Valdosta FOG Manhole sewage spill 2021-04-26

2021-05-11: two weeks later, Valdosta’s FOG spill shows up on GA-EPD’s Sewage Spills Report, for two days earlier than in Valdosta’s press release.

This Valdosta sewage spill on Saturday was very small, mostly vacuumed up by the city, and unlikely to get the 1.89 miles down Onemile Branch to Sugar Creek, and the 1.85 miles farther to the Withlacoochee River. I think we can all agree that nobody wants sewage spills caused by Fats, Oils, or Greases. Also don’t dump your face masks into storm drains or waterways.

[FOG in manhole, 1400 Williams Street spill site, creeks to Withlacoochee River]
FOG in manhole, 1400 Williams Street spill site, creeks to Withlacoochee River

Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson prepended this note with the picture you see below: “It is important to note that while this did happen over the weekend, it was not a weather related incident. For our media partners, I am attaching an example of a previous grease blockage in our system so that you can get a visual of how grease build up can block pipes, ultimately leading to a manhole overflow.”

[Valdosta example: Fats, Oils, and Grease in a manhole]
Valdosta example: Fats, Oils, and Grease in a manhole

The 1400 block of Williams Street is at the top of Drexel Park, east of Valdosta State University.

[Map: 1400 Williams Street sewage spill site 2021-04-24]
Map: 1400 Williams Street sewage spill site 2021-04-24
In the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

Here is a WWALS detailed writeup with pictures and maps on a previous FOG spill at Cherry Creek a year ago.

And here is a WWALS post of Valdosta’s advice about avoiding FOG spills.

City of Valdosta Press Release

April 26, 2021
Release #04-26-62

Grease Blockage Leads to Manhole Overflow

On Saturday, April 24, 2021, The City of Valdosta Utilities Department staff responded to a call concerning a manhole discharge at the 1400 block of Williams Street.

The cause of the spill was determined to be a grease blockage resulting in approximately 150 gallons of sewage entering a storm drain that discharges into One Mile Branch. The blockage was caused by a buildup of fats, oils, and grease that accumulated inside the sewer line.

[Map: Onemile Branch, Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River, plus Cherry Creek]
Map: Onemile Branch, Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River, plus Cherry Creek

City staff were able to capture and recover a large portion of the discharge before it entered state waters. The blockage was cleared and the site and its discharge point were cleaned and disinfected.

Although the level of potential contamination to the area is minimal, the public is advised to avoid contact with the water adjacent to 1400 block of Williams Street for the next seven days.

All appropriate regulatory and public health agencies have been notified, and warning signs have been posted at that location.

The City’s FOG Prevention Division continues to urge all customers to refrain from dumping waste cooking fats, oils and grease (FOG) down their home or business drains for the protection of their personal property, as well as the public sanitary sewer collection system. City staff will continue distributing educational door hangers to homes and businesses in the general area to inform citizens on how to properly dispose of cooking fats, oils, and grease and how they can prevent this occurrence in the future.

We need your help to prevent Fats, Oils, and Grease from causing blockages in the sewer system

Fats, oils, and grease do not mix well with water and easily adhere to the walls of underground pipes when washed down the drain as liquids. As they cool, these substances solidify and adhere to the pipe’s interior. If allowed, over time the grease builds up and causes blockages which in turn causes overflows and breaks in the pipes.

For Residential Customers

Never Pour Fats, Oil, or Grease Down the Drain

  • Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) clog pipes at your house and in City’s utility infrastructure system. The blockage can cause raw sewage to back up into your home, your yard, your streets, and waterways.
  • Grease in your pipes leads to increased plumbing costs.
  • Money spent on costly cleanups of sewage spills leads to increased utility bills.

What You Can Do With Your Leftover Fats, Oil, and Grease

  • Discard leftover fat, oil, or grease into the trash.

If you put F.O.G into the trash:

  • Pour cooled grease into an empty can or plastic container before tossing it in the trash.
  • Scrape food scraps from dishes into the trash.
  • Collect leftover or expired oils (salad dressing, cooking oils, etc.) in containers; absorb liquids with coffee grounds, cat litter or paper towels; toss in trash.
  • Use rubber scrapers and paper towels to remove oil and grease from cookware.
  • Avoid using a garbage disposal.
  • Put baskets or strainers into sinks to catch food scraps and then empty them in the trash.

Individuals with questions should contact Environmental Manager Scott Fowler at 229-259-3592 or by email at

Ashlyn Johnson
Public Information Officer

I commend Valdosta for reporting this spill in a timely manner. I do with they would provide a more precise location, however, at least a street address, and preferably a latitude and longitude.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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