Valdosta Daily Times

April 16, 2014

Sewage problems persist

Matthew Woody
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Early Tuesday morning, Valdosta became saturated when the area received approximately three inches of rain from 4 a.m. to noon. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, 11 manholes throughout the City of Valdosta have spilled 286,500 gallons of wastewater into local waterways, and this number will continue to rise.

The city states 10 of the 11 overflows were still ongoing, as of 3 p.m. Tuesday, and estimated the amount spilled for each manhole. These major spills entered the waters of the state and have been reported to the Environmental Protection Division:

Two manholes in the 600 block of Scott Drive overflowed, and the estimate of the overflow into Sugar Creek is 63,000 gallons and 6,000 gallons respectively. Current status: still overflowing.

A manhole in the 1200 block of Lake Drive overflowed an estimated 31,500 gallons in Two Mile Branch. Current status: still overflowing.

A manhole in the 4100 block of Bemiss Road overflowed an estimated 18,000 gallons into Cherry Creek. Current status: still overflowing.

One manhole in the 800 block of Gornto Road has overflowed an estimated 15,000 into Two Mile Branch. Current status: still overflowing.

Two manholes on Remer Lane overflowed into Sugar Creek and overflowed an estimated 99,000 gallons and 6,000 gallons respectively.  Current status: still overflowing.

One manhole in the 1700 block of Gordon Street has spilled an estimated 6,000 gallons into Sugar Creek. Current status: still overflowing.

A manhole at 1100 Jo Ree Street has overflowed an estimated 13,500 into One Mile Branch. Current status: still overflowing.

A manhole in the 600 block of Cypress Street has overflowed an estimated 22,500 gallons into Knights Creek. Current status: still overflowing.

A manhole in the 2400 block of Meadowbrook Drive overflowed an estimated 6,000 gallons into Sugar Creek. The overflow was stopped at 12 p.m., on April 15.

Even though the spill on Cypress Street was observed by the city at 3 p.m., when the Times arrived to that manhole at 3:45 p.m. there were no signs warning the public of a sewage spill.

The city stated that despite the heavy rain, the wastewater treatment plants did not overflow, or violate any permits.

“The Mud Creek and Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plants remained in compliance and effectively processed the excess flows at the facilities, a direct result of over $2.5 million in sanitary sewer system improvements made recently,” the city states.

Sementha Mathews, Valdosta's public information officer said, “The plants are processing more than we ever thought they could. It was processing almost 17 million gallons per day, today, and that's a huge amount considering it's built for a peak flow of 12 million gallons per day.”

On Tuesday, complaints about manhole spills in Quitman were investigated by the Times and two active spills were found with no signs posted informing residents of a spill.

Quitman City Manager, J.D. Herring said he did not know of any spills, but said maybe his Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator, John Thursby knew about it.

Thursby said Quitman had two wastewater spills. “There's one on N. Jefferson St. and there's one on Walker Street,” Thursby said. “The EPD has been notified. The health department has been notified, and a public notice has been posted at city hall.”

As for signs not being posted, Thursby said, “They're being put up, we hadn't got to them right there, they are being put in place now.”

When heavy rains hit Quitman, these two manholes released approximately 10,000 gallons per manhole, Thursby states.

To relieve the situation, Thursby said, “We're doing some investigations trying to find out where we're getting cross connections in the system right there. We're working at it, there's only two of us in my department, and we are working at trying to find a solution.”