Tannehill Pledges Accountability for Deficiencies, Stronger Oversight
(Panama City – April 27, 2009) — Airport Authority Chairman Joe Tannehill pledged a full public accounting of the actions and events that led to stormwater control deficiencies at the new airport site in West Bay during the recent deluge.
Last week Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) officials and representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) toured the new airport construction site and expressed concerns that current efforts to mitigate excessive stormwater runoff had become inadequate in the wake of unusually heavy rains during the month of April.
“Whatever the cause, any deficiencies in stormwater management at the new airport site are simply inexcusable,” said Tannehill. “The people of Bay County and Northwest Florida deserve to know what went wrong and what we are doing to correct the situation. The Airport Authority will provide a full public accounting.”
“Our first priority is to address the stormwater issues as soon as possible,” said Tannehill. “We committed to submitting our plan for corrective action to FDEP by Wednesday, April 29. We are moving aggressively to correct the situation, and we are preparing for the tropical storm season ahead.”
Tannehill has begun meeting with site contractors and engineers to review the situation, determine the cause of the deficiencies, and most importantly, to establish a clear plan for correcting the situation and ensuring it never happens again.
Tannehill said the Airport Authority would continue to work closely with FDEP and USACOE to ensure the stormwater management deficiencies are corrected.
“But our commitment goes beyond addressing the current deficiencies. Once we have reviewed all the facts we will provide the citizens of Bay County a full accounting,” said Tannehill.
“It is not enough simply to say that the stormwater management issues were the result of an extraordinary amount of rain — so much rain that Bay County was declared by the state and federal government a disaster area. If there was mismanagement the public has a right to know,” said Tannehill.
The Airport Authority said it would keep the public informed of its efforts to address the deficiencies through regular updates to the new airport’s public information web site at www.newpcairport.com.
“This was not an environmental disaster as some of the airport opponents have declared. Our limits for turbidity were exceeded and that is a problem we will fix. I think that every stream and bayou in Northwest Florida had elevated silt levels with the 20 inches of rain we experienced. There will be no lasting environmental damage from this event,” said Tannehill.
“This airport Board resolved long ago to make the new Panama City – Bay County International Airport one of the world’s most environmentally-friendly and this latest event and what we will learn from it will only strengthen that resolve,” said Tannehill.
The Airport Authority has been working with FDEP for years, including several years on the Ecosytem Team Permitting process. Under the Ecosystem Team Permit, the airport site and surrounding West Bay Sector will produce a net environmental gain when the airport project is complete.
“We will continue working with FDEP to ensure our new airport ultimately results in a net environmental gain for our region, and to build and operate one of the nation’s greenest airports,” said Tannehill.