Tag Archives: sewage

Valdosta Sewage Spills Workshop at Florida Senate 2019-03-20

A Florida Senate Committee has scheduled a Workshop on Valdosta Sewage Spills.

Table, Committee

The same session this Wednesday afternoon will hear three water bills, SB 1100 about funding water well testing, which is relevant to the recent detection of E. coli in for example Hamilton County wells, SB 1758, which includes some changes to Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) requirements and requirements for wastewater treatment plants to notify customers of unlawful discharges, and SB 1552 about Red Tide mitigation.

Event: facebook, meetup

Florida Senator Bill Montford, District 3 When I went by Senator Bill Montford’s office last Wednesday, his staffer said they would be scheduling this workshop, with public input. They have done so. Senator Montford is the Chair of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. His District 3 includes Hamilton, Madison, and Taylor Counties, all of which are members of the twelve-county Florida Rivers Task Force and signatories on its Resolution asking for assistance from Florida and Georgia about Valdosta sewage spills. The Withlacoochee River, into which much of Valdosta’s raw sewage spills have gone, is the border between Madison and Hamilton Counties, and the Alapaha River, into which basin other Valdosta spills have gone, runs through Hamilton County. Taylor County is not on either of those rivers nor on the Suwannee River, yet its economy is affected by the stigma of Valdosta’s sewage spills.

The Florida Senate, COMMITTEE MEETING NOTICE,

ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Senator Montford, Chair
Senator Albritton, Vice Chair

MEETING DATE: Wednesday, March 20, 2019

TIME: 4:00—6:00 p.m.

PLACE: Mallory Horne Committee Room, 37 Senate Building [404 S. Monroe, Tallahassee, FL 32399]

AMENDMENT DEADLINE: Continue reading

Waterkeepers in Tallahassee 2019-03-13

Three of the Waterkeepers of Florida were at the Capitol in Tallahassee Wednesday, two of them for Reclaiming Florida’s Future for All, an annual event organized by ReThink Energy Florida and others. Of course Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) was prominently represented. Banning fracking was top of the long list of issues on the agenda. Water Quality and Quantity included Valdosta (and other) wastewater.

[Speaking]
Speaking

Lake Worth Waterkeeper Reinaldo Diaz advocates for the Lake Worth Lagoon and its watershed, a coastal estuary running along the eastern edge of Palm Beach County.

[Lisa Rinaman et al.]
Lisa Rinaman et al.

Scariest of all to polluters is St Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman, seen here with Continue reading

Elected officials from Valdosta and 12 downstream Florida Counties 2019-04-10

Update 2019-03-14: The Valdosta City Clerk says the Valdosta City Manager says “the public will have an opportunity to speak.”

As discussed in Lake City when the dozen downstream Florida counties passed their resolution, and as foreshadowed by Emma Wheeler on WCTV, and now confirmed by Valdosta City Clerk Teresa Bolden, elected officials from Valdosta and twelve Florida counties will meet to discuss Valdosta wastewater spills and how to stop them. She also confirmed that since there will be a quorum of the Valdosta City Council there, this will be a public meeting.

When: 6PM, Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Where: General Purpose Room,
Valdosta City Hall Annex,
300 North Lee Street, Valdosta, GA 31601

Event: facebook, meetup

Valdosta City Hall Annex
Photo: Ellis, Ricket & Associates.

It’s not clear the public will be able to speak, but you can come and see for yourself. As I told the Valdosta City Clerk, this afternoon I already invited the Suwannee River Water Management District and everybody else who was in their meeting. Valdosta will probably publish an announcement soon, but so far we at least know the meeting will happen and it will be public. Y’all come.

Back on Continue reading

WCTV on FL Counties Rivers Task Force and Valdosta Wastewater 2019-03-07

It turns out Valdosta can schedule a workshop for elected officials to meet with the Valdosta City Council, as the the dozen downstream Florida counties previously requested.

