Valdosta December 2018 sewage and Hamilton County, FL legislative delegation 2019-01-16

Water quality testing of drinking wells and rivers is needed, and not just when there is a spill. Maybe the state of Florida will help fund it. Or maybe Valdosta should. It doesn’t seem right that Hamilton County should have to pay for it.

Valdosta, Tifton, Quitman, and Lowndes County, December 2018, Table
For the WWALS automated updates on GA-EPD Sewage Spills Reports, see wwals.net/issues/vww/ga-spills/.

The main newspaper of Suwannee and Hamilton Counties, Florida, is getting into the act, but seems to only know part of the picture. Editorial: It’s time for support with sewage spills, The Suwannee Democrat, Jan 24, 2019,

Area residents have had — and some took advantage of — their chance to voice concerns with state legislators.

Now it is time to see if those concerns were heard and will be addressed.

Both in Hamilton and Suwannee counties, the main topic discussed by residents and local elected officials was the ongoing problem with wastewater spills from Valdosta, Ga., contaminating the Withlachoochee River as well as other North Florida waterways.

The editorial goes on to quote the legislators, to note that they have no jurisdiction over the problem (except maybe a lawsuit), and that Valdosta’s new-ish Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant did not solve the problem.

It wasn’t as two spills in December proved.

Those two spills totaled more than 4 million gallons of raw sewage. But there were 22 more spills, some of a quarter million gallons each, adding up to another 2.37 million gallons, for about 6,273,595 gallons of raw sewage spilled by Valdosta in December 2018.

We know this because of the daily reports GA-EPD is now posting after WWALS organized a campaign to get them to, involving 30 organizations in Florida and Georgia. For Valdosta’s spills since 2015, see this recent WWALS blog post.

Hamilton County residents, officials share sewage spill concerns with legislators, By Jessie R. Box, The Suwannee Democrat, Jan 24, 2019,

Jacqueline Mathis said her husband became gravely ill from the E. coli from their well water that was infected by wastewater sewage in the Withlacoochee River.

“Will you please help us with this problem?” Mathis asked.

She added that everyone should have their wells checked for E. coli

Photo: Jessie R. Box for The Suwannee Democrat; Chris Mericle has concerns with the wastewater spills 2019-01-16.
Photo: Jessie R. Box for The Suwannee Democrat; Chris Mericle has concerns with the wastewater spills 2019-01-16.

Chris Mericle said wells that are miles from the river are also affected.

“We need somebody that will make this a priority every day,” Mericle said.

He also asked that the state find funding for water quality testing and water treatment for those who cannot afford it.

“This is something we didn’t cause,” Mericle said.

WWALS has started a water quality testing program, but of course it takes time to find and train volunteers, while the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) already have trained staff who could do this, with proper funding. FDEP and the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) already do a surprising amount of testing, but not where the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers come into Florida, except for a week after a major spill.

Much of the current lawsuit talk seems to be coming from newly elected Florida statehouse District 10 Representative Chuck Brannan.

The Rivers Task Force of the downstream Florida counties is reserving legal actiion for a last resort. Sewage spills from Valdosta, Georgia cause problems for Florida County’s, By Landon Harrar, WCJB TV | Posted: Thu 9:55 PM, Jan 24, 2019 | Updated: Fri 11:26 AM, Jan 25, 2019,

The possibility of filing a lawsuit was talked about, but commissioners say its the last resort. Burnham emphasized, “first of all we would like Valdosta to know we would like to help them, we’re not here to be adversarial with them, stir up controversy, we’re not automatically tossing out litigation.”

What was decided at Thursday’s meeting was commissioners want to arrange an in-person meeting with Valdosta city council members to find possible solutions including requesting federal aid to stop the spills.

And how about some state aid for water quality testing.

According to that WCJB story, the Rivers Task Force is also still operating with partial information:

“100 plus mile area impact in our state based on sewage spills occurring in the city of Valdosta,” said Madison County Commissioner Rick Davis, in reference to the multiple sewage spills coming from across State lines.

In just 2018 alone there were three spills. Two resulted in 435-thousand gallons of sewage water going into the Withlacoochee, with the last spill yet to have a definite number of gallons spilled. And those are small numbers compared to previous spills.

It was a lot more than three spills and many more gallons than that. Plus a number for that last spill has been reported.

Looks like I need to send them an update.

Furthermore, one thing Valdosta has amply demonstrated through their own water quality testing is that fecal bacteria are getting into the rivers when there are no spills.

Graph, Withlacoochee River Basin, Withlacoochee

I’d like to know where that’s coming from and see what can be done to stop it. Wouldn’t you?

Valdosta is slowing its river testing from weekly to only monthly. WWALS is doing what we can to pick up the slack, and maybe you’d like to help.

However, shouldn’t water quality testing really be the job of the states of Georgia and Florida?

