Tag Archives: sewage

Current Situation of Water Quality Testing, Suwannee River Basin 2020-08-02

People mostly don’t know about all the additional testing, nor the cows, nor the new Consent Order on Valdosta.

Even if you’ve been following the Withlacoochee River water quality situation, some of what has happened and has been discovered is probably not obvious. Here is an attempt to describe the current situation, many of the people and organizations involved, and some things you can do to help. See also printable PDF.

[Page 01]

August 2, 2020

To: Potential Partners in helping clean up the Withlacoochee River

Re: Current Situation of Water Quality Testing, Suwannee River Basin

Dear Potential Partner,

Trudy Cole wrote about water quality testing for WWALS:

“We do this so not just our grandchildren,
but your grandchildren have clean water to drink, fish, and swim in.

“Clean water, it’s not just important,
it is vital.”

We’ve never found anyone who wants to swim, boat, or fish in dirty water, much less drink it. Continue reading

Valdosta holds ground-breaking on WWTP catch basin 2020-07-21

Long-awaited, since December 2018, with GA-EPD permit in hand since December 2019, today was the groundbreaking for the new catch basin at the entrance to Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).

[Ground breaking]
Photo: City of Valdosta, Ground breaking

The catch basin probably would have stopped 2/3 of the December 2018 spills. *The other 1/3 in December 2018 was from city infrastructure not acting as designed, unless 2 million gallons of raw sewage spilling from manholes was in that design.

It would not have done anything to stop the record December 2019 raw sewage spill, which resulted from the Remer Lane Pump Station being left offline and disconnected from the SCADA system.

However, some of the other projects mentioned in the below Valdosta press release may help with both those 2018 and 2019 other problems. It’s good to see Valdosta moving ahead to fix its chronic sewer system infrastructure problems.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 21, 2020
Release #07-21-104

City Breaks Ground on 7.26 Million-Gallon Equalization Basin at Withlacoochee WWTP

On Tuesday, July 21, 2020, The City of Valdosta broke ground on the new Equalization (EG) Basin located at the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The new secondary basin will provide more than double the available storage for extended periods of operation at the peak hourly flow thereby reducing the potential for overflows at the Plant. The Project includes a lined 7.26 MG excavated Basin, a new pump station, and an associated gravity pipe and force main.

Since its start-up in 2016, Continue reading

Open manhole lawsuits

The City of Valdosta is lucky nobody fell into that open manhole it says is part of manhole rehabilitation. That manhole is next to the Azalea Trail where whole families with small children walk, and on Valdosta State University property next to the VSU Recreation Center.

[Manhole dug down]
Manhole dug down

Mario Cattabiani, RossFellerCasey, 20 March 2014, $85 Million Verdict For Student Who Fell Into Open Manhole,

Founding partner Matt Casey argued in court that defendant Trigen-Philadelphia Energy Corp. failed to properly secure the manhole, which had been removed by a homeless man shortly before Gustafsson happened by that fateful day. The trial lasted three weeks, featured thousands of documents and a closing scene that played out as if written in a Hollywood script. As the jury was set to return a verdict, at literally the last minute, the insurer offered to settle the case for $10 million—a sum Casey, in consultation with his client, rejected. Just moments later, the jury awarded the former promising medical student $85 million.

McAleer Law Firm, 21 April 2020, A Plaintiff’s Evidentiary Burden in Georgia Personal Injury Lawsuits against the Government

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an appeal from a judgment in favor of a plaintiff in her lawsuit against the City of Atlanta. The woman filed a lawsuit to recover for damages she incurred after driving into an open manhole. The woman contended that the government should be liable for her injuries because the manhole was a public nuisance. The city appealed a jury finding in favor of the woman, arguing that the woman did not meet her evidentiary burden.

Under Georgia law, a municipality “may be held liable for damages it causes to a third party from the operation or maintenance of a nuisance, irrespective of whether it is exercising a governmental or municipal function.” To recover for damages plaintiffs must present evidence that: Continue reading

Avoid sewage spills: no wipes in the pipes 2020-05-06

Nobody wants any more sewage spills because of Fats Oils and Grease (FOG) or blue gloves or sanitary wipes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[Pumper on Cherry Creek Church Road]
Pumper on Cherry Creek Church Road

Valdosta Utilities apparently cleaned up this one in April off of Bemiss Road before it could get into Cherry Creek, since the bacterial sample I took showed very little E. coli. Here’s a Valdosta press release and video on how to prevent such spills.

