Category Archives: VWW

Big Georgia Wastewater Permits in the Suwannee River Basin

Schedules of testing, with permissable levels: these are in National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) wastewater permits, so we need to see those permits. You’d think they’d be on the EPA or GA-EPD website, but….

The U.S. EPA has delegated NPDES permitting to Georgia. You can get draft wastewater permits right off the GA-EPD website, but to get the actual current approved permits, you must get GA-EPD to send them to you. I found this out from Audra Dickson, Wastewater Regulatory Program Manager. I asked her for permits for half a dozen cities and one county, and the next day Alyssa Thomson, Environmental Specialist, Wastewater Regulatory Program, Municipal Permitting Unit, sent them via email.

They’re on the WWALS website now.

Instream Monitoring Requirements, Valdosta Mud Creek WPCP
Instream Monitoring Requirements, Valdosta Mud Creek WPCP

Why this list? Continue reading

Valdosta Consent Order from GA EPD 2013-09-23

Due to tens of millions of dollars spent by Valdosta, we don’t see spills of tens of millions of gallons anymore. The most obvious Valdosta Sanitary System Improvement is the new, uphill, out of the flood plain, Withlacoochee Wasterwater Treatment Plant, pictured here on Scott Fowler’s office wall at Valdosta Utilities:

Withlacoochee WPCP 2016, Wastewater Plants
Withlacoochee WPCP 2016

The old, now-closed, Withlacoochee WTP was the plant that had the biggest problems back in 2009 and 2013. As found on the City of Valdosta website, the 23 September 2013 Valdosta Consent Order from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division is now also on WWALS website, including I made a web version, from which I extracted the paragraphs quoted below.

This was the original problem: Continue reading

Florida vote 2018-08-28

Floridians, please get out and vote today, and in November.

We are fortunate here in the Suwannee River Basin. We don’t have cyanobacteria blooming from glyphosate in our rivers with dead fish stinking tens of miles inland.

But we do have plenty of environmental problems. When you vote in the primary today (if you haven’t already voted early), and as you vote in the general election in November, you may want to ask yourself about each candidate, from city council to County Commissioner to school board to statehouse to statewide official to governor, and don’t forget judges:

Florida vote

  • Do they support banning fracking?
  • Do they oppose more phosphate mines?
  • Will they help stop fertilizer leaching into our springs and rivers, including getting financial and other support for the Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs)?
  • Will they help us all find out how E. coli and fecal coliform are getting into our rivers and wells, and from where, by assisting in water quality monitoring, and will they then do something about it?
  • Will they hold accountable those who produced coal ash and get them to dispose of it responsibly?
  • Will they oppose fossil fuel pipelines, and do something about the safety of those that exist?
  • Will they help rein in the rogue agency FERC, including about oversight of liquid natural gas (LNG) export?
  • Will they help the Sunshine State get on with solar power, so that nobody has to be without power for weeks after a hurricane, and we can shut down more fossil fuel power plants and close some pipelines?

These are just some of the issues WWALS deals with all the time. You don’t have to know about all these issues; every one of them is important. You may have other environmental issues.

If you don’t know how the candidates stand on these issues, maybe you’d like to ask them before November. Still, some of them must have stated positions before the primary today.

Sure, the economy matters, but how many jobs do polluted springs and rivers bring? Do people come to Florida to smell rotting fish from their vacation or permanent homes? There is no economy without an environment, and water is the basis of it all, including public health.

Seven of us Waterkeepers of Florida met with FDEP last month:

…to express serious concern and a sense of urgency to protect and restore Florida’s rivers, coast, bays, estuaries, lakes, springs, and aquifer.

As demonstrated by Hurricane Irma, major storms deteriorate water quality, threaten human health, and undermine Florida’s economy. Absent more proactive action and investment in becoming more resilient, water quality protection, and adaptation efforts, Florida’s economy, environment, and public health will suffer.

We should all care about what is happening in south Florida. Obviously because those are people just like us who live there, not to mention the wildlife and the rest of the ecology, and what happens there affects the economy of the rest of Florida and the nation.

After Hurricane Irma, Lowndes County, Georgia, where I live, gained 100 new residents from Florida. (That’s right: Suwannee Riverkeeper lives in Georgia. Rivers can’t read; they don’t know somebody drew a state line on a map.) If the south Florida situation continues or gets worse, people will move north. Many of them will move to north Florida or south Georgia, further affecting our waters.

So don’t forget about candidates:

  • Do they support stopping the destruction of south Florida’s lakes, rivers, and coasts by fertilizer and pesticides from big agriculture and lawns?

As an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity, WWALS cannot support or oppose any specific candidate for office. But we can bring issues to your attention.

And we can say, please go vote, today and in November!

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Video: Valdosta explains Mud Creek WTP spill 2018-08-21

Kenneth Lowe, Assistant Plant Superintendent of the Mud Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, explained that plant’s that recent spill to the organizational meeting of the WWALS Water Quality Testing Committee.

