Small Valdosta sewer spills after big rains 2017-01-23

Update 2017-01-25: And also a spill at the WWTP.

Nobody likes sewer spills, but no, these are not the same as before Valdosta’s recent wastewater system improvements: Document-0001 nothing this time came from the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, and the amounts were small compared to previous years (10-62%) and in far fewer locations.

That didn’t stop WTXL from using this title: Amber Lewis, WTXL, 24 January 2017, Major Sewage Spill Reported in Valdosta,

The City of Valdosta has reported that a large amount of untreated sewage has spilled in the area.

The Florida Department of Health reports that the spillage will impact water quality at Mud Creek and the Withlacoochee River.

According to health officials, untreated human sewage with microbes could cause gastrointestinal issues and other conditions for humans.

Until more information is known, officials have urged people in the area to take precautions when in contact with the Withlacoochee River by thoroughly washing hands after contact and before eating and drinking.

The Department of Environmental Protection will be conducting water sampling today in order to determine the possible contamination of the river.

It’s good somebody is doing sampling on the Withlacoochee River in Florida. Now if we can get regular baseline sampling….

Here’s the Suwannee River Water Management District advisory.

The WTXL parts about Mud Creek and the Withlacoochee River presumably came from the Valdosta PR (see below. Neither Valdosta nor WTXL mentioned that Mud Creek joins with Grand Bay Creek to form the Alapahoochee River, which flows into the Alapaha River, not the Withlacoochee.

As you can see on the google map I made of yesterday’s three Valdosta sewer spills, none of them was even near the WWTP, which is downstream of Troupville on the Withlacoochee River.


Let’s compare these spills to some previous ones from nearby. Remember, there used to be far more spill locations, especially a year ago in February 2016, but for simplicity let’s just compare the same streets. These are probably not all even of those spills, but they are the ones I have handy to compare.

Gornto Road

into Two Mile Branch, into Sugar Creek, into the Withlacoochee River:

Yesterday’s spill was much smaller than previous spills, some of which were more than 10 times bigger, and this one was not in the same place as those.

Wainwright Drive

into One Mile Branch, into Sugar Creek, into the Withlacoochee River:

Yesterday’s spill was a tenth the size of previous spills, but was in the same block. Maybe it was a different manhole, but you can’t tell that from the vague Valdosta block location.

James P. Rogers Drive

into Mud Creek:

OK, that’s the same block as before, and more than half as much as before, so this one was not as improved as the others. This is also the one that goes into Mud Creek, Alapahoochee, Alapaha, and thus of no concern to the Withlacoochee River.

However, this is yet another example of my years-long question about what is Valdosta going to do about spills into the Alapaha River watershed. I guess now that they’ve got the big Withlacoochee River watershed issues fixed, maybe they can spend more time on the Alapaha River watershed. As the Valdosta PR says: “all have been added to the city’s list for rehabilitation.”

Spill locations

However, I beg to differ about Valdosta’s assertion “These are not common spill locations”. Two out of three have had spills before, big ones: 1200 block Wainwright Drive and 1600 block James P. Rogers Drive.

Lowndes County Utilities

Meanwhile, according to Lowndes County Utilities Director Steve Stalvey (I called him), Lowndes County had no spills after the recent storm, to his knowledge (and he’d be the one who would know). They did have a couple of pumps cut out during the storm, but backup systems kicked in and all is well.

Valdosta PR

City of Valdosta PR, 23 January 2017, Weekend Storms Result in Sewer Spills, also carried by John Stephen, Valdosta Daily Times, 24 January 2017, Storm causes city sewer spills [I added the river basins],

The City of Valdosta was fortunate to escape life and major property loss during the weekend weather event that hammered South Georgia. While city infrastructure held up well against the unforgiving storm, routine rainfall inspections conducted by Utilities Department staff on Jan. 22 identified sanitary sewer spills at three locations. The spills were caused by the large amounts of rainfall in excess of 6 inches received within a 24-hour period, which resulted in stormwater infiltration and inflow entering the sanitary sewer system and exceeding the capacity of the sewer system.

All the areas in the system where major repairs or improvements have been made in recent years experienced no sewer spills. The combined stormwater and sewer flows resulted in manhole overflows at the following locations. These are not common spill locations and all have been added to the city’s list for rehabilitation.

  • In the 800 block of Gornto Road, an estimated 9,725 gallons flowed into Two Mile Branch. [into Withlacoochee River]
  • In the 1200 block of Wainwright Drive, an estimated 9,800 gallons flowed into One Mile Branch. [into Withlacoochee River]
  • In the 1600 block of James P. Rogers Drive, an estimated 57,500 gallons flowed into Mud Creek. [into Alapahoochee then Alapaha Rivers]

Staff immediately began monitoring and testing the impacted area, as well as cleanup and disinfecting at the overflow locations and stream discharge points. Warning signs have been posted at the spill locations and downstream from these locations, and the public is advised to avoid any contact with the affected areas. Furthermore, all appropriate regulatory and public health agencies have been notified.

The city continues its ongoing efforts to improve the infrastructure of the sewer system to eliminate these issues in the future. Improving our sewer system has and will continue to be a main priority. Individuals with questions should contact Environmental Manager Scott Fowler at 229-259-3592 or by email at

Posted by Sementha Mathews Monday, January 23, 2017 5:37:00 PM Categories: Press Release Public Information Utilities

Also there’s a line in this Valdosta PR, 2017-01-23, Valdosta Responds to Storm, Assists Neighboring Counties with Resources,

  • The Water Plant and Wastewater Treatment Plants have been operating efficiently. A few lift stations lost power during the storm, but they have since been restored or are on generators.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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Google Map

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