Daily Archives: January 4, 2021

Valdosta Mildred Street Sewage Spill, Alapaha River Basin 2021-01-02

Update 2021-01-05: Sewage Spills: Quitman, Valdosta, Tifton 2021-01-03.

Happy New Year from Valdosta, with a sewage spill at one of its chronic locations, although Valdosta was vague about exactly where and got the creek wrong. I wonder how they plan to fix this flooding that causes sewage spills if they don’t know where the water drains?

On January 2, 2021, the City of Valdosta Utilities Department responded to a call concerning a sanitary sewer overflow at a manhole in the 400 block of Mildred Street, an area that experiences localized flooding during rain events. The sanitary sewer spill was a result of excessive rainfall over a 24 hour period. This amount of rainfall over a short period of time resulted in storm water infiltration and inflow entering the collection system, and causing the manhole to exceed its capacity. Approximately 25,150 gallons of combined storm water and sewage discharged at this location, eventually entering into Dukes Bay.

…Warning signs have been posted at this location as well as downstream to advise the public to avoid any contact with this waterway for the next seven (7) days.

[Sewage Spill, Mildred Street, Valdosta, Alapaha River]
Sewage Spill, Mildred Street, Valdosta, Alapaha River

Although Valdosta’s press release is careful to point out that this spill did not come from the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treetment Plant (WWTP), which is good, the PR does not say where “downstream” is. Dukes Bay Canal goes to Mud Swamp Creek, then the Alapahoochee River, and then reaches the Alapaha River slightly upstream of Sasser Landing, in Hamilton County, Florida.

[Mildred Street to Sasser Landing, Alapaha River]
Mildred Street to Sasser Landing, Alapaha River in the map of the Alapaha River Water Trail.

So this spill will not affect the Withlacoochee River. WWALS will attempt to get some testing done on the Alapaha River. I’d also like to see a Valdosta warning sign posted at Sasser Landing, but I’d bet there is no such sign.

What is downstream is known to Valdosta’s Engineering Department Stormwater Division: City of Valdosta – Master Stormwater Management Plan 2010,

Section 5
Mud Swamp Creek Basin

Mud Swamp Creek is located on the southern side of the City of Valdosta, flowing from west to east. The Mud Swamp Creek basin is about 43 square miles in total area and is tributary to the Alapahoochee River. Within the City, significant drainage features tributary to Mud Swamp Creek include the Dukes Bay Canal and Knights Creek. The Dukes Bay Canal represents approximately 10 percent of the total tributary area of Mud Swamp Creek, while Knights Creek accounts for nearly 40 percent. During the April 2009 storm, some flooding was experienced along Mud Swamp Creek; however, the severity of the flooding was minimal when compared to flooding associated with the Withlacoochee River. Severe flooding, however, was noted downstream of Mud Swamp Creek along the Alapahoochee and Alapaha Rivers.

I wonder if Valdosta has ever fixed this problem, identified later in Section 5:

5.1.3 Existing Conditions

  • Cypress Street Improvements: The 1996 SWMP recommended upsizing the culvert under Cypress Street to a 3 ft H x 5 ft W box culvert. The City has designed this upgrade; however, the new culvert was never constructed. Currently, there is a double 30-inch circular culvert crossing under Cypress Street.

[Dukes Bay Canal East]
Dukes Bay Canal East

However, according to the Valdosta Stormwater Division, Mildred Street does not drain into Dukes Bay Canal.

[3 node locations with potential structural flooding]
3 node locations with potential structural flooding

Instead, Mildred Street drains into Knights Creek. We’ve mentioned this before, for example after Valdosta’s December 14, 2018, 408 Mildred Street spill of 123,375 gallons of raw sewage. Actually, Valdosta even listed that one with GA-EPD as going into Knights Creek.

Also notice that time they were more specific: 408, not just 400 block. But earlier that same month when Valdosta spilled 210,000 gallons they listed it merely as 400 block Mildred Street, although they did get Knights Creek right.

[Valdosta Sub-basins]
Valdosta Sub-basins
PDF

More specifically, Mildred street drains into to what we’re calling Knights Creek Cypress Street Branch 03110202006919, which runs into Knights Creek, which goes into Dukes Bay Canal, etc.

[Knights Creek]
Knights Creek

Valdosta Press Release

Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson, WWALS did get a copy of this PR yesterday at 3:26 PM. However, despite years of promises from Valdosta, we did not get a notice when the state agencies were notified. This Valdosta spill has not yet shown up in GA-EPD’s Sewage Spills Report, although one from Quitman has, from December 22, 2020; stay tuned on that one.

Weekend Storm Results in Manhole Overflow

On January 2, 2021, the City of Valdosta Utilities Department responded to a call concerning a sanitary sewer overflow at a manhole in the 400 block of Mildred Street, an area that experiences localized flooding during rain events. The sanitary sewer spill was a result of excessive rainfall over a 24 hour period. This amount of rainfall over a short period of time resulted in storm water infiltration and inflow entering the collection system, and causing the manhole to exceed its capacity. Approximately 25,150 gallons of combined storm water and sewage discharged at this location, eventually entering into Dukes Bay.

It is important to note that this spill did not occur at the city’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant. During the storm, city infrastructure operated as designed. The Withlacochee Plant ran all four units plus the two excess flow equalization basins.

The city continues its ongoing effort to improve the infrastructure of the city’s collection system and eliminate these issues in the future. The city Utilities Department is currently working on an inflow and infiltration project that will identify sources of I&I, eventually eliminating excess flows into the sewer system during rain events. Sewer spills are not acceptable at any time. It has been the city’s top priority to prevent them all through the recent construction of the WWTP New Secondary Equalization Basin, as well as the Lift Station Rehab Program, Smoke Testing Program, Annual Manhole Rehab Program and the ongoing River Sampling Program that tests waters three times a week.

All appropriate regulatory agencies has been notified, and sampling of the impacted area will start immediately. Warning signs have been posted at this location as well as downstream to advise the public to avoid any contact with this waterway for the next seven (7) days. City staff have cleaned and disinfected the impacted area of this discharge.

[Google Streetview: north from 400 Mildred Street @ Cypress Street]
Google Streetview: north from 400 Mildred Street @ Cypress Street

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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