Valdosta has completed the long-awaited catch basin at the entrance to the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). That won’t stop spills that happen elsewhere, such as the big one in December 2019, but it might have stopped 2/3 of the December 2018 sewage spill gallons. And Valdosta’s press release also emphasizes further fixes elsewhere.
First proposed December 6, 2018, by by City Council Tim Carroll, just as Valdosta had its third major sewage spill episode of 2018, including eighteen locations, followed by five more on December 14 and 15. Only three of those spills came from the WWTP, but those three did account for most of the gallons spilled. However, the record December 2019 spill did not come from the WWTP at all.
Valdosta got a permit for the catch basin from GA-EPD in December 2019, before it was required to dig it in a new GA-EPD Consent Order. Valdosta held a groundbreaking July 21, 2020.
Now the catch basin is finished, after only a year and a half. It should decrease the likelihood of spills from the WWTP. December is the traditional Valdosta sewage spill season, and so far there have been none. Meanwhile, sanitary sewer work continues elsewhere in Valdosta.
Valdosta PR, November 19, 2020, Equalization Basin at Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Completed,
After four months of construction, the City of Valdosta’s Utilities Department has completed the new Equalization (EQ) Basin at the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). The EQ Basin’s need became apparent after the city experienced unprecedented rainfall in December of 2018. This caused the WWTP to ingest more than ten times the inflow’s average amount, leading to a spill. The new EQ Basin helps alleviate this issue by providing the plant with an additional 7.8 million gallons of storage capacity.
The Withlacoochee WWTP was initially constructed in 1980 and was later rebuilt at a higher elevated location in 2016, where it still currently resides. In the winter of 2018, the WWTP, which is only designed to handle about 12 million gallons of wastewater a day, became inundated with an estimated 37 million gallons. At that point, city officials started initiating a program that would allow them to handle those additional flows, and out of that came the Equalization Basin.
The Utilities Department began construction on the EQ Basin earlier this year in July. Utilities Director, Darryl Muse, says it has been a pretty seamless process from the start. “All the contractors, as well as materials, showed up on time. The city and utility contractor worked well together to make sure we got this done ahead of the anticipated rain events that South Georgia typically experiences in December and January,” said Muse. Adding the additional 7.8 million gallons of storage capacity will allow the WWTP to take in the excess flows after the rainfall and pump that wastewater back through the treatment process to get it properly treated so that it can then be discharged.”
“The Equalization Basin Project has been a priority of mine since I took on the role of City Manager. We’ve been working hard to fund projects that will improve our utility system and prevent any issues that may impact our Withlacoochee River,” said City Manager Mark Barber. “I am proud of Darryl and the Utilities Staff for working with EPD to get this project completed. This project shows our commitment to investing in and improving the aging utility infrastructure. We originally estimated this project to cost $2.3 million. Still, it actually came in under budget at $1.8 million, due to work that was done in the house ahead of time by our hard-working city employees.”
However, the Utilities Department does not rely on the EQ Basin alone to avoid overflows from heavy rain events. In addition to this project, the Utilities Department also has the following projects underway:
LIFT STATION GENERATOR PURCHASE/INSTALLATION PROJECTS
Auto Transfer Switch (ATS) Installation at 10 Lift Stations
10 Fixed Generators w/ ATS
Gornto Road Master Lift Station
Mud Creek WWTP
The Utilities Department is out there every day getting a handle on the underground utility system’s condition, so chances are when you see Maintenance Trucks out in the field, they are combating this problem. “We are fighting this on multiple fronts, and we are working hard to try and make sure we can handle anything that may happen. I won’t say that we will never have an incident out there. You know nature is pretty relentless. Still, we certainly have come a long way to reassure that this facility will be able to handle any anticipated significant rain event that comes through,” said Muse. As a result of these efforts, residents should see an improvement in the wastewater system’s performance.
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.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
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