Tag Archives: Remer Lane Pump Station

Send your comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order –Albany Herald

In the Albany Herald, May 9, 2020, Deadline set to comment on Valdosta EPD Enforcement Order,

The Enforcement Order includes a fine, plus many requirements for management and technology.

“Well, I’m glad they are doing the enforcement order, requiring them to get the fixes in place,” said Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Fla., who was among the WWALS members who met with the city of Valdosta back in 2015 about these same sewage issues. “I’m not sure what the $122,000 will be used for, but the fine seems small. I just want the problem fixed for good if possible.”

The rest of the article is from the WWALS press release.

Send your comments by Wednesday, May 27, 2020, to:
   Mr. Lewis Hays
   Manager, Watershed Compliance
   Environmental Protection Division
   2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Suite 1152 East
   Atlanta, GA 30334
   Lewis.Hays@dnr.ga.gov
   404-463-4953

This is not the kind of black water we want:

[Photo 4: Confluence of Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River.]
Photo 4: Confluence of Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River. By Tim Bonvechio.

The entire 93-page Order is on the WWALS website, here:
http://wwals.net/pictures/2020-04-13–ga-epd-vld-enforcement-order

“This Order has been a long time coming. It includes an outline of a sad history of mistakes and neglect. I hope the Order Continue reading

Comments open on Georgia call for Valdosta to pay six-figure fine for spilling sewage in river –Georgia Recorder

‘“I commend EPD for doing an order that’s better than I expected, better than a lot of people expected” [Suwannee Riverkeeper John S.] Quarterman said. “There’s still room for improvement.”’

You can comment on the consent order by Wednesday, May 27, 2020, to:
Mr. Lewis Hays, Manager, Watershed Compliance,
Georgia Environmental Protection Division
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Suite 1152 East
Atlanta, GA 30334
Lewis.Hays@dnr.ga.gov
404-463-4953

[Green at the Confluence]
Sara Jones with the Suwannee Riverkeeper prepares to test the water at the Withlacoochee River following a December sewage spill. A Georgia Environmental Protection Division consent order calls for the city of Valdosta to pay a $122,000 fine for sewage spills and permit violations. Scotti Jones

Stanley Dunlap, Georgia Recorder, 5 May 2020, State calls for Valdosta to pay six-figure fine for spilling sewage in river,

The city of Valdosta is facing a $122,000 fine for spilling raw sewage into a creek that flows into a south Georgia river that runs downstream into Florida’s Suwannee River and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico.

The proposed settlement with the state’s Environmental Protection Division is for Continue reading

Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (see also PDF)

Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order

Hahira, GA, May 4, 2020 — May 27th is the deadline to comment on the Enforcement Order the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) finally issued on Valdosta for sewage spills. For decades, Valdosta has spilled wastewater into the Withlacoochee River. People downstream, even on the Suwannee River all the way to the Gulf, worry about fishing, swimming, or even boating and some even say their wells are contaminated by fecal bacteria from these spills. Many had hoped that Valdosta’s big spills were over in 2016 with the new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant uphill out of the flood plain, plus a Force Main with two Pump Stations. Valdosta says it has spent about $80 million on water system improvements. Yet the spills continued. The Order also reveals a massive fish kill.

[Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.]
Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.

“The December 2019 spill was the biggest yet, with no rain, and nothing actually broke. It was a massive failure of supervision,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Citizens and elected and appointed officials in Georgia and a dozen counties in Florida demanded something be done.”

This Enforcement Order includes the most popular request, a fine, plus many requirements for management and technology.

“Well, I’m glad they are doing the enforcement order, requiring them to get the fixes in place,” said Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Florida, who was among the WWALS members who met with the City of Valdosta back in 2015 about these same sewage issues. She added, “I’m not sure what the $122,000 will be used for, but the fine seems small. I just want the problem fixed for good if possible.”

The Order addresses much (but not all) of what Suwannee Riverkeeper asked GA-EPD to do: http://wwals.net/?p=50979 For example, it requires the City to test water quality all the way down to the state line. One thing it does not include is any requirements for reimbursing downstream well and river testing expenses.

“It’s good to see that the EPD is FINALLY taking this issue seriously!” said Suzy Hall, WWALS Testing Committee Chair. “I can’t help but feel WWALS’ diligence in testing has been a big part of this action, and must continue regardless of any order for the City to conduct testing.”

