Valdosta, population 55,567, spilled almost a million (966,970) gallons of sewage in February 2023: that’s 17 gallons for each citizen.
Are we back to the bad old days before the GA-EPD Enforcement Order of 2020? This is the worst period since the notorious December 2019 spill that provoked that Order.
Anybody who sees dead fish in Knights Creek, please let us know.
Ashburn, GA, spilled about a third as much in late January and early February. Given its population is a tenth that of Valdosta’s, Ashburn was worse per capita.
Neither were good for people or wildlife. Zero gallons of sewage spilled should be the goal.
Here are Valdosta’s five February sewage spills:
- 2023-02-08: 1,170 gallons into a feeder creek of Hightower Creek at the “1700 block of River St”. We only know of this one because it appeared a week later in the GA-EPD Sewer Spills Report. Hightower Creek runs into Sugar Creek and the Withlacoochee River. While this spill was too small to have any likely effect on the much larger flow of the river, it was not good for the creek.
2023-02-11: 2,800 gallons into Cherry Creek.
Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson informed Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman of this one.
WWALS sampled water upstream and down on Cherry Creek and the Withlacoochee River.
E. coli results got worse the farther downstream on Cherry Creek. But in the Withlacoochee River, results were much higher upstream of Cherry Creek than downstream. So the river contamination could not be attributed to this small spill. Which of course doesn’t make the spill good for wildlife in the creek or anyone near it, including all those houses around Lake Cleve (aka Cherry Lake).
2023-02-15: 672,250 gallons into “the low-lying area”
at E. Park Ave. east of Jaycee Shack Road, due to a collapsed
sewage main at US 84 (E. Hill Ave.) east of Blanchard Street.
A later Valdosta press release gave the numbers of gallons and named Knights Creek.
2023-02-20 “An estimated 171,750 gallons of sewer was released”,
again at E. Park Ave. into Knights Creek
due to an inadequate bypass line.
No wonder E. Park Ave. stunk of sewage when I went there the day before this press release. Valdosta sent this PR out a week after this second spill at this location.
2023-02-22: 119,000 gallons of “wastewater” into the same E. Park Ave. location next to Knights Creek.
Valdosta got around to telling the public five days later,
when this spill also appeared in the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report.
Valdosta also added an above-ground bypass pipe northwards from US 84.
What’s in the tank with HAZMAT placard 1993?
According to PHMSA it could be diesel fuel. Or several other things such as fuel oil, flammable cleaning liquid, or “Compounds, tree or weed killing, liquid (flammable)”. Diesel fuel to power the pump seems the most likely.
Also, the stencil on the generator would seem to indicate the contractor is RPI.
Those last three added up to 963,000 gallons, with no excuse of rainfall.. This is back into the million-gallon range, like the bad old days before the 2020 GA-EPD Enforcement Order on Valdosta.
Has GA-EPD or Valdosta checked Knights Creek for dead fish?
Knights Creek runs into Mud Swamp Creek in Lowndes County, GA, the Alapahoochee River in Echols County, GA, and the Alapaha River just upstream from Sasser Landing and the Dead River Sink in Hamilton County, FL.
Ashburn, GA, population 4,291, in late January and early February, spilled 6,000 gallons of sewage into Ashburn Branch upstream of the Little River and 320,000 gallons into Hat Creek upstream of the Alapaha River.
Ashburn’s sewage spill problem per capita is even worse than Valdosta’s: 76 gallons per person, compared to 17 for Valdosta. And Ashburn is often even slower to report its spills than is Valdosta.
The two most recent Ashburn spills were both after big rains.
The 3,000 gallons from Ashburn’s MLK Liftstation into Ashburn Branch and the Little River were far upstream from Kinard Bridge Road Landing, Red Roberts Road Landing, and Reed Bingham State Park.
The Ashburn spill of 200,000 gallons from its Airport WPCP at Rockhouse Road and Sylvia Drive into Hat Creek is above the Alapaha River, far upstream of Sheboggy Boat Ramp, the most upstream part of the ARWT.
Ashburn’s spills of course do not make Valdosta’s sewage spills good. The only good number of gallons of sewage spilled is zero.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®