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Table of Sewage Spills into Suwannee River Basin in December 2018

2018-12-01–2018-12-31–Suwannee-River-Basin-Spills-Reported-GA-EPD.html by WWALS Watershed Coalition; see http://wwals.net/issues/vww/ga-spills
BEGIN DATEFACILITY NAMECOUNTYCITYOVERFLOW LOCATIONQUANTITY GALLONSOVERFLOW TYPEPERMIT NUMBERSPILL SOURCESPILL PRIMARY CAUSERIVER BASINWATERWAY IMPACTED
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2018-12-17Tifton, City of (New River WPCP)TiftTiftonAgrirama Lift Station.7,500Raw SewageGA0048470Lift StationHydraulic OverloadSuwanneeAgrirama Lake and Little River Basin
2018-12-17Tifton, City of (New River WPCP)TiftTiftonManhole located at 24th St. 7 Ridge Ave.9,000Raw SewageGA0048470Collection SystemHydraulic OverloadSuwanneeNew Riber Basin
2018-12-15Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdostaWithlacoochee Equalization Basin – 3100 Block of Weatherington Lane – Valdosta1,814,000Raw SewageGA0033235WWTPWet weatherWithlacoochee River
2018-12-14Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdosta1208 Wainwright Drive – Valdosta51,800Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherOne Mile Branch
2018-12-14Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdostaNorth Oak Street/Midbriar Drive / Reported as – N. Oak St/Smith Briar41,700Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherThree Mile Branch
2018-12-14Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdosta408 Mildred Street – Valdosta123,375Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherKnight’s Creek
2018-12-14Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdosta817 Gornto Road – Valdosta27,500Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherTwo Mile Branch
2018-12-14Quitman, City of (Quitman WPCP)BrooksQuitman616 North Walker Street40,000Raw SewageGAJ020022Collection SystemWet weatherOconeeOkapilko Creek
2018-12-14Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdosta1603 Azalea Drive – Valdosta39,970Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherTwo Mile Branch
2018-12-03Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdostaLee Street and E Jane – Valdosta64,400Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherOne Mile Branch
2018-12-03Tifton, City of (New River WPCP)TiftTiftonAgrirama Lift Station35,400Raw SewageGA0048470Lift StationHydraulic OverloadSuwanneeLittle River Basin
2018-12-03Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdosta1100 Block of Ponderosa – Valdosta (1101 Ponderosa)13,125Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherOne Mile Branch
2018-12-03Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdosta1200 Block of Waynewright – Valdosta (1208 Wainwright)166,725Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherOne Mile Branch
2018-12-03Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdosta400 Block of Mildred Street – Valdosta210,000Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherKnights Creek
2018-12-03Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdosta1400 Block of Lola – Valdosta (1403 Lola)56,625Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherOne Mile Branch
2018-12-03Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdostaMack Drive Station – Valdosta162,800Raw SewageGA0033235Pump StationWet weatherTwo Mile Branch
2018-12-03Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdosta1300 Block of Lee Street – Valdosta (1305 Lee Street)290,475Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherOne Mile Branch
2018-12-03Tifton, City of (New River WPCP)TiftTiftonManhole located at 26th St. & Ridge Ave.51,700Raw SewageGA0048470Collection SystemHydraulic OverloadSuwanneeNew River Basin
2018-12-03Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdostaTroup and E Ann Street – Valdosta31,545Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherOne Mile Branch
2018-12-03Tifton, City of (New River WPCP)TiftTifton61 TC Gordon Rd.18,000Raw SewageGA0048470Collection SystemHydraulic OverloadSuwanneeLittle River Basin
2018-12-03Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdostaNorth Forrest and Brookwood – Valdosta45,300Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherOne Mile Branch
2018-12-03Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdosta1200 Block of Ponderosa – Valdosta (1201 Ponderosa)52,500Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherOne Mile Branch
2018-12-03Lowndes County (South Regional WPCP)LowndesValdostaMadison Highway near Exit 11 – Valdosta35,000Raw SewageGAJ020294Collection SystemWet weatherTrib. of Bevel Creek
2018-12-03Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdostaSamuel/Holiday – Valdosta242,325Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherDuke’s Bay Canal
2018-12-03Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdosta3600 Block of Lake Laurie Road – Valdosta21,500Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherCherry Creek
2018-12-02Quitman, City of (Quitman WPCP)BrooksQuitmanU.S. Highway 84 Quitman GA 3164380,000Raw SewageGAJ020022Collection SystemWet weatherOchlockoneeOkapilco Creek
2018-12-02Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdostaWilliam Street and College Street Intersection – Valdosta299,850Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherOne Mile Branch
2018-12-02Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdosta800 Block of Gornto Road – Valdosta (817 Gornto)244,650Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherTwo Mile Branch
2018-12-02Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdosta1800 Block of East Park Avenue – Valdosta (1810 E Park Avenue)15,575Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherKnight’s Creek
2018-12-02Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdostaWithlacoochee Equalization Basin – 3100 Block of Weatherington Lane – Valdosta2,200,000Raw SewageGA0033235WWTPWet weatherSpring Creek
2018-12-02Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdostaBay Street and Hines3,330Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherTBD
2018-12-02Valdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)LowndesValdosta700 Block of Lamar Street – Valdosta54,525Raw SewageGA0033235Collection SystemWet weatherOne Mile Branch

TotalValdosta, City of (Withlacoochee WPCP)6,273,595
TotalTifton, City of (New River WPCP)121,600
TotalQuitman, City of (Quitman WPCP)120,000
TotalLowndes County (South Regional WPCP)35,000

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!