City issues reminder: “No wipes in the pipes”

The City of Valdosta is asking residents to avoid flushing sanitation wipes even if the package states they are flushable! Paper towels and facial tissues also should not be flushed in local sewer lines as people practice guidelines to combat the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. While the “flushable” wipes concern is not new to wastewater facilities, there is an increased risk to our system recently. Continue reading

Response: Valdosta says it is manhole rehabilitation at One Mile Branch near Sustella Ave. 2020-06-04

Other than to wonder how 9:24 AM (when I asked) to 8:42 PM (when I posted the previous) adds up to a “5.5-6 hour window”, I am posting this exactly as received at 11:40 AM today. -jsq

[Inside manhole]
Inside manhole


Darryl Muse
Attachments
11:40 AM (3 hours ago)
to Scott, Scott, Ashlyn, Tim, Mark, me

Mr. Quarterman, On yesterday the Department, including Mr. Fowler were in the field preparing for anticipated significant rain events over the next several days. As a result, there was no response within the 5.5-6 hour window you noted in your email. Included in this reply is your email to Mr. Fowler so we all can be on the same page as it relates to your request.

Continue reading

One Mile Branch Sewage Spill @ Sustella Ave., VSU 2020-06-02

Update 2020-06-04: Response: Valdosta says it is manhole rehabilitation at One Mile Branch near Sustella Ave. 2020-06-04

Scotti Jay smelled a sewer spill. He found an open manhole, a bunch of hoses, and tracks of large trucks, presumably Valdosta Utilities pumper trucks. We don’t know, because Valdosta has not answered an inquiry from this morning.

[Hose and manhole]
Hose and manhole

This is on Onemile Branch behind the Valdosta State University (VSU) Recreation Center, downstream from Sustella Ave.

The good news from Sara Jay’s water quality testing: she got Continue reading

Clean Withlacoochee River until next big rain 2020-05-05

2020-05-13: A clean week, Withlacoochee River 2020-05-08.

More good news! The Withlacoochee River is still clean. Of course, all these posts are advisory, because conditions can change at any time, it takes 24 hours to process a sample, and everyone’s reactions are different to E. coli and other pollution.

We can guess the Suwannee River is clean, although nobody is testing it, and it seems to have its own sources of contamination.

This clean spell will probably last until the next big rain, which may be some weeks away. So now’s a good time to get out there on our rivers, where you can easily stay 50 feet apart on the water and six feet on land.

WWALS continues water quality testing, and you can help.

[State Line Boat Ramp]
State Line Boat Ramp Photos: Suzy Hall, downstream, John S. Quarterman of 2019 WWALS Boomerang paddle race, and of Waterkeepers Florida toast to Earth Day, all at State Line Boat Ramp.

We’re even thinking of taking down our yellow diamond Caution signs for now.

[Clean with no rain]
Clean with no rain
For context see wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Thanks to Madison Health for the most recent results, from 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

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

Update 2020-03-07: Too Numerous To Count: E. coli, Madison County, Withlacoochee River 2020-03-05.

Tonight at 6PM in Madison, Florida. I’ll be there to discuss the recent water quality test results and to invite them to Earth Day cleanup at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River.

Madison County, Florida

NOTICE OF SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF
COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MADISON COUNTY, FLORIDA
,

NOTICE IS GIVEN that the Board of County Commissioners of Madison County, Florida will hold a special meeting, to which all persons are invited to attend, as follows:

March 6, 2020
6:00 p.m.
Madison County Courthouse Annex
229 SW Pinckney St., Room 107 Madison, Florida 32340

Review with Possible Approval of Draft Request for Proposals to Engage the Services of an Environmental Law Firm.

If you are Continue reading

Still bad Saturday: Withlacoochee and Suwannee River to Mayo and Luraville 2020-02-29

Update 2020-03-02: Suwannee River contamination running downstream to the Gulf 2020-03-01.

Still bad water quality all the way to Luraville and Mayo, according to FDOH Friday for the Withlacoochee River and SRWMD Saturday for the Suwannee River.

A catalog of WWALS, Valdosta, Lowndes County, FDEP, FDOH, and SRWMD results is at wwals.net/issues/testing/. You can help.

[2020-02-29--excerpt-WWALS-composite-wq-results]
2020-02-29–excerpt-WWALS-composite-wq-results
Extract from WWALS composite water quality test results from Georgia and Florida.

A couple days ago I remarked that nobody knew the water quality of the Suwannee River downstream from Dowling Park, because nobody had tested that. Saturday SRWMD did test down at the Hal W. Adams Bridge on FL 51, between Mayo and Luraville, and the result was above the alert level of 1,000, while at Dowling Park it was back below the too-high level of 410. Apparently something was moving down the Suwannee River.

We still don’t know what’s going on downstream of FL 51, for example at US 27 (Branford) or CR 340 (Rock Bluff Ramp). This is more evidence that we need regular, frequent, testing at all these locations, not just after a spill or other upstream alert.

Thanks to Katelyn Potter of the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) for forwarding the Florida updates late Sunday evening. Thanks to SRWMD and Madison Health for testing on a weekend, and to Florida Department of Health (FDOH) for helping. Thanks to Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and Julie Espy for posting results on an FDEP web page. No update on Valdosta’s results website for Friday yet.

WWALS testers Conn and Trudy Cole got Continue reading