High Toxicity and Turbidity in Grand Lagoon: Remedy

by September 16, 2009 • 5 comments

With toxicity and turbidity levels higher than many feel comfortable with in Grand Lagoon, The Friends of Grand Lagoon are discussing the possibility of changing the water out about every 20 days.  How to tackle this great task you ask?  By bringing fresh gulf water into the most western portion of the lagoon at the rate of 50,000 gallons per minute.

Last night I attended a regular Friends of Grand Lagoon meeting with a guest presenter from the City of Destin.  Discussion on the table began with a study presentation of the turbidity and toxicity levels in Grand Lagoon that resulted in the Ecotoxicologist (not even in my spell check library) presenting making the statement when asked, “I would probably choose not to eat my catch from that body of water.”

Many asked if there was any indication as to how much toxicity had come from the sewage spill that resulted from a City of Panama City Beach lift station failure early this year.  The presenter had no answer but indicated that the spill could have had something to do with it.  However, he stressed the main problem was that the more deep you move into the lagoon, the less likely it is that the water there has been cycled out with new water.  Much of it is stagnant and as remarked by a waterfront resident to myself halfway through the evening, “my backyard is a cesspool.”

Well, it should come as no surprise that if we are having an issue with something in Panama City Beach, so might others be having (or had) the same issue.  The City of Destin battled this very issue in years past (like more than a decade, although I was unclear how long exactly they had been doing this), and they found the solution to be quite effective.  They had gone through some trials and a few errors, but the final result seems to work quite well, indeed.

The solution is to burry a huge pipe and run it under the road and developments, 1,000 feet into the Gulf of Mexico.  The land-side of the pipe would be hooked up to a small building that housed electronic monitoring equipment and a 150 hp electric motor that would pump hundreds of thousands of gallons of water into the stagnant side of Grand Lagoon every hour.  In Destin, they mostly run the pump at night, during low peak electric time to keep the system efficient and have worked up a system over the years to produce barely any noise at all.  In fact, the presenter mentioned that they haven’t received a complaint on the noise in he-didn’t-know-how-long.

So, this is an awesome idea, but who pays for it?  Nobody knew.  Some talk about employing a grant-writer was tossed around, but then the question came up: who’s land is the facility housed on?  The City’s?  The County’s?  Some willing or perhaps absent private citizen?  It was remarked that to even talk to a grant-writer, they would need three times as much as what they have available in their checking account.  Donations anyone?

Last night was talk about an issue that needed a solution.  The solution seems apparent, but the means by which to get there is still very cloudy.  This was actually the first meeting discussed about this particular project indicating that there will be plenty more, and also indicating that at this time, the pipe project is not much more than a pipe dream.

On a side note, no formal discussion was made of the new Grand Lagoon Bridge, but it was remarked to me at some point in the evening that the ground breaking would take place before the end of the month.

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1 Jason Koertge September 16, 2009 at 11:24 am

Great article Jason!


2 Jason Koertge September 16, 2009 at 11:24 am

Thanks man.


3 Bearabull September 16, 2009 at 12:55 pm

What is considered the Grand Lagoon?


4 Larry Couch September 21, 2009 at 11:40 am

I’m sure historically Grand Lagoon was surrounded by wetlands and coastal dune lakes that fed water into the western portion of the lagoon. Maybe the establishment and/or rehabilation of some of those systems could be a viable alternative. It would be great to fix the problem at the source instead of flushing it into the bay and gulf.


5 Jeremy September 29, 2009 at 3:33 pm

I think this is a great idea. I live on Grand Lagoon and have often wondered if we could duplicate what the destin Harbor has done.