Tag Archives: stormwater

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

Resolution against state fee diversions discussed at Valdosta City Council 2018-01-11

For our waters, last Thursday, Valdosta City Council Tim Carroll recommended (Video) a resolution in support of a resolution in the Georgia state legislature to stop state fee diversions.


      12. Council Comments - Tim Carroll
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE) at Valdosta City Council, Thursday, January 11, 2018.

Newly elected Mayor Pro Tem Sandra Tooley wanted to know whether Continue reading

Valdosta has a new Utilities Director

The good news: no wastewater spills from Valdosta since January. W-Darryl-Muse And Valdosta has a new Utilities Director: Darryl Muse, formerly of Ocala, Marion County, Florida. While at Ocala, Muse handled converting septic tanks to city sewer and a wastewater plant upgrade, both to protect springs. Maybe he will be more sympathetic to people downstream in Florida than certain officials still with the City of Valdosta.

Having completed the installation of the new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant and the the force main at the Y on Gornto, Continue reading

Bad bill HB 316 SB 116 would take away stormwater permit revenue

If you want the Valdosta wastewater situation to be worse, let HB 316 SB 116 pass, taking away revenue for Valdosta or anybody upstream or down to control stormwater.

It turns out HB 316 was apparently from 2009.

The stormwater bill before the Georgia legislature this year (2017) is SB 116.

Here are the current GAWP talking points about SB 116, which you may notice also mention HB 316, which leads me to believe SB 116 is just HB 316 back again under another name.

Please Oppose Senate Bill 116
Georgia Association of Water Professionals

Senate Bill 116 would exempt “water-neutral sites”, defined as those properties designed to control runoff form a 25 year, 24-hour storm event in a manner consistent with the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual (GSMM), from paying stormwater user fees charged by local governments or authorities that have established stormwater utilities. Water-neutral sites, as defined in this bill, still discharge stormwater to the local drainage system, which the local government or authority is legally responsible for operating and maintaining.

Implications of HB 316: We ask you to consider the following far-reaching implications of the bill.

  1. Local Control. The State of Georgia should not interfere in how a local government operates a utility or charges its customers. This would be equivalent to the State saying how a local utility could charge (or not charge) for water or sewer services. If the General Assembly exempts “water-neutral properties” from paying fees for stormwater services, could they next exempt a defined class of customers from paying local water and sewer fees in the future?
  2. Economic Impact on Local Governments. This bill could have a devastating impact on local governments who are required to operate and maintain stormwater drainage systems for the public good and to protect the health, safety and welfare of their communities. “Water Neutral” properties are not actually water neutral because they still discharge stormwater runoff to the local drainage system thereby causing an impact. A local government still must bear the cost of maintaining the stormwater drainage system even if every property builds a detention pond to the 25 year, 24 hour storm event standard. The City of Griffin reports that the potential loss of revenue to their stormwater utility, should this bill pass, would be approximately 40% of their annual user fee revenue, thus crippling their stormwater utility and its ability to provide essential services.
  3. Public Safety. Stormwater utility revenues allow local governments to reduce flooding and replace failing infrastructure, including collapsing culverts under public roads. There is an unacceptable risk to public safety if local governments no longer have the ability to collect revenues to perform important and essential storm water management services.
  4. Existing Credits. Eligible properties with detention ponds are already offered user fee credits ranging from 30 — 50% from most stormwater utilities. This credit is offered in recognition of the reduced impact these properties have on the drainage system. However, the credit is not 100% because controlling the 25 year, 24-hour storm does not eliminate a property’s impact on the local drainage system; the customer still receives stormwater services.
  5. Customer Equity. Local governments are alone in their responsibility to manage stormwater drainage systems and operate stormwater management programs to protect life and property from flooding, and to protect local waterways from stormwater impacts so that the State’s waters remain fishable and swimmable for Georgians to enjoy. There is virtually no funding available from the State or Federal governments to assist local governments in carrying out this important charge. Thus, local governments have been forced to develop local financing mechanisms to provide sufficient revenue sources to carry out this responsibility. Allowing a contributor to the problem to be exempted from participating in paying a fair user fee for this service would be grossly unfair to the remainder of the paying customers and to the local government as well.

Here are all the Georgia state senators in WWALS watersheds.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

In addition to ACCG and GAWP, this bill is also opposed by the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC), including WWALS. Below are talking points from the ACCG website. Please contact your Georgia state legislators.

Please Oppose House Bill 316
Association County Commissioners of Georgia
Georgia Association of Water Professionals

House Bill 316 would exempt state government entities from paying local government stormwater utility charges. While specifically using the word “charges”, the proposed exemption appears to presume that the stormwater utility fee is a tax and not a fee for services. In presenting and promoting the bill, proponents may refer to these fees as a “rain tax”. However, in 2004, the Georgia Supreme Court specifically ruled in McLeod v. Columbia County that stormwater utility charges are, in fact, a fee for services, and not a tax. The State is exempt from taxes, but there is no legal or logical basis for the State to exempt itself from paying valid fees for actual services rendered.

