Tag Archives: Scott Fowler

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

Bad GA 133 and US 84, Withlacoochee River 2022-09-12

Update 2022-09-16: Clean Rivers 2022-09-15.

Bad news in Valdosta’s upstream Withlacoochee River water quality results.

Too high E. coli at both GA 133 (St. Augustine Road) and US 84.

Best to avoid the Withlacoochee River for now in those stretches.

[Chart, Swim Guide]
Chart, Swim Guide

We also see high Fecal coliform for Monday at US 41 (North Valdosta Road), but OK E. coli. That is usual for after a big upstream rain, and you can see 0.61 inches on the Skipper Bridge gauge for the previous day.

But at GA 133 and US 84, Continue reading

Clean river water quality tests, but heavy rains 2022-09-08

Update 2022-09-13: Bad GA 133 and US 84, Withlacoochee River 2022-09-12.

By all the recent water quality test results we have, all is clear for boating, swimming, and fishing on the Withlacoochee and other rivers this weekend.

The Tifton 2,000 gallon spill Sunday is very unlikely to affect anywhere anyone is testing on the rivers.

But by all our experience with heavy rains such as fell far upstream Thursday and are falling today, contamination is likely to wash into the Withlacoochee River: most likely cattle or hog manure.

[Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide 2022-09-08]
Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide 2022-09-08

The WWALS upstream Thursday samples by Elizabeth Brunner on GA 122 were all clean at Folsom Bridge on the Little River, Hagan Bridge on the Withlacoochee River, and Lakeland Boat Ramp on the Alapaha River.

The WWALS downstream Thursday samples on the Withlacoochee River by Jacob and Michael Bachrach at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps were also clean.

And the Valdosta upstream results for Wednesday were also pretty clean, at US 41, GA 133, and US 84 on the Withlacoochee River. The most recent downstream results Valdosta has publlshed are for Monday a week ago. WWALS already tested downstream twice since then. Continue reading

Good river water quality 2022-08-25

Update 2022-09-02: Good river water quality 2022-09-01.

WWALS got good water quality results downstream on the Withlacoochee River for Thursday, and good upstream results for the Withlacoochee, Little, and Alapaha Rivers. Valdosta’s Wednesday and Monday results concur. So happy fishing, swimming, and boating this weekend.

[Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide 2022-08-25]
Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide 2022-08-25

No new sewage spills were reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia or Florida. We did get an update on the Quitman spill of week before last; see below.

Of course, there was some heavy rainfall upstream in spots, and that could wash something into the river. But by the test results we have now, have a good time on the water. Continue reading

Valdosta enforces new grease ordinance; how about enforcing its trash ordinances?

I look forward to Valdosta enforcing its trash ordinances like it’s doing with these Fats, Oil, and Grease (FOG) ordinances. No new ordinance is needed, City Marshals just need to enforce the ones already in place.

[Valdosta example: Fats, Oils, and Grease in a manhole]
Valdosta example: Fats, Oils, and Grease in a manhole

Here’s an idea: Roger Budd Co. could set an example by buying trash cans for its parking lots, and keep them cleaned out, like city ordinances require. That would be much smaller capex than these FOG traps. And for both RBC could advertise on its billboards how green its businesses are.

Although any business will be more likely to do that once the City of Valdosta gets around to putting such trash cans on its own city parking lots, starting with across from City Hall.

Meanwhile, I applaud the City of Valdosta pro-actively preventing sewage spills with this new FOG ordinance.

Mackenzie Petrie, WALB, Continue reading

Good Withlacoochee River water quality 2022-08-18

Update 2022-08-26: Good river water quality 2022-08-25.

All clear for fishing, swimming, and boating on the Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers this weekend, according to the latest water quality results we have.

[Chart, Rivers, Plates]
Chart, Rivers, Plates

There hasn’t been enough rain to wash any significant contamination into the creeks and rivers, no, not even Okapilco Creek.

The only sewage spill in the past week we know of is the Valdosta one last Sunday near Sugar Creek on Meadowbrook Drive at Gornto Road. That one, like the other four Valdosta spills this summer, was probably too small and fixed too quickly to have any detectable effect on the Withlacoochee River. We still don’t know Continue reading

Valdosta sewer spill, Meadowbrook Drive at Gornto Road 2022-08-14

Valdosta had a sewage spill on Meadowbrook Drive at Gornto Road this weekend, which this morning they said they fixed that same weekend. We don’t know how many gallons, but we’re guessing not many. Maybe we’ll know more about that once Valdosta reports to GA-EPD. If it was small, it probably did not get into Sugar Creek and the Withlacoochee River, although we hope Valdosta is testing to find out.