Local waterways, Protect

Emma Wheeler, WCTV, 7 March 2019, Task force looks to curb Valdosta sewage spills,

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) — Communities continue to push for more prevention of spills at Valdosta’s wastewater treatment system.

Several North Florida counties down the river from Valdosta formed a task force last year to try and protect local waterways. The group is now hoping the states can step in to help.

Priority to protect, Protect

Counties across North Florida and South Georgia are making it a priority to protect the rivers. The task force has passed a Continue reading

Videos: Florida Rivers Task Force about Valdosta Wastewater 2019-02-28

Update 2019-03-17: Valdosta has agreed to meet with the dozen downstream Florida counties, elected officials to elected officials, 6PM, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, at Valdosta City Hall Annex, and “the public will have an opportunity to speak.”

A dozen downstream Florida counties want to meet with the Valdosta City Council, elected officials to elected officials, to present a resolution they passed urging the states of Florida and Georgia to do something about Valdosta’s sewage, and to discuss raising funds to help Valdosta fix its sewage infrastructure, so the Florida counties can restore their eco-tourism on the Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Suwannee, and Santa Fe Rivers. Restoring eco-tourism came up again and again. It’s not just the actual sewage, which never gets to Taylor or Alachua Counties. It’s the stigma of sewage in the rivers. Fixing Valdosta’s spills and regular testing to find other sources are needed.

Valdosta said no. So delegates from all dozen counties are going to come to the March 21, 2019, Valdosta City Council Regular Session and speak in Citizens to Be Heard, three minutes each, some time after 5:30 PM that Thursday evening.

[Movie: Approval of Resolution (115M)]
Movie: Approval of Resolution (115M) Task Force, clockwise from front: Scott R. Koons (NCFRPC), Ken Cornell (Alachua County), Anthony Adams (Lafayette County), Don Hale (Suwannee County), Gene Higginbotham (Dixie County), Kenrick Thomas (Gilchrist County), Danny Riddick (Bradford County), Thomas Demps (Taylor County), Beth Burnam (Hamilton County), Rick Davis (Chair, Madison County)

Apparently Valdosta told them that Valdosta doesn’t do workshops or joint meetings, which is curious, since Valdosta’s city council members a month earlier met with council members from all the other Lowndes County cities and the Lowndes County Commissioners about their Service Delivery Strategy, which includes wastewater. Last year, members of Valdosta Mayor and Council met with elected officials Continue reading

Generators to be installed at Valdosta lift stations

Received Wednesday. Presumably these are the ten generators approved by the Valdosta City Council December 6, 2018, along with a SCADA system (the “city-wide control system”) so they’ll know the status of their distributed equipment, for a total of around half a million dollars. Also note that not included is a generator for the big force main lift station on Gornto Road, because that one would apparently cost around a million dollars. Maybe there is state or federal funding available for that. Hm, I’d think resuming weekly water quality testing, including at the state line, would cost much less than any of this. So Valdosta could do both again, as it has for years before it ceased weekly testing this year.

Generators To Be Installed At Ten Lift Stations, by Azhia Smothers, Wednesday, February 27, 2019 9:55:00 AM,

The City of Valdosta Utilities Department will be placing ten generators at lift stations around the city. The generators will help to ensure that the city experiences fewer power outages which can sometimes result in sewer spills. Recently, the first generator was installed at the pump station at Hyde Park. All ten generators will be installed before the upcoming hurricane season.

In the event of a power outage that occurs for more than an hour, Continue reading

Resolution pending by Rivers Task Force in Lake City meeting 2019-02-28

Received Thursday. The Rivers Task Force of the dozen downstream Florida counties will be voting next Thursday on a resolution asking the State of Florida (FDEP, SRWMD, etc.) to do something about Valdosta’s sewage spills.

