Tag Archives: sewer

What happened to Langdale Park? 2022-08-05

Many people have asked, “Have you seen the land clearing near the entrance to Langdale Park? Wonder what that is about?”

[Langdale Park entrance and maps]
Langdale Park entrance and maps

Yesterday I actually missed my turn into Langdale Park because I didn’t recognize it, with all the trees cut down. Continue reading

New Valdosta Utilities Director 2022-10-03

Received yesterday, October 3, 2022: Eyre Announced as New Director of Utilities,

[Bradley Eyre --City of Valdosta]
Bradley Eyre –City of Valdosta

The City of Valdosta has promoted Bradley Eyre as the new Director of Utilities. Eyre has more than 25 years of experience in the engineering design, inspection, and construction management of water and wastewater systems throughout Georgia and South Carolina.

Eyre has been with the City of Valdosta since 2019, serving as the Engineering Manager for the Utilities Department.

Continue reading

Valdosta says it has fixed Baytree Road trash trap sewer leak 2022-07-10

Update 2022-07-27: Valdosta Sewage Spill, Sheri Run, Springhill Drive 2022-07-27.

Update 2022-07-15: Withlacoochee River OK, Cat Creek bad 2022-07-14.

Compliments to Valdosta Utilities for a speedy fix to the Sewer spill at Baytree Road trash trap 2022-07-09. If it really was only 200 gallons, probably very little of it got through Lake Sheri into the Withlacoochee River.

I commend the Valdosta PIO for getting a press release out on a Sunday. WWALS received the press release below at 10:14 PM yesterday, Sunday, July 10, 2022. That’s about 29 hours after Valdosta Utilities got the report of the sewage spill. And about 3 hours after Valdosta City Council Andy Gibbs replied to my tag of him on a facebook picture with the text of this PR. Still, it’s only the day after the spill, so pretty good. Nobody probably liked working on a weekend; I know I had to bump back some other stuff to deal with this spill, including getting up at 3AM to finish preparations for a board meeting. But weather and sewage spills don’t wait on weekends or vacations.

Meanwhile, this PR is still not on the city’s website, facebook, or twitter. Update 2022-07-12 Council Andy Gibbs points out it is on the city’s website; turns out you can find it from the front page by drilling down on Recent News; I had tried the front page and the Utilities page. As the location it gives only vague “2000 block of Baytree Road”, even though it’s pretty hard to miss that decade-old fancy-model trash trap on Sheri Run above Lake Sheri, at 2133 Baytree Road, Valdosta, GA 31602.

[More-sewage-across-baytree-road-trash-trap]
More sewage across Baytree Road trash trap; Photo: Bobby McKenzie, July 9, 2022.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS RELEASE
DATE: Friday[sic], July 10, 2022
CONTACT: Sharah Denton, Community Relations & Marketing Manager
Telephone: (229) 259-3548
sdenton@valdostacity.com Continue reading

Sewer spill at Baytree Road trash trap 2022-07-09

Update 2022-07-11: Valdosta says it has fixed Baytree Road trash trap sewer leak 2022-07-10.

Two manholes are spewing sewage next to Baytree Road and Sheri Run, upstream from Lake Sheri and the Withlacoochee River.

[Manhole, trash trap, Sheri Run]
Manhole, trash trap, Sheri Run

Couple of WWALS members went to see Valdosta’s decade-old trash trap on Baytree Road at Sheri Run, and found this sewage spill about 5:20 PM today, Saturday, July 8, 9, 2022. Yes, they did report it to Valdosta Utilities.

Hear them gag at the smell: 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

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

Grease buildup leads to manhole blockage –City of Valdosta 2020-06-23

Good idea, Valdosta: telling people about these things, so nobody will stumble over them. And good news that Valdosta Utilities vacuumed up all the spill before it got into any waterway. Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for sending the press release below.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2020
Release # 06-23-89

Grease Buildup Leads to Manhole Blockage

On June 23, at approximately 7:50 a.m., City of Valdosta crews responded to a report from a city utility worker in the area of North Ashley Street and Barfield Road. Upon arrival, the city crews noticed a blockage in the manhole. Utility crews used a vacuum truck to unblock the manhole and prevent the discharge from entering any ditch, creek, stream or river.

[Barfield Drive, between Twomile and Threemile Branches]
Barfield Drive, between Twomile and Threemile Branches in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

The cause of the blockage was due to a buildup of excessive fats, oils, and grease from a restaurant in the Five Points area discharging into a City of Valdosta sewer main. This is the second instance in the last six months in which a manhole blockage was caused by the improper maintenance of this internal private sewer system. As a result, the City of Valdosta Utilities Department will issue the property owner(s) a formal Notice of Violation (NOV).

The city crews cleaned and disinfected the area. This area is on a routine cleaning schedule and crews will also take a look at the surrounding area sewer mains to ensure no additional blockages exists.

The City’s FOG Prevention Division continues to urge all customers to refrain from dumping waste cooking fats, oils and grease (FOG) down their home or business drains for the protection of their personal property, as well as the public sanitary sewer collection system. City staff will continue distributing educational door hangers to homes and businesses in the general area to inform citizens on how to properly dispose of cooking fats, oils and grease and how they can prevent this occurrence in the future.

We need your help to prevent Fats, Oils and Grease from causing blockages in the sewer system

Fats, oils and grease do not mix well with water and easily adhere 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

===

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

GA-EPD Enforcement Order for Valdosta wastewater with fine 2020-04-13

Update 2020-05-04: Press Release, Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order.

Much of what many people requested is in this Enforcement Order EPD-WP-8904 of the Public Notice of April 27, 2020.

[Photo 1: Site where sewage flowed out of manhole into Sugar Creek.]
Photo 1: Site where sewage flowed out of manhole into Sugar Creek.

Perhaps the most popular request, a fine, is included. As a Project In-Lieu of Penalty (PIP) stream testing is required, three times a week, down to the state line. Plus: “The Respondent shall post all the results of biological monitoring required after major spills to its website and to the Georgia EPD Adopt-A-Stream website within one business day of receipt of the results.”

All 250 sewer line creek crossings must be inspected by drone crews.

Valdosta must notify many Florida agencies, plus in Georgia Lowndes Health and Brooks EMA.

Other things are missing. WWALS is not on that notification list, for example.

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

And the Order reveals some Valdosta violations the public never knew about, such as a massive fish kill in December 2019. The cost of that calculated by GA-DNR Wildlife Division seems inadequate, since it doesn’t take into account people being unwilling to fish on the Withlacoochee River, for example.

If you think there should be more or changed requirements, the Public Comment period ends May 27, 2020.

Send comments to: Continue reading