Color returning to the coast: As silt settles, Emerald Coast gets back to its namesake

William Hatfield
This photo taken in 2010 shows just how pretty the water in Destin can be.

Don't worry. The Emerald Coast hasn’t lost its luster.

“It will come back,” says biogeochemical oceanographer Allison Beauragard of the water coloring that has become one of Destin’s calling cards.

Lately, The Log has been fielding plenty of questions from readers wondering where the electric green water has gone.

Beauregard, who works at Northwest Florida State College as the Mattie Kelly Distinguished Chair of Environmental Science, said she hasn’t seen the water color first hand lately, but there is a likely culprit.

“I don’t remember the last time we had this much rain, and so intense everyday,” she said. “And especially with the amount of rain we’ve gotten, my hunch is that a lot of sediment from land got washed into the coastal area.”

“Once the silt has a chance to settle down, the color goes back to its usual color.”

But that process could take a week or two, especially with reports from boat captains that the discoloration extends a good ways out into the Gulf.

All told Destin has seen more than 14.03 inches of rain in July so far, compared to 8.5 for the entire month last year. And that will have an impact on water clarity and quality, as runoff leads to elevated bacterial counts in local waterways.

“You think about how much rain we’ve gotten… all that rain has to go somewhere,” she said.

Log reporter Tina Harbuck walked the beach this morning and captured this photo of the beach at James Lee Park .What do you think of the coloring?