Posted on May 4, 2022
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Mayor Mark Sheldon sees the project to develop an offshore stormwater outfall as a huge “step forward” in the fortunes of Panama City Beach.
In a City Council meeting Thursday, he and other officials approved a more than $21 million grant agreement with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to fund construction of the outfall that is slated to be installed in the Gulf of Mexico across from Lullwater Lake.
The project, which has gained a lot of traction but is considered controversial by some residents, will combine current outfalls near Lullwater and Calypso Resort and Tower, channel the stormwater underground and deposit it about 1,500 feet into the Gulf.
“Development is full speed ahead, (and) we are excited about it,” Sheldon said. “We know it’s going to be a great project — probably the best thing that’s happened to Panama City Beach in a long time.”
Money for the outfall project comes from DEO’s Rebuild Florida General Infrastructure Repair Program for communities hammered by Category 5 Hurricane Michael in October 2018. The program is designed to help areas rebuild and harden their critical infrastructure to better withstand future natural disasters.
In a press conference in May 2021, Gov. Ron DeSantis allocated the $21 million to PCB for the outfall project as part of about $111 million doled out to 22 communities across the state.
With the grant agreement approved by the City Council, Sheldon said it now is just a matter of completing the outfall’s design, selecting a contractor and getting construction underway.
He did not have a specific timeline for when residents could expect the project to break ground or be complete.
Apart from draining stormwater more effectively from the Lullwater and Calypso areas, the outfall will benefit the local environment and wildlife, Sheldon said.
He also said it will prevent stormwater from flowing across the sandy portions of the beach, which is known to disrupt beachgoers.
“It’s an environmental project that helps out,” Sheldon said. “It takes away so much of the nastiness that goes across the beach. … It’s just really going to enhance the quality of life and the tourism in that section of the beach.”