WALB TV in Albany, Georgia called me while I was at Lafayette Blue Spring on the Suwannee River in Florida, because reporter Ri’Shawn Bassette had read the WWALS report, Sewage spill, Ashley Street, Valdosta, GA 2019-06-19. Later that same day, Friday, WALB carried his story, Valdosta sees manhole sewage overflow.
He had already contacted Valdosta Utilities, which had confirmed it happened, and blamed it on FOG (Fats, Oils, and Greases).
Riverkeeper John Quarterman said that a member of his staff was near the area when they noticed the spill and the smell.
Quarterman shared that this serves as a reminder as to why it’s important to keep waste out of our water systems.
“Because if they don’t, this kind of thing can happen. Nobody wants sewage running across the ma[i]n drag and maybe getting into the nearby street holes. It didn’t with that one,” said Quarterman.
That’s mostly right, and since the phone connection was bad, naybe he didn’t hear I actually said “into the nearby storm drains, like we hope it didn’t with that one.”
He also asked me what I would like the city of Valdosta to do. I said I’d like them to test water quality upstream and down in nearby One Mile Branch and post the results on their own web page, so I wouldn’t have to file an open records request and spend a week prying it out of them. I guess I’ll have to do that, as usual.
Presumably this paragraph below is Valdosta Utilities’ excuse for….
The city maintains that they were able to stop the back up from getting into the waterways.
For not filing a spill report with the state of Georgia and not telling Florida state agencies, such as the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD).
It would appear that the public would not know about this spill, except for the WWALS member who noticed it.
That’s member as in member of the organization. I never said “of staff”. I guess I’ll have to break the news to her that WALB has hired her onto the huge and growing Suwannee Riverkeeper staff….
But, seriously, thanks, WALB, for covering this story, when as near as I can tell, none of the Valdosta or Lowndes County news media did.
I did assure folks on that last day of #PaddleGA2019 that even if some of that sewage got into One Mile Branch, then Sugar Creek, then the Withlacoochee River, it could not make it down to the Suwannee River for days, and by then it would be diluted beyond detection. At least Valdosta has not spilled millions of gallons of sewage again, like they did in December.
I guess I should add this Ashley Street location to the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT). Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) is already on there.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
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