We would all like to see no more of these signs.
Photo: Scotti Jay, of Valdosta Caution sign at Troupville Boat Ramp, 2019-12-21.
Someone has decorated it with flowers, like a cross at a highway wreck site.
Update 2019-12-14: Record Valdosta spill into Sugar Creek with no rain.
The 7,592,910 gallons of raw sewage spilled this time is more than the 6,273,595 gallons Valdosta spilled in two dozen incidents last December.
It’s 3.45 times Valdosta’s previous biggest single incident.
It’s 42 times the biggest other spill in the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report for December 10, 2019.
And it took Valdosta days to notice one of their biggest lift stations was offline, or that input to their biggest WTP was half what it should be.
How to get your well tested if you live near the Withlacoochee River in the affected area; follow this link.
- 2020-06-04: Response: Valdosta says it is manhole rehabilitation at One Mile Branch near Sustella Ave. 2020-06-04
- 2020-06-03: One Mile Branch Sewage Spill @ Sustella Ave., VSU 2020-06-02.
- 2020-05-04: Press Release, Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order.
- 2020-05-03: The entire GA-EPD Enforcement Order for Valdosta wastewater with fine 2020-04-13.
- 2020-05-01: Valdosta fined for spills in GA-EPD Enforcement Order 2020-04-27
- 2020-03-06: Special meeting to approve an RFP for an environmental attorney –Madison BOCC 2020-03-06
- 2020-02-28: Madison County fed up with contaminated water –WCTV 2020-02-26
- 2020-02-27: Amber Spradley, WCTV, 26 February 2020 (Posted: Thu 5:06 AM, Feb 27, 2020 | Updated: Thu 5:55 PM, Feb 27, 2020), Madison community fed up with contaminated water,
- 2020-02-15: EPA passes the buck to GA-EPD for Valdosta raw sewage spill 2020-01-31
- 2020-02-10: 200 gallons sewage into Twomile Branch, N. Patterson St., Valdosta 2020-02-10
- 2020-02-08: Clean Withlacoochee River; dubious Okapilco Creek; and rain 2020-02-05
- 2020-02-04: Clean Withlacoochee, Okapilco Creek (mostly), and Little River 2020-02-02
- 2020-02-03: Rivers maybe finally clean after Valdosta sewage: but Okapilco Creek and need weekly testing 2020-01-31
- 2020-01-31: Cleaner at Okapilco and Piscola Creeks and Withlacoochee River 2020-01-29
- 2019-01-30: Florida Counties Task Force in Valdosta about sewage 2020-01-08
- 2019-01-29: Fourth wave: plus Lowndes County on Okapilco Creek and Withlacoochee River 2020-01-22
- 2019-01-28: Fourth wave: bad water quality at State Line and Knights Ferry 2020-01-26
- 2019-01-27: FL state Sen. Montford in Madison about Valdosta sewage 2020-01-08
2020-01-24: Emma Wheeler, WCTV, January 24, 2020,
Wells test positive for e-coli in Madison County,
Residents in Blue Ridge Landing say recent tests show positive for e-coli and coliform. The neighborhood is located about one mile from the Withlacoochee River, not far from Blue Springs in Madison County…..
- 2020-01-25: Florida advisory lifted, but WWALS warning signs stay up, and keep testing rivers, creeks and wells.
- 2020-01-23: Okapilco Creek better, Withlacoochee still clean 2020-01-22.
- 2020-01-23: Withlacoochee, Suwannee good, Okapilco Creek bad water quality 2020-01-18
- 2020-01-22: News coverage, Mayor’s Paddle, and Task Force meeting Thursday in Lake City
- 2020-01-20: Desiree Carver, Valdosta Daily Times, top of the front page, January 20, 2020, Gently Down the Stream: Mayor’s Paddle tours Withlacoochee:
Mayor’s Paddle tours Withlacoochee,
[New Valdosta Mayor Scott James] Matheson said in his new role as mayor, he hopes to help and plans to tackle such improvements as manhole rehabilitation, adding extra signs, performing more testing and electronic meters.
