PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Currently, the 10 outfalls in Panama City Beach city limits, end at the beach. City Councilman Michael Jarman said that design could be problematic especially during severe weather.
“As we saw during Hurricane Sally, storm surge pushes against those outfalls and fills those outfalls with sand,” Jarman said.
This leads to flooding and beach erosion.
City Manager Tony O’Rourke said they are looking at redesigning the outfalls so those issues don’t occur.
“This is a win-win for everyone, reducing flooding and reducing erosion by bringing the outfalls out under the water as opposed to having them on the beach,” O’Rourke said.
Jarman added that the combination of rock materials and the mix of fresh and saltwater could be beneficial for reef development and marine life.
The only problem for the city is the cost, but they are seeking federal funding for the project as well as brainstorming other solutions to save money.
“We could potentially combine the outfall from the Lullwater area, which has experienced flooding, and the Calypso area outfall into one outfall,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke said that other cities like Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach have used the extended outfall model, and have seen great results like reduced flooding and beach erosion impacts.
At the city council meeting Thursday, city officials discussed the pressing need to develop design plans for the outfalls, as the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is planning to start construction on certain areas of Front Beach Road in fall 2021.
“To do this after the fact would essentially cause us to tear up new work to make this happen,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke said the city is securing funding as well as exploring different design options to see what the final cost will be and if the city council will approve the idea.