Valdosta sewage on Madison County Commission agenda 2024-04-24

It’s the last item, under NEW BUSINESS:

  1. Discussion Regarding Valdosta Sewage Spill and Compliance with Consent Order — Commissioner Waldrep.

That’s at the Madison County Commission Regular Meeting, Wednesday, April 24, 2024, at 6:00 PM in the Courthouse Annex, 229 SW Pinckney St., Room 107, Madison, Florida.

[Valdosta sewage at Madison County Commission, Commissioner Donnie Waldrep 2024-04-24]
Valdosta sewage at Madison County Commission, Commissioner Donnie Waldrep 2024-04-24

According to Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson just now, “Wastewater, Engineering and City Manager meeting is 9:15 Tuesday morning to discuss increased capacity options.”

I asked if the public is invited. He answered, “No, I will report results to you….”

Valdosta is working hard on upgrading its dilapidated sewer system infrastructure, using local taxes and a Georgia state loan. They’ve spent more than $100 million dollars already.

Valdosta was pretty timely in telling the public about its nine other recent sewage spills.

But the current Valdosta City administration knew Friday that the big Valdosta 6.7-million-gallon spill was happening, and did not tell the public until Monday, according to their own press release: “On April the 12th, 2024, at (0600), Utilities Administration were notified that the Withlacoochee River WPCP Secondary Equalization Basin was in danger of Overflowing.” Under News on Valdosta’s website, that item is listed as “4/15/24”. WWALS received it by email at 7:57 AM, Monday, April 15, 2024.

That big spill was preventable, as I pointed out years ago.

Sure, the too-small catch basin was sized by a previous Utilities Director and City Engineer (and City Manager). But it is the current administration that was slow in telling the public.

And that has not yet published any water quality testing results beyond those for Wednesday, even though after a major spill they are supposed to test upstream and down daily for a week.

And the current Valdosta City administration has not scheduled a public meeting on this subject, while Madison County already has.

Why must Valdosta be so slow and unresponsive?

Oh, and the entire Madison County Commission board packet is online, while Valdosta still does not publish its board packets.

The Valdosta 6.7 million gallon spill, including 1.34 million gallons raw sewage 2024-04-12, provoked the Madison County, Florida, Department of Health to issue a Health Advisory for Withlacoochee River about Valdosta sewage spill 2024-04-17.

WWALS did water quality tests after the Valdosta spills, and found Sugar Creek dirty downstream from most of them, and Spring Branch filthy downstream from the big spill. However, the Withlacoochee River was clean at six locations in Georgia (GA 133, US 84, Kinderlou, Nankin and State Line) and Florida (Holly Point).

Valdosta lately only tests two Withlacoochee River sites, and only on Wednesdays. Valdosta released their Wednesday results Friday, and they matched WWALS results at two locations (GA 133 and US 84).

The Florida Department of Health tested Wednesday at State Line, with results published by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) that match what WWALS got for the previous day.

So, apparently the sheer volume of rainwater in the river diluted the contamination or washed it downstream.

Madison Health usually wants two consecutive clean test results taken by them before they lift a health advisory, so probably some time this week.

 -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!

3 thoughts on “Valdosta sewage on Madison County Commission agenda 2024-04-24

  1. Eleanor Foerste

    so why hasn’t the state of Florida or the federal EPA not slapped fines on them for every day they’re out of compliance?
    I live in Advent Christian Village located on the Suwannee River. Have you spoken to our community before? I think I can help arrange a community meeting open to our residents and the public if you are interested. I’m former UF IFAS Extension Natural Resources educator from Osceola County. (Kissimmee) Taught about water quality and conservation issues for youth and adults for 40 years.

    1. jsq Post author

      Valdosta is in Georgia. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division is aware of the problem, and has levied two Consent Orders, in 2020 and 2023. We shall see what they do this time.

    2. jsq Post author

      Sorry, I just noticed your offer to speak at Advent Christian Village.
      Sure, I can do that.
      When did you have in mind? -jsq

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