Panama City Beach will apply for a $3 million grant to help with offshore stormwater drainage
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Officials continue to move forward on a massive and controversial project to streamline stormwater drainage for a section of the beach.
The Panama City Beach City Council voted unanimously Thursday for the city to apply for a $3 million grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to help build an offshore stormwater drain near Lowwater Lake.
While Council Member Mary Coburn voted for the application, she said she still opposes the project. However, as the only member of council with that opinion, she said she knows the project is likely to happen, and she thinks the city should try to secure as much outside funding as possible.
The Panama City Beach City Council on Thursday unanimously approved the city to apply for a $3 million grant to help build an offshore stormwater drain near Lullwater Lake.
Coburn said, “I’m still not in favor of it, but if they go ahead with it and they get approved, guess who’s going to have the burden? Residents.” “So the more money that doesn’t come out of our pocket, the better, but I’m not in favor of it, and I think it’s a bad idea.”
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The construction of the outfall is now estimated to cost over $41 million. 375 million. It connects the current outflow near Lullwater Lake and the Calypso Resort and Tower, carrying stormwater underground and depositing it about 1,500 feet into the Gulf of Mexico.
If Panama City Beach is awarded the $3 million grant, it would add to the $21 million the city received for the project through the DEO’s Rebuild Florida General Infrastructure Repair Program in 2021. The program is for communities affected by Category 5 Hurricane Michael in October 2018, and is designed to help the areas rebuild and strengthen their critical infrastructure to better withstand future natural disasters.
Till Thursday, there was still no timeline for the result. Officials have said that environmental and engineering studies are underway which should be done before the project starts.
If the outfall is built in Panama City Beach, it would be the first of its kind in the Gulf. Other communities, such as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, have successfully implemented similar developments and improved water quality over time.
“It’s not a good idea,” Coburn said. “Let them do it somewhere else (in the Bay), and let it stand the test of time. But they’re putting (planning to put) too much stormwater into the Bay that they’re giving people. Two are constant.” outs and three intermittent outs, and they want to take it and keep it in one.
“This isn’t just a small outflow from Lake Lullwater. It’s a much bigger project than people realise.”
This article originally appeared on The News Herald: Panama City Beach to apply for $3M grant to help fund outflow project