Tag Archives: Scott James Matheson

Sewage spill decreased and stopped at Gornto Road Pump Station, Valdosta, GA 2022-06-30

Update 2022-07-01: Valdosta Press Release about Gornto Road sewage spill 2022-07-01.

The major sewage spill at the Gornto Road Pump Station slowed down around 6:18 PM and was stopped about 8:15 PM, according to witnesses at the site. It apparently started some time around 5 PM.

[Gate, sewage, people]
Gate, sewage, people

Following up on the previous report, Scotti Jay, observing from outside the fence:

6:13 PM. It’s actually shooting into the air. No pump trucks.

Continue reading

Major sewage spill, Gornto Pump Station, Valdosta, GA 2022-06-30

Update 2022-07-01: Sewage spill decreased and stopped at Gornto Road Pump Station, Valdosta, GA 2022-06-30.

There’s a major sewage spill going on right now at Valdosta’s Gornto Road Pump Station, next to the YMCA on Gornto Road. This is according to Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, who called me at 5:18 PM today.

He told me he thinks it will probably be a 100,000 gallon spill. For reference, 10,000 gallons is a major spill.

The cause was apparently a steel pipe that broke.

The spill has been reported to GA-EPD, I’m guessing by telephone.

[Gornto Pump Station, Map]
Gornto Pump Station, Map

The Mayor said they tried rerouting to the Remer Lane Pump Station, but that one fills up, and the sewage comes back. They have thought of a more permanent fix, but that will require some rebuilding.

Meanwhile, numerous city and contractor personnel are en route to the site.

I thank the Mayor for calling WWALS.

WWALS member Bobby McKenzie noticed it at 5PM when he picked up his children from the Y, and he sent the picture. Continue reading

Trash and 12-foot alligator at Valdosta City Council 2022-02-24

Mayor Scott James Matheson said he and Council had been discussing solutions to the trash problem, before last Thursday’s Valdosta City Council meeting. Afterwards he came outside and discussed that a bit more. Stay tuned.

There’s also a new Neighborhood Development and Community Protections Manager, Anetra Riley. Community Protections Manager is what they call Code Enforcement, so that is relevant to the trash problem. Continue reading

Valdosta council opposes swamp mine plan –VDT 2021-11-17

The Valdosta resolution could influence the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), especially through elected state and national officials. So it doesn’t matter that the head of the LLC from Alabama that wants to strip mine next to the Okefenokee says that resolution won’t affect his decisions.

You can help influence by talking to your elected officials or by writing to GA-EPD: https://wwals.net/?p=55092

Terry Richards, Valdosta Daily Times, November 17, 2021, Valdosta council opposes swamp mine plan,

[Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson; Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman; Map: Okefenokee Swamp, Valdosta, mine site]
Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson; Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman; Map: Okefenokee Swamp, Valdosta, mine site

VALDOSTA — An Alabama-based mining concern said a resolution by Valdosta’s city council won’t stop them from starting a controversial South Georgia mining project.

“The Valdosta City Council’s resolution has no impact on our plans whatsoever,” said Steve Ingle, president of Twin Pines Minerals, in a statement.

Valdosta City Council voted Nov. 11 to oppose Twin Pines’ plans to start a mining project near the Okefenokee Swamp, about 75 miles from Valdosta. The vote was Continue reading

Pictures: Family fun cleanup, Sugar Creek, Onemile Branch, Little and Withlacoochee Rivers 2021-10-09

Saturday’s River and Creek Cleanup went well. Here are pictures from Troupville Boat Ramp up from Land Between the Rivers on the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers, from Sugar Creek at the Salty Snapper, and from Drexel Park on Onemile Branch.

[Troupville, Sugar Creek, Chairman and Mayor doing work, Drexel Park]
Troupville, Sugar Creek, Chairman and Mayor doing work, Drexel Park

Thanks to recent cleanups by Valdosta Stormwater, Sugar Creek wasn’t bad, but we found plenty of trash between the Salty Snapper parking lot and the creek, and Scotti and Sara hauled up from the woods a tire with rim and a satellite dish.

Thanks to Stafford, the owner of the parking lot on St. Augustine Road at Hightower Creek, keeping it much cleaner, there should be less trash coming down Sugar Creek.

Thanks to weeksly cleanups by Lowndes County Litter Control, Troupville Boat Ramp itself was pretty clean, but there was no shortage of trash to pick up downstream at Land Between the Rivers. Thanks to landowner Helen Tapp for getting her hunting lease to hold off for the day.

You don’t see this very often: Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter and Valdosta Mayor Scott James doing actual work together.

Later, they told everyone they were working together to purchase Helen’s land to add to the existing park to form a bigger nature park with a Troupville River Camp. Continue reading

Valdosta Mayor supports Recreational redesignation of rivers 2021-06-30

Maybe this letter will help GA-EPD to upgrade our waterways from Fishing to Recreational for tighter standards on contaminants.

[Water Trails, Mayor's Paddle, cleanups, $100 million sewer improvements, Troupville River Camp]
Water Trails, Mayor’s Paddle, cleanups, $100 million sewer improvements, Troupville River Camp
PDF

Letter, Valdosta Mayor to GA-EPD

Continue reading

Withlacoochee River flood paddle 2021-02-27

Some of us paddled anyway back in February, after we first rescheduled the Mayor’s Paddle, which is coming up next weekend, Saturday, March 27, 2021. Two months earlier, it was smooth sailing for experienced paddlers. The overhanging branches would have been a problem for novices, and there were very few places to get out if you did capsize.