Tom Potter, Kenneth Lowe, Ronnie Thomas, Erica McLelland, Shirley Kokidko, student, Effluents
Tom Potter, Kenneth Lowe, Ronnie Thomas, Erica McLelland, Shirley Kokidko, student

He apologized profusely several times for the spill. Continue reading

Madison County meeting about Valdosta sewage, plus Tom Potter of WWALS 2018-08-21

Valdosta sewage discussed yesterday morning in Madison, and in the evening on TV and in the WWALS Water Quality Testing Committee meeting in Valdosta, and again this evening at the Madison BOCC. Emma Wheeler, WCTV Eyewitness News, 21 August 2018, Sewage spills prompt concern over Withlacoochee River safety,

Sewage spills in Valdosta polluting the Withlacoochee River, Screenshots

MADISON, Fla. (WCTV) — A North Florida community is fighting for cleaner water.

Community members in Madison are pushing for safer waterways. It stems from concerns over sewage spills at Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Treatment Plant. The most recent of the spills happened in June.

Many of those concerned said their goal is to have no sewage spill into the river.

“These are public resources, they belong to us,” said Thomas Potter with the WWALS Watershed Coalition. “It’s our duty and our responsibility to make sure that they remain clean.”…

Emma Wheeler shot some footage Continue reading

135,000 gallons from Valdosta Mud Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant 2018-08-13

Valdosta spilled again, and again bigger than any recently from Albany or Tifton. This news was first seen on WALB TV out of Albany 5:10 PM last night. Valdosta sent email to WWALS at 10:17 PM.

Should Suwannee Riverkeeper have to watch WALB in Albany to learn first about a wastewater spill in Valdosta, the biggest city in the Suwannee River Basin?

More importantly, if “Spills of any nature are unacceptable,” why do you keep having them, Valdosta? Especially with only 1.5 inches of rain? What will you do in another tropical storm or hurricane? And how and when will we know?

WALB TV, TV

Krista Monk, WALB TV, 5:10 PM, 14 August 2018, City of Valdosta reports 135K gallon sewage spill, Continue reading

Lowndes County lift station pumps 2018-08-13

Once again the Lowndes County Commission considers replacing a lift station pump at Bevel Creek. The agenda sheet says:

The Bevel Creek lift station is a triplex lift station on our main trunk line that delivers over 60% of our wastewater flow to the LAS. This station is currently running on two pumps. We have a quote from AAG Inc. to repair the pump that is out of service for $13,971.04. Staff recommends the pump be repaired for $13,971.04.

Replacing that pump sounds like a good idea. LAS is Land Application Site, as in spray field, a few thousand feet from the GA-FL state line and slightly upstream from the Withlacoochee River. Lowndes County does not have a wastewater treatment plant, and nobody wants sewage leaking at Bevel Creek or at the LAS.

Lowndes County Utilities Director Steve Stalvey
Lowndes County Utilities Director Steve Stalvey, 8 May 2018.

I do wonder, though, why we’re needing to replace a pump at Bevel Creek again, after just replacing Continue reading

Hurricane Season Open House by Lowndes County, GA EMA 2018-07-26

Tropical Storm Alberto already caused two sewage spills from Tifton, the biggest of 36,000 gallons, both into the New River upstream from the Withlacoochee, and Valdosta spilled 300,000 gallons last month, uphill from the Withlacoochee River, without even a tropical storm to blame. So preparing for a hurricane or tropical storm seems like a good idea. Maybe the various utility managers would like to say a few words about how they’re not going to be asleep at the wheel.

When: 6-8PM, Thursday, July 26, 2018

Where: 250 Douglas St, Valdosta, GA 31601-5029

Event: facebook

Join local emergency responders and Meteorologist Kerri Copello, News Manager for WFXL/Fox 31, for a tour of the EOC and an informational session on the 2018 Hurricane Season to include preparedness information.

Lowndes County EOC facebook event cover picture
Lowndes County EOC facebook event cover picture

More in a LAKE blog post.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Valdosta rainbarrels to reduce runoff

Gretchen got a rainbarrel from the City of Valdosta, I got some concrete blocks, we set the barrel on the blocks and connected it to a PVC pipe from a raingutter. In about 20 minutes of rain, the 50-gallon rainbarrel was full. We don’t even live in Valdosta, but rainbarrels are also about preventing sewage spills; read on.

City of Valdosta Stormwater Division, Raining
Photograph: John S. Quarterman at Okra Paradise Farms, Lowndes County, Georgia.

Within an hour we had a hose hooked up and we used some of the water in transplanting trees.

Video, more pictures, and more links to materials from the city of Valdosta and the state of Georgia on a separate LAKE blog post.

Part of Valdosta’s incentive for this Stormwater Education Outreach can be inferred from Continue reading

Valdosta sewer main repair, N. Oak St. 2018-07-12

See if you can do it without spilling into One Mile Branch, Valdosta. Also, despite the date on the PR on the city’s website (see below), WWALS got it via email a day later at 4:01 PM 11 July 2018, the day before the work started this morning.

Valdosta State University, Maps

Ashlyn Becton, Valdosta, Press Release, 4:17 PM, 10 July 2018, Sewer Main Repair / Road Repair at 1522 N Oak St starting Thursday July 12,

The City of Valdosta Utilities Department will be closing Continue reading