Update 2020-05-04: Press Release, Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order.
Much of what many people requested is in this Enforcement Order EPD-WP-8904 of the Public Notice of April 27, 2020.
Perhaps the most popular request, a fine, is included. As a Project In-Lieu of Penalty (PIP) stream testing is required, three times a week, down to the state line. Plus: “The Respondent shall post all the results of biological monitoring required after major spills to its website and to the Georgia EPD Adopt-A-Stream website within one business day of receipt of the results.”
All 250 sewer line creek crossings must be inspected by drone crews.
Valdosta must notify many Florida agencies, plus in Georgia Lowndes Health and Brooks EMA.
Other things are missing. WWALS is not on that notification list, for example.
And the Order reveals some Valdosta violations the public never knew about, such as a massive fish kill in December 2019. The cost of that calculated by GA-DNR Wildlife Division seems inadequate, since it doesn’t take into account people being unwilling to fish on the Withlacoochee River, for example.
If you think there should be more or changed requirements, the Public Comment period ends May 27, 2020.
Send comments to:
Mr. Lewis Hays
Manager, Watershed Compliance
Environmental Protection Division
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Suite 1152 East, Atlanta, GA 30334
Suwannee Riverkeeper obtained this Order through a Georgia Open Records Act (GORA) request to GA-EPD. While I appreciate the swift response, within one day, I have also asked GA-EPD if they could publish the Order on their own website.
For convenience, I have transcribed the main text of the Order here.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION DIVISION
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
STATE OF GEORGIA
RE: City of Valdosta
Post Office Box 1125
Valdosta, GA 31603
WHEREAS, the City of Valdosta (hereinafter, “Respondent”) operates the Withlacoochee and Mud Creek Water Pollution Control Plants (hereinafter, “WPCP”) located in Lowndes County, Georgia; and
WHEREAS, the Respondent was issued National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (hereinafter, “NPDES”) Permit Nos. GA0020222 and GA0033235 (hereinafter, “Permits”) by the Director of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Environmental Protection Division (hereinafter, “Director” and “Division”) for its Withlacoochee and Mud Creek WPCPs; and
WHEREAS, under the “Georgia Water Quality Control Act of 1964” as amended O.C.G.A. § 12-5-20 et seq. (hereinafter, “Water Quality Act”), the General Assembly of Georgia designated the Director of the Division to administer the provisions of the Water Quality Act; and
WHEREAS, the Rules for Water Quality Control, Chapter 391-3-6, as amended (hereinafter, “Water Quality Rules”) authorized under O.C.G.A. § 12-5-23 of the Water Quality Act, were established and became effective; and
WHEREAS, O.C.G.A. § 12-5-23 of the Water Quality Act, assigns the Director the authority to issue permits stipulating in each permit the conditions or limitations under which such permit was issued and the authority to issue orders as may be necessary to enforce compliance with the provisions of the Act and all rules and regulations promulgated thereunder; and
WHEREAS, Section 391-3-6-.03(5)(c) of the Water Quality Rules requires that all waters be free from material related to municipal, industrial or other discharges which produce turbidity, color, odor, or other objectionable conditions which interfere with legitimate water uses; and
WHEREAS, Section 391-3-6-.03(5)(e) of the Water Quality Rules requires that all waters be free from toxic, corrosive, acidic and caustic substances discharged from municipalities, industries or other sources, such as non-point sources, in amounts, concentrations or combinations which are harmful to humans, animals or aquatic life; and
WHEREAS, Section 391-3-6-.05(3)(c) of the Water Quality Rules requires that a monitoring program be established on waters affected by a major spill, with such monitoring being at the expense of the Publicly Owned Treatment Works for at least one year, at a frequency to be determined by the Division; and
WHEREAS, Sections 391-3-6-.05(3)(f) and (g) of the Water Quality Rules require that notices of spills and major spills shall be provided to local health departments in the area affected by the incident, and that signs shall be posted in points of public access to the affected waterway; and
WHEREAS, on December 4, 2013, Consent Order No. EPD-WQ-5478 (hereinafter, “Order 5478”) was executed between the Respondent and the Division to address numerous spills from the Respondent’s sanitary sewer system and permit limitation violations; and
WHEREAS, Order 5478 included a plan for the relocation of the Withlacoochee WPCP and its influent force main after its flooding in 2009 and 2013, with scheduled completion dates of August 2017 and July 2016, respectively, and both were completed by the expected date; and
