Lake discharge is fresh water
The City of Panama City Beach understands there are concerns about the discolored water that discharges from Lullwater Lake through a pipe outfall beneath Front Beach Road and out towards the Gulf of Mexico.
Lullwater Lake is one of about 10 spring-fed bodies of water which are naturally occurring along our sandy beaches and within the city limits. When we get a lot of rain, as we have recently, many of the lakes like Lullwater fill up and fresh water discharges into the Gulf. This fresh water contains dark colored tannins which is created when pine needles, leaves, grasses and other organic matter get into the water and break down over time, giving it a dark tea-stained look. This water might be perceived as polluted by some, but it is not. This process is naturally-occurring within our lakes and similar lakes can be found in Walton County.
The City of Panama City Beach maintains the Lullwater outfall and tries to keep the discharge directed straight towards the Gulf and prevent meandering to neighboring properties. This is a challenge, however, as changes in the tide and surf make maintenance difficult. We are currently working on plans for Segment 3 of the CRA (Community Redevelopment Area) which will include a component to improve or change the outfall pipe. This would potentially extend the outfall approximately 50 feet towards the water’s edge which would reduce the area of the channel.
To reiterate, these discolored outflows are a unique aspect of our lake ecosystem. They are naturally occurring fresh-water flows from spring-fed lakes and are not harmful or polluted. The City will continue to work to educate both our locals and our tourists on this issue and would suggest that condos and resort properties assist in these educational efforts.
The Florida Department of Health provides water quality sampling along our beaches to ensure our water remains healthy for public and marine life use. Water reports can be found here: Beach Water
Public Information Officer Debbie Ward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 233-5100.