Trash boom good; more needed –Suwannee Riverkeeper @ VCC 2022-06-23

Fixing Valdosta’s trash problem would cost far less than a single sewer line. Thanks for starting by putting in one trash boom; thanks especially to Council Andy Gibbs and Mayor Scott James, who have come and helped clean up on Sugar Creek and the Withlacoochee River.

Now what’s the plan to clean that one out? When will we see the other two or more trash booms? And where’s the plan to get businesses to stop trash upstream at the source?

[Valdosta Mayor and Council, trash boom, Holly Street]
Valdosta Mayor and Council, trash boom, Holly Street

At their meeting last Thursday, I thanked Valdosta Mayor and Council for two sewer system fixes and for the trash boom installed on the Summer Solstice on Sugar Creek, keeping trash from getting into the Withlacoochee River.

Those sewer system fixes cost $617,500 at Sustella Avenue on One Mile Branch,

[$617,500 to JWA]
$617,500 to JWA

[Photo: Sustella Repair During 2]
Photo: Sustella Repair During 2

and $259,430.86 at the input to the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).

[$259,430.86 to RPI]
$259,430.86 to RPI

[Photo: WWTP sewer line repair Before 2]
Photo: WWTP sewer line repair Before 2

At the same meeting, they approved $148,842.00 for the placement and installation of electrical outlets in the City of Valdosta Customer Service parking lot.

[One bid $148,842.00]
One bid $148,842.00

That one WaterGoat cost less than $4,000. So with two more that would be less than $12,000. Sure, there is ongoing work in cleaning them out, but compared to the rest of the Valdosta City budget, that’s a drop in the bucket.

Thanks to Jeff Mills and his WaterGoat crew for installing the trash boom, with the able assistance of Russell Allen McBride and Suzy Hall and their families; Bobby McKenzie was working.

I can’t thank city staff who were there on the clock representing the city, because there were none at that installation.

[Say WaterGoat 2022-06-21]
Say WaterGoat 2022-06-21

At the City Council meeting, I meant to compliment the city on the renewed Adopt-A-Street program, but I forgot.

I told them that WWALS had received a Georgia statewide award for trash cleanups, but we’d be happier to have less trash to clean up, so the trash boom is a good start.

[Movie: Stopping trash upstream --Suwannnee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, for WWALS]
Movie: Stopping trash upstream –Suwannnee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, for WWALS

Then I reminded Mayor and Council of what else needs to be done, as I did a month before at a Council meeting, in the Valdosta Daily Times that same weekend. That was following up from a February Council meeting. I and others have repeatedly reminded them via email and telephone, including in a white paper. Not to mention on the Mayor’s radio show, starting last August.

[Radio 2021, Plan 2010]
Radio 2021, Plan 2010

Plus Valdosta’s own 2010 Stormwater Master Plan details the problem in pictures and words: “Streams are a natural attractor for children and play structures occur along the stream edge. The pollution in this stream poses a serious risk of disease and injury and children should be strongly discouraged from playing in the stream until the trash and sewage are eliminated.”

It adds, “The leaking manholes and sewer pipes should be repaired immediately and protected from future damage. The garbage should be removed from the creek and an education and enforcement program to prevent further pollution should be implemented.”

I think a dozen years is long enough an immediate fix to this public health problem, don’t you?

Valdosta needs at least two more trash traps, on Two Mile Branch to keep it out of JoRee Millpond, and on Three Mile Branch, where the Mayor lives, to keep it out of the Withlacoochee River.

And even more importantly, get businesses to keep trash from getting off their parking lots, and put out trash cans, as required in city ordinances. Failing that, the city should fine the laggards.

[Map: KFC to Tractor Supply to Hightower Creek and Sugar Creek]
Map: KFC to Tractor Supply to Hightower Creek and Sugar Creek in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

There’s more that can be done in education and outreach, all previously detailed to the city in letters and a white paper.

The previous speaker’s request to do something about trash on lots on Holly Drive is related, since some of that will wash into nearby creeks.

[Vehicles parked on Holly Street yard]
Vehicles parked on Holly Street yard

I saw the Mayor taking notes. Those lots are one block from One Mile Branch, across from Vallotton Park and upstream from Drexel Park.

Turns out there’s more. When Assistant City Manager Richard Hardy came up to me after the meeting to discuss the trash boom, it became evident that there is, ah, confusion within the city government about how to clean out the trash from the trash boom. He seemed to be under the impression that WWALS would do that for free. I reminded him that previously he had agreed to another meeting to discuss that and related matters. Today I am sending him a reminder.

[Movie: 4.b. Consideration of a request to approve an Amendment to the Master Terms and Conditions for the Via Transit Service. (66M)]
Assistant City Manager Richard Hardy

And I will be speaking to several City Council members. Maybe some of you would like to do that, too.

Isn’t a dozen years long enough?

For the rest of last Thursday’s Valdosta City Council meeting, see the LAKE blog post RIP Sonny Vickers + two sewer lines fixed @ VCC 2022-06-23.

For more about the trash situation, see:

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

2 thoughts on “Trash boom good; more needed –Suwannee Riverkeeper @ VCC 2022-06-23

  1. Pingback: RIP Sonny Vickers + two sewer lines fixed @ VCC 2022-06-23 | On the LAKE front

  2. Pingback: Sugar Creek trash boom after 1.5 inches rain 2022-06-29 | WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) is Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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