- 2020-01-20: Emma Wheeler, WCTV video, January 20, 2020, First annual Mayor’s Paddle brings dozens on the river,
The event was organized as a response to ongoing sewage spills, and near constant concerns from communities downstream in North Florida.
- 2020-01-20: Robin Postell, Valdosta Today, January 20, 2020, “Mayor’s Paddle” Beautiful, but Stigma Remains,
Also present was Madison County Commissioner Rick Davis, who put in with the group at 10 a.m. Not only is Davis concerned about the health of his community in Madison County, he’s concerned about that stigma and how that will [a]ffect eco-tourism. At a recent public City of Valdosta meeting he said, “How do we go about repairing the reputation of our river? Where do we go from here?”
Davis’ presence and participation in the paddle demonstrated his ongoing willingness to not merely confront, but collaborate with the City of Valdosta to help solve the problem going forward.
“The river is beautiful and we just want to keep it that way,” Davis said at the midway point of the paddle. “I see a lot that City of Valdosta is doing and let’s just hope that they keep continuing to do it.”
- 2020-01-18: Emma Wheeler, WCTV, January 18, 2020, First annual Mayor’s Paddle brings dozens on the river,
Among the group was several members of the Brooks County Fire Department, taking any opportunity to get in some training in a fun way.
“Kayaking down the river we’ll exercise our arms, stuff like that, help control our breathing,” said Firefighter Ryan Owens. “We all kind of connect and have fun inside the fire department, but when we come outside it’s all another experience.”
- Water quality permitting, paddle with Mayor of Valdosta this Saturday 2020-01-18
- 2020-01-17: NCFRPC, January 17, 2020, Report on Activities, next steps, citizen comments @ FL Rivers Task Force 2020-01-23
- 2020-01-17: Robin Postell, Valdosta Today, January 17, 2020, “Mayor’s Paddle” Officially on for Saturday
- 2020-01-17: Mostly clean in Georgia, not in Florida, Withlacoochee River 2020-01-15
- 2020-01-16: Calvin Long, WCJB, January 16, 2020, Sewage spill in Georgia has Reached the Suwannee River, “In an email to Alachua County Commissioners, a representative of the Suwannee River Management District wrote the effects of the spill would have reached the Suwannee River Today.”
- 2020-01-16: SRWMD slides and water quality data after Valdosta raw sewage spill, Withlacoochee River 2020-01-14
- 2020-01-15: Emma Wheeler, WCTV, 15 January 2020, Withlacoochee River tested ahead of Mayor’s Paddle
- 2020-01-15: Georgia Department of Health can’t or won’t do as much as FDOH 2020-01-07
- 2020-01-15: Staff reports (see WWALS PR), Albany Herald, January 15, 2020, Suwannee Riverkeeper to host ‘Mayor’s Paddle’ for top Valdosta officials
- 2020-01-14: Recent water quality test results, Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers 2020-01-11
- 2020-01-13: Water quality permitting, paddle with Mayor of Valdosta this Saturday 2020-01-18
- 2020-01-12: Stew Lilker, Columbia County Observer, January 12, 2020, Valdosta’s 7.5 Million Gallon Raw Sewage Spill: For 7 days, like an unseen oil spill
- 2020-01-11: Signs in Georgia on Withlacoochee River and new data; thanks Lowndes County and SRWMD 2020-01-10
- 2020-01-11: Stew Lilker, Columbia County Observer, January 11, 2020, 7.5 Mil Gal of Raw Sewage Headed Into N. FL From Valdosta – FL Sen. Bill Montford Wants Answers
- 2020-01-10: Robin Postell, Valdosta Today, January 10, 2020: Citizens Air Concerns Over Record Sewage Spill
- 2020-01-10: Avoid Withlacoochee River from Knights Ferry to Confluence with Suwannee River 2020-01-08
- 2020-01-10: WCJB, January 10, 2020, State warns about possible sewage contamination in Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers
- 2020-01-09: Kristian Thomas, WTXL, January 9, 2020, Valdosta leaders taking full responsibility after massive sewage spill
- 2020-01-09: Chris Herbert, Valdosta Daily Times, January 9, 2020, Spill angers residents: People voice sewage concerns at meeting: People voice sewage concern at meeting
- 2020-01-09: Suwannee Democrat, January 9, 2020 DOH advises Withlacoochee, Suwannee contaminated by sewage spill
- 2020-01-08: Emma Wheeler, WCTV, January 8, 2020, River Task Force addressed Valdosta sewage spills
- 2020-01-08: Nathan Dean, WTXL, January 8, 2020, Community pushes for solutions after massive sewage spill in Withlacoochee River
- 2020-01-08: High E. coli at State Line in FDEP data Monday 2020-01-06
- 2020-01-07: Valdosta Catch Basin Plans for WWTP 2019-09-01,
At least we finally know how big it is: 7.26 million gallons. But is that big enough?…
What I don’t find in this document is what I’ve been asking for at least since April: how does Valdosta know that will be big enough? Where is any model of how much incoming water will be produced by how much rainfall on Valdosta?
