Tag Archives: Knights Creek

Bad up and down: Withlacoochee River 2021-01-05

Update 2021-01-08: Bad Withlacoochee, OK Alapaha 2021-01-07.

Now with Madison and Hamilton Health advisory.

Monday Valdosta upstream water quality results are bad, and Tuesday Madison Health downstream results are worse. If I were you I would not swim, fish, or boat the Withlacoochee River until better results come in. Plus we have reports that Running Spring on the Suwannee River is brown like it usually is after contamination comes down the Withlacoochee River.

[Bad water quality, bad map on Swim Guide, Withlacoochee River]
Bad water quality, bad map on Swim Guide, Withlacoochee River

Madison and Hamilton Health have issued a joint health advisory.

[Health Advisory, Withlacoochee River]
Health Advisory, Withlacoochee River
PDF

It’s not clear how much of this is due to Tifton’s three weekend sewage spills into the New River and how much is from cattle, pig, and horse manure runoff. Probably mostly the latter. We have ordered some new DNA test kits, but they’re not here yet.

The slightly good news about this sitution is that before the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report and all the new testing by Valdosta, Madison Health, WWALS, and others, this kind of thing may have been going on after every big rain for years, and nobody knew. Also, as Valdosta was quick to point out, at least their Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant did not spill. Maybe the new catch basin helped.

However, it seems like Valdosta could at least fix the potholes in the middle of Mildred Street, where the Saturday spill apparently was. Continue reading

Sewage Spills: Quitman, Valdosta, Tifton 2021-01-03

Update 2021-01-06: Bad up and down: Withlacoochee River 2021-01-05.

Tifton spilled raw sewage three times over the weekend, all into the New River, upstream of the Withlacoochee River. As already reported, Valdosta spilled into Knights Creek, which goes into Mud Swamp Creek, the Alapahoochee River, and the Alapaha River just above Sasser Landing. We have no water quality data downstream of any of those spills.

Plus Quitman finally reported a spill from more than a week ago, but downstream water quality on the Withlacoochee River the next day was actually better than the day before.

However, the big rains in between drove plenty of contamination, probably mostly cow, pig, and horse manure, into the Withlacoochee, with even Madison Health showing too-high E. coli at State Line for December 29, 2020.

The even bigger rains this past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday probably have done the same.

So I’d recommend avoiding not just the Withlacoochee River, but also the Alapaha River for a few days, until better test results come in.

[Spills and little data]
Spills and little data

The one recent datapoint we have is WWALS tester Tasha Ekman LaFace’s record-high for that location 1,333 cfu/100 mL E. coli at Naylor Park Beach on the Alapaha River, just upstream from US 84. But that can’t be from the Valdosta sewage spill, since Naylor Beach is way upstream of the Alapahoochee River Confluence with the Alapaha River. However, Naylor Beach is not a long way downstream from Lakeland, so it will be interesting if we hear about any spills from there. Continue reading

Valdosta Mildred Street Sewage Spill, Alapaha River Basin 2021-01-02

Update 2021-01-05: Sewage Spills: Quitman, Valdosta, Tifton 2021-01-03.

Happy New Year from Valdosta, with a sewage spill at one of its chronic locations, although Valdosta was vague about exactly where and got the creek wrong. I wonder how they plan to fix this flooding that causes sewage spills if they don’t know where the water drains?

On January 2, 2021, the City of Valdosta Utilities Department responded to a call concerning a sanitary sewer overflow at a manhole in the 400 block of Mildred Street, an area that experiences localized flooding during rain events. The sanitary sewer spill was a result of excessive rainfall over a 24 hour period. This amount of rainfall over a short period of time resulted in storm water infiltration and inflow entering the collection system, and causing the manhole to exceed its capacity. Approximately 25,150 gallons of combined storm water and sewage discharged at this location, eventually entering into Dukes Bay.

…Warning signs have been posted at this location as well as downstream to advise the public to avoid any contact with this waterway for the next seven (7) days.

[Sewage Spill, Mildred Street, Valdosta, Alapaha River]
Sewage Spill, Mildred Street, Valdosta, Alapaha River

Although Valdosta’s press release is careful to point out that this spill did not come from the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treetment Plant (WWTP), which is good, the PR does not say where “downstream” is. Dukes Bay Canal goes to Mud Swamp Creek, then the Alapahoochee River, and then reaches the Alapaha River slightly upstream of Sasser Landing, in Hamilton County, Florida.

