Who thought it was a good idea for stormwater to go into Valdosta’s sanitary sewer system? Whoever it was, the current Valdosta Utilities, Engineering, and especially Stormwater Director have to deal with it, frequently. Maybe some of the upwards of $300 million Valdosta is spending on force main, new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, etc., will help with this problem. But none of that will stop rain from falling on Valdosta, and little of it is directed at the Alapaha River watershed in Valdosta, where one of this week’s three spills went.
Come see for yourself where Sugar Creek flows into the Withlacoochee River, this Sunday morning, April 3rd, on the extra WWALS Outing from Langdale Park to the Little River Boat Ramp. And come paddle with us on the Alapaha River Saturday morning April 23rd, from Hotchkiss Road in Lanier County to Mayday in Echols County, upstream from where Knights Creek flows into Mud Swamp Creek, which joins Grand Bay Creek to form the Alapahoochee River, which joins the Alapaha River in Florida. And of course both the Withlacoochee and the Alapaha join the Suwannee River. Valdosta says there’s no significant vestige of its wastewater that far downstream. It would be good to have some independent water quality monitoring to be sure.
This evaluation currently focuses only on the Dukes Bay Canal. Evaluation of the primary stormwater management system in the Knight’s Creek basin will be performed at a later stage.
While there’s a Section 4: Withlacoochee Basin with subsections for each of the creeks or branches, there’s no similar section for the Alapaha or Alapahoochee Basin, and no section or subsection for Knights Creek. Yet according to Section 1 Data Review and Discussion, 1.1 Introduction and Background, Table 1.1.1, Knights Creek drains about four times as much area (10,485.8 acres) as Dukes Bay Canal (2,700.5), and is twice as long (10.2 stream miles to 5.0). What’s your plan for Knights Creek, Valdosta?
And when will we get some answers to our questions from a year ago, which include “How many other such wastewater overflows into Knights Creek have there been?”
The VDT is beginning to count. Jennifer Dandron, Valdosta Daily Times, 28 March 2016, City responds to sewer overflows,
The weekend incident is the 17th sewer spill since January.
Sementha Mathews, Valdosta PR (and WCTV and WTXL), 28 March 2016, Weekend Storm Causes Three Sanitary Sewer Overflows,
On March 27, 2016, during routine inspections of the sewer system and following heavy holiday weekend rainfall that produced four inches of precipitation, the Utilities Department staff identified sanitary sewer spills at three locations in the city. The spills resulted from stormwater infiltration and inflow (I&I) into the sanitary sewer system, causing it to exceed the capacity of the city’s sewer collection system. The storm drains and the discharge points into the streams were immediately cleaned and disinfected.
The combined stormwater and sewer flows resulted in manhole overflows at the following locations:
- An overflow in the 700 block of Cypress Street spilled an estimated 14,725 gallons into Knights Creek.
- An overflow in the 1800 block of Remer Lane spilled an estimated 84,300 gallons into Sugar Creek.
- An overflow in the 600 block of Scott Drive spilled an estimated 2,885 gallons into Sugar Creek.
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 seven days. Staff immediately began monitoring and testing the impacted area.
The city continues its ongoing effort to improve the infrastructure of the sewer system to eliminate these issues in the future. Two major projects—the Force Main Project and the relocation of the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant—to eliminate sewer overflows are rapidly approaching completion and are expected to be operational by May 2016. Improving the sanitary sewer system continues to be the city’s main priority.
For more information, contact the Utilities Department Environmental Manager Scott Fowler at 229-259-3592 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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