Two sewage spills from Tifton, GA

Tifton spilled twice into the New River watershed, 36,000 gallons and 5,400 gallons, both into the New River watershed upstream of the Withlacoochee and the Suwannee Rivers, apparently both spills during or after Tropical Storm Alberto, and there was no public notice until two weeks later.

Stuart Taylor, Tifton Gazette, June 11, 2018, 36,000 gallon raw sewage spill enters drainage system, cited as source Thomas Coker, “plant manager with ESG Operations,” who is also listed by the City of Tifton as Wastewater Superintendent. I called him to clarify some details. Here is information about the two spills, both related to Tropical Storm Alberto:

  • 36,000 gallons, Wednesday, May 30 through Thursday, June 7, 2018, from 315 E. 20th Street, into Tifton’s stormwater system, after 2 inches of rain.

    Spills located in Suwannee River Basin, Maps
    Google map by WWALS.

    Because this spill was more than 10,000 gallons, the state of Georgia requires sstream monitoring, described in the newspaper story as:

    Dissolved oxygen levels, Ph levels, temperature and fecal levels will be tested repeatedly as part of the program

    The river will tested every day for the next 7 days following a spill, then once a week for a month

    Following that, the river will be tested three months from now — again, once a week for a month — and then a year from the spill, the river will be tested again.

  • 5,400 gallons of sewage, Saturday, June 9, 2018, from 80 Old Brookfield Road, directly into the New River, after 4+ inches of rain beforehand and then another 1.5 inches. This spill did not exceed the state’s 10,000 gallon threshold, so there will be no stream monitoring.

    Two Spills into the New River, Maps

At least these are smaller than the 250,000 gallons Tifton spilled in September 2017, from its Golden Road lift station into Cow House Branch, which goes into the Little River, upstream from Reed Bingham State Park. There was stream monitoring after that one, but I’ve seen no announcement of any results.

All three spills are visible towards the top of this map by Water Reporter, where I just added points for these three spills.

You can add data to Water Reporter, too. Just make yourself an account there, and when you report something, say it goes with the Suwannee Riverkeeper group. Then it will show up on that Water Reporter map for Suwannee Riverkeeper.

I asked Tifton Wasterwater Superintendent Coker for the stream monitoring data results for both the recent 36,000 gallon spill and for the 250,000 gallon spill of last September. He said he would check with some people and get back to me.

All of these spills are upstream of the Withlacoochee River and the Suwannee River.

Georgia EPD tells me they’re working up a system to post spills as soon as they get them, like Alabama and Florida already do.

Until then, I guess I need to go back to calling each major wastewater management facility in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia. There are only 69 of them.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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