Detail of Sewage Spills: Valdosta, GA * 8, Starke, FL * 6, 2021-07-08

Update 2021-07-09: Bad Elsa aftermath, water quality, Withlacoochee River 2021-07-08.

The Valdosta spills actually add up to 90,300 gallons of raw sewage from seven locations, mostly in the Withlacoochee River Basin, but one into the Alapaha River Basin. Or more spills, since we have a report of one more that the city limed but did not include in its list of spills.

The Starke spills apparently came from six locations, probably adding up to 45,000 gallons of raw sewage, all uphill from Alligator Creek 00277787, above Lake Rowell, Lake Sampson, Sampson River, Santa Fe River.

[Valdosta spills, Starke spills and mines]
Valdosta spills, Starke spills and mines during Tropical Storm Elsa 2021-07-07

Still, the good news is that there were no spills from Valdosta’s two wastewater treatment plants, and the new WWTP catch basin is only half full (so far). Plus, the Mayor of Valdosta called to let us know about these spills. And he says the notorious Wainwright Drive manhole on Onemile Branch is finally getting some attention. Oh, and for once there was no spills reported on Mildred Street.

See also the previous WWALS blog post.

Valdosta Spills

Here is the Valdosta Press Release about their spills. I have added which [waterbody] the spill was on or uphill from. GA-EPD still has not posted Valdosta’s spill reports in the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report.

The WWALS maps show where the spills were, as near as I could read the tea leaves of Valdosta’s vague “200 block” location reporting. They know the exact latitude and longitude of the affected manholes. Why don’t they include that?

Note that Valdosta’s list does not include a spill that Valdosta limed, between Loganberry Circle and White Oak Drive, uphill from a drainage ditch that apparently runs north across Gornto Road to Twomile Branch, upstream of Joree Millpond, Sugar Creek, and the Withlacoochee River.

[Loganberry Circle spill limed by Valdosta 2021-07-07 Photo: Phillip Williams]
Loganberry Circle spill limed by Valdosta 2021-07-07 Photo: Phillip Williams

July 8, 2021
Release #07-08-90

City Sewer System Impacted by Tropical Storm Elsa

On Wednesday, July 7, 2021, the City of Valdosta received more than three (3) inches of rain from Tropical Storm Elsa in addition to approximately nine (9) inches of rain received during the past fourteen (14) days. These rain events saturated the ground causing inflow and infiltration into the sanitary sewer system. The excess flow exceeded the capacity of the collection system causing intermittent sewage spills at several manholes.

On Wednesday the city identified seven (7) locations in which these overflows occurred:

Staff immediately began monitoring the impacted areas, as well as cleanup and disinfecting at the overflow locations. All appropriate regulatory and public health agencies have been notified, and warning signs have been posted at all the spill locations.

Preventing sewer spills has and will continue to be the city’s top priority through the ongoing Collection System Rehab Program which includes Manhole Rehab, the Smoke Testing Program, Sewer Main Lining and Sewer Main Replacement. In addition, the Utilities Department has an ongoing River Sampling Program that tests waters before, during and after major rain events, and has continued to install generators at the lift stations to ensure uninterrupted operation during power failures.

In addition to the programs listed above, in 2020, the Utilities Department initiated two additional programs, The “Creek Crossing” program and the “Cap the Cleanout” program, to help locate Infiltration and Inflow in the Collection System as well. These programs are designed to specifically check each manhole and/or sewer line on or near water to verify proper operation, and go door to door to insure each house has their cleanout cap installed and the cleanout is in working order.

The city will continue its ongoing efforts to improve the infrastructure of the sewer system to eliminate these issues in the future. For more information, contact the Utilities Department Environmental Manager Scott Fowler at 229-259-3592 or


Starke Spills

These were the reported spill locations: “WWTP 15,000” and “N. Water Street Water street and SR 16 SR 16 and Clark St Orange street Legion Terrance and Milton Terrance Sidewalk on SR 100 and Alligator Creek”.

I’m interpreting them as 15,000 gallons of raw sewage from Starke WWTP and 30,000 gallons of raw sewage from these sewer system locations:

  • N. Water Street Water and FL 16
  • FL 16 and Clark St
  • Orange Street at Legion Terrace
  • Melton Terrace Sidewalk
  • FL 100 and Alligator Creek

[Starke, FL, sewage spills]
Starke, FL, sewage spills. Melton Terrace is highlighted, with Legion Terrace north of that, in the WWALS map of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail.

I wonder if there were any spills from the Chemours titanium mines east of Starke?

[Starke, FL, sewage spills and mines]
Starke, FL, sewage spills and mines in the WWALS map of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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