Yet more Valdosta wastewater spills

Maybe soon this February baker’s dozen of wastewater spills will be a thing of the past, but for now it’s deja vu similar to but worse than last February.

300x388 Figure 2.2.5. Sub-basins Areas, in Section 2 Methodology, by City of Valdosta, for WWALS.net, 14 January 2011 It looks like Valdosta has updated, as repeatedly asked, its schedule for wastewater project completion, with the force main project now aimed at July 2016 and relocation of the Withlacoochee WasteWater Treatment Plant (WWTP) for August 2017. See also Valdosta PR 22 January 2016, Withlacoochee Aerial Sewer Mains Replacement Project.

Those schedule changes are mentioned in the most recent Valdosta News. It does not, however, say which watersheds the various spills affect. I have added * for Alapaha River watershed and ** for Withlacoochee River watershed. It’s not that hard, and Valdosta has a water management plan that spells this all out, with maps. One Mile Branch** and Two Mile Branch** flow into Sugar Creek**, which goes into the Withlacoochee River**. Knights Creek* goes into Mud Creek* which goes into the Alapahoochee* River and then the Alapaha River*, eventually joining the Suwannee River in Florida, as does the Withlacoochee. Valdosta Utilities and Public Relations know all that. But why should every citizen, not only in Valdosta, but downstream all the way to the Gulf, have to go look it up when Valdosta could just say so when it reports spills?

600x776 Figure 2.2.5. Sub-basins Areas, in Section 2 Methodology, by City of Valdosta, for WWALS.net, 14 January 2011

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Valdosta PR, 5 February 206, City Responds to Overflows While Anticipating the Completion of Major Sewer Projects,

UPDATE: All overflows have been stopped effect February 5, 2016.

While the City of Valdosta awaits the completion of an over $50 million investment to its sanitary sewer collection system, it was hit by a severe weather system on Feb. 3-4 that dumped three to four inches of rain in the city and surrounding areas.

Since the presidentially declared disaster flood of 2009, which caused permanent damage to the city’s primary plant and much of the wastewater collection system, the city has experienced system overflows that primarily occur between February and April. The annual winter rainfall, high underground water tables and the less-absorbent grounds during this time of the year all contribute to the problem, as well as the fact that Valdosta is at the bottom of the 1500-square mile regional watershed that unwillingly receives additional water via local waterways from other parts of the region.

Fortunately, the city is in the final stages of completing two major projects that are expected to eliminate these problems—the Force Main Project and the relocation of the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant. These projects are anticipated to be operational by the end of spring 2016—approximately 5 months and 15 months ahead of schedule respectively.

During routine rainfall inspections on Feb. 4, the Utilities Department staff identified and responded to sanitary sewer spills at multiple sites resulting from the heavy rain received. The stormwater infiltration and inflow from the Feb. 3-4 rain event—the same type of sewer overflows that the force main and plant relocation projects seek to eliminate in the future—entered the city’s sanitary sewer collection system, exceeding the capacity of the sewer system and resulting in the combined stormwater and sewer overflows of manholes at the following locations.

  • An overflow in the 1300 block of N. Lee Street spilled an estimated 38,125 gallons into Mud Creek*. This flow has stopped.
  • An overflow in the 700 block of Jane Street and Ann Street spilled an estimated 15,250 gallons into One Mile Branch**. This flow has stopped.
  • An overflow in the 1400 block of Gornto Road (manhole # W0041) spilled an estimated 47,375 gallons into Two Mile Branch**. This flow has stopped.
  • An overflow in the 600 block of Scott Drive spilled an estimated 41,000 gallons into Sugar Creek**. This flow has stopped.
  • An overflow in the 700 block of Cypress Street spilled an estimated 29,500 gallons into Knights Creek*. This flow has stopped.
  • An overflow in the 500 block of Rouse Road spilled an estimated 1,290 gallons into Sugar Creek**. This flow has stopped.
  • An overflow in the 1800 block of Remer Lane spilled an estimated 299,125 gallons into Sugar Creek**. This flow has stopped.
  • An overflow in the 2400 block of Meadowbrook Drive spilled an estimated 33,900 gallons into Two Mile Branch**. This flow has stopped.
  • An overflow in the 1200 block of Lake Drive spilled an estimated 33,900 gallons into Two Mile Branch**. This flow has stopped.
  • An overflow in the 1200 block of Wainwright Drive spilled an estimated 90,500 gallons into One Mile Branch**. This flow has stopped.
  • An overflow in the 1400 block of Gornto Road (manhole # W0047) spilled an estimated 4,500 gallons into Sugar Creek**. This flow has stopped.
  • An overflow in the 1100 block of JoRee Street spilled an estimated 29,250 gallons into One Mile Branch**. This flow has stopped.
  • An overflow in the 1400 block of Gornto Road (manhole # 0036 spilled an estimated 173,750 gallons into Sugar Creek**. This flow has stopped.

City staff is monitoring and testing the waters of the affected areas, as the remaining overflows are slowly subsiding. Staff will continue to monitor these sites and immediately begin cleanup of each affected area once the overflows stop.

All appropriate regulatory and public health agencies have been notified, and warning signs have been posted at the spill locations as well as downstream to advise the public to avoid any contact with these waterways for the next several days.

The city continues its ongoing effort to improve the infrastructure of the sewer system to eliminate these occurrences in the future. Improving our sewer system has, and will continue to be a main priority.

For more information, contact Environmental Manager Scott Fowler at (229) 259-3592 or at sfowler@valdostacity.com. Citizens may also visit www.valdostacity.com/utilities to view the progress of the city’s Force Main Project and other sanitary sewer collection system improvement projects.

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  1. Pingback: Sewage into Two Mile Branch towards the Withlacoochee River 2016-02-15 | WWALS Watershed Coalition

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