According to Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse on July 10, 2019, in a meeting with the Valdosta City Council and a Task Force of the dozen downstream Florida counties, EPD required Valdosta to supply design criteria for “if it rains X amount; we have this amount of the flood; how much would that structure that you are designing, how much load would that take off the facility.”
- 2020-01-06: Well testing results, Madison County, FL, after Valdosta sewage spill 2020-01-03
- 2020-01-05: Robin Postell, Valdosta Today, January 5, 2020, Public Meetings to Discuss Valdosta Sewage Spill Jan. 8
- 2020-01-05: Florida Sen. Bill Montford hosting Valdosta sewage public meeting in Madison, FL 2020-01-08.
- 2020-01-03: Valdosta Sewage Public Meeting, Valdosta City Hall Annex, 2020-01-08
- 2020-01-03: Valdosta sewage from Sugar Creek to Florida 2019-01-01
- 2020-01-01: Much cleaner at Knights Ferry and State Line in Georgia; Valdosta Sewage is in Florida 2019-12-30
- 2019-12-30: Valdosta sewage in Florida 2019-12-26
- 2019-12-19: Water Quality: Hagan Bridge to State Line, Withlacoochee River 2019-12-27
- 2019-12-28: High E. coli at state line in Florida DOH water quality data 2019-12-24
- 2019-12-28: Troupville to Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River paddle 2020-01-18
Robin Postell, Valdosta Today, December 27, 2019 (see WWALS PR),
Brooks Residents Receive Health Advisory,
Photo: Scotti Jay, of Valdosta Caution sign at Troupville Boat Ramp, 2019-12-21.
Editor’s Note: This is part one of an ongoing series covering this recent crisis and health advisories
HAHIRA, Ga. — At Knights Ferry Boat Ramp Saturday Suzy Hall tested 4,966.67/100 cfu E. coli, far higher than anything previously recorded there, and almost five times the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream alert level. There were still no warning signs, not at Knights Ferry, and not at State Line Boat Ramp, where Suzy Hall got 100 cfu/100 ml, when all our previous readings were zero (0).
“It appears that Valdosta’s record-largest wastewater has caused a public health emergency in the Withlacoochee River and Valdosta is not even warning people about it at river access locations,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Florida is being proactive; what is Valdosta doing? How about Lowndes Health? Lowndes County (didn’t cause this problem, but needs to help deal with it). GA-EPD? EPA? Statehouse and Congressional delegations? This report will go to all of them today.”
The Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Bacterial Monitoring manual says:….
- 2019-12-26: Water fast and dirty at Nankin Boat Ramp after Valdosta record sewage spill 2019-12-26
- 2019-12-25: Even filthier E. coli counts at Knights Ferry on Withlacoochee River 2019-12-24
staff reports (see WWALS Press Release), Albany Herald, December 24, 2019, (KPVI, Pocatello, Idaho, December 25, 2019), Environmental group says waterways contaminated after Valdosta wastewater leak,
HAHIRA — At Knights Ferry Boat Ramp near, WWALS Watershed worker Suzy Hall tested 4,966.67/100 cfu E. coli, far higher than anything previously recorded there, and almost five times the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream alert level. There were still no warning signs, not at Knights Ferry, and not at State Line Boat Ramp, where Hall got 100 cfu/100 ml, where all previous readings had been zero.
