Tag Archives: manhole

Valdosta Elsa spills finally in GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report 2021-07-20

Update 2021-07-23: Bad Upstream, Good Downstream, Withlacoochee River 2021-07-22.

Not just two, but seven Valdosta July 7th sewage spills finally showed up in the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report yesterday.

That’s ten working days later, or almost two calendar weeks after they happened during Tropical Storm Elsa. Even Quitman is usually only one week late filing such reports.

However, unlike the vague “800 block” verbiage in Valdosta’s press release of July 8th, these reports have precise street addresses.

And these reports say which waterbody was affected. The “800 Block of E Brookwood Dr.”, from which I could not tell whether it went west into Onemile Branch, Sugar Creek, and the Withlacoochee River, turns out to be “836 E. Brookwood Dr”, and it went into “Knights Creek”, which runs into Mud Swamp Creek, the Alapahoochee River, and the Alapaha River.

So I’ll go back and revise our WWALS map. Maybe from now on Valdosta will report spills with this kind of precision and save everybody trouble.

[Seven Valdosta Spills, GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report parsed by WWALS]
Seven Valdosta Spills, GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report parsed by WWALS, see the WWALS website.

Also maybe Valdosta will finally do something to Continue reading

Valdosta Manhole Rehabilitation lists 2021-07-13

Update 2021-07-16 Clean Withlacoochee River 2021-07-15.

I thank the City of Valdosta for promptly sending their list of manholes to be rehabilitated, and manholes already rehabilitated, both in response to a WWALS Georgia Open Records Act request.

However, I am mystified why neither list includes the notorious spill locations on Mildred Street or Wainwright Drive.

I add up 358,525 gallons of sewage spilled at Mildred Street into Knights Creek in the Alapaha River Basin and 355,875 gallons at Wainwright Drive into Onemile Branch in the Withlacoochee River Basin. Those totals are each since 2015, according to records from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD).

I haven’t added up spills from all the other locations that are on the Rehab lists. I would hope there are not many that have spilled more than a third of a million gallons of raw sewage.

How many gallons does it take to get on Valdosta’s rehab list?

[Current Rehab list; already rehabilitated lists]
Current Rehab list; already rehabilitated lists

It’s also interesting that these lists include for almost every manhole specific street addresses. Unlike the vague “1200 block” addresses Valdosta puts in its sewage spill press releases, and often in its spill reports to GA-EPD.

Speaking of which, despite Valdosta’s assurances that it had reported at least the two biggest spills of July 7th to GA-EPD, there is still nothing about any of those in GA-EPD’s Sewer Spills Report.

Manhole Rehabilitation (Phase 7)

Continue reading

Valdosta FOG Manhole sewage spill 2021-04-26

2021-05-11: two weeks later, Valdosta’s FOG spill shows up on GA-EPD’s Sewage Spills Report, for two days earlier than in Valdosta’s press release.

This Valdosta sewage spill on Saturday was very small, mostly vacuumed up by the city, and unlikely to get the 1.89 miles down Onemile Branch to Sugar Creek, and the 1.85 miles farther to the Withlacoochee River. I think we can all agree that nobody wants sewage spills caused by Fats, Oils, or Greases. Also don’t dump your face masks into storm drains or waterways.

[FOG in manhole, 1400 Williams Street spill site, creeks to Withlacoochee River]
FOG in manhole, 1400 Williams Street spill site, creeks to Withlacoochee River

Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson prepended this note with the picture you see below: “It is important to note that while this did happen over the weekend, it was not a weather related incident. For our media partners, I am attaching an example of a previous grease blockage in our system so that you can get a visual of how grease build up can block pipes, ultimately leading to a manhole overflow.”

Continue reading

Lowndes County repairing collapsed manhole at Bevel Creek lift station 2020-09-02

Eagle-eye WWALS member Amy Hope Jackson spotted trucks next to Bevel Creek off of Loch Laurel Road near Lake Park, in Lowndes County Georgia, on GA 376, on September 2, 2020. This is upstream from Jumping Gully Creek and the Withlacoochee River.

[Location, Bevel Creek Lift Station, manhole collapse, trucks, RPI]
Location, Bevel Creek Lift Station, manhole collapse, trucks, RPI

Turns out they were implementing the $82,000.00 Bevel Creek Manhole Emergency Repair approved by the Lowndes County Commission on June 22, 2020.