WHEREAS, Order 5478 also included a Supplemental Environmental Project (hereinafter, “SEP”) for the evaluation and repair/rehabilitation of the Respondent’s sanitary sewer collection system to reduce spill frequency and volume, with a scheduled completion date of December 31, 2018; and
WHEREAS, in their annual compliance report for Order 5478, dated December 27, 2018, the Respondent stated that excessive rain had delayed work on the SEP, and requested to extend the deadlines of the order to accommodate additional work at the Withlacoochee WPCP, including the design and construction of additional storage basins (Attachment E); and
WHEREAS, on April 10, 2014, a Notice of Violation (hereinafter, “NOV”) was issued to the Respondent by the Division for unpermitted discharges from the Respondent’s sanitary sewer collection system to waters of the State from August 1, 2013 to April 7, 2014, totaling approximately 4.6 million gallons, and Permit effluent limitation violations from the Withlacoochee and Mud Creek WPCPs from July 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014; and
WHEREAS, in a response to the April 2014 NOV, dated May 19, 2014, the Respondent indicated that the spills were a result of high groundwater tables, river and localized flooding
which resulted in extensive inflow and infiltration (hereinafter, “I/I”) to the system, and that the force main replacement project would eliminate the liability from the city’s system (Attachment D); and
WHEREAS, on November 1, 2016, a modification of NPDES permit No. GA0020222 for the Respondent’s Mud Creek WPCP went into effect, containing a higher monitoring frequency for total phosphorus than the previous permit; and
WHEREAS, from December 2, 2018 to December 15, 2018, the collection system for the Withlacoochee WPCP was inundated with flow due to heavy rains and severe weather, and the Respondent reported numerous unpermitted discharges from its sanitary sewer collection system to waters of the State as a result of the wet weather, totaling over 2,255,000 gallons (Attachment A.1); and
WHEREAS, from December 2, 2018 to December 17, 2018, the Withlacoochee WPCP was inundated with flow due to heavy rains and severe weather, and the Respondent reported an estimated total 21,814,000 gallons of raw sewage and rainwater discharged to the Withlacoochee River from the Withlacoochee WPCP’s equalization basin as a result of the wet weather (Attachment A.2); and
WHEREAS, the Respondent had previously established a stream quality monitoring program at the state line between Georgia and Florida, independent of permit or state requirements, and has since reduced the frequency of their program from once per week to once per quarter due to financial constraints, and several requests have been submitted by entities in Florida and Georgia for the Respondent to increase their sampling frequency; and
WHEREAS, several requests have been submitted by entities in Florida to receive timely notifications of spills from the Respondent’s systems which cross or have the potential to cross state borders; and
WHEREAS, on February 19, 2019, a NOV was issued to the Respondent by the Division, stating the Division’s intent to revise Order 5478 or create a new Order addressing unpermitted discharges from the Respondent’s sanitary sewer collection system to waters of the State and permit violations from the Withlacoochee and Mud Creek WPCPs from April 8, 2014, to December 31, 2018; and
WHEREAS, in a meeting held between the Division and the Respondent on April 8, 2019, the Respondent indicated that smoke testing had revealed approximately one-thousand five-hundred (1500) cleanout caps had been removed by residents in order to reduce flooding on private properties, as well as pipes which had been constructed to conduct stormwater from private retention ponds to the sanitary sewer collection system, exacerbating I/I flow during the storms of December 2018; and
WHEREAS, in the same meeting on April 8, 2019, the Respondent also indicated that procedures had been established to ensure that downstream entities in Florida are notified of spills from the Respondent’s systems at the same date as the Division is notified; and
WHEREAS, in a written response to the February 2019 NOV dated March 19, 2019, the Respondent provided a list of ongoing and planned projects to address the causes of these spills (Attachment F), and;
WHEREAS, on December 9, 2019, the Respondent reported a spill totaling 7.59 million gallons of raw sewage at 1810 Norman Drive into Sugar Creek, which feeds the Withlacoochee River; and
WHEREAS, the spill was the result of a component left unplugged during maintenance on the nearby Remerton Lift Station, performed on Tuesday December 3, 2019, by Electric Machine Control, Inc. (EMC); and
WHEREAS, the Respondent did not notice the error by EMC during its daily routine inspections of the lift station, nor did the Withlacoochee WPCP report the observed dropoff of approximately 50% in flow until six (6) days later, on Monday December 9, 2019; and
