Valdosta promises an upgraded Watergoat; offers no plan for cleaning it out or nearby woods 2023-02-17

Update 2023-02-22: Valdosta will maintain Berkley Drive trash trap 2023-02-22.

Valdosta City Engineer Benjamin O’Dowd says Valdosta has purchased an upgraded Watergoat trash trap, to be installed in approximately March.

It will go in Sugar Creek, he says, and the old one will go into Two Mile Branch below Berkley Drive.

[Valdosta promises new Watergoat, Two Mile Branch trash report, Old Watergoat, Two Mile Branch trash]
Valdosta promises new Watergoat, Two Mile Branch trash report, Old Watergoat, Two Mile Branch trash

That’s all good. Thanks for doing that, Engineer O’Dowd, and City of Valdosta.

But he did not mention any plan for cleaning out that new trash trap location on Two Mile Branch. Remember, Russell Allen McBride, who as a volunteer cleans out the current one on Sugar Creek, says he can not take on cleaning out any more trash traps.

The Engineer’s note also did not address the Click ‘n’ Fix report in which it was posted. The report was about trash in the woods next to Two Mile Branch upstream of Berkley Drive. Trash that is on property owned by the City of Valdosta.

And what’s this about spraying? Spraying what? Why near waterways in which children play and people boat? And how does spraying stop trash, or even pick it up?

A little progress is good, after all this time:

WWALS would like to see Valdosta follow its own 2010 advice and fix the trash problem, including enforcing its ordinances requiring property owners to keep trash from escaping and to strategically place trash cans so many per number of parking spaces.

For much more about the trash situation, see:

Below is the relevant report to Valdosta’s Click ‘n’ Fix smartphone app.


2501-2653 Berkley Rd Valdosta, GA, 31602, USA.
This request’s status is Acknowledged,
2/13/23 9:17:30 AM

Acres of trash build up on City Property and in 2-Mile Branch.

The Georgia EPD will be contacted due to the city’s negligence and failure to clean this up. And prevent recurrence.

Bobby Mckenzie # 14065310
City of Valdosta

Comments (9)

Benjamin O’Dowd
2/17/23 5:11:09 PM Flag
Verified Official

Mr. McKenzie,

We recently purchased a marine-grade large WG as an upgrade to and replacement for the small WG currently stationed at Sugar Creek. Once we receive delivery of the new device (~March 2023), the existing device will be relocated to the downstream end of the Berkeley culvert crossing in question here to help mitigate the issue in this location.

Thank you.

[Water Marina; Photo: Watergoat]
Water Marina; Photo: Watergoat;
Note: Watergoat does not seem to list marine grade, so I’m guessing this is what the Engineer referred to. -jsq

Bobby Mckenzie
2/17/23 8:19:47 PM Flag
Registered User

Ben that’s great that you purchased a much needed improved WaterGoat. Thank you.

But I’m failing to see how this helps the reported situation which is:

2-Mile Branch fills and sheets out across the couple acres of City property upstream and abutting Berkley Drive. As the water recedes and flows under Berkeley, any trash that goes with the receding water will be caught by the water goat I get that and that part is great.

However, what happens to the acres of trashed City property as is now will be repeated in the future. Are you saying it’s acceptable for the acres trash to remain indefinitely?

Also who is going to clean out this extra WaterGoat? The existing WaterGoat is being cleaned out by a single volunteer based on a handshake. The City has the current WaterGoat installed with absolutely no plan on sustainable clean out and maintenance.

[Trash and fire extinguisher, Two Mile Branch 2023-02-11]
Trash and fire extinguisher, Two Mile Branch 2023-02-11.
This is in City Council District 5, Tim Carroll. -jsq

Bobby Mckenzie
2/18/23 8:01:31 AM Flag
Registered User

What I hear you saying (because you didn’t address it) is that this trash directly upstream can stay and continue to buildup because you’re putting a WaterGoat on the opposite side. So when/if the the trash is jostled loose the WaterGoat will catch it and it will remain forever in the WaterGoat.

[Fire extinguisher in creek; Photo: Bobby McKenzie]
Fire extinguisher in creek; Photo: Bobby McKenzie

Bobby Mckenzie
2/18/23 8:08:22 AM Flag
Registered User

The City refuses to clean out the current WaterGoat and due to City insurance policy, Stormwater and by extension neither is any other City Department employee. And from Angela Brays previous comments, contractors have to follow those same rules (of not getting in the water). Unless you’ve made another handshake agreement with some other volunteer to clean it out. What I hear you saying is that any trash caught in the WaterGoat will just stay there forever.

[Floating trashjam; Photo: Bobby McKenzie]
Floating trashjam; Photo: Bobby McKenzie

Bobby Mckenzie
2/18/23 8:14:44 AM Flag
Registered User

Ultimately, it sounds like you’ve mitigated nothing. Because the trash will stay and continue to build up. What does escape will be temporarily stopped by the WaterGoat. But since there is nobody to clean out the WaterGoat, that trash accumulated in the WaterGoat will just escape and wash down stream. If anything you only just slowed the trash travel into the river.

[Trash by log; Photo: Bobby McKenzie]
Trash by log; Photo: Bobby McKenzie

Bobby Mckenzie
2/18/23 8:33:50 AM Flag
Registered User

For context Angela is talking Contractors following the City employees rule of not getting in the water. But since nobody from the City has any knowledge or experience with WaterGoats.

Here’s how they get cleaned out…notice the person IN the water. Sometimes you need boat preferably a kayak or canoe.

[Russell waist-deep in the trash; Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS 2023-01-26]
Russell waist-deep in the trash; Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS 2023-01-26

Bobby Mckenzie
2/18/23 8:38:41 AM Flag
Registered User

Also, WaterGoats need cleaned out after every rain event. Again per Angela Bray’s previous comments, they City Council doesn’t allow that to happen. She also implies that it would be too expensive to clean out with such frequency.

Angela Bray

The Contractor can come weekly; however, Council approved $200k for canal maintenance once a month, not after every rain event. That level of service would cost close to a million, if not more and increase the utility fees for citizens. Optional solutions are being explored by upper management in hopes to see improvements.

Bobby Mckenzie
2/18/23 8:47:14 AM Flag
Registered User

Angela Bray

Contractors also have to follow city safety regs. If water levels are too high they shouldn’t access the area. Unfortunately, it’s too deep here and can be in other locations when they are on a job site. I will have my crew spray it again since it was rainy when the contractor was out there last. They/we haven’t had a big window lately to spray and it stick between rain events.

2/18/23 8:58:28 AM Flag
Registered User

Yes, I hope they are planning full circle for this and revisiting their limited insurance coverage to allow for necessary work to happen for it to actually be effective. And spraying? Spraying for what? And near waterways/wetlands? That sounds scary!

And how does spraying stop trash or even pick it up?

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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