Tag Archives: One Mile Branch

Asphalt-caused sewage spill in flooding on One Mile Branch in Valdosta 2023-12-03

Update 2023-12-04: Added Valdosta Press Release.

After the recent rains, at least two houses on Pin Oak Circle at Lakeland Ave in Valdosta flooded again, attributed to a sewer leak by residents.

[One Mile Branch crossing Pin Oak Circle in a floodplain and location maps]
One Mile Branch crossing Pin Oak Circle in a floodplain and location maps

Valdosta Acting Utilities Director Jason Barnes just now on the telephone said it was caused by a piece of asphalt stuck in the sewer line. It took Utilities about an hour and 15 minutes Saturday to get it out. He did not know how it got there; maybe from previous street resurfacing. They will be doing further work today. He alerted GA-EPD Saturday, and is working on a press release this morning. It will be a spill, but probably not a major spill.

WWALS member Suzy Hall found this spill in a WALB TV story (see below). I located it by looking up the names from the story in the Lowndes County Tax Assessors Map.

One Mile Branch runs through their back yards, and we’ve seen flooding problems there before. Continue reading

Scotti and Sara Jay discovered One Mile Branch fish kill, leading to GA-EPD Consent Order 2023-09-23

Thanks to Scotti Jay Jones for discovering and photographing a fish kill on One Mile Branch a year ago, and for taking water quality samples. Thanks to Sara Jay Jones for plating those samples. Suwannee Riverkeeper reported all that to GA-EPD.

One year later, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD), levied a Consent Order on the City of Valdosta for that fish kill and various sewage spills.

[IG: Sara and Scotti Jay Jones, the GA-EPD Consent Order, location map, and fish kill]
IG: Sara and Scotti Jay Jones, the GA-EPD Consent Order, location map, and fish kill

Maybe that Consent Order and its requirements for Standard Operating Procedures will help prevent sewage spills from getting into One Mile Branch, Hightower Creek, and Sugar Creek and the Withlacoochee River, as well as into Knights Creek into Mud Swamp Creek, the Alapahoochee River, and the Alapaha River. There have also been many personnel changes in the Valdosta City government, and the current Acting Utilities Director so far seems like a big improvement.

And you can join Scotti and Sara and WWALS at Iche Nippy Dip Day Swim and Paddle, Ichetucknee River, Ichetucknee Headspring, 2024-01-06.

Below are links and snippets for previous WWALS blog posts during that year. 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

All 2023 sewage spills into the Suwannee River Basin

Update 2023-08-29: 8,400 gallons of sewage into Dukes Bay Canal, Valdosta, GA, due to unknown obstruction 2023-08-28.

Inquiring minds (Suzy’s) wanted to know how many times Valdosta spilled sewage this year.

Answer: nine reported, five into Knights Creek, which goes to the Alapahoochee and Alapaha Rivers, two into Hightower Creek, which goes into Sugar Creek and the Withlacoochee River, one into One Mile Branch, also Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River, and one into Cherry Creek, directly into the Withlacoochee River.

Valdosta spilled 1,182,221 gallons of raw sewage, accounting for 61.93% of the total 1,908,971 gallons spilled in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia and Florida so far in 2023.

I would like to thank Valdosta Utilities Assistant Director Jason Barnes for calling the day after that most recent spill, to note that Utilties found the spill, he had personally been out there and got it stopped that same evening, and they tracked the amount with SCADA. Plus it was reported to the public and to GA-EPD the day after it happened. All that is improvement.

Of course, the only good number of spills is none, as I told WTXL after a previous spill.

[Sewage spills and WWALS water trails]
Sewage spills and WWALS water trails

Runner-up was tiny Ashburn, with 673,400 gallons, or 35.28% of the total, mostly spilled into Hat Creek, which goes into the Alapaha River, with some into Ashburn Branch, which goes into the Little River. Ashburn has had a chronic sewage spill problem for many years, and needs to get a grip. Ashburn did get some ARPA money to work on that, so maybe there will be improvement.

Also-rans included Continue reading

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

Update 2023-07-24: Redesignation as Recreational, Withlacoochee River, GA 37 to Tiger Creek 2023-07-19

Suwannee Riverkeeper about Valdosta sewage spills yesterday on WTXL.TV, “It’s bad for people, it’s bad for wild life, it’s also bad for the economy. Valdosta is trying to be a place for ecotourism, and you’re not really helping that if you have sewage spills, if you have trash in the creeks and rivers,” [John S.] Quarterman said.

Come to Sugar Creek behind the Salty Snapper this morning at 9AM and hear more.

[Reporter, Suwannee Riverkeeper, Valdosta Utilities Director 2023-07-21]
Reporter, Suwannee Riverkeeper, Valdosta Utilities Director 2023-07-21

Ariel Schiller, ABC27 WTXL, July 21, 2023, City of Valdosta working to fix outdated sewer system, Continue reading

Reroute: Sugar Creek and Troupville Withlacoochee River on-land cleanup 2023-07-22

Update 2023-07-22:Pictures: Sugar Creek Withlacoochee River on-land cleanup 2023-07-22.