[4PM Thu 28 Feb 2019, Holiday Inn, Lake City, FL]
4PM Thu 28 Feb 2019, Holiday Inn, Lake City, FL

When: 4PM, Thursday, February 28, 2019

Where: Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites, 213 Southwest Commerce Boulevard, Lake City, Florida

What: A meeting of the Middle and Lower Suwannee River and Withlacoochee River Task Force

Directions: From the intersection of Interstate 75 and U.S. Highway 90 (exit 427) in the City of Lake City turn, East onto U.S. Highway 90, travel approximately 450 feet to SW Commerce Blvd, turn right (South) onto SW Commerce Blvd, travel approximately 720 feet and the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites is on the left.

The agenda, after the customary introductory items, has only a resolution and Next Steps.

[Resolution and Next Steps]
Resolution and Next Steps

Not on the agenda, but mentioned in the minutes of the previous meeting:

The Task Force agreed that the next steps should be to request a meeting with the Governor and Commissioner of Agriculture. Chair Davis informed the Task Force that the next meeting will be held on Continue reading

The rest of the Valdosta wastewater story at SRWMD 2019-02-12

Valdosta Utilities naturally painted as rosy a picture as possible, and newspapers have limited space, so here is the rest of the story about Valdosta wastewater at the Suwannee River Water Management District board meeting last Tuesday. SRWMD Chair Virginia H. Johns understands the stigma, and Board Member Virginia Sanchez spelled it out:

SRWMD Chair Virginia H. Johns

“You don’t want to swim in a little sewage versus a lot of sewage either. Both of them are bad. A spill is bad.”

Featured in this post, drawing from the WWALS videos of all the relevant speakers, are Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse, who talked about the catch basin Valdosta is digging, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, who filled in many pieces omitted by Valdosta and FDEP, and Hamilton County resident Jim McBrayer, who got the attention of the SRWMD board by saying there was E. coli in his well and SRWMD should know where it came from, plus especially the very participatory SRWMD board, who made it pretty clear to FDEP they wanted data by their next meeting, and they wanted Valdosta to move along in fixing their problems in less than a hundred years.

Let’s not forget Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, who pointed out something Valdosta doesn’t want to hear: it’s the stigma of sewage spills that is the big problem they are causing. For sure we need to find out what the specific health and other effects are of Valdosta sewage and other contamination on river water and nearby wells. But the stigma of Valdosta sewage goes far beyond that.

Darryl Muse, Utilities Director, Valdosta

In the WWALS video, Continue reading

All Sewage Spills GA EPD 2015-2018

Who in Georgia spilled how much sewage where and when? For example, SRWMD board members wanted to know how does Valdosta compare to the rest of Georgia? So that everyone can see, here are all the sewage spills reported to GA-EPD for the calendar years 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Atlanta, Valdosta, Thomasville, Macon, Excerpt
Atlanta, Valdosta, Thomasville, Macon, Thunderbolt, and others spilled in late April and early May, 2015.

Depicted here is an excerpt, since all 4,577 rows would be a bit much to show. Follow the link for the entire HTML table.

Valdosta happens to show only a small spill in this excerpt. Or does it? Since when is Valdosta Continue reading

Videos: Valdosta Wastewater at SRWMD Board 2019-02-12

Update 2019-02-18: The rest of the Valdosta wastewater story at SRWMD 2019-02-12.

The most direct interaction by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) Board that I’ve ever seen, yesterday, when Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse came to explain what Valdosta has done and is doing to stop its sewage spills. Neither the board nor the audience seemed satisfied.

[Movie: Darryl Muse, Utilities Director, Valdosta (1458M)]
Movie: Darryl Muse, Utilities Director, Valdosta (1458M)

Stay tuned for another post about some of what was said. Meanwhile, below are links to each WWALS video of each speaker or agenda item, with a few notes. These WWALS videos are under a Creative Commons Attribution license, which means you can use them, provide you cite the source, which is WWALS. There are a few more pictures on the WWALS website. See also the agenda. For background and data, see: Continue reading