During a workshop last week the Mexico Beach city council heard from Elizabeth Moore of Preble-Rish Engineers on a plan to explore an alternate water supply for the city.
Though conversations on the topic have taken place for years, there is now an appropriations grant in hand to cover the $102,550 project.
Moore presented what phase one of the project might look like.
Mexico Beach is currently tied into Bay County for water service but the grant was awarded for an emergency water source.
“We’re going to find out what it takes to get drinkable water to Mexico Beach,” said Moore.
After a meeting between city officials, landowners and Preble-Rish a test well would be installed to sample water from an area north of Mexico Beach.
The test well would tap into the upper and lower aquifer to find quality water after which geophysical monitoring and water quality tests would be conducted.
Fluoride levels are naturally higher along the coast with a spike in Mexico Beach and Moore said that finding a source that doesn’t require blending or heavy treatments is the best option the city can hope for.
“A lot more chemical reactions happen when you blend water sources,” said Moore.
If good water is found, the cost to the city will be $1.6 million for drilling and running the water to the city which can be covered by funds received earlier in the year from Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA).
If the test well doesn’t find quality water, there will be no additional cost to the city.
Phase one is expected to take six months to complete and will be discussed further at the council’s regular meeting in September.
Later in the workshop Councilwoman Tanya Castro asked about the possibility of holding an executive session with legal counsel to discuss litigation against the city by UniFirst, a uniform company.
After being disappointed with the quality of service the city canceled the contract. UniFirst filed a suit claiming an unlawful cancellation of the contract and the company is seeking damages from the city.
A mediation meeting will be held on Sept. 15 in Tallahassee. Interim city administrator Marcus Collins volunteered to attend the mediation in Mayor Al Cathey’s stead and bring more information back to share with the council.
Castro and Councilwoman Mary Blackburn told Police Chief Glenn Norris they had both received calls about parking on the right-of-way on the opposite side of the beaches, which led to limited or zero visibility for drivers pulling out of side streets onto U.S. Highway 98 across Mexico Beach.
Norris said officers were out giving verbal warnings, but he wasn’t sure how to fully combat the issue.
Citizens called for public education of visitors to the area, requesting a campaign that would team up the Community Development Council with area lodging partners to help spread the word.
Norris attributed the problem to a lack of parking throughout the city.
The council decided against speaking with the Florida Department of Transportation about signs since it was likely it would prevent parking on the beach side, leading to additional parking issues.
Collins suggested the city investigate applying for a grant that would fully cover construction of a two-tier parking garage. He said that by charging visitors to park, the structure could increase safety around Mexico Beach and also raise revenue for the city.
In the meantime, Norris said he would enforce the parking issues appropriately.