City to repair harbor flushing pump

Matt Algarin
This facility houses the harbor pump, which is responsible for circulating fresh water in the harbor. The pump is currently out of commission.

With the summer season right around the corner, the city's public services crew is working to repair the pump that is responsible for helping to filter fresh water into the harbor.

"We've been working on it for a while now," said Tim Pietenpol, the city's acting public services director.

During a routine inspection this month, crews found that the pump was not discharging water. Pietenpol says that a coupler may be to blame, but the city was waiting for crews from the pump's manufacturer to arrive in Destin to assist.

The harbor flushing pump, which was completed in 1992, pulls water from the Gulf of Mexico into a large pipe that sticks out of Holiday Isle and pumps the fresh saltwater into the harbor. Without the pump, the ecology of the harbor can degrade since there is not much water circulation in the back end, which can result in cloudy water, high algae content and possible death to marine life.

Pietenpol told The Log that the only way for his crews to know what's wrong with the pump would be for them to pump all of the water out of the apparatus and disconnect the lower part of the pump, which is no small task.

"The lower unit alone weighs between 600-800 pounds," he said.

The pump, which cycles through about 50,000 gallons of water a minute, typically is run on a monthly basis from April through October, Pietenpol said, adding that now was the "prime time" to get the pump fixed since it hadn't been in heavy use since last year.

"If the repair is what we think it is, it won't take long to repair," he said.