Valdosta Daily Times

March 19, 2014

1,033,500 gallons and counting

Sewage spills reported by city in 24 hours

Kay Harris
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The City of Valdosta reported more than one million gallons of untreated wastewater from the sewage system have spilled into several waterways around the community following nearly five inches of rain locally.

So far, 1,033,500 gallons of wastewater have spilled and several sites are still overflowing, while others have been stopped and repaired.

On Monday, The Times was alerted to manhole overflows and sewage spills in the Meadowbrook Drive area, the same area that has been hard hit by spills since 2008. Residents could not speak to The Times due to their ongoing lawsuit, filed in 2013, against the city, but The Times was able to photograph several areas of wastewater overflow into nearby Sugar Creek.

The city stated Monday it had 24 hours to assess the totals and alert the public, in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency rules, and on Tuesday

morning, issued a press release detailing the spills and amounts.

"The city’s wastewater treatment plants remain in compliance and effectively processed the excess flows at the facilities," according to the release. "However, ongoing inflow and infiltration of stormwater into the wastewater collection system due to the saturated soils and high ground water table caused manhole overflows in several areas of the city, on March 17.

“These major spills entered the waters of the state and have been reported to the Environmental Protection Division.”

The list of spills reported by the City of Valdosta:

· Two manholes in the 2400 block of Meadowbrook Drive overflowed into Sugar Creek. One overflow is estimated at 103,500 gallons, and the other is estimated at 69,000 gallons. Current status: still overflowing.

· Two manholes in the 2400 block of Meadowbrook Drive overflowed into Two Mile Branch. The estimated volume from these two manholes is 3,000 gallons. Current status: stopped.

· A manhole in the 600 block of Scott Drive overflowed, and the estimate of the overflow in Sugar Creek is 138,000 gallons. Current status: still overflowing.

· A residential cleanout overflowed in the 2500 block of Berkley Drive. Wastewater entered the stormwater collection system and discharged an estimated 3,000 gallons into Two Mile Branch. Current status: stopped.

· Wastewater from a manhole overflow on Lake Drive entered Two Mile Branch. The estimated volume is 207,000 gallons. Current status: still overflowing.

· Two manholes overflowed in the area between Remer Lane and Rouse Road. Wastewater from these manholes entered One Mile Branch and is estimated at 414,000 gallons. Current status: still overflowing.

· A manhole on the west side of Bemiss Road in the vicinity of Skipper Bridge Road overflowed, and wastewater entered Cherry Creek near Skipper Bridge Road. The estimated volume is 27,000 gallons. Current status: stopped.

· A manhole at the intersection of Mystic Street and Cypress Street overflowed. Wastewater entered the separate storm sewer system (MS4), which is a tributary to Knights Creek. The estimated volume is 69,000 gallons. Current status: still overflowing.

The city’s public information officer, Sementha Mathews, stated that upstream and downstream sampling has begun in the above locations to collect and document bacteria levels in the various impacted waterways. 

“Public notice signs have been posted downstream from all spill locations, and the public is advised to avoid any contact with these areas.”

Mathews also stated that the city is continuing to smoke test the wastewater system to pinpoint issues, but it will take four years for all of the testing to be completed.

The city is replacing the gravity-fed sewage lines with a $32 million force-main project and has plans to move the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant upstream to higher ground beginning in late 2014.