Tag Archives: WWTP

Troupville to Spook Bridge, Mayor’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-06

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, November 12, 2020 — Join the Mayor of Valdosta and a hundred of his closest friends for a leisurely paddle on the Withlacoochee River. Mayor Scott James says, “Over a year removed from a terrible spill into our area waterways, and right at a year of massive improvements to our infrastructure since our last ‘Mayors Paddle,’ I am again looking forward to fellowship on the river February 6.”

All elected officials present will have three minutes to speak. And you can paddle up to them and ask questions.

WWALS President Tom H. Johnson Jr. said, “This stretch of river extends from the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin past some suburbs and many rural woods. It is important for all the upstream city and county wastewater treatment plants to keep a grip on their sewage, because many people depend on the Withlacoochee River for swimming, fishing, and boating, plus water wells nearby may be affected by anything that goes into the river. It’s a joy that publicly elected officials are involved in this activity, and that the Mayor is helping organize it.”

It was fun last year, so let’s do it again! There is plenty of room to stay six feet apart, at Troupville Boat Ramp, the lunch stop, and at Spook Bridge, and of course on the water. We are still working out how the shuttle will work.

Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said, “Thanks again to The Langdale Company for riverside access at the mid-way lunch stop, and at the Spook Bridge takeout.”

[Pictures from last year]
Pictures from last year, 2020-01-18.

Attractions include Valdosta’s famous Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Outfall, which has not spilled since December 2019. Yes, we know some people in the Valdosta city government consider that not a spill, since the raw sewage never actually got into the WWTP. We hope Valdosta’s new catch basin prevents that. Most of the route is downstream from GA 133, where Valdosta has frequently gotten high E. coli results from nobody yet knows what source. The entire route is upstream of Okapilco Creek, which sometimes carries cattle manure runoff after big rains. We will once again test the water quality from the river.

When: Gather 9 AM, launch 10 AM, end 4 PM, Saturday, February 6, 2021

Put In: Troupville Boat Ramp, 19664 Valdosta Hwy, Valdosta, GA 31602: on GA 133 off I-75 exit 18. in Lowndes County.

GPS: 30.851842, -83.346536

Take Out: Spook Bridge, west from Valdosta on US 84, left onto Ousley Road, right onto Old Quitman Highway, stop at the gate.
Thanks to The Langdale Company for access through their private property to Spook Bridge for this outing and for water quality testing.

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat, paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. You can pay the $10 at the outing, or online:
https://wwals.net/donations/#outings

We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/#join

Event: facebook, meetup

[Troupville Boat Ramp (upper right) to Spook Bridge (lower left)]
Troupville Boat Ramp (upper right) to Spook Bridge (lower left) in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

Continue reading

WWALS Summary of FDEP chemical and biological tracers, Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers 2020-08-05

Here are the chemical tracer and DNA marker test results by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) that WWALS has frequently mentioned, for example in Current Situation of Water Quality Testing, Suwannee River Basin 2020-08-02.

Below, please also find a summary of those results by WWALS Science Committee Chair Dr. Thomas Potter.

[Human and Ruminant DNA markers]
Human and Ruminant DNA markers

Thanks to Katrina Yancey of FDEP for sending the data, and for acknowledging that FDEP has no objection to WWALS publishing it. I asked FDEP for whatever they wanted to include, and this is what they sent:

“Thank you for asking, we recently set up our new site so it may be helpful to state that more information may be found at DEP’s webpage for the Suwannee River Basin Sampling Locations (https://floridadep.gov/dear/watershed-monitoring-section/content/suwannee-river-basin-sampling-locations).”

The actual data is on the WWALS website.

WWALS Summary of FDEP chemical and biological tracer measurements
on Withlacoochee and Suwannee River samples

Dr. Thomas Potter, WWALS Science Committee Chair

After Continue reading

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

Withlacoochee River contamination –WCTV 2020-07-13

2020-07-15: Lifted: Florida Withlacoochee River Bacterial Advisory 2020-07-15

WCTV covered the recent bad water quality results in the Withlacoochee River.

We have no new Withlacoochee River data from Georgia or Florida.

Update 2020-07-14 11:30 AM: Valdosta has updated with Friday downstream results: Knights Ferry, 270 cfu/100 mL E. coli; Nankin, 250; State Line, 280. FDEP just updated at 10:57 AM with these much better Monday results: GA 31, 10; CR 150, 20; FL 6, 60. So maybe those WWALS Saturday bad results at Knights Ferry and Nankin already washed downstream.

But we do have a datapoint on the Alapaha River.

[Naylor Beach, 2020:01:11 14:06:32, 30.9253083, -83.0384972]
Photo: Tasha Ekman LaFace, of Naylor Beach, 2020:01:11 14:06:32, 30.9253083, -83.0384972

Amber Spradley, WCTV, 13 July 2020, Withlacoochee River contaminated in parts of South Georgia and North Florida,

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV)—The Florida Health Department issued an advisory last Friday for parts of North Florida near the Withlacoochee River regarding alarming rates of E. coli.

