Following the devastating flooding of the Tampa Bay area caused by Hurricane Donna in 1960, the Florida legislature authorized the creation of the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) to help control flooding in the Tampa Bay watershed. With the help of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, SWFWMD began working on the extensive system of levees, locks, and canals to divert and store water in what came to be known as the Four Rivers Basins Project. Storing water and diverting rivers’ flow, along with altering the timing and volume of water released into Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, drastically reduced the ecological health of the watershed. The Tampa Bypass canal and the walled lower reaches of the Hillsborough River are the most visible of the vast system of locks that extend north of Orlando.
Read more: Four River Basins