Did you know Moody Air Force Base had two sewage spills this month? Thanks to GA-EPD, we knew about them, and Moody AFB posted news reports on both of them. One went into Mission Lake, upstream from Grand Bay and the Alapaha River. The other went into Beatty Branch, upstream from Cat Creek and the Withlacoochee River.
Pretty clean at the bottom of Vallotton Park (33.3 cfu/100 ml), but rather dirty at the top of Drexel Park (533 cfu/100 ml), on Onemile Branch, with the site of last week’s FOG sewage spill in between; that’s what WWALS water quality testers Sara Squires Jones and Scotti Jay found Monday. These numbers are for the disease-causing bacteria E. coli. The state limit is 200 colony-forming units per 100 mililiters of water (cfu/100 ml). That 533 reading is still below the state’s 1000 limit for real alarm, but it’s still not good.
This map shows in red the spill location on Ashley Street near La Jalisco Supermercado, with the testing locations in blue, at North Lee Street near Mr. B’s IGA at Vallotton Park, and at Williams Street at the east end of Drexel Park.
Valdosta Utilities naturally painted as rosy a picture as possible, and newspapers have limited space, so here is the rest of the story about Valdosta wastewater at the Suwannee River Water Management District board meeting last Tuesday. SRWMD Chair Virginia H. Johns understands the stigma, and Board Member Virginia Sanchez spelled it out:
“You don’t want to swim in a little sewage versus a lot of sewage either. Both of them are bad. A spill is bad.”
Featured in this post, drawing from the WWALS videos of all the relevant speakers, are Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse, who talked about the catch basin Valdosta is digging, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, who filled in many pieces omitted by Valdosta and FDEP, and Hamilton County resident Jim McBrayer, who got the attention of the SRWMD board by saying there was E. coli in his well and SRWMD should know where it came from, plus especially the very participatory SRWMD board, who made it pretty clear to FDEP they wanted data by their next meeting, and they wanted Valdosta to move along in fixing their problems in less than a hundred years.
Let’s not forget Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, who pointed out something Valdosta doesn’t want to hear: it’s the stigma of sewage spills that is the big problem they are causing. For sure we need to find out what the specific health and other effects are of Valdosta sewage and other contamination on river water and nearby wells. But the stigma of Valdosta sewage goes far beyond that.
Update 2019-02-18: The rest of the Valdosta wastewater story at SRWMD 2019-02-12.
The most direct interaction by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) Board that I’ve ever seen, yesterday, when Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse came to explain what Valdosta has done and is doing to stop its sewage spills. Neither the board nor the audience seemed satisfied.
Stay tuned for another post about some of what was said. Meanwhile, below are links to each WWALS video of each speaker or agenda item, with a few notes. These WWALS videos are under a Creative Commons Attribution license, which means you can use them, provide you cite the source, which is WWALS. There are a few more pictures on the WWALS website. See also the agenda. For background and data, see: Continue reading
First time we’ve seen this: 300 gallons of raw sewage spilled from Rochelle, Georgia, in Wilcox County, at the top of the Alapaha River Basin.
Rochelle is nestled between Continue reading
GA-EPD’s Atlanta office sent their entire sewage spill database for January 2017 in response to an open records request from WWALS. For the Suwannee River Basin, I see only the known ones by Valdosta, plus a spill from Moultrie’s Carlton Woods Lift Station into the Ocholockonee River, with 36000 gallons, which matches the amount we got directly from Moultrie. That Ochlockonee spill is still not in the Suwannee River Basin.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) Southwest office in Albany handles the other sewage treatment operations in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia, and that Albany office already told us by telephone that they had no reported spills other than the Tifton spill into the New River which I had gotten directly from Tifton. So I think we can conclude there were no other sewage spills into the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia in January 2017 other than the ones from Valdosta and Tifton.
Interestingly, Valdosta with its 2.2 million gallon Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) leak (and three manhole spills) was not the winner. Continue reading
Force main and the new WWTP on line by May!
More extensive overflows than usual last weekend, and now more extensive information about them, in the update Tim Carroll promised, on the City of Valdosta website as City System Impacted by Severe Storms and Regional Watershed. It even starts with schedule details, which say they’re ahead of the schedule I previously posted. This report’s table of overflows has start and stop times and amounts, with the Creeks affected.
It still doesn’t say which river basin they go into. Knights Creek flows into Mud Creek, which goes into the Alapahoochee, Alapaha, and Suwannee Rivers. All the others end up in the Withlacoochee and the Suwannee Rivers. And there are still some unanswered questions. But getting the force main and the new WWTP on line by May is a very good development.