But the Withlacoochee River should be just right by this Saturday, so come on along!
https://wwals.net/?p=54923

You’ll get to see the Little River Confluence, future site of Troupville River Camp, when it’s not underwater, as well as the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant Outfall (of clean treated water), Millrace Creek and other creeks, as well as three bridges, including our takeout just below Spook Bridge. Thanks to The Langdale Company for access there and at the lunch stop.

WWALS is happy to have Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson as our guest. He will speak before we paddle, as will Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter. We are inviting nearby county and city officials in Georgia and Florida, as well as statehouse and Congress members. Each elected official will get three minutes to speak.

[Left: Smooth paddling, Mayor at WWTP Outfall, Sunny overhanging limbs, Buzzards, Lunch stop with Russell's turtle, Spook Bridge]
Left: Smooth paddling, Mayor at WWTP Outfall, Sunny overhanging limbs, Buzzards, Lunch stop with Russell’s turtle, Spook Bridge

[Need a bigger boat, Mayor?, 09:06:29, 30.8515344, -83.3478232]
Need a bigger boat, Mayor?, 09:06:29, 30.8515344, -83.3478232

I will say a few words about advocacy, especially water quality testing. Expedition leader Bobby McKenzie will give the safety lecture. Then we will paddle!

Click on any small picture to see a larger one. Continue reading

Water quality testing grant from Georgia Power 2020-06-27

July 27, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Georgia Power grants funds to WWALS for Water Quality Testing

Hahira, GA, July 27, 2020 — Aiding our attempts to clean up the Withlacoochee River, Georgia Power Foundation has provided a substantial grant to WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (“WWALS”). WWALS will buy more water quality testing kits and supplies with the funds, as well as other expenses related to our volunteer water quality testing program.

“Please accept our most sincere thanks for your recognition and support of WWALS Watershed Coalition and our work for clean, fishable, swimmable, boatable water,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. “We look forward to a productive water quality testing program this year.”

“We’re honored to get to help,” said Joe Brownlee, Georgia Power Southwest Region Director. “One of our goals is to make sure the people of Georgia know about our great natural resources. And also that they’re safe. And y’all help do that by making awareness around water testing. And you build strong relationships I know now, coordinating with the City of Valdosta, making sure they publish their test results. Everything seems to be working and getting better. We’re on a sharp upward curve of getting better with what we do with water and getting to enjoy it. And my little girl, I’m working for her future, and Georgia Power is. Thank y’all, thank you to the volunteer testers, and the Riverkeeper.”

[Joe Brownlee, Georgia Power Southwest District Director]
Photo: WWALS, of Georgia Power Southwest District Director Joe Brownlee, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman, and WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall, at Troupville Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River, near Valdosta, Georgia.

“The response of the Georgia Power grant and Mr. Brownlee’s comments are quite touching (to me) due to the recognition of how difficult it is for a volunteer organization to do biological water testing over a huge area. The grant enables regular testing that can pinpoint multi-source pollution, which requires a varied response. It’s quite gratifying that both individuals and large companies realize this is a complex situation,” said WWALS President Tom H. Johnson, Jr.

“We have several testers already trained, waiting for testing kits. Thanks to Georgia Power, we can buy them kits and get them started testing!” said WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall. “Plus we can buy enough kits to train new testers with physical distancing even during the virus pandemic.”

“We like to think WWALS water quality testing has already done some good, helping warn people when the waterways are contaminated, helping find contamination sources, and encouraging several governmental organizations in Georgia and Florida to test more,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “With these funds from Georgia Power we can do much more. Also thanks to Valdosta Mayor Scott James for introducing us to Joe Brownlee.”

“The more testing, the more we can also check to see whether fixes such as fencing cattle away from waterways are actually working to improve the situation,” said WWALS Science Committee Chair Dr. Tom Potter. “Interested governmental, educational, or agricultural organizations please contact us about that.”

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.

WWALS Water Quality Testing is summarized here: https://wwals.net/issues/testing/ Here is a video about this grant: https://youtu.be/zy0N_kRhPfI

Contact: Gretchen Quarterman, Executive Director
WWALS Watershed Coalition
wwalswatershed@gmail.com
850-290-2350
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632

===
(See also PDF.)

Valdosta holds ground-breaking on WWTP catch basin 2020-07-21

Long-awaited, since December 2018, with GA-EPD permit in hand since December 2019, today was the groundbreaking for the new catch basin at the entrance to Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).

[Ground breaking]
Photo: City of Valdosta, Ground breaking

The catch basin probably would have stopped 2/3 of the December 2018 spills. *The other 1/3 in December 2018 was from city infrastructure not acting as designed, unless 2 million gallons of raw sewage spilling from manholes was in that design.

It would not have done anything to stop the record December 2019 raw sewage spill, which resulted from the Remer Lane Pump Station being left offline and disconnected from the SCADA system.

However, some of the other projects mentioned in the below Valdosta press release may help with both those 2018 and 2019 other problems. It’s good to see Valdosta moving ahead to fix its chronic sewer system infrastructure problems.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 21, 2020
Release #07-21-104

City Breaks Ground on 7.26 Million-Gallon Equalization Basin at Withlacoochee WWTP

On Tuesday, July 21, 2020, The City of Valdosta broke ground on the new Equalization (EG) Basin located at the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The new secondary basin will provide more than double the available storage for extended periods of operation at the peak hourly flow thereby reducing the potential for overflows at the Plant. The Project includes a lined 7.26 MG excavated Basin, a new pump station, and an associated gravity pipe and force main.

Since its start-up in 2016, 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