Tag Archives: Benjamin O’Dowd

Valdosta spilled 6.7 million gallons including 1.34 million gallons raw sewage 2024-04-12

Update 2024-04-18: Updates on Homerville, Quitman, Tifton, and Valdosta in GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report 2024-04-11.

Update 2024-04-17: Madison County, Florida, Health advisory for Withlacoochee River about Valdosta sewage spill 2024-04-17.

Update 2024-04-15: Homerville, Rochelle, and Tifton sewage spills 2024-04-11.

Valdosta says of the 6.7 million gallons of liquid that overflowed from its catch basin, 20% was “conventional sewage”, so that’s 1.34 million gallons of raw sewage.

[Valdosta spilled 6.7 million gallons, including 1.34 million gallons raw sewage, Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, Spring Branch 2024-04-12-14]
Valdosta spilled 6.7 million gallons, including 1.34 million gallons raw sewage, Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, Spring Branch 2024-04-12-14

The press release says the City of Valdosta knew about it Friday morning, and the spill stopped Sunday morning, yet Valdosta did not tell the public until Monday, this morning.

That’s from the equalization (EQ) basin at the entrance to the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). The one Valdosta built while never revealing how they picked its size. The one with two creeks flowing to the Withlacoochee River, at least one of which is filthy. Continue reading

Pictures: Two Mile Branch Berkley Drive Cleanup 2023-03-25

It went well, the joint WWALS and City of Valdosta cleanup of Two Mile Branch at Berkley Drive, on March 25, 2023.

Many good things have happened since then.

However, there is still plenty the City needs to do about trash.

[Collage @ Two Mile Branch Cleanup 2023-03-25]
Collage @ Two Mile Branch Cleanup 2023-03-25

Thanks to Bobby McKenzie for leading, neighbor Jan Powell for rustling up some participants and helping at the table, to City Engineer Ben O’Dowd, City Council Tim Carroll, and Mayor Scott James Matheson for helping, along with quite a few other volunteers.

See also facebook photosets and videos by:

Some of the things the Engineer and Mayor promised have happened. Continue reading

Videos: Valdosta trash tour again 2023-05-23

Malia Thomas, reporter for the Valdosta Daily Times, and Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman toured many of the same Valdosta trash locations we visited three months earlier. Most of them did not seem what you might call fixed.

[Valdosta Trash Examples 2023-05-23]
Valdosta Trash Examples 2023-05-23

Plus one added stop was most definitely not fixed. Apparently 84 days of $100 a day fines were not enough.

There is some progress on Valdosta’s chronic trash problem, such as the three trash traps (thanks, City Engineer Ben O’Dowd and Stormwater Manager Angela Bray) and the notices sent to parking lot owners by City Marshalls (thanks, Community Protections Manager Anetra Riley), but there is also much more room for improvement. Apparently some of those notices have not had much effect yet, and more trash traps are needed, as well as other measures. See:
https://wwals.net/issues/trash/

Needless to say, WWALS and the usual citizens are still watching and speaking up. Continue reading

Pictures: Valdosta trash tour with Valdosta Daily Times reporter 2023-02-28

Update 2023-06-14: Videos: Valdosta trash tour again 2023-05-23.

Malia Thomas, reporter for the Valdosta Daily Times, came to see some Valdosta trash locations.

[Trash locations]
Trash locations

You may remember Malia from reporting such as:

Here is a WWALS video playlist from some of the locations we toured. Continue reading

Better Click ‘n’ Fix ticket handling and ordinance citations –Valdosta Acting City Manager Richard Hardy 2023-04-11

Acting Valdosta City Manager Richard Hardy called me yesterday. This is unusual, although he does usually answer his phone if I call him.

[Valdosta Acting City Manager Richard Hardy and City Engineer Ben O'Dowd 2023-03-25]
Valdosta Acting City Manager Richard Hardy and City Engineer Ben O’Dowd 2023-03-25

Even more unusual was his news: the city may be moving ahead on keeping trash out of creeks.

First some background.

Recent adventures in Click ‘n’ Fix include this one, Continue reading

Reissued Valdosta Stormwater Permit –GA-EPD 2022-12-06

Update 2023-05-19: Valdosta annual stormwater reports to GA-EPD 2023-02-14.

In December GA-EPD reissued Valdosta’s stormwater permit, which happens every five years.

[About, NOI, maps: Valdosta reissued Stormwater permit 2022-12-06]
About, NOI, maps: Valdosta reissued Stormwater permit 2022-12-06

However, if I understand the response by Valdosta City Engineer Ben O’Dowd in the documents received in response to an open records request, all there is right now is a generic boilerplate permit for cities of this size. That generic permit requires Valdosta to spell out best practices it will use, and to update its Stormwater Master Plan (SWMP), all by June 4, 2023.

Since the City Engineer has been quite receptive to public input lately, I hope this means Valdosta will be accepting input into rewriting the SWMP. About trash, for example. Continue reading

Valdosta Creek Trash Tour 2023-03-29

Yesterday I found trash still in Valdosta creeks where previously reported, on Hightower Creek, One Mile Branch, and Two Mile Branch.

Sure, the Two Mile Branch cleanup last Saturday was fun and necessary. But Valdosta, A City Without Limits on its own facebook report said nothing about more trash traps, and nothing about enforcing its own city ordinances that require businesses to keep their property clean, to keep trash out of waterways, and to strategically place trash cans where people will use them.

Valdosta has been promising at least since 2007, sixteen years ago, to do something about this ongoing trash spill problem. The city has taken a few steps, especially since City Engineer Ben O’Dowd was hired.

