Mexico Beach nearing alternative water source.



A process that began nearly three years ago is fully engaged in Mexico Beach.

While the city gave the go ahead in September 2014, a test well for an alternate water source was only drilled this summer.

At a June meeting Preble-Rish representative Jeff Brittain explained the reasoning for the well.

“The project itself is for an alternate water source for the city in the event of some kind of disaster where Bay County couldn’t provide service to the city or a connection to Port St. Joe wasn’t available either,” he said.

Since that meeting, the well has been drilled to the 600-800-feet depth that the engineers requested.

At 400-feet preliminary results found fluoride in a sample, but further down at 800-feet the samples produced quality water.

The only problem is that the quality isn’t matching the quantity needed to produce an alternative water source.

According to Brittain, engineers are hoping that the well will produce between 500,000 and 600,000 gallons per day.

In order to attempt to access more water, Brittain will ask the city council at the first meeting in September for a change order to drill down an additional 100 feet.

While that change order will increase the costs of the test, the increase will be covered by the grant the city has received for the study.

In 2014, the need for an alternative source was brought to the attention of the city by the engineering consulting firm.

The city was then was able to secure a grant for the project through that state.

That grant, near $1.5 million, will give the city access to fresh water in the case of a catastrophic event.

“It is finally coming to fruition,” said Mel Smigielski, Mexico Beach’s city administrator. “It has taken a long time.”

According to Smigielski, the delay was caused by trouble finding a landowner that would allow the city to drill a test well on their land.

Smigielski said that closer to the Gulf you have to drill down much further to reach fresh water and the city reached out to two large landowners further inland but the requests were denied.

The city was able to find a partner this year and drilling began this summer.

Mexico Beach receives its water from Bay County, although the city does have a line connection with Port St. Joe that can be used in the event of an emergency.

Smigielski said that while the city could use Port St. Joe water in the event of an emergency, the city would like to be as self-sustaining as possible.

In 2014, the Northwest Florida Water Management District published a Regional Water Supply Plan Update for Region III (Bay County).

That update found the need to search for alternative sources of water other than the Deer Point Lake Reservoir, which the county uses as its major water source.

The study cited an expected population increase from an estimated 169,392 in 2012 to 209,100 in Bay County.

That study also estimated a use of 270,000 gallons of water by Mexico Beach a day, well within the 500,000 gallons sought through the alternative well site by the city engineers.