Tag Archives: Knights Creek

Four more Valdosta sewage spills 2023-12-17

Update 2024-02-22: Some Knights Creek plans in Valdosta Boone Drive and Knob Hill small sewage spills 2024-02-20.

Update 2024-01-31: Spill from Chemours Trail Ridge South TiO2 mine SE of Starke, FL 2024-01-30.

Four small Valdosta sewage spills appeared in the January 26, 2024 GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report, all listed as happening December 17, 2023, and as “Did not enter State waters”.

[Four small Valdosta sewage spills 2023-12-17]
Four small Valdosta sewage spills 2023-12-17

However, Valdosta Acting Utilities Director Jason Barnes confirms that these spills did happen. Which you can see for yourself in the pictures I took on January 23 of the Mile Street spill locations.

The most unusual part of these spill reports is that bit for “WATERWAY IMPACTED”: “Did not enter State waters”. That means these spills were stopped and contained before they could reach Knights Creek or Cherry Creek. Which is impressive considering that Sunday, December 17, 2024, saw more than an inch of rain at every gauge we follow, after more than half an inch the previous day. (See below for one reservation about one of these spills.)

Nobody is going to be happy until the number of Valdosta sewage spills is zero. And WWALS continues watching closely.

However, watching also includes complimenting Valdosta Utilities when things go right. So, congratulations, Valdosta Utilities, for catching these spills before they did any damage.

Curiously, these spills did not appear in the next day’s Sewage Spills Report, or in any later days. Considering recent typos in those GA-EPD Sewage Spills Reports, I’m assuming those later omissions are due to EPD’s problems with lack of staffing and funding.

Let’s look at each of these spills. Continue reading

Dirty Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers 2024-01-11

Update 2024-01-19: Three Clean Rivers 2024-01-17.

We got bad results for Thursday for one Alapaha River site and horrible results for one Withlacoochee River site.

Russ Tatum’s Holly Point site went from zero E. coli for Wednesday to 5,000 for Thursday. We don’t know whether this is related to Valdosta’s Wednesday 100,000-gallon sewage spill into Three Mile Branch to the Withlacoochee River, but it could be. In the last week, no other pollution spills were reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia, and none at all in Florida.

The most recent City of Valdosta Withlacoochee River results we have are for Monday, and they are all too high after last Saturday’s rain. There was more rain Tuesday, and a bit more yesterday (Friday).

If I were you, I would avoid the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers this weekend. Maybe even the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers.

We shall see whether the Withlacoochee is clean enough and low enough Sunday week for the Langdale Park to Sugar Creek Chainsaw Cleanup, Withlacoochee River 2024-01-21.

[Chart, Rivers, Map 2024-01-11]
Chart, Rivers, Map 2024-01-11

WWALS tester Kimberly Godden Tanner tested the Alapaha River at Lakeland Boat Ramp @ GA 122 and at Naylor Park Beach @ US 84. She wrote, “Both locations were clean [of trash]. The only additional item of note was a couple a dead fish on the ground at the boat ramp in Lakeland. I am not a fisher, so I am unaware of why this might be.” Continue reading

Three Clean Rivers 2024-01-04

Update 2024-01-13: Valdosta sewage spill, Three Mile Branch, Withlacoochee River 2024-01-10.

We got excellent results for eleven sites on three rivers for Thursday: Alapaha, Withlacoochee, and Santa Fe. Valdosta’s Wednesday results on the Withlacoochee River in Georgia concurred. Even Valdosta’s weekly test results on Knights Creek concurred.

However, there was almost an inch of rain upstream this Saturday morning, so that may have washed E. coli into the rivers, but probably not a lot.

More rain is predicted starting tomorrow. Meanwhile, the rivers are back down to reasonable levels. So if you don’t mind being chilly, happy fishing, swimming, and boating this weekend, and once again Happy New Year!

Please join us on zoom this Thursday as Fannie Gibbs kicks off the new WWALS Webinar series.

Please join us in two weeks for a Sunday Langdale Park to Sugar Creek Chainsaw Cleanup, Withlacoochee River 2024-01-21.

[Chart, Rivers, Map 2024-01-04]
Chart, Rivers, Map 2024-01-04

In the last week, no pollution spills were reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Florida.

And no new ones in Georgia. But GA-EPD corrected the December 11 Valdosta major spill location on December 28 to 1850 E Park Ave. That’s better, since that is where the problem sewer line is. I still don’t know why latlong GPS coordinates cannot also be included. Florida requires them for every report.

On January 2, GA-EPD corrected the December 17 Quitman wastewater plant lift station spill to Quitman instead of DeKalb County.

Thanks, GA-EPD, for the corrections, after Suwannee Riverkeeper asked you to look into it. Continue reading

Clean Withlacoochee and Santa Fe Rivers, dirty Sugar Creek 2023-12-28

Update 2024-01-06: Three Clean Rivers 2024-01-04.