WHEREAS, while performing a visual inspection of the stream and river banks downstream of the spill on Tuesday December 10, 2019, the Respondent identified multiple dead fish in the Withlacoochee River and contacted the Fisheries Management Section of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division to perform a Fish Kill Investigation (Attachment C); and
WHEREAS, in a phone call between representatives of the Respondent and the Division on December 13, 2019, the Respondent provided updates to the list of ongoing and planned projects; and
WHEREAS, the Respondent on October 2, 2019, submitted a Design Development Report (DDR) and Plans and Specifications for an additional 7.26 million gallon equalization basin to be constructed at the Withlacoochee WPCP as a temporary measure to mitigate the impact of stormflows and I/T; and
WHEREAS, the Division approved the DDR on December 11, 2019 and the Plans & Specs on December 13, 2019; and
WHEREAS, a meeting was held between the Division and the Respondent on February 27, 2020 and a follow-up letter was sent to the Division on March 5, 2020, wherein the Respondent proposed the implementation of two SEPs to offset a portion of the monetary penalties in this Consent Order (Attachment J); and
WHEREAS, the proposed SEPs have been reviewed and approved; and
WHEREAS, the spills from the sanitary sewer system and WPCP to waters of the State from April 8, 2014 through December 31, 2019 (Attachment A) are violations of the Water Quality Act and the Water Quality Rules; and
WHEREAS, for fourteen (14) months following the modification of NPDES Permit No. GA0020222, the Mud Creek WPCP failed to observe the increased sampling frequency for Total Phosphorus, and has since reported five additional sampling and procedural violations (Attachment B.3) which are violations of Part 1.A.2 of NPDES Permit No. GA0020222; and
WHEREAS, the Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division finds the fish kill in Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River to have resulted in a fish kill of an estimated 1,536 fish (Attachment C) which is a violation of the Water Quality Act and the Water Quality Rules; and
WHEREAS, from April 8, 2014 through November 30, 2019, additional narrative and effluent permit violations have been reported at the Withlacoochee and Mud Creek WPCPs (Attachment B), which are violations of Part 1.A.2 and 1.B of NPDES Permits No. GA0020222 and GA0033235; and
WHEREAS, O.C.G.A. § 12-5-52 provides that any person violating any provision of the Act or any permit condition or limitation established pursuant to the Act or, negligently or intentionally, failing or refusing to comply with any final order of the Director shall be liable for a civil penalty of not more than $50,000.00 per day for each day during which such violation continues provided, however, that a separate and later incident creating a violation within a 12 month period shall be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed $100,000.00 per day for each day during which such violation continues; and
WHEREAS, the Director has determined that it is in the public interest to resolve all allegations raised above by entering into this Order without the necessity of litigation and adjudication of the issues.
NOW THEREFORE, by agreement of the parties, before the taking of any testimony and without adjudicating the merits of the parties’ positions in this matter, in order to resolve the violations alleged herein, the Director hereby ORDERS and the Respondent AGREES to do the following:
- Within sixty (60) days of the execution date of this Order, pay to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources $122,000.00, for the violations documented in this Order.
- Within one hundred and eighty (180) days of the execution date of this Order, the Respondent shall develop and submit for Division’s review and approval a Capacity, Management, Operation, and Maintenance (CMOM) Program including the components identified below. The CMOM Program shall be implemented upon approval.
- A sewer mapping program that depicts all gravity sewer lines, force mains, air release valves, manholes, pump stations, permanent flow meters, pipe sizes, and major appurtenances. This sewer mapping program shall include a schedule for initial mapping completion by no later than two years from the effective date of this Order. The program shall also include a schedule to update the maps as needed, but no less frequently than once per year.
- A sewer assessment program that provides schedules for the continual analysis of sewer infrastructure. The program shall provide for the entire sewer system to be assessed at least once by no later than two years from the effective date of this Order. The program shall also provide for a complete re-assessment of the system no less frequently than every five years after the initial assessment.
