Tag Archives: Hightower Creek

Clean Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers, but warning 2023-07-20

Update 2023-07-29: Clean Withlacoochee River, filthy Crawford and Sugar Creeks 2023-07-28.

Update 2023-07-22: Valdosta sewage spills bad for people, wildlife, economy –Suwannee Riverkeeper on WTXL.TV 2023-07-21.

The Alapaha, Little, and Withlacoochee Rivers tested good for Thursday in WWALS sampling. But there are ongoing effects from a couple of Valdosta sewage spills, plus a new one from Quitman.

Valdosta Utilities tells us of some disturbing results on Sugar Creek, downstream of the Valdosta spill of July 17th and upstream of the Withlacoochee River. (I would publish those test results, but I do not have them in writing.)

Because of those results, we have converted tomorrow’s cleanup paddle to an on-land cleanup.

If you do paddle this weekend, I recommend the Little or Alapaha Rivers, or the Ichetucknee, Santa Fe, or Suwannee.

Also, Quitman had a 12,500 gallon sewage spill on July 11th that was just reported today. That goes into Okapilco Creek into the Withlacoochee River.

No other sewage spills have been reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia or Florida.

[Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide Map 2023-07-20]
Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide Map 2023-07-20

The most recent results we have from Valdosta are for Monday upstream and Wednesday a week ago downstream. For Monday Valdosta got way-too-high results for US 41, GA 133, and US 84 on the Withlacoochee River. WWALS got a much better result for Thursday at US 41. We did not test at GA 133 or US 84, expecting to get Valdosta’s Wednesday results. No such luck.

FYI, GA 133 is on the route the Valdosta Mayor and City Council member were supposed to paddle with us tomorrow. You’d think Valdosta would have tested and reported in a timely manner before that. But they did not.

Meanwhile, Valdosta’s followup testing after its July 6, 2023, 194,251-gallon raw sewage spill into Knights Creek keeps showing way too-high Fecal coliform and E. coli downstream on Knights Creek, which is upstream of the Alapahoochee, Alapaha, and Suwannee Rivers. I have to wonder whether Valdosta has had more spills that it has not reported, possibly because it does not know about them. Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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

Maps: Valdosta Stormwater Pond Facility Clusters 2023-03-01

These maps show the locations of Valdosta’s Stormwater Pond Facility Clusters previously posted. They provide clues to where trash may be accumulating.

Most of the major creeks in Valdosta are represented, plus some that I didn’t know had names, such as Bunche Street Canal and Knob Hill Canal, as well as some that apparently do not have names.

Most (Sugar Creek, Hightower Creek, Dow Street Canal, One Mile Branch, Two Mile Branch, Three Mile Branch, Knob Hill Canal, Cherry Creek, and Browns Canal) are in the Withlacoochee River Basin.

Others (Knights Creek, Dukes Bay Canal, Bunche Street Canal) are in the Alapaha River Basin.

Several of the maps straddles several watersheds.

[Example Cluster maps]
Example Cluster maps

Below there is a pair of maps for each of the clusters: a map received from Valdosta in response to an open records request, and a map excerpt from one of the WWALS water trail maps.

The rest of the text below is from the document previously posted. 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

Videos: Trash, Okefenokee, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting, WWALS Gala on Scott James radio 92.1.FM 2023-03-24

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

On the radio this morning, Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson and Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman talked trash, and many other subjects. See it for yourself in these WWALS videos.

Come to the Two Mile Branch Cleanup tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 8 AM.

[Radio and Two Mile Branch 2023-03-24]
Radio and Two Mile Branch 2023-03-24

Cleanups are necessary, but not enough. We discussed Valdosta’s history of publishing plans to deal with trash and then not doing anything. Valdosta Engineer Ben O’Dowd seems to have started some action, and more is needed.

