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History of Palm Beach Water Ways
Four inlets link the Intracoastal Waterway with the Atlantic Ocean in Palm Beach County. Jupiter Inlet, at the northern end of the county, was a natural waterway, connecting the Loxahatchee River with the ocean. Historically, the inlet has opened and closed to the sea by the forces of nature.
Originally, the inlet was kept open not only by flow from the Loxahatchee River, but also by flow from Jupiter Sound and Lake Worth Creek. Some of this flow was diverted by completion of the East Coast Canal (now called the Intracoastal Waterway) in 1985, and Lake Worth Inlet, and by modification of St. Lucie Inlet. With the reduced flow, the inlet remained closed most of the time except when periodically dredged. Since 1947, it has remained open with regular dredging (McPherson, Sabanskas, and Long 1982).
Lake Worth Inlet (also known as Palm Beach Inlet) was first cut in the mid-nineteenth century to provide access to the ocean from Lake Worth. The inlet was prone to migrate and close and was even relocated to a different site north of the original cut; the new location also proved unstable. Beginning in 1918, the inlet was stabilized at its original location; at the same time, the Port of Palm Beach was becoming a vital shipping facility. The channel was widened and deepened in the following years, and in 1958 a sand transfer plant was constructed to bypass sand across the inlet from the north beach to the south beach.