- An infrastructure rehabilitation program that includes all entities identified in the sewer mapping program. A rehab of the entire collection system must be completed within five years from the effective date of this Order. Rehabilitation shall include pipe repairs and pipe lining consistent with that already identified in Conditions 14 and 17 below.
- An update to the existing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for emergency actions regarding spill reporting, notification, sampling, and recordkeeping, consistent with the requirements in Conditions 6, 7, and 8 below. This SOP must also include the collection and reporting of GPS coordinates for all spills. This SOP must be submitted to the Division for review and approval within 30 days of the effective date of this Order.
- A wet weather emergency plan that includes at minimum procedures to be taken prior to rain events in order to prevent sewer overflows, such as preventative inspections of creek crossings and equalization basins. The plan must be submitted to the Division for review and approval within 30 days of the effective date of this Order.
- A Pump Station Operations Program that includes at a minimum a Pump Station Preventive Maintenance and Inspection Program to address pump station operations to be conducted on a routine, scheduled basis. The program shall define SOPs to be followed at each pump station such as observing wet well conditions and grease accumulation, checking electrical components, checking SCADA components, checking alarms and stand-by power, reading and recording information from elapsed time meters, pump start counters, and/or system pressure, re-setting as necessary to improve system performance, and identifying maintenance needs. The program shall also establish schedules, routes, priorities, standardized forms, and reporting procedures.
- A routine inspection program for the Respondent’s creek crossing pipes. The program shall provide for all approximately 250 creek crossings to be assessed at least once by no later than December 31, 2020, with assistance from drone crews. The program shall also provide for a complete re-assessment of all creek crossings no less frequently than every five years after the initial assessment.
- The continued implementation of the Respondent’s existing Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) Control Program.
- A copy of the Respondent’s existing hydraulic model for the Withlacoochee and Mud Creek WPCPs with schedules that provide for continuous updating and calibrating of the model as new data is provided by the sewer mapping program in Condition 2.a above, the sewer assessment program in Condition 2.b above, and the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) installations in Condition 15 below, which shall be used to track the effectiveness of I/I reduction efforts. The first update shall be made no later than December 31, 2020.
- A corrosion control program that includes the development and implementation of site-specific corrosion control measures and monitoring programs to address corrosion caused by hydrogen sulfide. At minimum, the Respondent shall utilize the in-house manhole rehabilitation team established December 10, 2019, to implement an ongoing in-house manhole rehabilitation program to keep up with the rate of manhole deterioration in the collection system by September 30, 2020.
- The Respondent shall select and enforce the legal authority necessary to regulate the volume of flow entering the collection system, including residential and commercial customers, satellite communities, and industrial users. The legal authority may take the form of sewer use ordinances, contracts, service agreements, and/or other legally binding documents. See Attachment I for optional guidance.
- The Respondent shall assign at least one employee as a designated CMOM coordinator to facilitate the work of technical staff and/or consultants assigned to the implementation of the above conditions to ensure compliance.
- Within thirty (30) days of the execution date of this Order, establish a check-in sheet at each lift station which operators must sign to validate that the lift station was checked on that day and establish procedures to have the sheets reviewed regularly by a manager. This requirement must be included in the CMOM Program.
- Within sixty (60) days of the execution date of this Order, submit to the Division detailed implementation schedules for both SEPs (Attachment J, Item 1) to spend a minimum of $260,000 total on additional water quality data collection and an education and marketing campaign within four (4) years of the execution date of this Order. A report of progress, activities and expenditures for these projects will be included in the semiannual report required in Condition 19.
- Within sixty (60) days of the execution date of this Order, revise SOPs and perform operator training at both WPCPs to ensure that discrepancies in influent flow are reported to a manager within a timely manner. The Respondent shall document in writing the responsibilities of employees (by position) charged with monitoring plant systems. This requirement must be included in the CMOM Program.
- Within thirty (30) days of the execution date of this Order, update spill reporting procedures to report all spills which cross or have the potential to cross state boundaries to the relevant downstream Florida authorities (i.e. Health Departments, local governments, etc.) on the same date as the spill reports are provided to the Division, including identical information. This requirement must be included in the CMOM Program.
- The Respondent shall update its “North Florida” mailing list (Attachment H.1) to include the contacts identified by EPA and Florida (Attachment H.2) and submit it to Georgia EPD. The Respondent shall update this list as needed, but no less frequently than once per year.
