Bay County officials are looking to tap into a new water supply as an alternative to Deer Point Lake. It's an effort to have a "Plan B" at the ready in case the county's primary source of drinking water becomes contaminated.
"We have evaluated it based on a hurricane storm event where we could get saltwater intrusion into the lake," said Paul Lackemacher, Utility Services Director. "That would obviously create water quality problems."
The county currently draws about 50 million gallons of "raw" water from Deer Point Lake every day and pipes it to the treatment plant on Transmitter Road. Half of that volume becomes drinking water; the other half is supplied to industrial customers.
The county previously planned to drill new wells near the Washington County line but dropped that proposal after a prolonged legal battle and an unfavorable court ruling. Now, officials are considering construction of a new pump station in the county's northern region.
Lackemacher said the exact location hasn't been pinpointed, but preliminary plans call for a pumping station to be built south of where Econfina Creek feeds into the lake. New 36" pipe would carry water 10 miles and then tie into existing pipe that brings water from the Williams Bayou station to the treatment plant.
"We're not looking to take any more water than is already permitted to withdraw from Deer Point Lake," Lackemacher said. "It would be an either or... either we would take it out of our existing station or we would take it from this proposed alternate station."
Implementing "Plan B" will take years and cost millions of dollars. According to the Utility Services' strategic plan, the cost could reach $25 million.
Five firms responded to the county's Request for Qualifications (RFQ) and expressed interest in the design-build project:
At their April 16 meeting, county commissioners directed staff to narrow the list to three firms to then be ranked by the board.
Lackemacher said it could take up to four years to complete the design, permitting and construction phases of the project.