The entire 93-page Order is on the WWALS website, here:
http://wwals.net/pictures/2020-04-13–ga-epd-vld-enforcement-order

“This Order has been a long time coming. It includes an outline of a sad history of mistakes and neglect. I hope the Order will finally get the City’s attention,” said Dr. Tom Potter, WWALS Science Committee Chair and taxpayer of the City of Valdosta.

Send your comments by Wednesday, May 27, 2020, to:
   Mr. Lewis Hays
   Manager, Watershed Compliance
   Environmental Protection Division
   2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Suite 1152 East
   Atlanta, GA 30334
   Lewis.Hays@dnr.ga.gov
   404-463-4953

About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.

Contact: John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org
WWALS Watershed Coalition
850-290-2350, 229-242-0102
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632

===

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

GA-EPD Enforcement Order for Valdosta wastewater with fine 2020-04-13

Update 2020-05-04: Press Release, Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order.

Much of what many people requested is in this Enforcement Order EPD-WP-8904 of the Public Notice of April 27, 2020.

[Photo 1: Site where sewage flowed out of manhole into Sugar Creek.]
Photo 1: Site where sewage flowed out of manhole into Sugar Creek.

Perhaps the most popular request, a fine, is included. As a Project In-Lieu of Penalty (PIP) stream testing is required, three times a week, down to the state line. Plus: “The Respondent shall post all the results of biological monitoring required after major spills to its website and to the Georgia EPD Adopt-A-Stream website within one business day of receipt of the results.”

All 250 sewer line creek crossings must be inspected by drone crews.

Valdosta must notify many Florida agencies, plus in Georgia Lowndes Health and Brooks EMA.

Other things are missing. WWALS is not on that notification list, for example.

[Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.]
Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.

And the Order reveals some Valdosta violations the public never knew about, such as a massive fish kill in December 2019. The cost of that calculated by GA-DNR Wildlife Division seems inadequate, since it doesn’t take into account people being unwilling to fish on the Withlacoochee River, for example.

If you think there should be more or changed requirements, the Public Comment period ends May 27, 2020.

Send comments to: Continue reading

Valdosta Pump Station Standard Operating Procedures 2020-04-20

This appears to be the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the Remer Lane Pump Station that was offline in early December 2019, causing a record raw sewage spill.

It does include these items:

  • Verify generator main breaker is closed.
  • Verify no alarms on generator control panel at generator.
  • Verify generator switches are set to automatic at generator.
  • Verify alarm beacons outside and inside of building are not flashing. Troubleshoot if flashing.

We got two copies, with slightly different formatting. The other copy also has:

  • Verify no SCADA alarms present in system

[1 of Remer Pump Station Inspection CheckList]
1 of Remer Pump Station Inspection CheckList

Both copies, and the two copies for the Gornto Road Pump Station, are marked at the top “Version 1: Dec 2019”. Is that early December before the big spill, or late December afterwards?

In addition we got a Work Order Detail, but Continue reading

Valdosta Sewer System Standard Operating Procedures 2020-03-05

Update 2020-05-01: Valdosta Pump Station Standard Operating Procedures 2020-04-20.

I got two completely different sets of SOPs when I asked Valdosta and GA-EPD for Standard Operating Procedures. Neither of them seem to say anything about the Pump Station that was offline in early December 2019, causing a record raw sewage spill.

[Sanitary Sewer Overflow Response Process]
Sanitary Sewer Overflow Response Process

Towards the end of February, I asked the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) and the City of Valdosta for Valdosta’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) as discussed in the January 8, 2020, public meeting about the December 2019 record raw sewage spill from a manhole downstream on Sugar Creek from the Remer Lane Pump Station, which had been left turned off. That was the meeting in which Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber told me to “ask EPD,” so I did, and I also asked Valdosta.

Received from GA-EPD:

That copy of the Consent Order is much longer (66 pages) and more recent (December 9, 2013) than the version (9 pages and September 23, 2013) on the City of Valdosta website and blogged by WWALS in 2018.

[GA-EPD cover letter]
GA-EPD cover letter

Received from the City of Valdosta were Standard Operating Procedures for

Those are all very interesting, but if they say anything about SOPs for the Remer Lane Pump Station (or the Gornto Road Pump Station), I can’t find it.

