SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – Walton County officials are hoping to alleviate stormwater problems in South Walton with a new treatment facility.
Trapped water runoff can cause infrastructure problems for a rapidly growing area in Santa Rosa Beach.
The Board of County Commissioners purchased land in 2021. A $14.8 million environmental grant will transform the 220 acres between Highway 98 and Chat Holly Rd into a new stormwater treatment plant.
“So that $14.8 million, not only does it cover the regional stormwater facility that we’re constructing, it will include the construction of 83 North we have some other funds that will cover Nellie Dr, and there will be some parts of recreation installed on this piece of property,” said Environmental Resources Coordinator Melinda Gates.
Stormwater is rainwater that runs off of lawns or houses and typically it gets absorbed into the ground to replenish aquifers.
However, in South Walton County, due to high density and low elevation, it’s causing erosion and damage to local infrastructure.
“That facility will capture seven to eight mosquito control ditches and treat over 1,200 acres of watershed, which is an amazing thing for an area that’s well established and doesn’t have a whole lot of stormwater treatment,” said Gates.
The treatment facility will collect water from areas along 30A, HWY 98, and Chat Holly Rd neighborhoods. Collecting the water will also help the Choctawhatchee Bay stay healthy.
“The goal is to gather all the stormwater in that area to treat it before it goes out to the bay,” said District 5 Commissioner Tony Anderson.
The county purchased the lot for $9.9 million with tourism development money. To comply with using TDC funding, the Parks and Recreation Department plans to enhance the area with a county park, amphitheater, and other amenities.
Construction will start with the stormwater facility and adding roadways to the location. The county expects the project, parks, and amenities to be finished in 2026.