Valdosta Daily Times

March 28, 2013

Wastewater spills continue from treatment plant

Total increases to 31.3 million gallons

Jason Schaefer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The City of Valdosta issued a third press release Wednesday measuring partially-treated wastewater spills from the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Facility in the millions of gallons range.

More than 10.1 million gallons of wastewater containing levels of suspended solids in excess of those allowed by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division were spilled into the Withlacoochee Monday.

On Sunday, more than 12.9 million gallons were spilled, and 8.33 million gallons were spilled Saturday, bringing the total amount spilled to 31.3 million gallons.

Because it takes a day to sample wastewater issuing from the plant effluent, and a day to analyze those samples in the lab, the City press releases announce numbers that are two days old, according to Environmental Manager John Waite.

"The plant samples from seven at night to seven the following morning," Waite said. "We take that sample, run a lab analysis and say it's high enough to result in a major spill. The actual sample collection for the 25th was not complete until 7 a.m. on the 26th. By about lunch time on the 26th, we had results."

The continued spills are due to region-wide heavy rains over the weekend, but Waite expects the numbers to come down into EPD compliance range in the next few days.

In the meantime, Waite and other WWTP personnel have invited engineers to the facility to investigate what problems it may have in its treatment process to cause such frequent spills.

"The I&I (inflow and infiltration) coming in and overloading the plant creates this problem, but as far as what we might find at the plant, I don't have any speculation," Waite said, agreeing that the inspection would net findings.

The flows at the WWTP have been steadily decreasing since the rain event, and no manholes have leaked since Sunday,

according to Waite.

"We're determined to get the plant into compliance and keep it in compliance until the new one is built and we can have a more modern facility," Waite said.

In the meantime, city officials are warning area residents to stay away from the river downstream from the plant for at least seven days.

Wastewater Spills at WWTP

Saturday — 8.33 million gallons

Sunday — 12.9 million gallons

Monday — 10.1 million gallons

Running total — 31.3 million gallons