Regarding rumors that Lowndes County had a spill July 5th, no it didn’t. The spill was July 6th. It was 9,300 gallons of untreated sewage apparently from the same place as the bigger spill last September, which would be on the green line on this map near the green dot at the top, into a drainage ditch that leads to the Withlacoochee River:
VALORGIS Map → Streams Waterbodies plus Utilities Service Areas and Lowndes County Sewer Line.
While that is far fewer gallons than Valdosta spilled in June or in August, Valdosta’s August spill was almost completely treated effluent, while Lowndes County’s was raw sewage. And Valdosta went to some trouble to announce that August spill, to go talk to people about it, and to apologize for it. Lowndes County did none of those things.
And apparently there was a second July spill, according this email received 11 September 2018 from Lowndes County per my request earlier that same day for all Lowndes County spills since Hurricane Irma:
Mr. Stalvey has asked me to forward the following information to you.
I attached the spill notice that was posted at the courthouse for the 9-24-17 spill. I have also copied the email below that was sent to the state for the 7-6-18 spill. The 7-19-18 spill of 1200 gallons was just a courtesy phone call. If you need additional information let me know.
The Lowndes County Utility Department experienced a sanitary sewage spill on July 6, 2018 on Val-tech Road 1.2 miles south of Wiregrass Technical College. Untreated sewage entered into a County road ditch. It has been estimated that approximately 9,300 gallons of untreated sewage entered into the ditch during the event. At this time we do not believe and sewage reached any waters of the State. The spill was caused by a split in the 16” force main that runs along Val-tech Road. The county enlisted the services of five pumper trucks in order to bypass the flow while emergency repairs were made. Additionally, lime was applied to the ditch near the spill. The County is monitoring the situation, if anything changes I will let you know. If you need additional information please contact me a 229-561-0360, Steve Stalvey.
That attached public notice was for the same spill Lowndes County Utilities Director Steve Stalvey already told us about shortly after it happened:
September 25, 2017
The Lowndes County Utility Department experienced a sanitary sewage spill on September 23, 2017 on Val-tech Road 1.2 miles south of Wiregrass Technical College. Untreated sewage entered into a drainage ditch that flows into the Withlacoochee River. It has been estimated that approximately 25,000 gallons of untreated sewage entered into the ditch during the event and the duration of the spill lasted approximately four hours. The spill was caused by a split in the 16” force main that runs along Val-tech Road. The County is monitoring this situation and is performing all reporting requirements as required by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the County’s NPDES Permit. Anyone having questions or comments may contact The Lowndes County Utilities Department at 229-671-2500.
Note the identical wording for the location: “on Val-tech Road 1.2 miles south of Wiregrass Technical College.” That would tend to indicate the spill was from the same place, which last September he told me was near Lucas Flea Market, in the corner where Val Tech Road angles up to I-75.
So far as I know, the NPDES Permit referred to is Lowndes-County-South-Permit-GAJ020294.pdf, 5398 Grassy Pond Road, Lake Park, GA 31636. I will inquire about that. Also about the location of the “7-19-18 spill of 1200 gallons”. And for followup water quality testing data. Maybe that data will support the county’s belief that no sewage reached any waters of the state, such as for example the Withlacoochee River.
I will also ask for data related to the other, smaller, Lowndes County spills related to Hurricane Irma on September 12, 2017.
Here is a collection of Lowndes County, Valdosta, Tifton, and Quitman spills in the past few years.
If you’d like to help find out what is really in our rivers, you can come to the water quality testing training this Sunday afternoon at SGRC in Valdosta.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
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