Due to bad water quality reports for Sugar Creek heard from the City of Valdosta, we are revising the cleanup from a paddle to an on-land cleanup. Please come to Sugar Creek at 9AM to hear where we will go from there.

When: Gather 9 AM, launch 9:30 AM, end 1 PM, Saturday, July 22, 2023

Where: Meet at the back of the Salty Snapper parking lot, 1405 Gornto Rd, Valdosta, GA 31602 and we’ll go to appropriate locations from there.

GPS: 30.861764, -83.318854

[At Langdale Park Boat Ramp: Caution Sewage Spill City of Valdosta --Bobby McKenzie 2023-07-21]
At Langdale Park Boat Ramp: Caution Sewage Spill City of Valdosta –Bobby McKenzie 2023-07-21

Bring: Cleanup materials will be provided, but if you’ve got a trash picker, bring it along. Bring sturdy shoes and clothes, drinking water, and snacks.

There is no need to bring a boat. Continue reading

OK Withlacoochee River and Sugar Creek 2023-06-25

Update 2023-06-27: Good Alapaha River 2023-06-25.

The Withlacoochee River tested good for Sunday at four locations, plus Sugar Creek.

[Chart, River, Swim Guide Map 2023-06-25]
Chart, River, Swim Guide Map 2023-06-25

So apparently the Valdosta Wednesday Williams Street One Mile Branch sewage spill, if it ever affected Sugar Creek, has already washed away. We did see a lot of background Fecal coliform bacterial colonies, but those were on plates for all the tested locations, and those bacteria are usually harmless.

Thanks to WWALS testers Cindy and David Vedas, who could not sample most of their sites Thursday, for sampling Sunday instead, and for adding Sugar Creek below the Salty Snapper, at the WaterGoat.

So I would be good with swimming, fishing, and boating on the Withlacoochee River.

Except of course that the Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Little Rivers are up in or near Action Stage, which means it’s high and fast and there’s little place to pull out onshore if you get capsized by overhanging branches. So you’d probably be better off on the Suwannee or Santa Fe Rivers this weekend.

This is why this weekend’s WWALS chainsaw cleanup has been rescheduled and merged with the regular cleanup next month, Sugar Creek to Troupville, Withlacoochee River Cleanup 2023-07-22.

Paddle at your own risk, as always.

Despite Valdosta’s assertion Saturday evening “Georgia EPD has been notified of the issue,” no new sewage spills have been reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia or Florida. Sometimes this means that Valdosta so far only telephoned in a report to GA-EPD, and has not yet submitted a written report. Continue reading

Valdosta Williams Street One Mile Branch Sewage Spill Sign 2023-06-26

Update 2023-06-26: Withlacoochee River and Sugar Creek OK Sunday 2023-06-25.

Nobody from the City of Valdosta answered my questions about the One Mile Branch Williams Street sewage spill after the Saturday 5:14 PM Valdosta press release, until City Manager Richard Hardy this morning texted me “1600 block William St.”

That’s between E. College and E. Moore Streets. But that’s not where the sewage spill warning sign is.

[Sewage spill sign, pump, pipe at One Mile Branch, pipe and vac truck along Williams Street, E. College St. to E. Moore St., 2023-06-26]
Sewage spill sign, pump, pipe at One Mile Branch, pipe and vac truck along Williams Street, E. College St. to E. Moore St., 2023-06-26

The first WWALS scout to get there was WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman, who sent back these pictures, and some videos:

Why Valdosta Utilities or the Valdosta PIO did not post such pictures is mysterious.

I’d give Valdosta a B+ on dealing with the spill (no higher, because they did not discover it).

But I give Valdosta a D on informing the public: a press release three days after they were informed of the spill, after 5PM on a Saturday, when people would already be fishing or boating downstream, with no location within three miles, no estimate of how much was spilled, unclear on whether the situation is fixed or not, and no answer to questions for another day and a half. Continue reading

Valdosta sewage into One Mile Branch 2023-06-21

Update 2023-06-26: Valdosta Williams Street One Mile Branch Sewage Spill Sign 2023-06-26.

Valdosta had a sewage spill starting Wednesday and did not tell the public until Saturday at 5:14 PM.

[Map: One Mile Branch, Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River 2023-06-24]
Map: One Mile Branch, Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River 2023-06-24 in the WWALS Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail
All the yellow diamonds indicate earlier Valdosta sewage spills.

Where on the more than three-mile-long One Mile Branch the spill occurred was not mentioned in the Valdosta press release. This is perhaps the most vague sewage spill press release ever from Valdosta, with no location even as precise as a block, no estimate of how much sewage was spilled, and no indication of how long it had been going on.

I have inquired about those things.

It’s good that WWALS rescheduled our chainsaw cleanup that was going to be today, on the Withlacoochee River downstream from Sugar Creek and One Mile Branch, where the spill happened.

The City of Valdosta Press Release

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:

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