All 2023 sewage spills into the Suwannee River Basin

Update 2023-08-29: 8,400 gallons of sewage into Dukes Bay Canal, Valdosta, GA, due to unknown obstruction 2023-08-28.

Inquiring minds (Suzy’s) wanted to know how many times Valdosta spilled sewage this year.

Answer: nine reported, five into Knights Creek, which goes to the Alapahoochee and Alapaha Rivers, two into Hightower Creek, which goes into Sugar Creek and the Withlacoochee River, one into One Mile Branch, also Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River, and one into Cherry Creek, directly into the Withlacoochee River.

Valdosta spilled 1,182,221 gallons of raw sewage, accounting for 61.93% of the total 1,908,971 gallons spilled in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia and Florida so far in 2023.

I would like to thank Valdosta Utilities Assistant Director Jason Barnes for calling the day after that most recent spill, to note that Utilties found the spill, he had personally been out there and got it stopped that same evening, and they tracked the amount with SCADA. Plus it was reported to the public and to GA-EPD the day after it happened. All that is improvement.

Of course, the only good number of spills is none, as I told WTXL after a previous spill.

[Sewage spills and WWALS water trails]
Sewage spills and WWALS water trails

Runner-up was tiny Ashburn, with 673,400 gallons, or 35.28% of the total, mostly spilled into Hat Creek, which goes into the Alapaha River, with some into Ashburn Branch, which goes into the Little River. Ashburn has had a chronic sewage spill problem for many years, and needs to get a grip. Ashburn did get some ARPA money to work on that, so maybe there will be improvement.

Also-rans included Tifton into the New River, Rochelle into Reynolds Creek into the Alapaha River, and Quitman into Okapilco Creek into the Withlacoochee River.

Those were all in Georgia, as reported to GA-EPD. Well, except the most recent Valdosta spill which still hasn’t shown up, and that Cherry Creek spill which never did appear in the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report.

In the River Basin column I put a more specific river than the Suwannee that GA-EPD has for everything. And I suppose I should tell GA-EPD that Quitman is not in Cobb County.

Meanwhile in Florida, High Springs had two small spills, which were almost certanly far too small and inland to affect the Santa Fe River. This is according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Public Notices of Pollution.

This WWALS summary of sewage spills is in Sheet2 of the WWALS composite spreadsheet of water quality test results and sewage spills for 2023.

For more about sewage spills and the WWALS volunteer water quality monitoring program, see:

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can help with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable, water in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia by becoming a WWALS member today!