Following a feasibility study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in 1939, it was recommended to expand the intracoastal system to include a route from the Caloosahatchee River north to Anclote Key. With the outbreak of WWII, progress was halted until 1945, when Congress authorized construction of a channel 152 miles long, 100 feet wide, and 9 feet deep. The waterway was intended to link natural deep-water sections of bays through a series of man-made channels, providing safe passage for commercial goods, and access to commercial fishing grounds. Dredging began in June 1960—northward from the Caloosahatchee River toward Boca Grande—and was completed in 1967.

In 1989, WCIND was authorized to participate in even more waterway-related activities, including the promotion of inlet management, and the posting and maintenance of channel markers and manatee protection speed zone signs. Programs were initiated by WCIND to encourage boating safety and environmental stewardship through distribution of boater and waterway guides and resource maps.

Although originally developed to facilitate commercial shipping to and along the Southwest Florida coast, today the GIWW’s function is a blend of recreational and commercial use. Cruising, sailing, fishing, and eco-exploring activities comprise the majority of the present-day functions of the GIWW.

In 1998, the state legislature required WCIND to coordinate with Florida Department of Natural Resources to post and maintain regulatory markers for manatee protection in District waterways. That same year, the legislature also consolidated all previous amendments to WCIND authority under House Bill No. 4531.


Feasibility study of inland waterway system completed by USACE

Illustration of pelican on pier


WCIND created to act as the local interest in securing resources, assets, and property necessary to achieve construction



Dredging begins – northward from the Caloosahatchee River towards Boca Grande



Completion Ceremony held in Venice to celebrate the completion of the waterways linkage


Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties voluntarily withdraw from WCIND

Image of manatee


The state legislature requires WCIND to coordinate with Florida Department of Natural Resources