So I have sent each of Valdosta and GA-EPD another request, this time very specifically for Continue reading

Cleaner Withlacoochee Monday, Tuesday; Suwannee unknown 2020-03-03

Update 2020-03-06: Special meeting to approve an RFP for an environmental attorney –Madison BOCC 2020-03-06

Tuesday data from Lowndes County, Georgia, shows much better water quality in Okapilco Creek upstream from Quitman and in the Withlacoochee River downstream. Remember, Lowndes County has its own sewer system, which did not spill. And one of Lowndes County’s results for the previous week is very interesting.

All the maps and charts in this post are on the WWALS website in a PDF for printing. They’re also on facebook.

The most recent data we have from Valdosta and Florida is for Monday. WWALS has not tested this week because of rain, but soon. You can help.

Yesterday and today, five inches of rain fell on Tifton, and all that water is washing downstream, with the Withlacoochee already in flood at Pinetta.

[Quitman to Withlacoochee River]
Map: Quitman to Withlacoochee River.
In the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

In the above map, northeast of Quitman near Okapilco Creek, are the Quitman sewage settling ponds, which Continue reading

Georgia Department of Health can’t or won’t do as much as FDOH 2020-01-07

Georgia Department of Public Health (GA-DPH) was not informed by Valdosta of the December 2019 raw sewage spill; so far as I know, I was the first to tell DPH, as Suwannee Riverkeeper. Lowndes County Environmental Health did then offer free water well testing, for both Lowndes and Brooks Counties, Georgia.

However, DPH itself does not test river water, and was not asked by Valdosta to help advise the public of river contamination. DPH does not have authority to compell Valdosta to test or plant warning signs. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) does have such authority.

This is all in marked contrast to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), which was informed by Valdosta, did put out three sequential warnings, and has been testing the Withlacoochee River. Seems like we need to get some policies or laws changed in Georgia.

[DPH was not notified of Valdosta sewage spill]
DPH was not notified of Valdosta sewage spill

For his speedy and informative response, I’d like to thank Continue reading

WWALS water quality data, Withlacoochee River, after Valdosta record sewage 2019-12-12

Update 2019-12-17: City of Valdosta Water Quality Testing, Gornto Rd., US 84 2019-12-12.

Good news: WWALS data from the Withlacoochee River matches SRWMD data from the Suwannee River. Both showed clean of E. coli bacteria. This is mystifying: where is the sewage from Valdosta’s record largest sewage spill? So we’ve got WWALS data and SRWMD data posted. Valdosta, where is your data?

Results of WWALS testing Wednesday: zero (no) E. coli at State Line Boat Ramp, Nankin Boat Ramp, and Knights Ferry Boat Ramp showed zero (0) at all three locations.

You can donate to help pay for the Petrifilms and other equipment.

[Sean McCarthy, Scotti Jay, Sara Jay]
Sean McCarthy, Scotti Jay, Sara Jay at State Line Ramp.

This is not what we expected.

Our Petrifilm and incubator methods are not as precise as Florida’s fancy methods, as in we don’t usually detect levels as low as what Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) reported yesterday, so our zeroes are Continue reading

SRWMD water quality data, Withlacoochee River, after Valdosta record sewage 2019-12-12

Update 2019-12-13: WWALS water quality data on the Withlacoochee River down to the state line.

The record Valdosta sewage spill had not reached Florida yet as of today, according to timely notification of water quality sampling results by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD).

WWALS has some reason to believe the spill had reached Knights Ferry by Saturday. More on that below. And further WWALS bacterial results from yesterday should be available tomorrow morning. You can donate to the WWALS water quality testing program to help defray the costs of this emergency and our regular testing.

Meanwhile, where are Valdosta’s results? They’re supposed to be testing daily after a major spill. Why aren’t they publishing their results? I will file an open records request tomorrow, but why should that be necessary?

Received 5:01 PM today, December 12, 2019:

Hello Mr. Quarterman,

I don’t know if Julie was able to get back to you. I know that she has been in meetings the past several days. Here is the update on sampling efforts that I have as of now:

[Valdosta to Branford]
Valdosta to Branford, in WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

  • Dec 9: FL agencies were notified of the spill around 5:30pm.
  • Dec 10: FDEP sampled Withlacoochee at Continue reading