Valdosta sewer spill, Meadowbrook Drive at Gornto Road 2022-08-14

Valdosta had a sewage spill on Meadowbrook Drive at Gornto Road this weekend, which this morning they said they fixed that same weekend. We don’t know how many gallons, but we’re guessing not many. Maybe we’ll know more about that once Valdosta reports to GA-EPD. If it was small, it probably did not get into Sugar Creek and the Withlacoochee River, although we hope Valdosta is testing to find out.

Congratulations to Valdosta for fixing this problem quickly. Room for improvement on internal handoffs on Valdosta’s Click ‘n’ Fix smartphone app, and on completeness of reporting. Also, we would like to know the cause, considering there was no rain.

[Map, Manhole]
Map, Manhole

That’s the fourth small Valdosta sewage spill and one major one since June. So far as we can tell by later testing, none of them had any noticeable effect on the Withlacoochee River.

Plus there was a spill from Quitman, Georgia, that very likely did affect Okapilco Creek and the Withlacoochee River, although more than a week later nobody yet knows how many gallons. And there was a spill from High Springs, Florida, which probably did not affect the Santa Fe River.

WWALS member Suzy Hall noticed yesterday (Sunday) afternoon on that Blakely Calley had reported through Valdosta’s Click ‘n’ Fix smartphone app about 4PM, Sunday, August 14, 2022: “Corner of Meadowbrook drive and Gornto looks like the sewer overflow is stopped up. It’s pouring out.” She called it in by telephone to Valdosta Utilities. I also forwarded it to Valdosta Utilities Environmental Manager Scott Fowler about 9PM Sunday.

About 9AM Monday morning, Scott Fowler called back to say their on-call people went out that same day and fixed it. It was a partial blockage. Also about 9AM Monday, Christine Espanol “(Verified Official)” updated “Thank you for reporting. This issue was addressed on Saturday 8/13/22. We are following up on it this morning, but it is being monitored. If you have any questions, please call the Utilities Department at 229-259-3592.”

I don’t know why she wrote Saturday when the seeclickfix report was made Sunday. Maybe she made a typo. Or maybe the seeclickfix report was a day late.

You can see the approximate location marked by a yellow diamond towards the lower right of this map, near Sugar Creek, which runs into the Withlacoochee River.

[Spill, Meadowbrook @ Gornto, Valdosta 2022-08-14]
Spill, Meadowbrook @ Gornto, Valdosta 2022-08-14 in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

And we’re guessing it was this manhole, which most closely matches the reported location.

[Manhole, 2400 Meadowbrook Drive, Valdosta, GA 31602 --Google Streetview]
Manhole, 2400 Meadowbrook Drive, Valdosta, GA 31602 –Google Streetview

Here are the summer 2022 sewage spills we know of in the Suwannee River Basin.

  • 2022-08-14: This one at Meadowbrook Drive and Gornto Road.
  • 2022-08-03: This Wednesday, August 3, 2022, Valdosta sewage spill appeared Friday August 12, 2022, on GA-EPD’s Sewage Spills Report. That report says the spill occured apparently at the same location as the one July 25th. I don’t know anything more about it, because WWALS got no email that I can find, and searching (front page, news, Utilities page) finds nothing. If there’s actually a story on the Valdosta website, I’m sure somebody from the city will provide a correction. Like that previous spill, this one was small enough that it most likely had no effect on the Withlacoochee River.

    [Valdosta sewage spill 2022-08-03]
    Valdosta sewage spill 2022-08-03

  • 2022-07-25: Valdosta had an 840-gallon sewage spill Monday, July 25, 2022. It probably did not affect the Withlacoochee River, but nearby residents may be concerned. It was about 400 feet upstream on Sheri Run from the Baytree Road spill of July 9th.

    [Detail and area maps]
    Detail and area maps

  • 2022-07-09: Two manholes spewed sewage on Saturday July 9, 2022, next to Baytree Road and Sheri Run, upstream from Lake Sheri and the Withlacoochee River. Couple of WWALS members went to see Valdosta’s decade-old trash trap on Baytree Road at Sheri Run, and found this sewage spill about 5:20 PM. They reported it to Valdosta Utilities, which on the next day said it was fixed.

    [Manhole, trash trap, Sheri Run]
    Manhole, trash trap, Sheri Run

  • 2022-06-30: A major sewage spill on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at Valdosta’s Gornto Road Pump Station, about a thousand feet uphill from the Withlacoochee River, slowed down around 6:18 PM and was stopped about 8:15 PM, according to witnesses at the site. It apparently started some time around 5 PM. According to Valdosta’s later press release, the spill totaled about 127,750 gallons, much of which Valdosta said it recovered.

    [Gate, sewage, people]
    Gate, sewage, people

Here’s the Quitman sewage spill that appeared in the Wednesday, August 10, 2022, report as occurring Monday, August 8, 2022. This one probably did contaminate Okapilco Creek and the Withlacoochee River. I mentioned to GA-EPD that Quitman is in the Suwannee River Basin (not the Ochlockonee), specifically in the Withlacoochee River Basin, probably in the Okapilco Creek watershed, depending on the location. I told them that the Brooks County Tax Assessor website does not know of any Essey Drive, nor does googlemaps.

[Quitman sewage spill 2022-08-08]
Quitman sewage spill 2022-08-08

The Thursday, August 11, Sewage Spills Report changed that spill’s River Basin to Suwannee, and the location to “WWTP Influent liftstation 500 Essey Dr., Quitman”. Which means off of North Highland Road, next to Okapilco Creek. That report also changed the Spill Source from “Collection System” to “Lift Station”.

The Friday, August 12, Sewage Spills Report changed it back to “Collection System”. We still don’t know how much raw sewage Quitman spilled into Okapilco Creek upstream from the Withlacoochee River.

High Springs, Florida, reported that a 500-gallon spill happened on July 7, 2022, which was mostly cleaned up. It was also far from the Santa Fe River and probably had no effect on that river or its springs.

[FDEP report, aerial, WWALS map]
FDEP report, aerial, WWALS map

So that’s five Valdosta and one High Springs spills this summer that probably did not affect any rivers. And one Quitman spill that probably did.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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