Tag Archives: Valdosta Utilities

Valdosta test results: filthy Withlacoochee River after big spill, many creeks still filthy after smaller spills 2024-04-11

Update 2024-05-04: Clean rivers and some creeks, but rain 2024-05-02.

Valdosta knew the Withlacoochee River was filthy on that Friday and Saturday before it issued its press release on Monday, April 15, about its 6.7-million-gallon spill into Spring Branch to that river. We know this because Valdosta, unlike the other cities that spilled during the big rains of April 11, Valdosta puts its followup test results on the city’s website. Those results also show the river is clean, and has been since the Sunday after the spill. But some creeks are still filthy; see below.

[Valdosta test results: filthy Withlacoochee River after big spill, many creeks still filthy after smaller spills]
Valdosta test results: filthy Withlacoochee River after big spill, many creeks still filthy after smaller spills

For people going to festivals at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park: that location is upstream on the Suwannee River from the Withlacoochee River, and thus is not affected by any of the sewage spills that went into the Withlacoochee. I wouldn’t be surprised if the big rains washed some contamination into the Suwannee River. But that was three weeks ago, and most likely that E. coli was diluted and washed downstream long ago. The biggest thing you have to worry about in the Suwannee River at that park is probably contamination from people on the beach there. Continue reading

Valdosta Huntley Drive FOG sewage spill 2024-04-09

Update 2024-04-13: Valdosta, Quitman, and Tifton sewage spills in big rains 2024-04-11.

Before the recent rains, Valdosta had a sewage spill caused by grease and rags, of about 5,000 gallons into a detention pond on Huntley Drive that drains into Cherry Creek, and then the Withlacoochee River.

This is why you should never put fats, oils, or greases (FOG), or, obviously, rags down your drain.

This spill has not yet shown up on the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report; I have asked GA-EPD about that. However, Tifton and Quitman have two spills each in today’s report.

And Valdosta just announced it had seven spills during the big rain April 11, ranging from 900 gallons to 150,000 gallons. At first glance they seem to have gone into One Mile Branch, Hightower Creek, Sugar Creek, and Three Mile Branch, all leading to the Withlacoochee River. Stay tuned for more.

[Huntley Drive Sewage Spill, Valdosta, GA 2024-04-09, Caused by grease and rags, indirectly into Cherry Creek]
Huntley Drive Sewage Spill, Valdosta, GA 2024-04-09, Caused by grease and rags, indirectly into Cherry Creek
Shown on the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

I compliment the City of Valdosta for a precise location, 4051 Huntley Drive, and for a timely press release, which we received the day after the spill.

Here is the Valdosta press release about the Huntley Drive spill. Continue reading

Rain and river contamination 2024-03-28

Update 2024-04-05: Apparently clean rivers after rain 2024-04-04.

We got bad results for Thursday for the Alapaha River. We have few other results, but we know there was much rain Wednesday and Thursday, and that usually washes contamination into the rivers.

If I were you, I would pick something else to do this weekend instead of boating, swimming, or fishing.

Also, Ashburn had yet another spill, although that was probably too far upstream to have much effect. It sure looks like there was some sort of overflow from the city of Alapaha wastewater treatment plant, even though none has yet shown up in the reports.

Instead, join us a week from Saturday for Withlacoochee River Earth Day Cleanup, Langdale Park Boat Ramp 2024-04-13.

Valdosta’s most recent upstream Withlacoochee River results are for Wednesday a week ago. Apparently they did not post their Wednesday results for this week because today is a holiday.

Similarly, most of the usual WWALS testers are off because of the holiday weekend.

[Rain and river contamination 2024-03-28]
Rain and river contamination 2024-03-28

There are no Valdosta Monday results, because, Continue reading

Clean rivers 2024-03-20

Update 2024-03-29: Rain and river contamination 2024-03-28.

We got good results for Wednesday for the Withlacoochee River and Alapaha Rivers. and for Thursday for the Alapaha River.