“Right now, the results are not good,” Suwannee [Riverkeeper] John [S.] Quarterman said.

For counts of E. coli, Quarterman says anything less than 410 is okay, but zero is always ideal.

On Saturday, his team discovered numbers as high as 5,233 just west of Clyattville at the Knights Ferry Boat Ramp in Lowndes County.

“Every time this happens, they immediately point and say it’s Valdosta,” Quarterman said. “Well, this time it’s almost certainly not Valdosta.”

The high data was collected just below the city from Knights Ferry Boat Ramp to Madison Blue Spring in Florida.

“You know it’s something that we’re continuing to keep an eye on, but as far as the numbers around the city of Valdosta, those have all stayed relatively low,” the City of Valdosta’s PIO Ashlyn Johnson said.

City crews test the river three times a week for 40 river miles down to the Georgia-Florida line. Since Valdosta’s major sewage spill last December, they’ve seen no alarming contamination rates in the area.

Well, they found nothing alarming Friday down to US 84, but we haven’t yet seen Valdosta’s results for the lower three stations on the Withlacoochee River, and they certainly have seen alarming contamination previously.

[Dirty Knights Ferry, Nankin, FL 6]
Dirty Knights Ferry, Nankin, FL 6
For the complete WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida results and other context, see wwals.net/issues/testing/.

The rest of the article is about the 7.26 million gallon catch basin at the entrance of Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). 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

Valdosta Pump Station Standard Operating Procedures 2020-04-20

This appears to be the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the Remer Lane Pump Station that was offline in early December 2019, causing a record raw sewage spill.

It does include these items:

  • Verify generator main breaker is closed.
  • Verify no alarms on generator control panel at generator.
  • Verify generator switches are set to automatic at generator.
  • Verify alarm beacons outside and inside of building are not flashing. Troubleshoot if flashing.

We got two copies, with slightly different formatting. The other copy also has:

  • Verify no SCADA alarms present in system

[1 of Remer Pump Station Inspection CheckList]
1 of Remer Pump Station Inspection CheckList

Both copies, and the two copies for the Gornto Road Pump Station, are marked at the top “Version 1: Dec 2019”. Is that early December before the big spill, or late December afterwards?

In addition we got a Work Order Detail, but Continue reading

Valdosta Sewer System Standard Operating Procedures 2020-03-05

Update 2020-05-01: Valdosta Pump Station Standard Operating Procedures 2020-04-20.

I got two completely different sets of SOPs when I asked Valdosta and GA-EPD for Standard Operating Procedures. Neither of them seem to say anything about the Pump Station that was offline in early December 2019, causing a record raw sewage spill.

[Sanitary Sewer Overflow Response Process]
Sanitary Sewer Overflow Response Process

Towards the end of February, I asked the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) and the City of Valdosta for Valdosta’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) as discussed in the January 8, 2020, public meeting about the December 2019 record raw sewage spill from a manhole downstream on Sugar Creek from the Remer Lane Pump Station, which had been left turned off. That was the meeting in which Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber told me to “ask EPD,” so I did, and I also asked Valdosta.

Received from GA-EPD:

That copy of the Consent Order is much longer (66 pages) and more recent (December 9, 2013) than the version (9 pages and September 23, 2013) on the City of Valdosta website and blogged by WWALS in 2018.

[GA-EPD cover letter]
GA-EPD cover letter

Received from the City of Valdosta were Standard Operating Procedures for

Those are all very interesting, but if they say anything about SOPs for the Remer Lane Pump Station (or the Gornto Road Pump Station), I can’t find it.

So I have sent each of Valdosta and GA-EPD another request, this time very specifically for Continue reading

Rivers maybe finally clean after Valdosta sewage: but Okapilco Creek and need weekly testing 2020-01-31

Update 2020-02-04: Clean Withlacoochee, Okapilco Creek (mostly), and Little River 2020-02-02.

More good news: the Withlacoochee River above the Little River Confluence tested zero (0) for E. coli on Friday, for the first time since Valdosta’s record-largest raw sewage spill. If this good news continues, eventually WWALS (and Lowndes County) will take down our warning signs at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps.

Testing continues by WWALS volunteers and Lowndes County, Georgia. Please continue to be cautious in your interaction with the Withlacoochee until we get clean readings for a prolonged period.

But we still need to find out what is the source of the contamination Lowndes County keeps finding in Okapilco Creek downstream of US 84. Okapilco Creek demonstrates that testing after a spill is not good enough: we need ongoing, at least weekly, testing.

If you’re going to paddle, swim, or fish in one of our rivers, wouldn’t you want to know what the latest test results are? I know I would.

[Green upstream Withlacoochee]
Photo: Scotti Jay, of green water upstream from the Little River Confluence on the Withlacoochee River, December 21, 2019.
It’s back to its usual tea color now.
The entire WWALS composite testing results spreadsheet is on the WWALS website.

That January 31 Confluence result is from WWALS tester Sara Jay.

WWALS testers Suzy Hall and Conn and Trudy Cole pulled samples yesterday Continue reading