Valdosta Daily Times

March 26, 2013

Rains, flooding cause more sewage spills

Treatment plant remains online

Jason Schaefer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Due to heavy rains over the weekend, the City of Valdosta experienced further major sewage spills Monday in areas where sewer lines have been infiltrated by floodwaters.

The Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant also released more than 8.33 million gallons of partially treated wastewater carrying suspended solids in excess of permitted limits as a result of stormwater overload.

Nearly five inches of rain fell in some areas of the city, according to a city press release issued Monday afternoon, leading to the overflow of an estimated 720,000 gallons of raw sewage from manholes at five points along the sewer line.

Manholes in the 1400 block of Gornto Road and behind residences in the 2400 block of Meadowbrook Drive discharged an estimated 400,000 gallons of sewage into Sugar Creek, with 360,000 gallons spilling from the Meadowbrook manhole.

A manhole behind a residence in the 600 block of Scott Drive discharged about 300,000 gallons, and a manhole west of the Withlacoochee River on Ga. 133 contributed another 20,000 gallons to the total.

The WWTP released no raw sewage, but suspended solids were 1.5 times the minimum allowed by the plant’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit in more than 8.33 million gallons of partially treated wastewater discharged from the facility Saturday, March 23. This constitutes a major spill.

Part of the treatment process at the plant involves using bacteria, protozoa and other microorganisms to break down solids in raw sewage that comes into the plant, according to Environmental Manager John Waite. These microorganisms make up biomass that is contained in the plant’s secondary system.

“When the sewage comes in, they’re there to consume the organics,” Waite said. “In a huge flood like we had this weekend, part of that biomass is carried out of the plant. That’s what causes the high suspended solids.”

The plant was not shut down during this flood, though the city cut power to portions of the plant during the major flood event a few weeks ago.