[Mildred Street to Sasser Landing, Alapaha River]
Mildred Street to Sasser Landing, Alapaha River in the map of the Alapaha River Water Trail.

So this spill will not affect the Withlacoochee River. WWALS will attempt to get some testing done on the Alapaha River. I’d also like to see a Valdosta warning sign posted at Sasser Landing, but I’d bet there is no such sign.

What is downstream is known to Valdosta’s Engineering Department Stormwater Division: City of Valdosta – Master Stormwater Management Plan 2010,

Section 5
Mud Swamp Creek Basin

Mud Swamp Creek is located on the southern side of the City of Valdosta, flowing from west to east. The Mud Swamp Creek basin is about 43 square miles in total area and is tributary to the Alapahoochee River. Within the City, significant drainage features tributary to Mud Swamp Creek include the Dukes Bay Canal and Knights Creek. The Dukes Bay Canal represents approximately 10 percent of the total tributary area of Mud Swamp Creek, while Knights Creek accounts for nearly 40 percent. During the April 2009 storm, some flooding was experienced along Mud Swamp Creek; however, the severity of the flooding was minimal when compared to flooding associated with the Withlacoochee River. Severe flooding, however, was noted downstream of Mud Swamp Creek along the Alapahoochee and Alapaha Rivers.

I wonder if Valdosta has ever fixed this problem, identified later in Section 5:

5.1.3 Existing Conditions

  • Cypress Street Improvements: The 1996 SWMP recommended upsizing the culvert under Cypress Street to a 3 ft H x 5 ft W box culvert. The City has designed this upgrade; however, the new culvert was never constructed. Currently, there is a double 30-inch circular culvert crossing under Cypress Street.

[Dukes Bay Canal East]
Dukes Bay Canal East

However, according to the Valdosta Stormwater Division, Mildred Street does not drain into Dukes Bay Canal.

[3 node locations with potential structural flooding]
3 node locations with potential structural flooding

Instead, Mildred Street drains into Knights Creek. We’ve mentioned this before, for example after Valdosta’s December 14, 2018, 408 Mildred Street spill of 123,375 gallons of raw sewage. Actually, Valdosta even listed that one with GA-EPD as going into Knights Creek.

Also notice that time they were more specific: 408, not just 400 block. But earlier that same month when Valdosta spilled 210,000 gallons they listed it merely as 400 block Mildred Street, although they did get Knights Creek right.

[Valdosta Sub-basins]
Valdosta Sub-basins
PDF

More specifically, Mildred street drains into to what we’re calling Knights Creek Cypress Street Branch 03110202006919, which runs into Knights Creek, which goes into Dukes Bay Canal, etc.

[Knights Creek]
Knights Creek

Valdosta Press Release

Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson, WWALS did get a copy of this PR yesterday at 3:26 PM. However, despite years of promises from Valdosta, we did not get a notice when the state agencies were notified. This Valdosta spill has not yet shown up in GA-EPD’s Sewage Spills Report, although one from Quitman has, from December 22, 2020; stay tuned on that one.

Weekend Storm Results in Manhole Overflow

On January 2, 2021, the City of Valdosta Utilities Department responded to a call concerning a sanitary sewer overflow at a manhole in the 400 block of Mildred Street, an area that experiences localized flooding during rain events. The sanitary sewer spill was a result of excessive rainfall over a 24 hour period. This amount of rainfall over a short period of time resulted in storm water infiltration and inflow entering the collection system, and causing the manhole to exceed its capacity. Approximately 25,150 gallons of combined storm water and sewage discharged at this location, eventually entering into Dukes Bay.

It is important to note that this spill did not occur at the city’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant. During the storm, city infrastructure operated as designed. The Withlacochee Plant ran all four units plus the two excess flow equalization basins.

The city continues its ongoing effort to improve the infrastructure of the city’s collection system and eliminate these issues in the future. The city Utilities Department is currently working on an inflow and infiltration project that will identify sources of I&I, eventually eliminating excess flows into the sewer system during rain events. Sewer spills are not acceptable at any time. It has been the city’s top priority to prevent them all through the recent construction of the WWTP New Secondary Equalization Basin, as well as the Lift Station Rehab Program, Smoke Testing Program, Annual Manhole Rehab Program and the ongoing River Sampling Program that tests waters three times a week.

