Valdosta Daily Times

April 10, 2014

More spills than city reported

Times finds allegedly repaired site spewing sewage

Matthew Woody
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Wednesday afternoon, Times' reporters went to a location off of Gil Harbin Industrial Boulevard searching for manholes in an area known for leaking. One manhole was repaired March 5, 2013, and another during the first week of April in 2014, and while the reporters were observing these manholes, they found another spill that the City of Valdosta was unaware of.

Henry Hicks, Valdosta's director of utilities, denies that the repair made last year was on the leaking manhole found by the Times, but the Times has photographic evidence that the manhole was repaired last year, too.

The City of Valdosta was unaware of this leak, and officials do not know when it began, so there were no signs warning the public to stay out of the water that had toilet paper and baby wipes visibly flowing out of the spill site.

Last year, the City of Valdosta noticed this manhole leaking on March 4, repaired it on March 5, and cleaned the area on the March 6.

“Approximately 100,000 gallons of untreated wastewater has entered the waters of the state at Dukes Bay Canal,” the city stated last year.

Since the City of Valdosta did not know about this new leak, they have yet to calculate the amount of raw sewage spilling into Dukes Bay Canal.

The city stated that Hicks has contacted a contractor who will be on site first thing in the morning to begin a bypass, then start repairs. The Times will receive more information on this new leak tomorrow and is anticipating an explanation regarding the repairs made a year ago on the site leaking again.

As for the spills earlier this week, the last update, at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, stated that five of the six manholes have stopped over flowing.

A manhole in the 600 block of Scott Drive overflowed, and the estimate of the overflow into Sugar Creek is 84,000 gallons, with an estimated volume of 25 gallons per minute.

A manhole on Remer Lane overflowed into Sugar Creek an estimated 360,000 gallons. Stopped, April 9, at 10 a.m.

A manhole in the 1200 block of Lake Drive overflowed an estimated 399,000 gallons in Two Mile Branch. Stopped on April 9, at 8 a.m.

Two manholes in the 1400 block of Gornto Road have overflowed 90,000 and 30,000 gallons respectively into Sugar Creek. Stopped on April 8, at 2 p.m.

A manhole in the 4100 block of Bemiss Road overflowed an estimated 63,000 gallons into Sugar Creek. Stopped on April 8, at 6 a.m.

This recent incident totaled more than 1.03 million gallons of untreated sewage spilling into local streams, and in some cases, residents back yards.

In one neighborhood, children were jumping on trampolines and dribbling basketballs 20 to 40 feet from an overflowing manhole because they were on spring break, and wanted to play.

The city's current deadline to make the repairs and replacements deemed necessary to fix the crumbling sewage system is July 2016.