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

Update 2023-09-08: Filthy upstream Withlacoochee, clean downstream and Little and Alapaha Rivers 2023-09-07.

Update 2023-09-03: This spill finally showed up in the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report on 2023-09-01. I don’t know why it took Monday to Friday to appear. I will inquire.

Slightly less than a major spill, and for once not due to collapsed infrastructure: yes, another Valdosta sewage spill.

This one went into Dukes Bay Canal, then Mud Swamp Creek, the Alapahoochee River, and the Alapaha River.

[Valdosta 819 Bunche Dr. spill and Dukes Bay Canal East in WWALS ARWT map]
Valdosta 819 Bunche Dr. spill and Dukes Bay Canal East in the WWALS map of the Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT)

Points to Valdosta for getting a press release out the same day as a spill, which I don’t recall ever happening before. Also for a specific street address. And for keeping it below the 10,000 gallons of a major spill.

[Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman]
Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman

Of course, as I told WTXL TV about a previous Valdosta sewage spill, “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.”

And neither this spill nor the previous one have yet shown up in the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) Sewage Spills Report.

Meanwhile, add one to Valdosta’s previous nine sewage spills this year.

Received 4:14 PM yesterday.

DATE: Monday, August 28, 2023
CONTACT: Sharah Denton, Community Relations & Marketing Manager
Telephone: (229) 259-3548

Unknown Obstruction Causes Spill

On August 28, 2023, The City After Hours Center received a call concerning a sewer spill. City staff responded and observed a wastewater spill from a manhole at 819 Bunche Dr. Upon investigation, it was determined that there was an unknown obstruction in the line and likely the cause of the spill. City staff were able to remove the block after several hours. An estimated 8400 gallons of wastewater were released into two stormwater catch basins and released into Duke’s Bay. City staff immediately began cleanup and disinfecting at the overflow location. All appropriate regulatory and public health agencies have been notified, and warning signs have been posted.

Preventing sewer spills has been, and will continue to be, the city’s top priority through the ongoing Collection System Rehab 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. These programs are designed to specifically check each manhole and sewer line on or near water to verify proper operation and to ensure each house has its 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, please contact the City of Valdosta Utilities Department, Environmental Division at 229-259-3592.


For previous sewage spills and water quality testing results, see:

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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