Protection of the Suwannee River against Valdosta Sewage –City of Fanning Springs, FL 2017-04-11

Not just for all seven downstream Florida counties anymore: the City of Fanning Springs has also passed a resolution asking the Florida governor to help stop Valdosta wastewater spills. Maybe Valdosta will pay attention this time.

The Valdosta City Council and Mayor didn’t seem to understand when I used the Suwannee County resolution to draw attention to the part about:

“which again resulted in the Florida Department of Health issuing public health advisories warning the public of wastewater contamination in the Withlacoochee River and portions of the Historic Suwannee River, which resulted in warnings being posted at all public access areas along the rivers stating that the rivers were not safe for recreational use and every precaution should be taken to avoid any contact with the river;”

Maybe I should have tried this pithier part at the end:

the resources its citizens so desperately need to restore the image of our rivers and our communities as a great place to live, visit, and do business.”

Congratulations, Valdosta, on building a whole new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) uphill out of the flood plain, on the new force main, and all the other measures; some of my taxes helped pay for those things. But the Valdosta Council and Mayor need to understand that it is no laughing matter that the smallest of spills from even one manhole cover in Valdosta can cause economic and quality of life consequences all the way down to the Gulf. It’s not the stink of the sewage: it’s the stigma on the rivers.

Thanks to Trip Lancaster, Mayor of Fanning Springs for the PDF.

RESOLUTION 2017-003

A RESOLUTION BY THE CITY OF FANNING SPRINGS, FLORIDA, REQUESTING THE PROTECTION OF THE HISTORIC SUWANNEE RIVER IN NORTH FLORIDA.

WHEREAS, the City of Fanning Springs is located in North Central Florida and is bordered by the Historic Suwannee River on its western side; and

WHEREAS WHEREAS. the Historic Suwannee River is one of the most widely known and recognized river system in the world; and

WHEREAS, the Withlacoochee River (North) begins at its headwaters in South Georgia, and flows into the Historic Suwannee River in northern Florida; and

WHEREAS, the City of Fanning Springs and each of the Florida cities and counties bordered by the Historic Suwannee River share a great passion for the vitality and life of the river; and

WHEREAS, the Historic Suwannee River is a vital economic engine in the Suwannee River Valley Region providing nature based recreation opportunities; including numerous springs, paddling, swimming, fishing, bike trails, hiking, and wildlife viewing, all of which provide local residents and visitors increased health benefits for participation in outdoor recreational activities; and

WHEREAS, beginning in 2009 and continuing over the past several years, the City of Valdosta, Georgia has experienced numerous failures and spills at their wastewater treatment facilities resulting in the release of millions of gallons of raw sewage into the Withlacoochee River, which in turn, flows directly into the Historic Suwannee River; and

WHEREAS, these failures have resulted in numerous Florida Health Department advisories to the residents of and visitors to several North Florida cities and counties to avoid contact with the Withlacoochee River and the Historic Suwannee River, and numerous residents along the rivers have reported positive tests of bacterial contamination of residential wells; and

WHEREAS, these failures also resulted in a 2013 consent decree between the City of Valdosta and Georgia’s Environmental Protection Department regarding the construction of new wastewater treatment facilities and the institution of updated response and reporting procedures: and

WHEREAS, yet again, on January 22, 2017, the City of Valdosta had another failure resulting in the release of million gallons of raw sewage and contaminated stormwater into the Withlacoochee River which again resulted in the Florida Department of Health issuing public health advisories warning the public of wastewater contamination in the Withlacoochee River and portions of the Historic Suwannee River, which resulted in warnings being posted at all public access areas along the rivers stating that the rivers were not safe for recreational use and every precaution should be taken to avoid any contact with the river; and

WHEREAS, the City of Fanning Springs takes note of and supports the January 27, 2017 letter of District 10 Representative Elizabeth Porter, and the February 3, 2017, letter of Senator Bill Nelson to the US Environmental Protection Agency requesting, respectively, that the “EPA take all necessary actions toward ensuring unauthorized and unlawful discharges from the City’s wastewater treatment plant are prevented…” and that “Environmental Protection Agency should help both states find a long-term solution to fix the problems causing these recurring spills” and fully pledges its support to Representative Porter’s and Senator Nelson’s efforts; and

WHEREAS, the City of Fanning Springs has worked tirelessly with local counties and the business community to attract businesses and increase outdoor river-based ecotourism to create jobs and grow the economies of our communities; and

WHEREAS, as a fiscally constrained city, the City of Fanning Springs must rely on the State of Florida to help insure that Valdosta, Georgia eliminates the dumping of raw sewage into our rivers,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Fanning Springs, Florida that:

  1. THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED the City of Fanning Springs requests the Honorable Governor Rick Scott, other elected Florida State leaders, and Florida’s State agencies, to use the resources of the State of Florida to protect the Historic Suwannee River and the Withlacoochee River, to protect the personal health and business interests of the citizens of North Florida, including the City of Fanning Springs, to support the efforts of Representative Porter and Senator Nelson to take appropriate aggressive and timely actions as are necessary to ensure that Valdosta, Georgia eliminates the dumping of raw sewage into our rivers and help provide the City of Fanning Springs the resources its citizens so desperately need to restore the image of our rivers and our communities as a great place to live, visit, and do business.
  2. The Clerk of the City of Fanning Springs is hereby directed to transmit a certified copy of this resolution to the Governor, Senate President, House Speaker, members of the Florida Congressional Delegation, the Florida Department of Health and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

PASSED AND RESOLVED by the City Council on this 11 day of April, 2016

[signed]
Thomas “Tommy” J. Darus, III
Chairman of the City Council

ATTEST:
[signed]
Sheila Watson, City Clerk

APPROVED BY:
[signed]
Howell E. “Trip&rdqupo; Lancaster, III, Mayor

On the WWALS website are the letters to the EPA from to the EPA from Florida state Rep. Elizabeth Porter and Senator Bill Nelson (with EPA response), along with much more information. This is the fifth such resolution you’ll find linked in there. Three more to collect.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

1 thought on “Protection of the Suwannee River against Valdosta Sewage –City of Fanning Springs, FL 2017-04-11

  1. Pingback: Valdosta and Lowndes County water treatment quality compared to region | WWALS Watershed Coalition (Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®)

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