Valdosta Daily Times

March 6, 2013

Cleanup begins

City fights raw sewage spills with lime, work crews

Jason Schaefer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — With the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant back online and the floodwaters slowly receding from last week’s rains, workers from the City of Valdosta are spread across areas affected by sewage spills, disinfecting standing solid waste.

The resident in the Old Wood Valley area that spoke out for help treating a sewage spill in his back yard received attention from work crews Wednesday morning. The crews raked up the gray debris that was drying in the sun Tuesday afternoon, and spread lime over the area, the resident said.

This is standard procedure for all work crews as they continue to clean up after the major spill of more than 15 million gallons of raw sewage into floodwaters during the flood, according to Utilities Director Henry Hicks. Work crews dispatched to walk along the riverbed to search for spills have been asked to remove large debris first, and use lime to break down the remaining solids and disinfect the areas.

The City issued a release Wednesday afternoon asking residents to cooperate with these crews. After city workers have spread white lime powder on areas affected by sewage, residents should allow the mixture to set for at least a day, and use a sprinkler or a hose to water the lime and any residue into the soil.

Residents should let the area dry in the sun before allowing access. If there is any lime dust still visible in the yard, continue to water it until the powder is gone.

For those who want to treat their own yards, lime is available in the Garden Center at The Home Depot, 1825 Norman Drive, for $4 per 40-pound bag, and there is plenty available, according to store workers.

According to the City, the cleanup process will take place over the next two weeks or until cleanup and disinfection of those areas previously under water is completed.

Until the work is complete, the city continues to

encourage the public to avoid any contact with the flood waters.  Citizens are urged to observe the following steps for their health and safety:


1. Residents should make sure that kids and pets are kept away from the affected areas until the areas are treated.

2. To decontaminate items that were in the floodwaters, residents can use a solution of one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water and pour the bleach over the items completely.

3. Residents should wear rubber boots, waterproof gloves and other protective clothing when cleaning affected items, and should throw away items that can’t be cleaned.

Report of Major Spill to Waters of the State at Dukes Bay Canal

On March 4, 2013, at approximately 11:30 a.m., a Utilities Department crew located an active sewer spill on the west bank of Dukes Bay Canal, behind 1810 South Patterson Street. This portion of Dukes Bay Canal is bordered by Tucker Road on the north and Gil Harbin Industrial Boulevard on the south. The spill was caused by the rupture of a 15-inch concrete sewer main. The failed portion of sewer main will be replaced by a contractor on March 5, 2013.

Approximately 100,000 gallons of untreated wastewater has entered the waters of the state at Dukes Bay Canal. The public is advised to avoid contact with Dukes Bay Canal south of Tucker Road, until normal conditions are restored.  Signs warning of the major spill are being placed at public access areas downstream of the spill location.  Upstream and downstream sampling of Dukes Bay Canal began this morning.

The local contractor, hired to replace the section of failed sewer main, began the work first thing this morning and is expected to be complete with the work by this afternoon.

Questions or comments concerning this spill should be directed to Environmental Manager John Waite at or (229) 259-3592.