“It appears that Valdosta’s record-largest wastewater leak has caused a public health emergency in the Withlacoochee River, and Valdosta is not even warning people about it at river access locations,” Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said in a news release. “Florida is being proactive; what is Valdosta doing? How about Lowndes Health? Lowndes County (didn’t cause this problem, but needs to help deal with it). Georgia EPD? EPA? State House and Congressional delegations? This report will go to all of them today.”
The Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Bacterial Monitoring manual says: “E. coli counts (cfu/100ml) that exceed 235 cfu/100 ml are considered ‘high’ and should be closely monitored, but when counts exceed the 1,000 cfu/100 ml threshold, they warrant special action. A count of 235 cfu/100 ml correlates to 8 incidents of 1,000 people getting sick, but a count of 1,000 cfu/100 ml correlates to about 14 incidents of 1,000 people getting sick.”
Officials with the WWALS Watershed group say it’s not clear how many people getting sick would correlate to 4,966.67/100, but more than 14, and any is too many.
“Thanks to all who have already donated, we are ordering more Petrifilm today,” WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman said. “Looks like we’re going to need it. Nobody else appears to be testing at the Little River confluence, or at Spook Bridge, Knights Ferry, Nankin or State Line Boat Ramp.”
The only Valdosta warning sign on any river remains the one at Troupville Boat Ramp on the Little River, upstream of the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River.
The public can help WWALS test water quality by donating to its WWALS water quality testing program. Each bacterial test costs $6 for Petrifilms alone. WWALS officials say they are spending about $40 a day on Petrifilms in the wake of the Valdosta spill.
- 2019-12-24: E. coli at Troupville, Little River Confluence, and Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River 2019-12-21
2019-12-24: staff reports (see WWALS Press release), Albany Herald, December 24, 2019,
Watershed coalition demands action following Valdosta sewage spills,
HAHIRA — Compelled by the severity of Valdosta’s record raw sewage spill and the expenses and stigma incurred nearby and downstream, Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition has sent a letter requesting 10 enforcement actions to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
WWALS member Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Fla., summed up the content of the letter.
“As a person living downstream on the Withlacoochee River in Florida, I feel (expletive deleted) upon by Valdosta over and over,” Mericle said.
“I cannot drink the water from my well. I worry about the health of the river itself and the animals that live in it and drink from it. We in Florida were patient while Valdosta was improving their wastewater plant, which apparently was not adequate since we still have spills when it rains heavily.
“But this time it was not a rain event. It was gross negligence. I am out of patience. I believe it is time for legal action.”
The Suwannee Riverkeeper letter notes GA-EPD already has a legal action against Valdosta, a consent order.
WWALS asks GA-EPD to use its enforcement power to require notification, water quality testing, education, and plans and procedures not only for preventing such spills but also for tracking them as they travel down our creeks and rivers and for remediation of effects on wells and reputation.
“Valdosta says it does what GA-EPD tells it to do, so we’re asking GA-EPD to tell them,” Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said…..
- 2019-12-24: No byline, WTXL, January 24, 2020, Special well water testing available for residents impacted by Valdosta sewage spill
- 2019-12-23: E. coli at Little River Confluence, Spook Bridge, and Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2019-12-21
- 2019-12-22: Raining now, sending Valdosta sewage downstream; Florida warns; Valdosta does what? 2019-12-22
- 2019-12-21: Ryan Kaufman, WTXL, December 21, 2019, Public health advisory issued after possible water contamination in the Withlacoochee River
- 2019-12-21: Still dirty at GA 133 Bridge, Withlacoochee River 2019-12-19
- 2019-12-19: Suwannee Riverkeeper asks Georgia EPD to require Valdosta to do better about its record sewage spill
- 2019-12-18: Valdosta sewage at GA 133 on Withlacoochee River? 2019-12-17
- 2019-12-17: WWALS Water Quality Testing US 84 & FL Campsites, Withlacoochee River 2019-12-16
- 2019-12-17: Valdosta and Florida water quality data after Valdosta record raw sewage spill 2019-12-16
- 2019-12-14: Sugar Creek, Gornto Road, after Valdosta record sewage spill 2019-12-12
- 2019-02-12: City of Valdosta Water Quality Testing, Gornto Rd., US 84 2019-12-12
- 2019-12-12: WWALS water quality data, Withlacoochee River, after Valdosta record sewage 2019-12-12
- 2019-12-12: SRWMD water quality data, Withlacoochee River, after Valdosta record sewage 2019-12-12
- 2019-12-11: Where: Valdosta’s biggest sewage spill; behind the Target, next to Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River 2019-12-09
- 2019-12-11: Savannah Reams, Madison County Carrier, December 11, 2019, Take caution: Valdosta spills again
- 2019-12-10: Valdosta’s biggest spill ever: sewage into Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River 2019-12-09
- 2019-12-09: Valdosta sewage into Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River 2019-12-09
Suzy Hall with a Petrifilm.
