Watershed Planning: Curlew Creek and Smith Bayou Watershed

Watershed Locations

Both the Curlew Creek and Bee Branch watersheds are located in the northwestern part of Pinellas County. Curlew Creek discharges to St. Joseph Sound about half a mile south of Dunedin Causeway (State Road 586). Bee Branch discharges to Smith Bayou north of Tampa Road. The Bee Branch watershed is also known as the Smith Bayou watershed.

The Curlew Creek catchment is 6,711 acres and the Bee Branch catchment is 1,835 acres within the cities of Clearwater and Dunedin and unincorporated Pinellas County. The total length of the channel is 11 miles for Curlew Creek and 6 miles for Bee Branch. Land use in both catchments is mostly residential with a mix of commercial and light industrial areas and recreational open space.x

Curlew Creek Terrain

Most of the soil in the Curlew Creek basin has a medium permeability rating, and there are many small (1 to 5 acres) natural water storage areas located throughout the basin. Jerry Lake (approximately 60 acres) is located on the main channel in the southwest part of the watershed. The southeast basin area is flat and the remainder of the basin is fairly steep sloping.

Additional storage areas are needed in the upper reaches of Curlew Creek to reduce peak flows in the constricted downstream reaches.

Bee Branch Terrain

Most of the terrain in the Bee Branch watershed is fairly steep and sloping, except for the flatter northwest areas. A majority of the basin soil has a high permeability rating, and a few natural water storage areas, generally 3-7 acres each, can be found along the uppermost areas of the outfall.

There is a natural depression of approximately 100 acres in the south-central area, and one of approximately 30 acres in the northeast area. They retain all runoff and do not outlet to any other basin area.

The primary tributaries to Curlew Creek and Smith Bayou have existing poor water quality and are known to contribute significant sediment loadings to St. Joseph Sound. 

Projects in the Watersheds

Sediment transport and erosion remain significant issues along both Curlew Creek and Bee Branch. Some segments of the stream channels have been stabilized with hard structures such as gabions (rock-filled wire mesh blocks) and culverts, while other segments have been stabilized with soft methods and still others remain in their natural state.

A number of projects are underway or have been recently completed to address flooding, water quality and stream channel erosion in both streams. Water quality is regularly monitored in both streams and a review of potential water quality improvement projects is underway. 

Watershed Management Plan

The Curlew Creek Smith Bayou Watershed Management Plan was completed December 2019. Partners included the City of Clearwater, City of Dunedin and Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The Best Management Practices (BMP) report identified 12 projects to reduce flooding and improve water quality. These projects will be prioritized for potential inclusion in the County’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Once a project is approved and funding has been granted, project information can be found on the Pinellas County Capital Improvement Program website.