Valdosta Daily Times

February 26, 2013

Flooding expected

Many area schools close as more rain heads this way

Staff reports
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — With more rains expected and a possibility for flooding, several regional schools canceled classes for today.

Lowndes, Berrien, Brooks, Clinch, Cook, Lanier counties’ schools systems canceled today’s classes. Wiregrass Georgia Technical College also canceled classes. Valdosta City Schools issued a statement Monday evening that its schools will be open today.

There is a 70 percent chance of more severe thunderstorms today, largely through 1 p.m., with a high near 74 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Up to half an inch of additional rain is possible today, the weather service says.

A flood warning was issued for the Withlacoochee River at Skipper Bridge Road, affecting Berrien and Lowndes counties. The flood stage at that area was 13 feet; at 2:30 p.m. Monday, the river had reached 13.7 feet, resulting in minor flooding, and was expected to rise above 17 feet today, according to the weather service.

A flash-flood watch was in effect for most of the tri-state area Monday and was expected to remain in effect this morning.

Lowndes County Warnings

Lowndes County officials urged citizens to stay in place Monday evening and today, if possible.

For Monday evening, Lowndes County Emergency Management warned individuals to stay indoors and avoid travel.

Rising water levels were a concern. A flood warning had been issued for the Withlacoochee River with levels indicating a possible impact on Langdale Park Monday afternoon.

“Lowndes County Emergency Management will continue to work with available resources over the next several days to monitor local river levels,” according to a county announcement.

On Monday afternoon, the only area of immediate concern was Franks Creek Bridge, over Franks Creek. If water levels continued to rise, the bridge could be closed until water levels go down.

“Historically, flooding has not affected local roads and/or residences until water levels reach approximately 17 feet,” according to Lowndes County officials. “While there is no cause for immediate concern, citizens are encouraged to remain aware of their surroundings. Citizens may monitor local river levels by accessing real time stream gauge information by visiting the following link:

The county warned motorists to stay away from flooded streets, roads and bridges under all circumstances.

“Standing water may hide significant damage to the infrastructure underneath; take precaution and avoid flooded areas,” according to Lowndes County officials. “Local road conditions are being closely monitored. Lowndes County Emergency Management will utilize the CodeRed Emergency Notification system in the event emergency information is released. Citizens are encouraged to sign up for this free service by and clicking on the CodeRed icon.

American Red Cross South Georgia Chapter

On Monday afternoon, the American Red Cross South Georgia Chapter announced it is preparing for the possibility of extreme flooding situations in the South Georgia area. The chapter covers 11 counties, Brooks, Colquitt, Cook, Decatur, Echols, Grady, Lanier, Lowndes, Mitchell, Thomas and Seminole.

“We are conducting a call down on all personnel, checking inventory and securing resources in the event of a shelter needing to be opened,” Terri M. Jenkins, American Red Cross South Georgia Chapter executive director said Monday afternoon.

As of that time, only Colquitt County had reported major flooding of residential subdivision, Jenkins said.

Jack Looney, American Red Cross South Georgia Chapter emergency services program manager, remained in constant contact with all of the area’s emergency management directors.

City of Valdosta spillage

The City of Valdosta measured six inches of rain having fallen between Friday and Saturday, according to a city press

release. This statement did not take into account the rain that fell throughout Monday. Based on the weekend’s precipitation, inflow and infiltration of stormwater into the sanitary sewer collection system caused high-flow conditions at the wastewater treatment plants.  

The high flow at the Withlacoochee Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) caused a hydraulic overload of the secondary system with a resulting loss of secondary solids into the plant effluent.

The total suspended solids result from the effluent sample collected on Saturday, Feb. 23, was 172 milligrams per liter. This is greater than 1.5 times the seven-day average allowed by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, which constitutes a major spill. The volume of the major spill into the Withlacoochee River is the total flow for Feb. 23, which is 9,047,000 gallons.

On Monday, the City of Valdosta had a system of pump stations and force mains designed that will replace the existing 52-inch gravity main that runs along the river basin to deliver flow to the Withlacoochee WPCP. This will greatly reduce the effects of river flooding on the collection system.

The city is also having a new headworks facility and equalization basin designed for the Withlacoochee WPCP that will reduce the effect of inflow and infiltration on the plant processes. Both of these designs are 60 percent complete.

During the federally declared disaster flood of 2009, one-third of the Withlacoochee facility was under flood waters. The City of Valdosta plans to move the facility to a higher elevation to prevent future flooding.  This move will allow the plant to be completely redesigned and re-built.

These three projects should remove the potential for hydraulic overflow due to inflow and infiltration in the future. The City of Valdosta is currently seeking revenue sources to allow the completion of these necessary projects.

Upstream and downstream sampling of the Withlacoochee River was being initiated Monday. — City of Valdosta report.