Moody AFB sewage spill, Mission Lake 2019-08-06

Update 2021-04-02: Moody AFB NPDES Permit No. GA0020001, which affects not only Beatty Branch in the Withlacoochee River Basin, but also Mission Lake and Grand Bay in the Alapaha River Basin, via “Sanitary, groundwater infiltration, runoff, potable water treatment plant, and vehicle maintenance.”

Did you know Moody Air Force Base had two sewage spills this month? Thanks to GA-EPD, we knew about them, and Moody AFB posted news reports on both of them. One went into Mission Lake, upstream from Grand Bay and the Alapaha River. The other went into Beatty Branch, upstream from Cat Creek and the Withlacoochee River.

[Building 769 and Mission Lake]
Building 769 and Mission Lake

23d Wing Public Affairs, News, 7 August 2019, Sewage Spill Notification,

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. — The 23d Civil Engineer Squadron was notified of a sewage leak in the vicinity of a wastewater lift station at Building 769 on Moody Air Force Base, Aug. 6, 2019 at approximately 1 p.m. After assessment, it is suspected the leak began 2-3 days prior to 23 CES receiving the notification and had resulted in no more than 3,000 gallons spilled into an unnamed tributary that flows to Mission Lake within the boundaries of Moody AFB.

So apparently the spill actually started around Saturday, August 3rd, somebody notified the Squadron on Tuesday, August 6th, this news report was posted Wednesday, August 7th, and the spill showed up in GA-EPD’s Sewage Spill Reports as 3,000 gallons of raw sewage, on Monday, August 12th, more than a week after the spill started. Not very speedy. I hope nobody was fishing, swimming, or boating downstream during that week. Also, the GA-EPD report has the “BEGIN DATE” as August 6th, which isn’t right, according to Moody AFB’s news report.

[Location Map]
Location Map

Moody AFB’s report continues:

The leak originated from a broken pipe departing the lift station. Upon notification, the lift station was immediately turned off, pumping equipment was used to clean up the spill and the area of the broken pipe was then treated with lime to disinfect. Temporary repairs have been made and the station has been placed back in service while materials are on order for a permanent repair with an estimated completion date of Aug. 23, 2019.

For more information, call 23d Wing Public Affairs at (229) 257-4146.

We know where Building 769 is from Moody AFB’s own Base Map.

[Base Map]
Base Map

We know about the “unnamed tributary” due to USGS stream lines in the WWALS map of the Alapaha River Water Trail. We call that particular tributary Burma Branch, since it runs beside Burma Road.

While that tributary does indeed go into Mission Lake (or Mission Pond, as Google maps calls it), water continues to run downhill.

[Grand Bay downstream from Mission Lake]
Grand Bay downstream from Mission Lake

And downstream from Mission Lake is Grand Bay, with its alligators, pitcher plants, fish, birds, observation tower, and two boat ramps.

The second August Moody AFB sewage spill I found by searching on Moody’s News page. 23rd Wing Public Affairs, News, 14 August 2019, Sewage Spill Notification,

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. — The 23d Civil Engineer Squadron was notified of a sewage leak from a man-hole on Hickam Street south of the Base Education Center, bldg. 328, on Aug. 13, 2019. After assessment, it is suspected the leak lasted approximately 30 minutes and resulted in no more than 30 gallons spilled into a curbside drain on Hickam Street.

The spill originated from blockage within the man-hole. Upon notification, the Civil Engineer Squadron’s Water and Fuel Systems Maintenance shop cleared the blockage and restored service.

For more information, call 23d Wing Public Affairs at (229) 257-4146.

I’m not completely sure what the minimum number of gallons for a required report is, but it’s probably more than 30. Nonetheless, Moody AFB did report this second, very tiny, spill, to GA-EPD, which lists it as in the watershed of Beatty Creek (presumably meaning Beatty Branch).

Thirty gallons is a lot less than the 1,350 gallons of raw sewage in the Valdosta Country Club that still hasn’t shown up in GA-EPD’s reports.

[Bldg. 328 and Beatty Branch]
Bldg. 328 and Beatty Branch, in WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

Water runs downstream from Beatty Branch, too, into Cat Creek, the Withlacoochee River, and eventually the Suwannee River.

[Cat Creek downstream of Beatty Branch]
Cat Creek downstream of Beatty Branch

Yes, Moody AFB sits on the divide between the Withlacoochee and Alapaha watersheds, so which way the water goes depends on where inside the base.

However, the NPDES wastewater permit listed by GA-EPD for both spills is GA0020001, which is run by Lowndes County (not Valdosta) for Moody AFB. Does that mean Lowndes County also runs the lift stations and the manholes? Or does Moody AFB do that?

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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