Tag Archives: Catherine Ammons

Valdosta City Manager, sewage spills, and trash 2023-07-18

After I complimented them quite a bit yesterday, I fear I must do so again today: Valdosta City Manager Richard Hardy and Assistant City Manager Catherine Ammons.

Yet there is still room for improvement on sewage spills, and ample room on trash and Click ‘n’ Fix, as well as generally on letting the public know what the city of Valdosta is doing to fix problems that affect waterways and the public.

[Valdosta officials and recent sewage spill reports 2023-07-19]
Valdosta officials and recent sewage spill reports 2023-07-19

Not only did they get a press release out for yesterday’s sewage spill the day after the spill. After I sent GA-EPD that WWALS blog post, the state replied at 8 AM this morning saying that spill was in today’s GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report. Indeed it is, and already picked up by the WWALS automated software and on the WWALS website.

The Assistant City Manager asked what I thought a reasonable time was to get a press release out about a sewage spill, and I answered that specific question (certainly not five days, and as soon as the city knows what’s happening).

Here’s the answer I should have given, since it’s not what I think, it’s who we are all trying to protect. People who fish, swim, or boat on the river or in the creeks need to know when there is a health hazard. So as quickly as practically possible, preferably by the day after the spill, or even the same day. Especially for weekends, when the most people do those things, please get the press release out before the weekend, and that does not mean after 5 PM on Friday. Plus post it on the city’s website and on the city’s own social media.

As I promised in the meeting with the city officials yesterday, I have filed an open records request for the letters Valdosta sent GA-EPD informing them of those spills. We’ll see where the long delay was on the previous spill reports.

More about sewage spills

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Another Valdosta River Street Spill into Hightower Creek 2023-07-17

Update 2023-07-21: Clean Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers, but warning 2023-07-20.

At least they got the press release out in a more timely manner this time: only the day after the sewage spill. They also included an estimated number of gallons and a sort of precise location, as well as a cause of the spill.

[Map: 1700 River Street into Hightower Creek in WLRWT]
Map: 1700 River Street into Hightower Creek, Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River
in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT)

Speaking of cause, notice no mention of rain, which is probably because there was no significant rain on Valdosta Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.

Indeed, rain can cause sewage spills, but Valdosta does not seem to have many of those these days, and that’s a good thing. However, Valdosta still has spills for other reasons, mostly related to sewer system infrastructure that was not updated for decades. In recent years the city has spent upwards of $100 million on sewer system fixes, but there is still a long way to go.

This 6,000 gallon sewage spill is in the same place as a 1,170 gallon spill on February 8, 2023.

The Valdosta press release does not name “the creek”, but it’s a branch of Hightower Creek, which runs into Sugar Creek, the Withlacoochee River, and then the Suwannee River. I wonder if the erosion was partly caused by the previous spill.

WWALS received this press release from Valdosta at 5:16 PM today. Which is interesting, because I was in a meeting with City Manager Richard Hardy and Assistant City Manager Catherine Ammons from 2:15 to almost 3 PM, with one of the topics discussed being sewage spills, and they did not mention this spill.

One thing I mentioned to them was that the two previous Valdosta spills (into Knights Creek and into One Mile Branch) finally showed up in the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report yesterday, after I asked the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) why they had not already appeared. We shall see how long this one takes to show up there.

The Valdosta Press Release

Tuesday, July 18, 2023 Continue reading

Videos: Valdosta Mayor announces first trash trap @ VCC 2022-05-19

Update 2022-06-21: Valdosta Watergoat installed in Sugar Creek 2022-06-21.

Update 2022-05-21: QUARTERMAN in VDT: Sewage situation better, trash needs work 2022-05-21.

Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman asked for action about trash at the Valdosta City Council meeting yesterday, and two elected officials vied to announce that there was some action already.

[Suwannee Riverkeeper, Andy Gibbs, Mayor James, Richard Hardy]
Suwannee Riverkeeper, Andy Gibbs, Mayor James, Richard Hardy

You can see it for yourself: Continue reading

Valdosta catching illegal dumpers, and some new management

Valdosta is actively pursuing the culprits ditching trash and dumping fecal waste into the Withlacoochee River, causing repeated spikes at GA 133.

They say they have even caught some.

And Valdosta has promoted two people: Catherine Ammons of Human Resources to Deputy City Manager of Administration, and Richard Hardy of Public Works to Deputy City Manager of Operations. Hardy is still Director of Public Works, but now he’s also over Engineering and Utilities, which also still retain their same Directors.

We don’t know whether these two news items are related. We do know we’re glad Valdosta recognizes that people downstream will continue to think they’re the cause of every Withlacoochee River contamination incident unless they actively find the real culprits.

Don’t worry: we post positive news about Valdosta when there is some, but we continue to watch them and other possible contamination sources like a hawk.

[Cleanups, Deputy City Managers]
Cleanups, Deputy City Managers

Pursuing dumping culprits

Valdosta PR, December 2, 2020, City Stresses Importance of Reporting Illegal Dumping in Local Waterways (see also Valdosta Today), Continue reading