The City’s Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) Plant receives and treats wastewater collected from Panama City Beach and the surrounding unincorporated Bay County service area. Due to the seasonal influx of tourists within the City’s service area, flow to the Plant can vary significantly during a year. On an average day in July, more than 9 million gallons of raw sewage flow into the AWT Plant on North Gulf Boulevard. This sewage is then put through an extensive biological treatment process to produce treated water that meets or exceeds state and federal regulations, including National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System standards (NPDES). The City personnel monitor the treatment process 24 hours a day to ensure the cleanest water is produced. Historically, the AWT Plant’s discharge effluent levels have remained well below established requirements.
A significant portion of treated water is used for the City’s reclaimed water storage and pumping facility. The facility has the capability of storing 10 million gallons of water, which is sent on demand to over 1,000 metered commercial and residential locations providing safe and cost-effective irrigation water for lawns and landscaping. Over 3 million gallons of water per day can be used during the growing season.
Any excess water not used by the reclaimed water system is pumped to the City’s 2,900 acre conservation park for release into the wetlands. The site was purchased and developed to receive highly treated effluent and allowed the City AWT Plant to cease all discharges to the West Bay in April 2011. Sampling of water in the Conservation Park is performed routinely and all samples are tested by an independent laboratory service before the results are provided to regulatory agencies. While the Conservation Park site was originally acquired as a utility need, it serves a dual purpose by providing over 24 miles of off-road cycling, running, and hiking opportunities for the public.
The division also operates and maintains over 130 wastewater lift stations in the utility service area. These stations pump raw wastewater, collected from thousands of homes and businesses, to the City AWT Plant for treatment. Performance of the pump stations are monitored 24 hours a day to ensure they are working properly.