
Visible in the upper right corner is Lake Okeechobee, which is artificially connected to the Calossahatchee River and another lake, Lake Hicpochee, through the Caloosahatchee Canal.
This canal allows continuous navigation from the Caloosahatchee to the Okeechobee Waterway system; however, the canal and the use of the river’s water supply for urban and agricultural purposes, have substantially diminished the river’s flow levels. This has, in turn, reduced the water supply to the Everglades.