Valdosta holds ground-breaking on WWTP catch basin 2020-07-21

Long-awaited, since December 2018, with GA-EPD permit in hand since December 2019, today was the groundbreaking for the new catch basin at the entrance to Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).

[Ground breaking]
Photo: City of Valdosta, Ground breaking

The catch basin probably would have stopped 2/3 of the December 2018 spills. *The other 1/3 in December 2018 was from city infrastructure not acting as designed, unless 2 million gallons of raw sewage spilling from manholes was in that design.

It would not have done anything to stop the record December 2019 raw sewage spill, which resulted from the Remer Lane Pump Station being left offline and disconnected from the SCADA system.

However, some of the other projects mentioned in the below Valdosta press release may help with both those 2018 and 2019 other problems. It’s good to see Valdosta moving ahead to fix its chronic sewer system infrastructure problems.

July 21, 2020
Release #07-21-104

City Breaks Ground on 7.26 Million-Gallon Equalization Basin at Withlacoochee WWTP

On Tuesday, July 21, 2020, The City of Valdosta broke ground on the new Equalization (EG) Basin located at the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The new secondary basin will provide more than double the available storage for extended periods of operation at the peak hourly flow thereby reducing the potential for overflows at the Plant. The Project includes a lined 7.26 MG excavated Basin, a new pump station, and an associated gravity pipe and force main.

Since its start-up in 2016, the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant has experienced multiple major rain events resulting in major inflow and infiltration issues for the City of Valdosta’s sanitary sewer collection system. In December of 2018, The Wastewater Treatment Plant received excess flows due to a rain event that lasted several days, ultimately resulting in more than 11 inches of rain. During the storm, city infrastructure operated as designed.[*] While the WWTP has a normal average daily flow of 3.5 million gallons (MG), during the December rain event, the influent flow peaked at more than 32 MG—ten times the normal rate. As a result of unprecedented rainfall into the plant, the structures were overwhelmed. The current system has four processing units, although during normal operations the system only requires one. During the December storm event, the Withlacoochee Plant was running all four units plus the excess flow equalization basin.

In 2019, Utilities Staff determined that the best course of action was to construct a new secondary EQ Basin for the Plant. The City contracted with Lovell Engineering Associates (LEA), P.C. to provide design and engineering services for the project. In April, the city contracted with Reynolds Construction of Georgia, LLC for the construction of the basin.

“City officials have worked diligently to protect the interests of Valdosta citizens and are excited to move forward with the Equalization Basin Project at the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant. We will continue to focus on many other improvements to the sanitary sewer collection system as well.” said City Manager Mark Barber. “We will continue to maintain open lines of communication with those who are equally concerned about these issues as we are.”

“Our Utilities Department Staff is committed to protecting the environment in any way we can. This new equalization basin will allow us to receive and store any additional flows in the case of another major rain event, ultimately preventing any spills” said Darryl Muse, Utilities Director. “When the plant was built it was designed to hold four-times its average capacity. When we had the major rain event back in December 2018, we realized we needed to add extra capacity. I am excited to break ground on this project, it represents a true commitment by elected officials and city administration to improving our utility system and infrastructure.”

Catch basin SITE and UTILITY PLAN, obtained by WWALS via open records request.

The project design work started in April, construction is expected to be completed in October, weather permitting. The project will cost approximately $1.8 million and be paid for by Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax (SPLOST) funding.

[Construction Equipment]
Photo: City of Valdosta, Construction Equipment

“This is an exciting day. We’ve been working hard to fund projects that will improve our utilities system and prevent any issues that may impact our Withlacoochee River, so today, to turn the shovel to begin the project is a very rewarding day because now we can see the end, and the completion of this additional storage basin.” said Mayor Scott Matheson. “I am proud of Mark, Darryl and the Utilities Staff for working with EPD to get this project permitted and approved. We originally estimated this project to cost $2.3 million but it actually came in under budget at $1.8 million, due to work that was done in house ahead of time by our hard-working city employees.”

In addition to this project, the Utilities Department also has the following projects underway:


Current Projects Estimated Completion Cost
Sustella Ave Creek Crossing July 2020 $600,000

[Hose and manhole]
Photo: Scotti Jay, Hose and manhole on Onemile Branch downstream from Sustella Ave., 2020-06-02, which seemed to involve another manhole downstream and another upstream on the other side of the creek next to Sustella Ave. Valdosta said this was not a spill, rather manhole rehabilitation. Maybe this was the “Sustella Ave Creek Crossing” project?


Current Projects Estimated Completion Cost
Auto Transfer Switch (ATS) Installation at 10 Lift Stations December 2020 $79,400
10 Fixed Generators w/ ATS December 2020 $285,000
Gornto Road Master Lift Station 2021 $470,000
Mud Creek WWTP 2021 $450,000


    • Provided SCADA SOFTWARE for City of Valdosta Utilities Department (Includes Water & Wastewater Treatment Plants, Lift Stations, Distribution and Collection Systems)
    • Completed: July 2020
    • Cost: $262,500

For more information on the new EQ Basin project or the status of other sanitary sewer system improvement projects, contact Public Information Officer Ashlyn Johnson at (229) 259-3548.


I was invited to the groundbreaking, but got distracted with being on the radio this morning. Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for the invitation and the press release.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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