- The Respondent shall expand its existing offer to “Sign up for E-News” on its website to include an option to receive spill notifications at the same time as press releases are published.
- Within thirty (30) days of the execution date of this Order, update spill response procedures to notify the public of all major and non-major spills with postings at boat ramps and other public access points downstream from the spill. In addition to the requirements laid out in Section 391-3-6-.05(3)(g) of the Water Quality Rules, the spatial and temporal extent of postings shall be determined by the Respondent based on spill volume, streamflow, and estimated time of travel. The Respondent shall submit its calculations justifying the posting locations within twenty-four hours of becoming aware of the spill event so the Division may concur with the extent of postings.
- Within thirty (30) days of the execution date of this Order, update major spill sampling procedures. In the event of a major spill, the Respondent shall monitor and sample once daily for seven days and once weekly for the next four weeks for a total of five weeks, for dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, fecal coliform, and e-coli. Monitoring and sampling shall be performed on both the impacted waterway and the Withlacoochee River, if the two are not synonymous. Monitoring and sampling shall be performed upstream and downstream of the spill site on the impacted waterway, as well as upstream and downstream of the joining of the impacted waterway to the Withlacoochee River. Grab samples shall be collected from the main portion of the stream/river-flow and analyzed for fecal coliform and e-coli within six (6) hours of sample collection.
- The Respondent shall post all the results of biological monitoring required after major spills to its website and to the Georgia EPD Adopt-A-Stream website within one business day of receipt of the results.
- The Respondent shall provide all data in the form of an Excel spreadsheet to the Division’s Watershed Compliance Program. This includes a 7-day geometric mean calculated using the samples collected during the first week and two separate 30-day geometric means calculated from the samples collected during weeks 1-4 and weeks 2-5.
- As the sampling requirements above coincide with a portion of the sampling requirements in Section 391-3-6-.05(3)(c) of the Water Quality Rules for waters affected for a major spill, the Respondent may also use the first four weeks of sampling under this Condition for their stream monitoring program.
- Within sixty (60) days of the execution date of this Order, submit to the Division for approval a schedule for completion for the construction of an additional equalization basin at the Withlacoochee WPCP, with a completion date no later than January 1, 2021, to become part of this Order upon approval.
- Within sixty (60) days of the execution date of this Order, evaluate all SOPs and Chain of Custody forms at the Withlacoochee and Mud Creek WPCPs to determine if any remaining potential for sampling and procedural violations exists, and correct them with staff training as necessary.
- Within sixty (60) days of the execution date of this Order, establish a weekly sampling program on the Withlacoochee River at US Highway 84 and GA Highway 133, to continue for at least a year. Grab samples shall be collected from the main portion of the river-flow on the same day each week and shall be analyzed for fecal coliform and e-coli within six (6) hours of collection. The Respondent shall provide all data on a semiannual basis in the form of an Excel spreadsheet to both the Division’s Watershed Compliance Program and the Watershed Planning and Monitoring Program at 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Suite 1152, Atlanta, GA 30334. The Division will review the data and will notify the Respondent when sampling may cease.
- Within ninety (90) days of the execution date of this Order, develop a public education and inspection program to address the illegal removal of cleanout caps and piping of stormwater from private property into the sanitary sewer collection system, as well as an ordinance to provide enforcement mechanisms. This requirement must be included in the CMOM Program.
- Within one hundred and eighty (180) days of the execution date of this Order, establish a permanent water quality monitoring station on the Withlacoochee River at UA Highway 84, downstream of the outfall of the Withlacoochee WPCP. The station shall monitor dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, and turbidity at 15-minute intervals. The Respondent shall also sample at this location for fecal coliform and e-coli weekly. The monitoring results shall be posted to a public website in real time, and the biological results shall be posted upon receipt.
- Complete Phase 9 of the Cured-In-Place Pipe (CIPP) lining project to rehabilitate two thousand (2,000) linear feet of sewer main within thirty (30) days of the execution date of this Order. Identify additional CIPP phases based on data received from the collection system assessments, SCADA installations, and flow monitoring systems beginning within one year of completion of the collection system assessment. Integrate those phases into the Respondent’s Capital Improvement Plan and provide the updated Capital Improvement Plan to the Division for review and approval. This requirement must be included in the CMOM Program.