This seemed likely since one of the trucks said RPI, and the winning bidder was RPI Underground. I confirmed with Lowndes County Utilities Director Steve Stalvey that this was indeed that repair.

Please remember Lowndes County has a separate sewer system from Valdosta, and Lowndes County has not spilled sewage in many months, apparently due to proactively upgrading the county sewer system. Continue reading

Sewer line repair between manholes, Bevel Creek Lift Station @ LCC 2020-06-22

Update 2020-12-23: Pictures of the repair in progress.

Lowndes County is fixing the June 8, 2020, sinkhole at the Bevel Creek Lift Station in a Floridan Aquifer recharge zone, with $82,000.00 to replace two manholes, to discuss at its Work Session 8:30 AM Monday morning, with voting at its 5:30 PM Regular Session Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

The county’s agenda sheet says:

Due to extensive flooding and undermining, the manhole before Bevel Creek lift station collapsed on June 8, 2020 creating an emergency situation. After accessing the problem it was determined the most feasible and economical method of repair was to replace two manholes and redirect the flow. RPI Underground submitted a quote not to exceed $82,000 to make the repairs. Staff recommends approval of the Bevel Creek manhole emergency repair by RPI Underground not to exceed $82,000.00.

Photo: Terry Richards, The Valdosta Daily Times, Heavy rains cause problems in Lowndes 2020-06-08.
Photo: Terry Richards, The Valdosta Daily Times, Heavy rains cause problems in Lowndes 2020-06-08.

Continue reading

Open manhole lawsuits

The City of Valdosta is lucky nobody fell into that open manhole it says is part of manhole rehabilitation. That manhole is next to the Azalea Trail where whole families with small children walk, and on Valdosta State University property next to the VSU Recreation Center.

[Manhole dug down]
Manhole dug down

Mario Cattabiani, RossFellerCasey, 20 March 2014, $85 Million Verdict For Student Who Fell Into Open Manhole,

Founding partner Matt Casey argued in court that defendant Trigen-Philadelphia Energy Corp. failed to properly secure the manhole, which had been removed by a homeless man shortly before Gustafsson happened by that fateful day. The trial lasted three weeks, featured thousands of documents and a closing scene that played out as if written in a Hollywood script. As the jury was set to return a verdict, at literally the last minute, the insurer offered to settle the case for $10 million—a sum Casey, in consultation with his client, rejected. Just moments later, the jury awarded the former promising medical student $85 million.

McAleer Law Firm, 21 April 2020, A Plaintiff’s Evidentiary Burden in Georgia Personal Injury Lawsuits against the Government

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an appeal from a judgment in favor of a plaintiff in her lawsuit against the City of Atlanta. The woman filed a lawsuit to recover for damages she incurred after driving into an open manhole. The woman contended that the government should be liable for her injuries because the manhole was a public nuisance. The city appealed a jury finding in favor of the woman, arguing that the woman did not meet her evidentiary burden.

Under Georgia law, a municipality “may be held liable for damages it causes to a third party from the operation or maintenance of a nuisance, irrespective of whether it is exercising a governmental or municipal function.” To recover for damages plaintiffs must present evidence that: Continue reading

Response: Valdosta says it is manhole rehabilitation at One Mile Branch near Sustella Ave. 2020-06-04

Other than to wonder how 9:24 AM (when I asked) to 8:42 PM (when I posted the previous) adds up to a “5.5-6 hour window”, I am posting this exactly as received at 11:40 AM today. -jsq

[Inside manhole]
Inside manhole


Darryl Muse
Attachments
11:40 AM (3 hours ago)
to Scott, Scott, Ashlyn, Tim, Mark, me

Mr. Quarterman, On yesterday the Department, including Mr. Fowler were in the field preparing for anticipated significant rain events over the next several days. As a result, there was no response within the 5.5-6 hour window you noted in your email. Included in this reply is your email to Mr. Fowler so we all can be on the same page as it relates to your request.

Continue reading

One Mile Branch Sewage Spill @ Sustella Ave., VSU 2020-06-02

Update 2020-06-04: Response: Valdosta says it is manhole rehabilitation at One Mile Branch near Sustella Ave. 2020-06-04

Scotti Jay smelled a sewer spill. He found an open manhole, a bunch of hoses, and tracks of large trucks, presumably Valdosta Utilities pumper trucks. We don’t know, because Valdosta has not answered an inquiry from this morning.