All appropriate regulatory agencies has been notified, and sampling of the impacted area will start immediately. Warning signs have been posted at this location as well as downstream to advise the public to avoid any contact with this waterway for the next seven (7) days. City staff have cleaned and disinfected the impacted area of this discharge.

[Google Streetview: north from 400 Mildred Street @ Cypress Street]
Google Streetview: north from 400 Mildred Street @ Cypress Street

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

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

Fecal coliform worse than E. coli, Valdosta testing 2019-05-07

While the numbers were way down at US 84 on May 7, bacterial counts were up upstream on the Withlacoochee River, and on Mud Swamp Creek; up more in Fecal coliform than E. coli. These readings seem to indicate nonpoint sources.

Withlacoochee

[Fecal coliform Graph, Withlacoochee River Basin]
Fecal coliform Graph, Withlacoochee River Basin

The high readings are all from stations upstream of Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, and the low reading at US 84 is downstream of the WWTP. Continue reading

Better bacterial levels in Valdosta WQ data 2019-04-02

All of Valdosta’s water quality sampling stations were below the Georgia state limit for E. coli for the first week of April. Valdosta no longer samples weekly, only once a month. It also no longer samples at the state line.

Graph, Withlacoochee River Basin, Withlacoochee

We got this monthly Valdosta WQ data via open records request, as usual. As I said at the April 10, 2019 meeting between Valdosta and the dozen Florida counties, I also filed the next day open records requests for Valdosta’s permit-required spill-followup test data, and for the engineering study they said they had related to how big the new catch basin needs to be. Yesterday I got the latest monthly data a day late, but only a “working on it” about the other two requests. I will now Continue reading

E. coli at GA 133 Withlacoochee 2019-03-05

Valdosta’s monthly water quality testing data shows E. coli down at three out of their six remaining stations, and up at the other three, highest at US 41 on the Withlacoochee River, upstream of most of Valdosta and its Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant. This data is for Tuesday, March 5, 2019, and was obtained as usual by an open records request from WWALS.

Graph, Withlacoochee River Basin, Withlacoochee

Even that 265 cfu/100 ml E. coli is barely above the Georgia limit of 200, and far below the alert line of 1,000.

US 41, Withlacochee River, Withlacoochee

GA 133, Withlacochee River, Withlacoochee

At the next station downstream from US 41, at GA 133, the Withlacoochee River still showed Continue reading

Monthly Valdosta WQ Data 2019-02-07

Valdosta has fallen down to only monthly water quality testing, instead of their former weekly schedule.

Graph, Withlacoochee River Basin, Withlacoochee

They’ve also dropped their two state line stations, so the GA-FL Line trace on this graph ends in December 2018.

Wide Map, Stations

Readings have risen since their January sampling, with Valdosta’s US 84 sampling station above the Georgia state limit at 265 cfu/100 ml of E. coli. Continue reading

Sewage spills in the Suwannee River Basin 2015-2018

Update 2019-01-25: Added an HTML table of all spills in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia since the beginning of 2015.

WWALS Science Committee Chair Tom Potter made this committee report to the WWALS Quarterly Board Meeting of January 2019:

The Science Committee has focused on monitoring sewage spills from Municipalities in the region. The primary data is the online database provide by the GA EPD. The agency regularly compiles spill volume, date, and, location across the state and posts the information on-line.

2015-2018 Valdosta sewage spills, Spills

WWALS played a central role in convincing EPD to provide this data in a timely manner and has regularly posted spill data on the WWALS website, wwals.net/issues/vww/ga-spills/. This a substantial improvement over prior reporting systems and is contributing to timely reporting of conditions that may adversely impact water quality and recreational uses of streams and rivers.

The following graph summarizes reported spill data in Quitman, Tifton and Valdosta and Continue reading

Still below the limit: fecal coliform in Valdosta river data 2019-01-02

Three weeks in a row! The Valdosta river water quality testing data WWALS obtains through a weekly open records request shows all stations tested below the Georgia state limit last Wednesday.

Graph, Withlacoochee River Basin, Withlacoochee

However, like the week before, there are no data for Continue reading