- Complete the planned installation of SCADA and flow monitoring systems at all 34 existing lift stations, the wastewater plants, and manholes near ponds and streams or with a recurrent history of spills by September 30, 2020.
- Utilize the data provided by creek crossing inspections to prioritize the rehabilitation or re-routing of creek crossings based on stability and accessibility to reduce I/I, with the highest priority being given to the least stable. Submit a rehabilitation schedule including the above information to the Division by March 30, 2021, to become part of this Order upon approval.
- Complete all three (3) high priority sewer line rehabilitation projects as described in Table D-9 of the Respondent’s Utilities Department’s 5-Year Capital Improvement Plan (Attachment G), previously known as the SEP, within thirty (30) days of the execution date of this Order. Upon completion of a comprehensive I/I project utilizing manhole level monitoring technology, evaluate, prioritize, and/or modify the need to complete the five (5) second phase/follow-on projects and submit a modified schedule to the Division for approval by the end of June 2021.
- Complete the installation of fixed generators and/or backup pumps at the remaining 18 lift stations which do not have backups by the end of September 2023, purchasing generators and/or backup pumps at a rate of at least 6 per year.
- Within thirty (30) days of the semiannual periods ending June 30 and December 31 of each year, submit a semi-annual progress report for all above conditions until the Division concurs on their completion, as well as the data required in Condition 10 above.
Addresses. Correspondence and other submissions to be made to the Division shall be addressed to: Watershed Compliance Program, Georgia Environmental Protection Division, 2 MLK Jr. Drive, SE, Suite 1152, Atlanta, Georgia, 30334.
Correspondence to Respondent shall be addressed to: Mayor Scott James Matheson, City of Valdosta, Post Office Box 1125, Valdosta, Georgia, 31603-1125.
Permit Compliance. This Order does not relieve the Respondent of any obligations or requirements of the Permit except as specifically authorized herein; which authorization shall be strictly construed.
Public Notice and Comment. This Order is subject to public notice and comment upon final approval by the Director.
Time of Essence. Time is of the essence of this Order. Upon it becoming effective, the Respondent shall promptly commence its undertakings required herein and shall diligently pursue the accomplishment thereof.
Required Submissions. Upon the submission of any plan, report, or schedule, or any modified plan, report or schedule, required by this Order, the Division shall review the submission to determine its sufficiency. The Division shall notify the Respondent in writing whether the submission is approved or disapproved.
If the Division determines that the submission is disapproved, it shall provide the Respondent with a written notice of the deficiencies of the submission. The Respondent shall have thirty (30) days from the issuance of the Division’s notice of deficiency to modify the submission to correct the deficiencies and resubmit it to the Division. The failure of the Respondent to provide the Division with an ultimately approved submission on or before the specified due date, may, in the sole discretion of the Director, be deemed a violation of this Order. Upon approval by the Division, all submissions required by the terms of this Order are incorporated by reference into, and made a part of, this Order. Except as may be provided by this Order, noncompliance with the contents of such approved submissions shall be deemed noncompliance with this Order.
Division approval of any submission required by this Order is not intended as, nor shall such approval be construed as, certification by the Division that compliance with relevant state and federal laws, regulations, and permits will thereby be achieved, and such approval by the Division shall not provide the Respondent with a defense to an enforcement action taken by the Director pursuant to violations of the same. Division approval of any submission is strictly limited to the technical aspects of the submission and is not intended as, nor shall it be construed as, approval or acceptance of any statements, assertions, or representations of fact, of opinion, or of a legal nature that are contained in the document.
Force Majeure. Failure to complete a condition mandated by this Order within the time period specified may be excused and not subject the Respondent to further enforcement action if the failure is the result of a force majeure event as identified below and the Respondent complies the requirements set forth below. The Respondent shall have the burden of proving to the Division that it was rendered unable, wholly or in part, by Force Majeure to carry out its obligations.
The term “Force Majeure” as used herein shall be limited to the following: Act of God; strike, lockout, or other labor or industrial disturbance not caused by an unfair labor practice by the Respondent; act of the public enemy; war; blockade; public riot; fire; storm; flood; explosion; failure to secure timely and necessary federal, state, or local approvals or permits, provided such approvals or permits have been timely and diligently sought; or other delay caused by unforeseeable circumstances beyond the reasonable control of the Respondent, its employees, agents, consultants, or contractors, as determined by the Division in its sole discretion. Force Majeure does not include financial inability to perform an obligation required by this Order or a failure to achieve compliance applicable regulatory permits.
