Broward Canals Vs. Miami-Dade Canals

Apr 26, 2012

As we mentioned yesterday, we’re switching gears a little in the Canoe Project and putting some focus on another city’s canal system: Miami’s neighbor, Fort Lauderdale.

While Miami’s canal system is notorious– either accurately or inaccurately depending on who you ask–  for having dirty canals that no one really uses, Fort Lauderdale has been dubbed the “Venice of America” because of its beautiful canals.

Andrew Cuba, the manager of Marine Facilities for the City of Fort Lauderdale and a Weston resident who has lived in Miami, says,”There are different ways of looking at this,” he explains. “Fort Lauderdale has a more extensive canal system… [and] the canals here are more undeveloped and more pristine.”

He explains that the city’s massive waterway system works its way through more undeveloped areas, as well, which is why the water is typically cleaner and better for recreational activities.

Cuba also says that Fort Lauderdale has twice as many small canals all over the city than Miami does. He says this makes the city’s waterways more conducive to paddling.

“There are hundreds of miles of Fort Lauderdale canals,” he explains.

Cuba says that Miami’s canals don’t lend themselves to paddle crafts like the ones Broward.  He says that “people are getting more involved in paddle boarding,” in particular, on Broward’s inland waterways. Paddle boarding involves standing up and rowing on a paddle board, which Cuba says first became popular in Hawaii.

He says that folks in canals don’t typically have to worry about vessels, either, which makes them more likely to plan an outing on Fort Lauderdale’s waterways.

Ultimately, Cuba says, “Fort Lauderdale is what people think of when they talk about yachting” and other boating activity, because it is just easier to move along through those canals. He says there is simply no comparing the two cities.

Curtis Morgan, an environmental reporter with The Miami Herald, explains that many of Broward’s canals, particularly on the east side, are connected to the Intracoastal Waterway. This makes them salty or brackish, he explains, and he says they are “routinely flushed by tides, so they do often have good clarity.”

Things off the New River complex in Fort Lauderdale, for instance,” he told us via email, “are mostly residential, which also helps.”

In Miami-Dade, however, he says there is a mix of conditions because of historic industrial and shipping development along the Miami River and its main branches.

However, some canals in Dade could be a draw. Morgan writes that the canals connected to Miami’s stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway “are otherwise quite clean — like the Coral Gables Waterway.”

Last he explains, that the C-111 in deep South Miami-Dade actually “is crystal clear and a popular fishing spot,” unlike other canals in South Dade that have nutrient build-up from agricultural influence and the drainage design.