Tifton spilled 2,000 gallons raw sewage 2020-11-03

Update 2020-11-06: Odd water quality upstream, Withlacoochee River 2020-11-04

Any amount is too much, but that 2,000 gallons Tuesday was probably not enough to affect Reed Bingham State Park Lake much, nor anything downstream from it. However, we don’t know, because nobody was testing on Willow Creek or the Little River above RBSP. Any spill is too much raw sewage into waterways.

[Golden Road Lift Station, Spill, RBSP, Little, Withlacoochee, Suwannee Rivers]
Golden Road Lift Station, Spill, RBSP, Little, Withlacoochee, Suwannee Rivers

Unlike some other cities recently, Tifton did timely report this spill, which appeared in GA-EPD’s Sewage Spills Report the day after it happened.

And this time was less than the 250,000 gallons on September 11, 2017 from the same Golden Road Lift Station.

[Street View]
Street View

This time the report lists the location as “501 W. Golden Rd.,” seen on the right on the above map. That’s a little hard to believe, since the Tift County Tax Assessor says that parcel is privately owned by somebody who lives in Miami. We hold with the more likely location on the west side of the creek, which is owned by the City of Tifton, seen on the left on the above map.

Florida and Alabama require latitude and longitude in sewage spill reports. Georgia could, too, and nobody would have to play this location guessing game.

At least Tifton didn’t try to blame it on rain (there was none) or contractor error (like a certain larger city almost always tries to do). They called it “Equipment failure”.

[Map View, 501 W. Golden Road, Tifton, GA]
Map View, 501 W. Golden Road, Tifton, GA

Also this time the GA-EPD report says “unnamed tributary to Little River,” while three years ago the Tifton Gazette said, “The spill mostly affected Cow House Creek, also known as Cow House Branch.”

Tifton, City of (New River WPCP)2020-11-03TiftTifton501 W. Golden Rd2,000Raw SewageGA0048470Lift StationEquipment failureSuwanneeunnamed tributary to Little River

USGS has no name for the creek that crosses Golden Road. However, there’s a nearby subdivision called Cove at Willow Creek, so we’re calling it Willow Creek.

[Willow Creek]
Willow Creek

As you can see, it runs into the Little River. I’m guessing that’s about six miles downstream from Golden Road (it’s difficult to compute because USGS has no single stream trace for that creek).

[Reed Bingham State Park]
Reed Bingham State Park

The Willow Creek confluence with the Little River is about 39 miles upstream from Reed Bingham State Park Lake, so call it about 45 waterway miles. That’s a long way, but at even one mile an hour, contamination could get there in two days.

[Tifton, Little, Withlacoochee, Suwannee Rivers]
Tifton, Little, Withlacoochee, Suwannee Rivers on the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

Assuming the contamination didn’t get diluted by Reed Bingham State Park Lake, it’s another 50 river miles to the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River west of Valdosta, or about 95 waterway miles total. Then it’s another 34.6 river miles to the GA-FL line, or 129.6 total. To the Suwannee River it’s about 157 total waterway miles. Enough contamination could make it that far. It’s unlikely only 2,000 gallons of raw sewage would, especially with a dam in the way.

Still, any amount of raw sewage spilled is too much.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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