Suwannee Riverkeeper about Valdosta sewage spills yesterday on WTXL.TV, “It’s bad for people, it’s bad for wild life, it’s also bad for the economy. Valdosta is trying to be a place for ecotourism, and you’re not really helping that if you have sewage spills, if you have trash in the creeks and rivers,” [John S.] Quarterman said.
Come to Sugar Creek behind the Salty Snapper this morning at 9AM and hear more.
Ariel Schiller, ABC27 WTXL, July 21, 2023, City of Valdosta working to fix outdated sewer system,
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — Sewage spills aren’t just a problem because of the mess they create, water preservation groups say it could potentially cause health problems. The city of Valdosta reported two sewage spills in the last month.
Within the past 30 days, there was also the Valdosta Williams Street One Mile Branch sewage spill, which Valdosta mysteriously reported as zero gallons spilled, upstream of Sugar Creek and the Withlacoochee River.
Back to the story:
The WWALS Watershed Coalition says recent water tests from the city showed high e-coli readings after several spills.
John Quarterman, the [Suwannee Riverkeeper] for the WWALS Watershed Coalition, is concerned about several recent sewage spills in the city of Valdosta.
“At least one of those said it may have been because of a rain event, there wasn’t rain for all of those,” said Quarterman. “Which makes me wonder are they having more spills than they’re reporting or are they having more spills than they know about.”
I was referring to Valdosta’s online reporting of its spill followup testing on Knights Creek, which shows even more high downstream results lately, upstream of Mud Swamp Creek, the Alapahoochee River, and the Alapaha River.
Back to the story:
Quarterman said the concern is for the bodies of water it potentially effects.
“It’s bad for people, it’s bad for wild life, it’s also bad for the economy. Valdosta is trying to be a place for ecotourism, and you’re not really helping that if you have sewage spills, if you have trash in the creeks and rivers,” Quarterman said.
Brad Eyre, director of utilities for the city of Vldosta, said the sewage spills are caused by outdated infrastructure.
“We’ve had this one collapse on highway 84 and another collapse right next to it back to back,” Eyre explained. “We had a couple repairs on the other trunk line, which is an old concrete line and we’ve had two issues with that within a year.”
And Valdosta’s most recent Knights Creek spill was due to failure of the sewage bypass line put in by their contractor. Who hired that contractor? Who was supposed to supervise that contractor?
Back to the story:
Eyre said it would cost $19 million to replace two trunk lines, and expects overall repairs to cost around $50 million over the next few years.
“The end goal is to replace the aging infrastructure that’s not suitable anymore for sanitary sewer conveyance,” said Eyre.
Quarterman said his organization recently met with the city to raise concerns, including not getting sewage spills reports quickly enough. He says even with some issues still needing to be worked on, there has been an improvement.
“There have been a number of things they’ve done better lately, they don’t have as bad or as frequent spills as they used to. The ideal number however is none,” Quarterman said.
Eyre says the city is applying for grants to help offset the cost for repairs to the sewer system.
And WWALS is applying for grants to help offset the cost of dealing with Valdosta’s sewer problems.
More importantly, the citizens of Valdosta and people who fish, swim, or boat on the rivers and creeks are all dealing with Valdosta’s sewer system problems.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®