We got good results for two sites on the Santa Fe River for Wednesday, and bad results on Sugar Creek of the Withlacoochee River, plus excellent results for two Withlacoochee River sites for Thursday. All the other WWALS testers are off for the holidays, but Valdosta’s Wednesday results on the Withlacoochee River in Georgia were good.

There has been no significant rain in a week, so the E. coli washed into the rivers by the previous big rains has gotten diluted or washed downstream.

No more rain is predicted until Thursday, and the rivers are back down to reasonable levels. So if you don’t mind being chilly, happy fishing, swimming, and boating this weekend, and Happy New Year! Continue reading

Bad water quality, Withlacoochee and Santa Fe Rivers 2023-12-21

Update 2023-12-28: Clean Withlacoochee and Santa Fe Rivers, dirty Sugar Creek 2023-12-28.

We got bad results for three sites on two rivers in Florida for Wednesday, Withlacoochee and Santa Fe. Plus Valdosta’s Wednesday results at US 84 in Georgia on the Withlacoochee were also bad.

Last weekend’s rain was much more than the previous weekend, and the E. coli washed into the rivers did not get diluted or wash downsgtream nearly as quickly.

There’s been no more rain since Sunday, and no more predicted until Monday. And it’s cold and the rivers are near flood.

So I’d suggest staying off the rivers until maybe Sunday. All of the rivers: they all got 2 or more inches of rain. And we have never seen a too-high result for the Santa Fe River until this week, nor for the downstream Holly Point Withlacoochee River site. Continue reading

End date and waterway affected of Valdosta 425,000 gallon sewage spill 2023-12-11

Update 2024-01-28: Valdosta Knights Creek water quality test results in Four more Valdosta sewage spills 2023-12-17.

Update 2023-12-22: Bad water quality, Withlacoochee and Santa Fe Rivers 2023-12-21.

The Valdosta written report about its December 11, 2023, 425,000-gallon sewage spill, received in response to a WWALS open records request to GA-EPD, contains some information that was not in the Valdosta press release. Including a bit more about corrective action than was in the reports of the two previous spills.

Plus Valdosta has started posting water quality test results upstream and down from the spill location.

More about that and the spill location below.

[Valdosta Report, Map, GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report, Valdosta Water Quality Results]
Valdosta Report, Map, GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report, Valdosta Water Quality Results

Here’s the spill report. As you can see, it has both the start and stop dates and times of the spill: start 9:30 AM December 11, end 6 PM December 14. GA-EPD also returned the Valdosta Utilities cover letter of the report, which was sent Friday, December 15, 2023 2:20 PM. Which confirms what Valdosta Utilities Acting Director Jason Barnes told me on the phone: the report went in (and the Valdosta press release went out) after the spill stopped.

The affected waterway is identified, as “Knights Creek/Mud Creek”, and the creek is also named at the top of the report:
MAJOR SPILL REPORT TO EPD Knights Creek Sanitary Sewer Spill.”

As you know, Knights Creek flows into Mud Swamp Creek, then the Alapahoochee River, the Alapaha River in Florida, and the Suwannee River, on the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

The report gives the cause as equipment failure, not blamed on the contractor:
CAUSE OF MAJOR SPILL: Bypass pump failure and Hydraulic Overload”

And there is more about what the city did and what it plans to do to prevent such spills. Continue reading

Valdosta reports to GA-EPD about two recent sewage spills 2023-12-02

Update 2023-12-20: End date and waterway affected of Valdosta 425,000 gallon sewage spill 2023-12-11.

In Valdosta’s written reports to GA-EPD about a couple of recent sewage spills, we find a few more details. Details that were not in GA-EPD’s Sewage Spills Report or in Valdosta’s press release about the one that had a press release.

The December 4, E. Park Ave. 7,500 gallon spill had no Valdosta press release. The report Valdosta sent GA-EPD says, “CAUSE OF OVERFLOW: Contractor owned/operated pumps for city projects bypass were turned down for unknown reason by contractor. Allowed Infiltration and Inflow to overwhelm system.”

Also, “ CORRECTIVE ACTION TAKEN TO MITIGATE OR TO REDUCE ADVERSE EFFECTS: Central Maintenance Operators directed Contractor to increase pump speed to deal with backup. Pumps at maximum to deal with flow, no issue.”

And, “CORRECTIVE ACTION TAKEN TO PREVENT FUTURE SPILL: Contractor to be counseled on new SOPs for private pump monitoring and usage on City Bypass systems. Any other action TBD.”

And GA-EPD has provided a bit more information beyond that, including willingness to get more precision on spill location and affected waterway from the reporting organization.