Valdosta’s recent upstream Withlacoochee River results for Wednesday are good, all two sites.

[Chart, Clean Rivers, Map 2024-03-20]
Chart, Clean Rivers, Map 2024-03-20

There are no Valdosta Monday results, because, as we learned last week from Acting Utilities Director Jason Barnes, “we are collecting once a week.”

As previously noted, Valdosta’s last downstream tests were September 1, 2023. Since for two weeks now Valdosta has reported “No Sample” for North Valdosta Road, we guess they’re not collecting there any more, either.

Perhaps it is not coincidental that it is now three years (minus one month) since the March, 2020, GA-EPD Consent Order on Valdosta that required downstream testing as a way to reduce the amount of the fine.

It rained today, and more is predicted for tomorrow. That may wash some contamination into the rivers. I’d recommend the Suwannee, Alapaha, or Santa Fe Rivers for this weekend.

For example, join Shirley Kokidko and others Sunday, Suwannee River Wilderness Paddle, Griffis Fish Camp to Fargo 2024-03-24.

The rivers are at pretty good paddling levels, and it’s not cold. So watch the weather, bring rain gear, and happy paddling, fishing, and maybe swimming this weekend. Continue reading

Clean rivers 2024-03-13

Update 2024-03-22: Ashburn and Rochelle sewage spills 2024-03-09.

We got good results for Wednesday for the Santa Fe and Withlacoochee Rivers and for Thursday for the Alapaha River.

Valdosta’s recent upstream Withlacoochee River results through Wednesday are good.

[Chart, Clean Rivers, Map 2024-03-13]
Chart, Clean Rivers, Map 2024-03-13

There are no Valdosta Monday results, because, according to Acting Utilities Director Jason Barnes, “we are collecting once a week.”

He did not say why. Perhaps it is not coincidental that it is now three years (minus one month) since the March, 2020, GA-EPD Consent Order on Valdosta that required downstream testing as a way to reduce the amount of the fine.

As previously noted, Valdosta’s last downstream tests were September 1, 2023.

There’s a chance of rain today, and more chance Sunday.

The rivers are at pretty good paddling levels, and it’s not cold. So watch the weather, bring rain gear, and happy paddling, fishing, and maybe swimming this weekend.

[Chart: Clean Rivers 2024-03-13]
Chart: Clean Rivers 2024-03-13
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of water quality results, rainfall, and sewage spills, see:
https://wwals.net/issues/testing

No sewage spills were reported in the past week in the Suwannee River Basin in Florida or in the Georgia Sewage Spills Report.

However, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) tells us via email that Rochelle, GA, had another spill on March 9 through 13, 2024. We don’t know how much. We do know all of Rochelle is upstream from the Alapaha River.

GA-EPD did clarify why the earlier, February 12, 10,000 gallon spill took more than three weeks to appear in the Sewage Spills Report: “The spill was reported to us via email on Feb. 15th. It was entered into GAPDES on the 27th due to staffing vacancies and the Program manager being on vacation. However, it was entered into CTS on Feb. 16th . See attached link: https://cts.gaepd.org/Public/ComplaintDetails/107821

As to why the earlier Rochelle spill disappeared from the Sewage Spills Report, the answer was, “Only lasted from 09:45 until 16:00 on the 12th

I asked, “I don’t understand the answer about why it is not in later Sewage Spills Reports. Normally an item stays in there for 30 days until it rolls off. Spills for Tifton and Ashburn are still in there today, even though they occured in February. Why is this Rochelle spill different?”

Answer, “I do believe that spills to the ground don’t normally make it on the daily spill report. If it was originally updated to a spill to the ground, it may have fallen off for the report.”

That’s an exception I was not previously aware of.

I still wonder whether those very bad downstream Knights Creek results for Wednesday week after significant rain the day before indicated an unreported sewage spill upstream from the Alapahoochee and Alapaha Rivers?

In case you’re not aware, GA-EPD is woefully underfunded. Whenever I get a chance, I suggest to Georgia state legislators that EPD should be funded more.

