Airport Authority Submits Stormwater Plan to DEP

by May 1, 2009 • 0 comments

Airport Authority Chairman Joe Tannehill reported that the airport construction team and engineers had completed their plan for addressing stormwater management deficiencies at the new airport site in West Bay.  The Airport Authority submitted the plan to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for review and approval.

“This represents the first step in correcting stormwater management issues at the airport site,” said Tannehill.  “We have hard work ahead, but we are committed to correcting deficiencies on the site as soon as possible.  I have instructed our construction team to begin implementing our plan immediately.  If FDEP requests changes or suggest ways to strengthen our plan, we’ll make adjustments as necessary.”

Last week FDEP officials and representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) toured the new airport construction site and expressed concerns that current efforts to mitigate excessive stormwater runoff had become inadequate in the wake of unusually heavy rains during the month of April.

FDEP requested that the Airport Authority submit its plan for correcting the deficiencies by April 29.  Chairman Tannehill quickly convened the site contractors and pushed them to address the stormwater management issues as aggressively as possible.

Under the plan submitted to FDEP by the airport construction team will:

  • Finalize the site’s western perimeter ditch, which includes sodding the entire channel allowing water from north of the site to by-pass the site and not be degraded in quality. This work should be complete in approximately two weeks.
  • Set up filtration pumping system to remove sediment from water on site so when it leaves the site it will meet permit requirements. This new system will be operational within one week.
  • Finalize the outfall area to Morrell Branch which includes riprap, seeding and sodding.
  • Complete the drainage system in the crosswind runway area, which will also finalize the outfall system to Morrell Branch.
  • The airport construction team noted that one of the biggest stormwater management issues is managing water flows on to the property from “outside the fence.”  Old logging ditches and pipe systems have become overgrown and filled with debris through the years. The ditches filled during the massive rain storms and the water flowed onto the site.

The Airport Authority has asked permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to work on these problem areas outside the 1300 acre construction area.

“We have put together a good plan to address the deficiencies,” said Tannehill.  “We look forward to any suggestions and improvements that FDEP may provide.  Our immediate focus is to implement these corrective measures as soon as possible.  We have begun work already.”

“Developing this plan was the first step in addressing the problem,” said Tannehill.  “We will continue to review the root causes and the lessons learned from what has happened.  In the days and weeks ahead we will continue to share information with the public and keep the community informed with the steps we are taking to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Regular updates on stormwater management and other issues will be posted on the Airport Authority’s public information web site at

“I learned long ago that you learn more from difficult situations than easy ones,” said Tannehill.  “This has most certainly been a difficult situation. This airport Board resolved long ago to make the new Panama City – Bay County International Airport one of the world’s most environmentally-friendly, and the events of the last week have taught us a lot and strengthened our commitment to the environment.”

“We will continue working with FDEP to ensure our new airport ultimately results in a net environmental gain for our region, and to build and operate one of the nation’s greenest airports,” said Tannehill.

The plan the Airport Authority submitted to FDEP can be downloaded here.

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