Implications of HB 316: Continue reading

Valdosta force main and new WWTP are online and working

The recent rains caused little wastewater overflow, according to Valdosta City Council Tim Carroll, who forwarded cryptic Valdosta press release yesterday and then explained on the telephone what it meant: Map the two biggest pieces of Valdosta’s wastewater and sewer fixes are operational already.

The press release referred to “the new force main” as if it were already in operation, yet nothing on Valdosta’s website says it is. So I called Tim Carroll and he confirmed that yes, the force main is online. Not only that, but 5 million gallons less water than usual for such rains entered the new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).

Wait, does that mean the new, uphill, out-of-the-floodplain WWTP is also online? Yes, confirmed Carroll. And the less inflow was due to less INI.

What’s INI, I asked, ignorantly? Continue reading

Details on Valdosta overflows last weekend 2016-04-04

Force main and the new WWTP on line by May!

More extensive overflows than usual last weekend, and now more extensive information about them, in the update Tim Carroll promised, on the City of Valdosta website as City System Impacted by Severe Storms and Regional Watershed. It even starts with schedule details, which say they’re ahead of the schedule I previously posted. This report’s table of overflows has start and stop times and amounts, with the Creeks affected.

It still doesn’t say which river basin they go into. Knights Creek flows into Mud Creek, which goes into the Alapahoochee, Alapaha, and Suwannee Rivers. All the others end up in the Withlacoochee and the Suwannee Rivers. And there are still some unanswered questions. But getting the force main and the new WWTP on line by May is a very good development.

The City of Valdosta is ahead of schedule and plans to bring online nearly $60 million in wastewater system improvements next month. The $35 million Force Main project and the $23 million new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) are both ahead of schedule, and bringing them both online cannot come a day too soon for the city. 

“We are pleased to be in the final stages of construction on both projects. Testing is underway now with full startup expected in late May,” according to Director of Utilities Henry Hicks. “We are also pleased that these projects and other awarded sewer collection system improvement projects underway will resolve all the areas of the city impacted by reoccurring overflows that often follow heavy rains and regional flooding.”

Continue reading

More Valdosta wastewater spills over the weekend; stay tuned 2016-04-04

Update 2016-04-05: Here are the details, and force main and new WWTP on line by May.

Valdosta spilled more wastewater over the weekend, according to Valdosta City Council Tim Carroll, who called just now. The Withlacoochee River is out of its banks, actually up on the property containing the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), but “according to the experts” not going to threaten the plant. “But lines are underwater”.

Water is not even close to the new WWTP currently under construction, according to Carroll. And the new force main project should deal with much of the manhole overflow problem on the west side of Valdosta in the Withlacoochee basin, for example into Sugar Creek.

On the east and southeast, in the Alapaha basin, Continue reading

Three more Valdosta wastewater overflows 2016-03-28

Who thought it was a good idea for stormwater to go into Valdosta’s sanitary sewer system? 700 Cypress Street, Valdosta, GA Whoever it was, the current Valdosta Utilities, Engineering, and especially Stormwater Director have to deal with it, frequently. Maybe some of the upwards of $300 million Valdosta is spending on force main, new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, etc., will help with this problem. But none of that will stop rain from falling on Valdosta, and little of it is directed at the Alapaha River watershed in Valdosta, where one of this week’s three spills went.

Come see for yourself where Sugar Creek flows into the Withlacoochee River, this Sunday morning, April 3rd, on the extra WWALS Outing from Langdale Park to the Little River Boat Ramp. And come paddle with us on the Alapaha River Saturday morning April 23rd, from Hotchkiss Road in Lanier County to Mayday in Echols County, upstream from where Knights Creek flows into Mud Swamp Creek, which joins Grand Bay Creek to form the Alapahoochee River, which joins the Alapaha River in Florida. And of course both the Withlacoochee and the Alapaha join the Suwannee River. Valdosta says there’s no significant vestige of its wastewater that far downstream. It would be good to have some independent water quality monitoring to be sure.

I notice Section 5 Mud Swamp Creek Basin of Valdosta’s Master Stormwater Management Plan says: Continue reading

Videos: Valdosta Wastewater meeting with slides 2015-03-17

Calls from Atlanta and from downstream in Florida about the three Valdosta wastewater overflows in February prompted WWALS as the local watershed organization to contact the City of Valdosta about organizing a presentation to the interested parties. Valdosta presented less than two weeks later, and brought their entire hierarchy related to this issue, from the mayor on down. Plus Lowndes County, which isn’t even responsible for Valdosta’s wastewater, was represented by their Chairman and a Commissioner. In Valdosta’s slides and the LAKE videos of that meeting of Tuesday 17 March 2015, you can see many questions were answered, but some are still open. Continue reading

How many Valdosta overflows into Knights Creek and the Alapaha River watershed?

And how many into Dukes Bay Canal, which also flows into Mud Creek, to the Alapahoochee River, to the Alapaha River, to the Suwannee River, to the Gulf? It’s great the Valdosta City Council Thursday will consider more fixes to wastewater problems in the Withlacoochee River watershed. But what is Valdosta doing about problems in the Alapaha River watershed?

The three Valdosta overflows into the Alapaha River watershed in February 2015 weren’t the first. How many others have there been?

This report is from 19 March 2014: Continue reading