Update 2023-07-21: Clean Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers, but warning 2023-07-20.
At least they got the press release out in a more timely manner this time: only the day after the sewage spill. They also included an estimated number of gallons and a sort of precise location, as well as a cause of the spill.
Map: 1700 River Street into Hightower Creek, Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River
in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT)
Speaking of cause, notice no mention of rain, which is probably because there was no significant rain on Valdosta Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.
Indeed, rain can cause sewage spills, but Valdosta does not seem to have many of those these days, and that’s a good thing. However, Valdosta still has spills for other reasons, mostly related to sewer system infrastructure that was not updated for decades. In recent years the city has spent upwards of $100 million on sewer system fixes, but there is still a long way to go.
This 6,000 gallon sewage spill is in the same place as a 1,170 gallon spill on February 8, 2023.
The Valdosta press release does not name “the creek”, but it’s a branch of Hightower Creek, which runs into Sugar Creek, the Withlacoochee River, and then the Suwannee River. I wonder if the erosion was partly caused by the previous spill.
WWALS received this press release from Valdosta at 5:16 PM today. Which is interesting, because I was in a meeting with City Manager Richard Hardy and Assistant City Manager Catherine Ammons from 2:15 to almost 3 PM, with one of the topics discussed being sewage spills, and they did not mention this spill.
One thing I mentioned to them was that the two previous Valdosta spills (into Knights Creek and into One Mile Branch) finally showed up in the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report yesterday, after I asked the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) why they had not already appeared. We shall see how long this one takes to show up there.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: Tuesday, July 18, 2023
CONTACT: Sharah Denton, Community Relations & Marketing Manager
Telephone: (229) 259-3548
Sewer Main Pipe Separation Causes Spillage
On Monday, July 17, 2023, the City of Valdosta Utilities Department discovered a sewer main pipe separation after a routine investigation near the 1700 Block of River St along the City’s Utility easement. The sewer main had previously been exposed due to erosion of the creek bank where the existing main is located and was secured in place with shoring and sandbags by Utilities staff while emergency repair plans were being prepared and submitted for US Army Corps of Engineers approval. Temporary repairs of the sewer pipe separation were completed by noon the same day and a local contractor installed a temporary bypass system until permanent repairs can be completed. An estimated 6,000 gallons of spillage were determined.
All appropriate regulatory and public health agencies have been notified, and warning signs are posted.
Sewer system rehabilitation and preventing spills has been, and will continue to be, the city’s top priority through the ongoing Collection System Maintenance 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 at different locations down the Withlacoochee River 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 to ensure 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 Utilities Director Brad Eyre, at 229-259-3592 or email@example.com.
Sharah’ N. Denton, M.S.
Community Relations & Marketing Manager
“A City Without Limits”
P.O. Box 1125
Valdosta, GA 31603
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®