The Respondent shall notify the Division verbally within 48 hours (or no later than the beginning of the next business day if the expiration of the 48 hours occurs on a weekend or holiday) from the time the Respondent learns, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have learned, of any Force Majeure circumstances that may reasonably be expected to cause a schedule or performance delay. Within 10 days of such time, the Respondent shall submit to the Division a written notice of as to the anticipated length (if known) and cause of any delay due to Force Majeure. Failure to so notify the Division shall constitute a waiver of any claim to Force Majeure.
The Respondent and the Division agree to negotiate informally and in good faith to identify delays resulting from Forces Majeure. The Respondent shall comply with the Division’s determination as to the appropriate time period to be excused by Force Majeure, which shall be communicated to the Respondent in writing. In the event that any circumstance or series of circumstances cause the schedule to extend over thirty (30) calendar days, the Respondent and the Division shall meet formally to assess the overall schedule impact and attempt to mitigate same. Any Force Majeure or Forces Majeure that cause the schedule to extend over sixty (60) consecutive days shall be noticed to the citizens of the City of Valdosta, Lowndes County, in a form to be determined by the Division.
If the Division determines that Force Majeure has occurred, the affected time for performance specified in this Order shall be extended for a period of time equal to the delay resulting from such Force Majeure. The Respondent shall exercise due diligence and adopt all reasonable measures to avoid or minimize any delay.
Additional Conditions. This Order does not waive the Director’s right to take further enforcement action against the Respondent, or imply that the Director will not take such action, either for (1) the violations alleged herein if the Respondent fails to fully comply with the conditions of this Order, or (2) violations not alleged herein based on any other relevant requirements of this Order, the law, rules, and permit(s). Issuance of this Order does not waive the Director’s right to use the violations alleged herein, upon sufficient evidence, to show past violations in any subsequent enforcement proceeding.
This Order is executed and entered solely for the purpose of resolving and disposing of the alleged violations set forth herein and does not constitute a finding, adjudication, or evidence of a violation of any law, rule, or regulation by the Respondent, and, by consenting to this Order, the Respondent does not admit to any factual allegation contained herein or to any violations of State laws. In addition, this Order is not intended to create and it shall not be construed or otherwise deemed to recognize or create any claim, right, liability, estoppel, or waiver of rights in favor of any third-party or parties.
By agreement of the parties, this Order shall have the same force and binding effect as a Final Order of the Director, and shall become final and effective immediately upon its execution by the Director. The parties further agree that this Order shall not be appealable by the Respondent, and the Respondent hereby waives its right to initiate any administrative or judicial hearing on the terms and conditions of this Order.
Consent Order No. WQ-EPD-5478 is terminated upon the execution of this Order.
Unless modified or terminated by a subsequent order, or otherwise specified in writing by the Director, this Order shall be deemed satisfied and terminated upon full, complete, and timely performance of each and every condition set forth herein.
It is so ORDERED, CONSENTED, and AGREED to this _ day of _, 2020.
RICHARD E. DUNN
Director, Environmental Protection Division
FOR RESPONDENT: City of Valdosta
NAME: W. Darryl Muse (printed)
TITLE: Utility Director
In case you’d forgotten how many spills Valdosta has had, here are images of ATTACHMENT A: Sanitary Sewer System Spills, April 8, 2014 to December 31, 2019. Yes, it takes three pages of table to list them all.
It only takes 1.25 pages in Attachment B to list Permit Violations, NPDES Permits No. GA0033235 and GA0020222, April 8, 2014 to December 31, 2019.
These are not the big sewer spill violations. These are all the other violations, most of which the public didn’t even know about, including failure to sample, improper analysis, and failure to report.
This one deserves its own separate blog post.
For example, more than a quarter of the Order (25 of 93 pages) consists of ATTACHMENT I: Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 Guide to Collection and Transmission System Management, Operation, and Maintenance Programs, 2011
Is it just me, or does it seem that a city utilities department should have already read and implemented that document without having to have GA-EPD make them do so?
The entire 93-page Order is on the WWALS website, along with images of each page.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!