County Officials Consider Deerpoint Draw-Down a Success

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PANAMA CITY - If you take a look back on this week's freezing temperatures and ice storm, you probably can't come up with too many positives, but county officials say the hard freeze is exactly what they were hoping for when they planned this year's Deerpoint Lake draw-down.

The timing couldn't have been better. Today was the last scheduled day of the 45-day draw-down, which is designed to kill off the lake's aquatic weeds by exposing them to freezing temperatures.

Bay County officials are confident that this week's cold temperatures will have a more lasting effect in killing off unwanted weeds.

Chris Paxton of the Florida Fish & Wildlife says "If we have a long extended dry period, then that result will be the same. But the cold weather, the frost, the quick freeze, that does it right away, so we are always looking for that."

Officials say lake weeds were exposed to at least five nights of freezing temperatures during the forty-five day draw down, and they believe that will pay off big time this summer.

Paxton added, "Once recreation season gets going, boaters, and anglers who are in those problem areas, they will notice a big difference."

The cold weather is also helping local officials with more than just weeds. Michael Riles is Panama City Beach's Mosquito Control's new Entomologist. He's tracking how below average temperatures this month are effecting mosquito populations.

He says, "Extreme cold temperatures, twenty degrees or below, thirty degrees or below, you are going to see a decrease in the mosquito populations, but that doesn't mean they are gone."

Different types of mosquitoes react differently to cold weather. While the cold snap has killed off some types, others will bounce back this spring and summer.

Riles continues, "So the warm weather is going to bring them back out, so it all just depends on when that time changes, and the sun comes up just a little bit longer, of when they will come back out and breed again."

County officials closed the draw-down gates this morning. The water level is rising right now. They say it should be back to a normal level in about 5 days. In years past, the draw-down has been less successful when we didn't get any freezing temperatures.