PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — After almost four years and a few million dollars, renovations and upgrades at the Bay County Water Treatment Plant are nearly complete.
The facility was badly damaged during Hurricane Michael back in 2018.
The water treatment plant supplies water to 99 percent of Bay County, treating anywhere from 28 to 38 million gallons of water, depending on demand.
The facility was built in 1966 and Utilities Director, Bobby Gibbs, said it wasn’t built for a Category 5 hurricane.
“That was the biggest thing that was an unknown was our facility, what can it handle,” Gibbs said. “Since that point what we have found out is that they weren’t designed for storms of this nature.”
Gibbs said they’ve been able to reinforce the outside of the building to withstand another Hurricane Michael.
“The county stepped up and went and got an engineering firm, and we decided to harden our buildings to withstand a Cat 5 hurricane and so that’s what we’ve done over the past three years now we have had contractors come in, we’ve had our building hardened to Miami-Dade code,” Gibbs said.
They were also able to expand the usable indoor areas from 1,800 square feet to just over 4,000 square feet.
“What we did was we looked at our building, we brought in an engineering firm and said, ‘We want to design this building to work with the 21st Century,'” Gibbs said.
Gibbs said in the event of another natural disaster, they made sure they had room for employees to eat, sleep, shower and wash clothes.
“Those are the things that were identified through this event that we said, ‘Hey, we need to make sure that our guys can stay here and have a place to sleep and rest,'” Gibbs said.
Employees will begin moving into the new facility by the end of this week. Until this point, employees have been working out of a temporary trailer for the last three and a half years.
County officials said the cost of the project is around $2 million.