Valdosta sewage sign, golf course, Valdosta Country Club, Stillhouse Branch 2019-08-23

Friday we found the warning sign on the Valdosta Country Club green for the Wednesday force main sewage spill, thanks to Valdosta Utilities Environmental Manager Scott Fowler, who told me where it was. Sara Jay has tested downstream for WWALS, and maybe we can get the Valdosta water quality testing data, as well. Although there is some ambiguity as to which way downstream is.

[Sewage Spill]
Sewage Spill

“It stinks,” said a man on a golf cart on the green, as I was taking pictures.

[Still stinks]
Still stinks

The above picture shows a discolored wet area that still stinks, outside the limed spot.

Golfers can see the warning sign.


Nobody from Plantation Drive nor downstream on Stillhouse Branch or the Withlacoochee River can see that sign, even though that limed area drains down this pipe:


Down Stillhouse Branch it goes, joining where the Branch comes out of a culvert under the green.

Stillhouse Branch culvert from under the green

Then past the lift station, which is at the end of Plantation Drive, at 30.8927910, -83.3069360. Since it’s on the golf course green, the actual address of the spill is 3500 Country Club Road, Valdosta, GA. If you know exactly what to look for, you can see the limed area from the lift station; maybe even you can spot the back of the warning sign. You can’t see either from Plantation Drive.

[Lime visible through yellow railing]
Lime visible through yellow railing

Here is a WWALS video of the spill sign, a force main sign, the golf course green, Stillhouse Branch, and the lift station.

This spill is still not listed in the GA-EPD Sewage Spill Reports, even though Manager Fowler says he talked to GA-EPD on the day it happened.

As to why the Valdosta PR about this spill did not name the creek: Utilities did not know the name. It’s true that USGS and google earth don’t give a name. But Valdosta Stormwater has a Master Stormwater Management Plan which does name it, as Stillhouse Branch, Section 4.2 Cherry Creek & Stillhouse Branch.

[Stillhouse Branch]
Stillhouse Branch

I have left a message with Valdosta Stormwater so I can ask them to talk to Valdosta Utilities about what creeks run where.

There is some ambiguity in Valdosta’s Stormwater Management Plan map, since it shows attached to Stillhouse Brannch a long stretch east of the spill site that USGS says flows into Cherry Creek. In this map I have digitized Stillhouse Branch (which USGS does not seem to have data for) from the Valdosta Stormwater map and what is visible on google maps satellite view. I wonder where the water that comes out of that culvert goes into it. Presumably the golf course and Valdosta Country Club know.

[And Cherry Creek]
Stillhouse Branch And Cherry Creek in the WWALS Map of Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

It would be nice to know for sure which way sewage goes from that lift station. Seems like all those subdivisions, not to mention people along Lake Cleve (aka Cherry Lake) might like to know.

Meanwhile, Sara Jay of our WWALS Water Quality Testing Program tested downstream at US 41 (North Valdosta Road) and Langdale Park Thursday, and fortunately both were within the state bacterial limit for E. coli.

[Stillhouse Branch]
Stillhouse Branch

We don’t yet know what Valdosta’s tests show. I will file an open records request.

More pictures of the warning sign and thereabouts are on the WWALS website.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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