The City of Valdosta is ahead of schedule and plans to bring online nearly $60 million in wastewater system improvements next month. The $35 million Force Main project and the $23 million new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) are both ahead of schedule, and bringing them both online cannot come a day too soon for the city.
“We are pleased to be in the final stages of construction on both projects. Testing is underway now with full startup expected in late May,” according to Director of Utilities Henry Hicks. “We are also pleased that these projects and other awarded sewer collection system improvement projects underway will resolve all the areas of the city impacted by reoccurring overflows that often follow heavy rains and regional flooding.”Continue reading
Update 2016-04-05: Here are the details, and force main and new WWTP on line by May.
Valdosta spilled more wastewater over the weekend, according to Valdosta City Council Tim Carroll, who called just now. The Withlacoochee River is out of its banks, actually up on the property containing the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), but “according to the experts” not going to threaten the plant. “But lines are underwater”.
Water is not even close to the new WWTP currently under construction, according to Carroll. And the new force main project should deal with much of the manhole overflow problem on the west side of Valdosta in the Withlacoochee basin, for example into Sugar Creek.
On the east and southeast, in the Alapaha basin, Continue reading
On the north side of US 41, there’s good access from Val Del Road to the Withlacoochee River.
From US 41 (North Valdosta Road), turn north on Val Del Road, and your next right is a turnoff to a gravelled road that bends sharply right into the woods, which leads back to the north side of US 41 and down to the Withlacoochee River. It was a bit muddy in the rain this morning, but there were no big potholes, and the river slope is easy access. The river was high, 9.8 feet, but still well below the 15 foot flood level on the US 41 Gage on this bridge.Continue reading
Related to the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail and the double USACE flooding study presentation tonight in Valdosta, here are river level charts upstream and down on the Little River, Okapilco Creek, and the Withlacoochee River related to a new USGS flood-tracking chart. In the example charts on the right, you can see the Little River peaked days ago at Tifton and yesterday at Hahira.
The Withlacoochee River peaked yesterday at US 41. while downstream it’s going up at US 84, and barely starting up at Pinetta (click on the above chart example for the rest). Right now you can see all that in the charts below. If this works, you’ll see something different later, because you’ll see current charts whenever you refresh this page.
Update 2016-05-31: See sea level gage reports.
Update 2014-11-04: Simplified gage formatting.
Update 2014-11-03: That works, and see also Alapaha River water levels.
Tifton Gauge, Little River at Upper Ty Ty Road, near Tifton, GA, Tift County, GA (02317797)Highest safe 3.9 feet, 271 NAVD. Lowest boatable 0.1 feet, 267.2 NAVD.
Adel Gauge, Little River near Adel, GA, Cook County, GA (02318000)Highest safe 7.9 feet, 181 NAVD. Lowest boatable 2.2 feet, 175.3 NAVD.
Hahira Gauge, Little River at GA 122, near Hahira, GA, Lowndes County, GA (02318380)Highest safe 11 feet, 144 NAVD. Lowest boatable 4.25 feet, 137 NAVD.
Skipper Bridge Gauge, Withlacoochee River at Skipper Bridge Road, near Bemiss, GA, Lowndes County, GA (023177483)Highest safe 10.7 feet, 131 NAVD. Lowest boatable 2.3 feet, 122.6 NAVD.
Valdosta Gauge, Withlacoochee River at US 41 near Valdosta, GA, Lowndes County, GA (02317755)Highest safe 12.7 feet, 123 NAVD. Lowest boatable 3.5 feet, 113.8 NAVD.
Okapilco Creek Gauge, Okapilco Creek at GA 333, near Quitman, GA, Brooks County, GA (02318700)
Quitman Gauge, Withlacoochee River at US 84, near Quitman, GA, Brooks County, GA (02318500)Highest safe 10.5 feet, 94 NAVD. Lowest boatable 2.0 feet, 85.5 NAVD.
Pinetta Gauge, Withlacoochee River near Pinetta, FL., Madison County, FL (02319000)Highest safe 12.5 feet, 59 NAVD. Lowest boatable 6.0 feet, 52.5 NAVD.
Madison Gauge, Withlacoochee River near Madison, FL , Madison County, FL (02319300)Highest safe 10.0 feet, 50 NAVD. Lowest boatable 0.1 feet, 40.1 NAVD.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
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