Panama City Beach, Florida, situated on 27 miles of white-sand beaches in the panhandle of Northwest Florida is one of the country's most popular travel destinations. The city is ecologically significant in that it is surrounded by thousands of acres of protected wetlands which are part of the West Bay Ecosystem. Due to decades of extensive tree farming, the natural water balance of the wetlands had been negatively altered.
In early 2000, Panama City Beach city leaders devised a long-range plan designed to accomplish several distinct but related goals: redirect wastewater that was being discharged from the local Advanced Wastewater Plant into West Bay to protect the water quality there; increase the capacity of the plant to meet the demands of a growing population and finally, put the reclaimed water from the expanded plant to beneficial use by re-hydrating the ecosystem with it. Developing an appropriate course of action to reach these goals was a more than decade-long process.
The city contracted with a local consulting engineering firm to design the project. An engineer at the firm who was familiar with Evoqua's retrofit of traveling bridge filters to disc filters to increase capacity, recommended the Forty-X™ Disc Filter. The firm contacted Evoqua Water Technologies to learn more about this retrofit option.
Evoqua recommended installing four Forty-X Disc Filter units, which have a flexible operating hydraulic profile. In addition to preserving valuable real estate and saving Panama City Beach tens of thousands of dollars in construction costs by utilizing existing piping and concrete tankage, the installation of the disc filters would increase filtration capacity to 10 MGD in half the space that previously had provided only 4.5 MGD.
Today, the Advanced Wastewater Plant has the capacity to pump up to 14 MGD of treated wastewater to and through an elaborate piping system in a 2,900-acre portion of the ecosystem which was renamed Conservation Park and officially opened in the fall of 2011. Fourteen and a half miles of new pipe carry the excess reuse water to the park, where it filters though and re-hydrates the landscape on its way to the Intracoastal Waterway.
The project has resulted in several significant benefits for the ecosystem within Conservation Park and the community that can now enjoy the area in a much more accessible manner.