Below are links to each WWALS video of each topic, some with a brief summary, followed by a WWALS video playlist. Continue reading

WWALS calls for city trash reforms –Valdosta Daily Times 2023-03-09

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

Come to Two Mile Branch Saturday, March 25, 2023, see the trash problem for yourself, and talk to many of the people mentioned in this article.

Malia Thomas, Valdosta Daily Times, March 9, 2023 , Group calls for city trash reforms,

VALDOSTA — In the WWALS Watershed Coalition’s eyes, the city needs to clean up its act.

[Sugar Creek Beach, trash, WaterGoat trash trap, Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, Suwannee Riverkeeper]
Sugar Creek Beach, trash, WaterGoat trash trap, Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, Suwannee Riverkeeper

John Quarterman, Suwannee [R]iverkeeper of WWALS, and Bobby McKenzie, [former] WWALS intern, have expressed concern over trash pile ups in the city’s waterways, particularly in Sugar Creek. Continue reading

Clean rivers 2023-02-16

Update 2023-02-25: Clean Withlacoochee River 2023-02-23.

According to WWALS results for Thursday, happy boating, swimming, and fishing in our rivers this weekend!

Provided you like high water and are prepared to deal with overhanging limbs and getting lost in the floodplain.

I might avoid the Alapaha River at Sasser Landing, due to Valdosta’s Wednesday February 15th probably major spill into Knights Creek.

Valdosta’s other two sewage spills this month, Wednesday, February 8th into Hightower Creek above Sugar Creek and Saturday, February 11th into Cherry Creek probably were too small to have any significant effect on the Withlacoochee River. The WWALS Sunday tests on Cherry Creek and the river appear to have verified that lack of effect for that one, and regular test results after the Hightower Creek one ditto.

No other recent sewage spills have been reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia or Florida: just Valdosta. Continue reading

Valdosta River Street sewage spill into Hightower Creek 2023-02-08

Update 2023-02-24: Another Valdosta E. Park Ave. sewage spill, 171,750 gallons 2023-02-20

Update 2023-02-18: Clean rivers 2023-02-16.

This one showed up Tuesday, February 14th in the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report, reporting a Valdosta spill of the previous Wednesday, February 8, 2023.

[Spill report, manhole, map]
Spill report, manhole, map

The reason given was “Pipe failure”.

The good part is that with only 1,170 gallons spilled, there was probably little effect on Sugar Creek and none to worry about on the Withlacoochee River. Nothing unusual showed up in water quality testing by Valdosta or WWALS for that day or the next two.

Below is a map of the area, and a Google streetview of my best guess of where it was, going by Valdosta’s sloppy week-late report of “1700 block of River St”. Continue reading

New York landfill court case illustrates right to clean water 2022-12-30

A lawsuit using New York State’s recent Environmental Rights Amendment illustrates what a Right to Clean Water constitutional amendment could do for Florida or Georgia.

Here’s what’s going on in Perinton, NY. Then Joseph Bonasia of Florida Rights of Nature Network provides examples of how Florida’s pending Right to Clean and Healthy Waters (RTCW) could be used to solve similar cases.

In Georgia, an RTCW amendment could perhaps be used to get cities to stop trash from polluting waterways, for example maybe to get Valdosta to enforce its ordinances against landowners letting trash off their property and requiring so many trash cans per number of parking places. That would keep much trash out of creeks such as Hightower Creek, Sugar Creek, and the Withlacoochee River, protecting neighborhood children, wildlife, and the river all the way to Florida.

[High Acres Landfill, Rochester, NY. Photo: Max Schulte]
High Acres Landfill, looms over a neighborhood in Perinton, near Rochester, NY. Residents claim the dump violates their state constitutional right to “clean air, clean air, and a healthful environment.”, Photo: Max Schulte

Gino Fanelli, Rochester City Newspaper, March 28, 2022, Neighbors say Perinton landfill violates their constitutional right to ‘clean air’,

The sour scent of rot hung over Perinton Parkway one early spring day.

Continue reading