Each bacterial test costs $6 for Petrifilms alone.
WWALS is spending about $40 a day on Petrifilms after this Valdosta spill.
Update 2019-08-21: Valdosta spill into Stillhouse Branch at Valdosta Country Club.
- Posted: Valdosta Country Club Sewage Spill, six days afterwards 2019-08-27
- Valdosta sewage sign, golf course, Valdosta Country Club, Stillhouse Branch 2019-08-23
- Valdosta Sewage spill into Stillhouse Branch, Withlacoochee River 2019-08-21
Update 2019-08-06: Valdosta spill into Onemile Branch at Drexel Park.
Update 2019-06-20: Valdosta FOG sewage running across Ashley Street.
- Testing One Mile Branch after Sewage Spill 2019-06-24
- Sewage spill, Ashley Street, Valdosta, GA 2019-06-19
Update 2019-03-02: Florida Rivers Task Force about Valdosta Wastewater 2019-02-28.
- WCTV on FL Counties Rivers Task Force and Valdosta Wastewater 2019-03-07
Videos: Florida Rivers Task Force about Valdosta Wastewater 2019-02-28
Movie: Approval of Resolution (115M) Task Force, clockwise from front: Scott R. Koons (NCFRPC), Ken Cornell (Alachua County), Anthony Adams (Lafayette County), Don Hale (Suwannee County), Gene Higginbotham (Dixie County), Kenrick Thomas (Gilchrist County), Danny Riddick (Bradford County), Thomas Demps (Taylor County), Beth Burnam (Hamilton County), Rick Davis (Chair, Madison County)
Update 2019-01-28: Valdosta City Council, January 24, 2019.
- Wastewater at Valdosta City Council, Winter 2018-2019
- WWALS invites downstream counties to Valdosta City Council meeting 2019-01-16
Photo: Jamie Wachter, Suwannee Democrat, Youtube video, 2019-01-14.
For the WWALS automated updates on GA-EPD Sewage Spills Reports, see wwals.net/issues/vww/ga-spills/.
Update 2018-12-22: Tifton spilled, Quitman at two places, and Valdosta at six places, plus we have much larger previous totals than expected for Valdosta in gallons and places.
Update 2018-12-05: See Lowndes County spilled, and Valdosta spilled 14 places, most ongoing 2018-12-05 and the raw data is in wwals.net/blog/issues/vww/ga-spills/. Here are just the Suwannee River Basin spills (Valdosta, Lowndes County, and Quitman) from December 2 through December 5, 2018.
[gdoc key=”https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1cSuJoN9AWJpf1Ui1S8pzyJfhPcjUFWNEI6YfJvSz4U8/edit?usp=sharing” datatables_order=’%5B%5B 0, “desc” %5D%5D ‘]
WWALS Science Committee Chair Tom Potter extracted and sorted every spill with an address in Valdosta since the beginning of 2015: Spill-Detail-sorted_Valdosta_2015–2018-09-19. See WWALS blog post for context.
[gdoc key=”https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1tVHQ2GBpygWOFqWvlLu6vA8h72qNsPVaY3VZl1COXbs/edit?usp=sharing” datatables_order=’%5B%5B 0, “desc” %5D%5D ‘]