Congratulations to Valdosta for fixing this problem quickly. Room for improvement on internal handoffs on Valdosta’s Click ‘n’ Fix smartphone app, and on completeness of reporting. Also, we would like to know the cause, considering there was no rain.

[Map, Manhole]
Map, Manhole

That’s the fourth small Valdosta sewage spill and one major one since June. So far as we can tell by later testing, none of them had any noticeable effect on the Withlacoochee River.

Plus there was a spill from Quitman, Georgia, that very likely did affect Okapilco Creek and the Withlacoochee River, although more than a week later nobody yet knows how many gallons. And there was a spill from High Springs, Florida, which probably did not affect the Santa Fe River.

WWALS member Suzy Hall noticed yesterday (Sunday) afternoon Continue reading

Rivers probably OK water quality 2022-08-04

Update 2022-08-12: Bad Water Quality Creeks and Withlacoochee River 2022-08-11.

Chances are the rivers are OK today for this weekend.

The test results we have for Thursday from WWALS and for Wednesday from Valdosta are all good. No new sewage spills have been reported in Georgia or Florida in the Suwannee River Basin.

[Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide]
Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide

However, there was more than an inch of rain on the west side of Brooks County, Georgia, yesterday. We don’t know whether that washed any cattle manure down Okapilco Creek into the Withlacoochee River. That rain fell in the afternoon, after testing times, and our downstream WWALS testers are off this week anyway. More rain is predicted every day for a week. Continue reading

Good Water Quality, Withlacoochee, Little, Alapaha Rivers 2022-07-28

Update 2022-08-05: Rivers probably OK water quality 2022-08-04.

Update 2022-07-29: Madison Health lifts Withlacoochee River Health Advisory 2022-07-29.

Happy boating, swimming, and fishing on the Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Little Rivers this weekend, according to the most recent water quality test results we have.

No significant rain has fallen in the past two days, and none is predicted for the weekend. And no significant new sewage spills have been reported, so chances are good for all weekend.

Madison Health has not yet lifted its Withlacoochee River Health Alert, because they want successive good results. But we call them according to the most recent data we have.

And happy chainsawing and picking up trash tomorrow on the Withlacoochee River next to Valdosta.

[Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide 2022-07-28]
Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide 2022-07-28

Valdosta’s results upstream were OK for Wednesday a week ago, Friday, Monday, and this Wednesday, but they were various colors of bad downstream for those same days. Thanks to Scott Fowler of Valdosta Utilities for getting those results updated on Valdosta’s website today. Continue reading

Withlacoochee River OK, Cat Creek bad 2022-07-14

Update 2022-07-22: Bad Quality Withlacoochee River 2022-07-21.

All clear for fishing, swimming, and boating on the Withlacoochee, Little, and Alapaha Rivers, according to the latest water quality test results we have.

But avoid Cat Creek and Beatty Branch for fishing. See below. (I don’t know anybody crazy enough to boat or swim in those creeks.)

There hasn’t been much rain the past few days, so probably not much contamination will wash into the rivers. No sewage spills have been reported in Florida or Georgia, other than Valdosta’s 200 gallon sewage spill on Baytree Road, which they vacuumed up quickly enough that probably little if any ever reached the Withlacoochee River.

Thunderstorms could change things quickly, but that’s what we know now.

[Chart, River, Swim Guide]
Chart, River, Swim Guide

Thanks to Scott Fowler of Valdosta Utilities for forwarding Valdosta test results soon after they are finished, so we know that Valdosta E. coli results were good for Wednesday and Monday at US 41, GA 133, and US 84. And we know Valdosta’s US 41 and GA 133 results for last Friday, July 8, 2022, were sky-high: 4,700 and 5,200 cfu/100 mL, respectively. The alert limit is 1,000.

Those high results could not be related to the July 9th Valdosta spill, because it hadn’t happened yet. That E. coli is probably not coming from Valdosta, since US 41 is upstream of almost all of Valdosta. Sure, something could be coming down Cherry Creek through Lake Cleve into the river, or it could be septic tanks in houses around there, or septic tanks across the river in Lowndes County.

Since high E. coli keeps turning up at US 41 and GA 133, WWALS set out to find out where it is coming from. Continue reading