[Hose and manhole]
Hose and manhole

This is on Onemile Branch behind the Valdosta State University (VSU) Recreation Center, downstream from Sustella Ave.

The good news from Sara Jay’s water quality testing: she got Continue reading

Send your comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order –Albany Herald

In the Albany Herald, May 9, 2020, Deadline set to comment on Valdosta EPD Enforcement Order,

The Enforcement Order includes a fine, plus many requirements for management and technology.

“Well, I’m glad they are doing the enforcement order, requiring them to get the fixes in place,” said Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Fla., who was among the WWALS members who met with the city of Valdosta back in 2015 about these same sewage issues. “I’m not sure what the $122,000 will be used for, but the fine seems small. I just want the problem fixed for good if possible.”

The rest of the article is from the WWALS press release.

Send your comments by Wednesday, May 27, 2020, to:
   Mr. Lewis Hays
   Manager, Watershed Compliance
   Environmental Protection Division
   2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Suite 1152 East
   Atlanta, GA 30334
   Lewis.Hays@dnr.ga.gov
   404-463-4953

This is not the kind of black water we want:

[Photo 4: Confluence of Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River.]
Photo 4: Confluence of Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River. By Tim Bonvechio.

The entire 93-page Order is on the WWALS website, here:
https://wwals.net/pictures/2020-04-13–ga-epd-vld-enforcement-order

“This Order has been a long time coming. It includes an outline of a sad history of mistakes and neglect. I hope the Order Continue reading

Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (see also PDF)

Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order

Hahira, GA, May 4, 2020 — May 27th is the deadline to comment on the Enforcement Order the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) finally issued on Valdosta for sewage spills. For decades, Valdosta has spilled wastewater into the Withlacoochee River. People downstream, even on the Suwannee River all the way to the Gulf, worry about fishing, swimming, or even boating and some even say their wells are contaminated by fecal bacteria from these spills. Many had hoped that Valdosta’s big spills were over in 2016 with the new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant uphill out of the flood plain, plus a Force Main with two Pump Stations. Valdosta says it has spent about $80 million on water system improvements. Yet the spills continued. The Order also reveals a massive fish kill.

[Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.]
Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.

“The December 2019 spill was the biggest yet, with no rain, and nothing actually broke. It was a massive failure of supervision,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Citizens and elected and appointed officials in Georgia and a dozen counties in Florida demanded something be done.”

This Enforcement Order includes the most popular request, a fine, plus many requirements for management and technology.

“Well, I’m glad they are doing the enforcement order, requiring them to get the fixes in place,” said Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Florida, who was among the WWALS members who met with the City of Valdosta back in 2015 about these same sewage issues. She added, “I’m not sure what the $122,000 will be used for, but the fine seems small. I just want the problem fixed for good if possible.”

The Order addresses much (but not all) of what Suwannee Riverkeeper asked GA-EPD to do: https://wwals.net/?p=50979 For example, it requires the City to test water quality all the way down to the state line. One thing it does not include is any requirements for reimbursing downstream well and river testing expenses.

“It’s good to see that the EPD is FINALLY taking this issue seriously!” said Suzy Hall, WWALS Testing Committee Chair. “I can’t help but feel WWALS’ diligence in testing has been a big part of this action, and must continue regardless of any order for the City to conduct testing.”

The entire 93-page Order is on the WWALS website, here:
https://wwals.net/pictures/2020-04-13–ga-epd-vld-enforcement-order

“This Order has been a long time coming. It includes an outline of a sad history of mistakes and neglect. I hope the Order will finally get the City’s attention,” said Dr. Tom Potter, WWALS Science Committee Chair and taxpayer of the City of Valdosta.

Send your comments by Wednesday, May 27, 2020, to:
   Mr. Lewis Hays
   Manager, Watershed Compliance
   Environmental Protection Division
   2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Suite 1152 East
   Atlanta, GA 30334
   Lewis.Hays@dnr.ga.gov
   404-463-4953

About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.

Contact: John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org
WWALS Watershed Coalition
850-290-2350, 229-242-0102
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632

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 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!