Tag Archives: Valdosta Utilities

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

Trash on Two Mile Branch at Sugar Creek 2020-04-21

Cleanup opportunity on Two Mile Branch where it joins Sugar Creek!

A few days ago we got this: “Hello! I don’t know if y’all are the people I should contact, but I was at Two Mile Branch today, and there is a huge amount of garbage and debris.”

We have an offer of cleanup access from a neighboring property owner. It’s possible to do this while staying six feet apart, and people don’t even have to go at the same time. This is a great opportunity for #SuwanneeCleanup!

[Two views]
Two views

Easy way to report a problem (trash, sewer spill, etc.) to 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

Avoid Withlacoochee River Knights Ferry to Suwannee River Dowling Park 2020-02-27

The good news: both Valdosta and FDEP are posting testing results on their websites. There’s a catalog of those and WWALS’ results at wwals.net/issues/testing/.

The better news: Valdosta is testing three times a week, FDOH once a week, and FDEP is testing again, after saying it wouldn’t.

The really bad news: Thursday test results say stay off the Withlacoochee River at least from Knights Ferry on down, and the Suwannee River from the Withlacoochee Confluence at least down to Dowling Park.

The WWALS results from my Monday samples may help explain this contamination, and it looks like you can see it flow from Crooked Creek through Okapilco Creek to the Withlacoochee and the Suwannee. You can help.

[Rain driving contamination down 2020-02-27]
Rain driving contamination down 2020-02-27.
Extract from WWALS composite water quality test results from Georgia and Florida.

But Valdosta’s Wednesday results also show contamination at US 41, upstream of Valdosta. And FDEP shows a spike at Dowling Park again. So there are multiple sources, not only in Brooks County, Georgia, but also elsewhere. The good news for Valdosta is it doesn’t seem to be coming from Valdosta.

WWALS continues to work on locating sources of contamination. For example, two of us visited the Quitman Land Application Site Wednesday. More on that in another blog post. WWALS testers will be sampling this weekend.

I took samples on Crooked Creek again Continue reading

200 gallons sewage into Twomile Branch, N. Patterson St., Valdosta 2020-02-10

Received via email a few minutes ago, confirming what our WWALS agents saw earlier today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 10, 2020
Release #02-10-20

Grease Blockage Leads to Manhole Overflow

On February 10, 2020, The City of Valdosta Utilities Department staff responded to a call concerning a manhole discharge at the 2400 block of Patterson Street.

[Twomile Branch, N. Patterson St., Valdosta, GA]
Twomile Branch, N. Patterson St., Valdosta, GA, on the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

The cause of the spill was determined to be a grease blockage resulting in approximately 200 gallons of sewage to enter a storm drain that discharges into Two Mile Branch. The blockage was caused by a buildup of fats, oils, and grease that accumulated inside the sewer line.

City staff were able to capture and recover a large portion of the discharge before it entered state waters. The blockage was cleared and the site and its discharge point were cleaned and disinfected.

Although the level of potential contamination to the area is minimal, the public is advised Continue reading

Signs in Georgia on Withlacoochee River and new data; thanks Lowndes County and SRWMD 2020-01-10

Update 2020-01-14: Recent water quality test results, Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers 2020-01-11

There are two warning signs at each of Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps as of yesterday: by Lowndes County, and by WWALS. According to new data from Wednesday evening, those signs may not have been necessary, but at this point better safe than sorry. The new data did not come from Valdosta, nor did the signs.

[County and WWALS warning signs]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, County and WWALS warning signs at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, 2020-01-10

Thanks to Lowndes County and Chairman Bill Slaughter for testing at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps, and for making and planting those tall metal caution signs after the county numbers for Monday, January 6, 2020, were quite high. The county is now doing weekly testing, including at additional locations.

Just in case, WWALS also made signs and placed them. Continue reading

Suwannee Riverkeeper asks Georgia EPD to require Valdosta to do better about its record sewage spill 2019-12-17

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, December 19, 2019 — Compelled by the severity of Valdosta’s record raw sewage spill and the expenses and stigma incurred nearby and downstream, Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition has sent a letter requesting ten enforcment actions to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD). WWALS member Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Florida, summed it up: “As a person living downstream on the Withlacoochee River in Florida, I feel shat upon by Valdosta over and over. I cannot drink the water from my well. I worry about the health of the river itself and the animals that live in it and drink from it. We in Florida were patient while Valdosta was improving their wastewater plant, which apparently was not adequate since we still have spills when it rains heavily. But this time it was not a rain event. It was gross negligence. I am out of patience. I believe it is time for legal action.”

The Suwannee Riverkeeper letter notes GA-EPD already has a legal action against Valdosta, a Consent Order. WWALS asks GA-EPD to use its enforcement power to require notification, water quality testing, education, and plans and procedures not only for preventing such spills but also for tracking them as they travel down our creeks and rivers and for remediation of effects on wells and reputation.

[2019-12-17--WWALS-GA-EPD-Valdosta-sewage-0001]
2019-12-17–WWALS-GA-EPD-Valdosta-sewage-0001

“Valdosta says it does what GA-EPD tells it to do, so we’re asking GA-EPD to tell them,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Today we’re forwarding the letter to Continue reading