WWALS tester Kimberly Godden Tanner said everything Continue reading

Three small Valdosta spills into Three Mile Branch, Withlacoochee River 2024-02-27

Update 2024-03-06: WTXL TV report and Pictures: Valdosta WWTP water quality lab ribbon cutting 2024-03-05.

Update 2024-03-01: Clean rivers and creek 2024-02-28.

Update 2024-02-29: Added Valdosta Press Release.

Yesterday, we received an alert from the landowner at 215 Knob Hill Road that yet another spill was happening there. He copied Valdosta Utilities. By the time I called Utilities a minute later, Acting Utilities Director Jason Barnes said he was busy figuring it out and could not talk right then.

This morning I called Jason Barnes again. No, they did not find the cause. However, next week they will “jet from Williamsburg to Knob Hill” That means clean the sewer line.

[Three small Valdosta Sewage Spills into Three Mile Branch 2024-02-27: 1500 gallons each @ 215 Knob Hill Road, 300 Knob Hill, & 1016 Williamsburg Drive 2024-02-27]
Three small Valdosta Sewage Spills into Three Mile Branch 2024-02-27: 1500 gallons each @ 215 Knob Hill Road, 300 Knob Hill, & 1016 Williamsburg Drive 2024-02-27

Jason Barnes says the City of Valdosta will issue a press release. But I’ve got stuff to do this afternoon, so here’s what he told me.

Yesterday’s spills were 1500 gallons each from three locations, 215 Knob Hill, and two overflow locations: 300 Knob Hill (the next house downhill) and 1016 Williamsburg (across the ditch from Knob Hill). So that’s 4,500 gallons total, all into Three Mile Branch.

Yes, Three Mile Branch flows into the Withlacoochee River along the path Continue reading

Ribbon cutting for Water Quality Testing Lab at Valdosta Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant 2024-03-05

Update 2024-02-24: Clean Withlacoochee, Santa Fe, and Suwannee Rivers and Franks Creek 2024-02-21.

With this new testing lab, will Valdosta resume testing downstream at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State LIne on the Withlacoochee River, and a US 84 on Okapilco Creek?

Meanwhile, with the current head of Utilities, Valdosta is more timely in posting its upstream water quality results.

[WWTP in WLRWT and Valdosta Utilities]
WWTP in WLRWT and Valdosta Utilities

Received yesterday.

PRESS RELEASE
DATE: Thursday, February 22, 2024
CONTACT: Sharah’ Denton, Community Relations & Marketing Manager
Telephone: (229) 259-3548
sdenton@valdostacity.com

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Withlacoochee Lab Facility

The City of Valdosta is pleased to announce the inauguration of its new Withlacoochee (WPCP) Lab Facility with a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for March 5 at 10 am. The event will take place at the plant’s location, 3182 Wetherington Lane.

Continue reading

Valdosta Boone Drive and Knob Hill small sewage spills 2024-02-20

Update 2024-02-28: Three small Valdosta spills into Three Mile Branch, Withlacoochee River 2024-02-27.

Update 2024-02-22: Tifton 7,000-gallon sewage spill, Golden Road above Little River 2024-02-12.

This Tuesday, February 20, 2024, we learned of two small Valdosta sewage spills, each 100 gallons. That’s not enough to get down the creeks to affect the Withlacoochee River, but enough to stink up the neighborhood.

[Map, Boone Drive & Knob Hill 100-gallon sewer spills, Valdosta, GA, 2024-02-20]
Map, Boone Drive & Knob Hill 100-gallon sewer spills, Valdosta, GA, 2024-02-20

One was on Boone Drive at Baytree Road, next to Valdosta State University and One Mile Branch, which runs into Sugar Creek and the Withlacoochee River.

The other was at 215 Knob Hill Road on a ditch that runs into Three Mile Branch at the southeast corner of Langdale Park, then into the Withlacoochee River near the southwest corner of the park. That’s the same location as the much larger January 10 spill.

