Valdosta WWTP spilled millions of gallons and didn’t tell the public for days 2017-01-25

Update 2017-01-30:

Valdosta also didn’t tell the public all day after the spill stopped, and then posted something that’s flat not true.

I just called Valdosta WWTP Superintendent John Waite, as it says to do on the city’s PR posted Wednesday, January 25, 2017 5:09:00 PM, Withlacoochee Plant Warranty Repairs Underway, which says “The plant is under warranty and the repairs will be complete by end of day Jan. 25 at no cost to the city.” Meanwhile, the Valdosta Daily Times posted yesterday evening City sewage spill stopped.

I asked Superintendent Waite when the spill stopped.

Answer: 2:24 AM Wednesday. That’s more than 14 hours before the Wednesday Valdosta PR that doesn’t even say the spill stopped.

Now while I assured Superintendent Waite I knew he’s not in charge of PR and I appreciate everything Valdosta is doing to fix its sewer problems, I have to say this.

Valdosta, it’s no wonder people don’t trust you about wastewater. You knew you had a major WWTP spill Sunday and you didn’t tell the public until Tuesday evening! Meanwhile you posted a press release only revealing three manhole spills with no mention of WWTP. You waited until the VDT had the WWTP story before posting on your own website, yet you already told GA-EPD, Florida Health, and SRWMD, and SRWMD already posted it on its website and facebook page, and it was shared all over social media.

You did the same with the PR about the spill being stopped: waited until the VDT had it before posting on your own website. And that PR doesn’t even say the spill has stopped. Do you want people not to believe your own press releases?

Do you not understand you cannot control social media this way?

Your latest PR is full of excuses and statistics and only in the fifth paragraph gets around to saying:

Sewer spills are not acceptable.

No, they are not acceptable to people downstream, nor to we the taxpayers who are paying for your fixes.

This in your latest PR is true and important:

In the past, during similar storm or flood events, the city would have experienced sewer spills at dozens of locations throughout the city.

But then you sabotage it by this which is flat-out not true:

None of the past locations had any spillage, so the city’s efforts have been effective.

Two of those three manhole spill locations HAD SPILLED BEFORE.

Valdosta’s own previous PR says that, as I enumerated in a previous post. Both Scott Fowler yesterday and Superintendent Waite this morning confirmed that both the 1200 block of Wainwright Drive and the 1600 block of James P. Rogers Drive had spilled before. Once again, I know these Valdosta Utilities employees are not in charge of PR.

So I have spoken directly with the city officials listed as contacts on these press releases (see above). And now I’m spelling it out to the public.

Really, Valdosta, you can’t hide a major spill for days and then tell people something that’s not true and expect people to believe you.

WWALS has always been one of your biggest defenders on this wastewater issue, Valdosta. We cannot help you if you act like this.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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