[Two Valdosta sewage spill reports to GA-EPD]
Two Valdosta sewage spill reports to GA-EPD

Eddy Basileo of GA-EPD’s Municipal Compliance Unit, Watershed Compliance, Watershed Protection Branch, answered early Monday morning two of the three Georgia Open Records Act (GORA) requests I sent over the weekend. The response included the emails from Valdosta Acting Utilities Director Jason Barnes that delivered those reports to GA-EPD. They read: Continue reading

Yet another Valdosta E. Park Ave. sewage spill near Knights Creek 2023-12-11

Update 2023-12-20: End date and waterway affected of Valdosta 425,000 gallon sewage spill 2023-12-11.

Update 2023-12-19: Valdosta reports to GA-EPD about two recent sewage spills 2023-12-02.

Update 2023-12-15: Videos: Testing three sites in Florida and Georgia, Withlacoochee River 2023-12-14.

Are we going back to the bad old days of Valdosta sewage spill reports so vague you can’t tell where they are, and reported many days later?

Valdosta spilled almost half a million gallons of sewage Monday, didn’t get around to telling the public until today, and then only with a press release that doesn’t say which part of town or which waterway was affected.

[Spills into Knights Creek, Alapaha River Basin, and One Mile Branch, Withlacoochee River Basin]
Spills into Knights Creek, Alapaha River Basin, and One Mile Branch, Withlacoochee River Basin

Oh, and Valdosta had another spill two weeks ago that was only reported to GA-EPD on this Tuesday, and so far as I’ve seen not to the public at all.

The Valdosta press release for the big spill of Monday says it was “in the 1800 Block of Park Avenue.” 1800 West Park Avenue is next to Sugar Creek in the Withlacoochee River Basin. 1800 East Park Avenue is the vague location previously reported for many sewer spills related to the collapsed sewer main near Knights Creek in the Alapaha River Basin.

The press release does not name any creek, so we can’t tell by that. We can infer by the rest of the sentence that E. Park Ave. was meant, because “inspecting manholes and sewer lines on the current Bypass and Sanitary Sewer line upgrades project” probably refers to the work related to those previous spills. Continue reading

GA-EPD Consent Order on Valdosta for One Mile Branch fish kill and sewage spills 2023-09-15

Update 2023-11-13: Valdosta Standard Operating Procedures as conditions on Consent Order EPD-WP-9424 2023-11-13.

That One Mile Branch fish kill back on September 23, 2022, was not just from a fuel spill by VSU.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) found contamination and dead fish upstream of that alleged fuel spill. GA-EPD also cited numerous other Valdosta sewage spills, not only into One Mile Branch, but also into Hightower Creek (also draining through Sugar Creek into the Withlacoochee River), and spillsinto Knights Creek (which drains into Mud Swamp Creek, then the Alaphoochee River, and the Alapaha River).

Result? A new Consent Order on Valdosta, including a hefty fine as one of five conditions, the rest of which have sixty (60) day deadlines.

[$56,139.30 fine on Valdosta for One Mile Branch Fish Kill and other spills --GA-EPD 2023-09-15]
$56,139.30 fine on Valdosta for One Mile Branch Fish Kill and other spills –GA-EPD 2023-09-15

$56,139.30 may not sound like much as a fine, but it is huge compared to typical GA-EPD fines of maybe $10,000, and it is almost half of the $122,000 of the 2020 Consent Order after the huge December 2019 Valdosta sewage spill.

Please note that the Valdosta Utilities Department is under new management since all this happened.

Acting Utilities Manager Jason Barnes now has the task of cleaning up the physical and regulatory mess, even though he had nothing to do with causing it.

The City’s explanation for the One Mile Branch fish kill at the time did not pass muster with GA-EPD: Continue reading

Filthy upstream Withlacoochee, clean downstream and Little and Alapaha Rivers 2023-09-07

Update 2023-09-15: No water quality test results this week; Adel sewage spill two weeks ago 2023-09-14.

Update 2023-09-09: Upstream Alapaha River results.

In samples taken Thursday, WWALS testers found the Withlacoochee River filthy upstream of the Little River Confluence, at Franklinville, US 41, and GA 133.

FYI: Franklinville is upstream from Valdosta, so it’s not them this time.

So it’s a good thing we cancelled tomorrow’s Langdale Park to Sugar Creek Chainsaw Cleanup on the Withlacoochee River.

The Little River and the Alapaha River tested clean.

Update 2023-09-09: Except at the outflow creek from the Alapaha, GA, WWTP, where Heather Brasell got way-too-high 1,900 E. coli. However, she got zero for the Alapaha River just upstream from Sheboggy Boat Ramp at US 82; can’t get much better than that.

[Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide Map 2023-09-07]
Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide Map 2023-09-07

On the Little River, the Withlacoochee River downstream of the Little River Confluence, and the Alapaha River, happy swimming, fishing, and boating, as long as you don’t mind the rivers being high and fast.

We are still short-handed for WWALS volunteer water quality testers. Maybe you’d like to become one. Sign up here:
https://wwals.net/?p=47084

Three new sewage spills have been reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia, all from Continue reading