I learned about the Boone Drive spill when I called Valdosta Acting Utilities Director Jason Barnes Tuesday morning about the Knob Hill spill.

Neither of these spills has yet appeared in the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report. Jason Barnes says he already sent a report on the Boone Drive spill to EPD, and he will send one soon about the new Knob Hill spill. Continue reading

More about the Valdosta Knob Hill or Williamsburg Drive sewage spill 2024-01-10

Update 2024-03-06: WTXL TV report and Pictures: Valdosta WWTP water quality lab ribbon cutting 2024-03-05.

Update 2024-01-26: Five clean rivers and a clean creek 2024-01-25.

I discovered a can of worms when I took a few pictures to illustrate the 100,000-gallon Knob Hill Road or Williamsburg Drive, Valdosta sewage spill of 10-12 January 2024.

The actual location is not quite where I was told by Valdosta Utilities. But I cut them a lot of slack for that, because they were working on getting it stopped, not precisely determining ownership of the affected properties.

[Spill site behind 215 Knob Hill Road, VALORGIS, VLPRA, Lowndes County Tax Assessors, Pebblewood Drive detention pond, Three Mile Branch]
Spill site behind 215 Knob Hill Road, VALORGIS, VLPRA, Lowndes County Tax Assessors, Pebblewood Drive detention pond, Three Mile Branch

More importantly, according to Valdosta Utilities Acting Director Jason Barnes, the cause was not as first thought a collapsed sewer main. When Utilities examined the pipes, they found rocks and some sort of lid in them.

And according to Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson yesterday, they also found other materials that never should have been in a sewer pipe. I will leave it to the City of Valdosta to reveal in their own time exactly what they found.

From the descriptions I heard, those things could not have gotten in there accidentally, and they could not have been washed into the sewer main by stormwater.

The basic point seems clear: this ten-times-major spill was not caused by failing old sewer infrastructure. It was caused by somebody putting things into the sewer pipes that never should have been there. Vandalism is one of the more polite words for that.

Plus the Mayor is making the City of Valdosta an offer of a location for a WaterGoat trash trap.

So I went Continue reading

End date and waterway affected of Valdosta 425,000 gallon sewage spill 2023-12-11

Update 2024-01-28: Valdosta Knights Creek water quality test results in Four more Valdosta sewage spills 2023-12-17.

Update 2023-12-22: Bad water quality, Withlacoochee and Santa Fe Rivers 2023-12-21.

The Valdosta written report about its December 11, 2023, 425,000-gallon sewage spill, received in response to a WWALS open records request to GA-EPD, contains some information that was not in the Valdosta press release. Including a bit more about corrective action than was in the reports of the two previous spills.

Plus Valdosta has started posting water quality test results upstream and down from the spill location.

More about that and the spill location below.

[Valdosta Report, Map, GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report, Valdosta Water Quality Results]
Valdosta Report, Map, GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report, Valdosta Water Quality Results

Here’s the spill report. As you can see, it has both the start and stop dates and times of the spill: start 9:30 AM December 11, end 6 PM December 14. GA-EPD also returned the Valdosta Utilities cover letter of the report, which was sent Friday, December 15, 2023 2:20 PM. Which confirms what Valdosta Utilities Acting Director Jason Barnes told me on the phone: the report went in (and the Valdosta press release went out) after the spill stopped.

The affected waterway is identified, as “Knights Creek/Mud Creek”, and the creek is also named at the top of the report:
MAJOR SPILL REPORT TO EPD Knights Creek Sanitary Sewer Spill.”

As you know, Knights Creek flows into Mud Swamp Creek, then the Alapahoochee River, the Alapaha River in Florida, and the Suwannee River, on the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

The report gives the cause as equipment failure, not blamed on the contractor:
CAUSE OF MAJOR SPILL: Bypass pump failure and Hydraulic Overload”

And there is more about what the city did and what it plans to do to prevent such spills. Continue reading