Time to walk the talk, Valdosta. There is more to do.

[Trash, Two Mile Branch, One Mile Branch, Hightower Creek, 2023-03-29]
Trash, Two Mile Branch, One Mile Branch, Hightower Creek, 2023-03-29

Where Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson stood in December 2022, at the bottom of the parking lot on St. Augustine Road above Hightower Creek, trash is still there, tossed by lunchers, with no trash cans nearby.

Behind the Mega Mart at Valloton Drive and Lee Street, trash continues to wash down into One Mile Branch, clearly visible from the Azalea City Trail, Valdosta’s only urban hiking trail. Despite a Click ‘n’ Fix report on March 8, 2023, the only action we’ve seen from City Marshalls was a week later, “The city is working with the property owner to correct the issues.”

And trash continues to dribble into Two Mile Branch above Ashley Street, most of a week after the last pictures I took there, with the Click ‘n’ Fix ticket closed again by City Marshalls,

Meanwhile, the Lee Street Detention Pond Trash Trap has been modified by high water, when it caught leaves and the force of the water bent the steel. The city has taken the top off the trash trap. Here’s hoping they will continue to improve this model for more use here and elsewhere. Continue reading

Trash still dribbling from 2695 N Ashley St into Two Mile Branch 2023-02-24

Update 2023-03-29: Valdosta Creek Trash Tour 2023-03-29.

Why did Valdosta City Marshalls close this Click’n’Fix ticket when nothing has been cleaned up?

[Trash, Two Mile Branch upstream from Ashley Street 2023-03-24]
Trash, Two Mile Branch upstream from Ashley Street 2023-03-24

It took nine days for City Marshals to make any response, then they said they would notify the property owner and closed the ticket.

I went there the next day and photographed the same trash in the same locations, plus I took more pictures of more trash upstream.

Today, March 29, 2023, when I asked why the ticket was closed and posted more pictures, the City Marshalls said “The ticket was closed because a citation was written and there is now an open case with the City Marshal’s. We have to legally give the property owner a certain amount of time to address the issue.”

That is new information, and a welcome change from just notifying the property owner.

But why did the City Marshalls again close the ticket? The problem has not been fixed.

In the next big rain, trash will wash down Two Mile Branch into Sugar Creek. If it is not caught by the WaterGoat there, it will wash into the Withlacoochee River. All along the way it is a health hazard to humans, and wildlife eat the trash, especially styrofoam, and cannot digest it. Continue reading

Correction: Pickleball courts to be on other side of Two Mile Branch from 2007-proposed detention pond 2023-03-07

Update 2023-03-29: Trash still dribbling from 2695 N Ashley St into Two Mile Branch 2023-02-24.

At the cleanup Saturday of Two Mile Branch at Berkeley Drive, Valdosta City Engineer Benjamin O’Dowd poinged out a mistake in the post on Trash in Valdosta Two Mile Branch Watershed Management Plan, November 2007.

The pickleball courts will not actually be at the same location as the detention pond between Roosevelt Drive and Two Mile Branch at Oak Street. Instead, they will be on the other side of Two Mile Branch, next to the tennis courts.

[Pickleball Courts Location, Groundbreaking, 2007 Detention Pond]
Pickleball Courts Location, Groundbreaking, 2007 Detention Pond

My mistake. I should not have gone by hearsay, even though two people independently told me the location they thought the pickleball courts would be. Thanks to the City Engineer for pointing out my mistake.

Which doesn’t change the main point of the previous post: sixteen years later, none of the four detention ponds on Two Mile Branch in the 2007 implementation schedule have been built, nor have any other trash detention facilities been put on Two Mile Branch at Berkley Drive or Oak Street.

I thank Ben O’Dowd for promising to put trash traps at those locations.

But why were those people who told me that confused?

There’s nothing ambiguous about where the 2007 plan put the Oak Street detention pond: between Two Mile Branch and Roosevelt Drive east of Oak Street. Continue reading

Trash in Valdosta Two Mile Branch Watershed Management Plan, November 2007

Update 2023-03-27: Correction: Pickleball courts to be on other side of Two Mile Branch from 2007-proposed detention pond 2023-03-07.

The City of Valdosta has planned to do something about trash in Two Mile Branch since at least 2007, as part of a Watershed Management Plan, that appeared to grow out of a GA-EPD action. Most of those planned actions do not seem to have happened, despite a table of projects and an implementation schedule. And despite some of them turning up again as merely “proposed” in a 2010 plan. At least one of them will never happen, because the city has found a source of funds for a completely different project on the same site.

I urge the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) not to be satisfied with plans.

Actions are what count.

[Two Mile Branch: plans are not enough]
Two Mile Branch: plans are not enough

I commend the City of Valdosta for its plans for a trash trap on Two Mile Branch at Berkley Drive and at Oak Street. There is some reason to believe these actions will happen, thanks to City Engineer Ben O’Dowd.

I urge anyone who can to come to the Two Mile Branch cleanup between those locations, 8-11 AM this Saturday, March 25, 2023:
https://wwals.net/?p=61338

First let’s go back to 2007 to see why plans are not enough: only actions count.

This map includes as BMPs (Best Management Practices) detention ponds on Two Mile Branch at Berkley Drive (15) and above Oak Street (18), the same locations where Valdosta is now planning, sixteen years later, to finally do something. The map even includes additional ponds below St. Johns School (27) and on Canna Drive (18). I see no sign any of these projects actually happened. Continue reading