Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

March 9, 2013

Not a time for celebration

-- — The City of Valdosta has known about issues with floodwaters threatening the Withlacoochee wastewater treatment plant since 1984, only four years after the plant became operational. And yet until 2009, little to no mention was made of the issue, other than an occasional spill report issued.

In 2008, the city acknowledged to the EPA that 55 million gallons of untreated wastewater and sewage flowed into the Withlacoochee River due to issues at the plant, a full year prior to the April 2009 event. Documented spills and manhole cover issues go back to the 1990s.

To be fair, the city has spent nearly $4 million in improvements since 2009, according to documents they submitted to EPA, and has already purchased new property; designs for a new plant are 90 percent complete. They’ve received a loan in excess of $32 million to begin the major force main projects to replace the gravity-flow systems. But no actions, according to the city, have physically been taken to keep the sewage spills from happening since 2009.

So despite knowing for nearly 30 years that floodwaters were threatening the plant and millions of gallons of sewage have been released into the Withlacoochee River, last week they took the plant offline and deliberately released millions more gallons into the river, and then applauded themselves over the decision during a City Council session.

Despite knowing that just between October 2007 and September 2012, more than 226 million gallons of SSO (sanitary sewer overflows), or discharges of raw sewage according to the EPA, the city maintains that they’ve done nothing wrong, blaming their woes on FEMA.

Unfortunately for the citizens of the City of Valdosta, the EPA and EPD don’t consider the city’s actions as a cause for celebration. The city was able to avoid a costly consent order previously but that possibility doesn’t seem likely this time. The city is facing fines but it’s the citizens who will pay. The city will be forced to rebuild or repair the plant, but in the meantime, residents will have to deal with raw sewage in their yards.

This issue didn’t start in 2009 but many years prior. Although steps have been taken over the years to rebuild and repair portions of the sewer system and the plant, none have prevented the issue from becoming an environmental catastrophe and health hazard more than 100 times just since 2007.

Does this really seem worthy of applause?

As President John F. Kennedy said, “Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

City leaders, please, no more of the blame game. The citizens of this community are  imploring you to just accept responsibility and fix it.

1
Text Only
What We Think
  • Feed the hungry, adopt a duck

    If you haven’t already adopted a duck, you have a little more than a week to do so.

    April 17, 2014

  • If I were mayor

    Each year, the City of Valdosta holds an essay contest, “If I Were Mayor,” with students in the area writing their ideas about what they would do as the head of the city.

    April 16, 2014

  • The real lessons of a mock drill

    Valdosta High School’s Students Against Destructive Decisions held a powerful mock demonstration Monday morning on the school’s campus.

    April 14, 2014

  • Kudos to VPD

    Followed by a stellar report on Sunday about the drop in the crime rate in the City of Valdosta, city police officers prove their worth once again by arresting a dangerous fugitive in our community.

    April 13, 2014

  • It just plain stinks

    After every rain event, the pungent smell of sewage can be detected around the rivers and streams of south Georgia, and Florida residents brace for more to float their way.

    April 13, 2014

  • Pennsylvania school stabbings: Why?

    The following editorial appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Thursday, April 10:

    April 11, 2014

  • European bans on emails unlikely in America

    Several European countries are banning work emails to employees before and after normal working hours, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., in an effort to curb the perceived abuse of employees by corporations.

    April 11, 2014

  • Strength of character

    It was an unusual friendship — a tiny 8-year old girl with long blonde hair and the 6’10” Michigan State basketball player.

    April 10, 2014

  • Daly’s return a boost for Valdosta

    Flashy, colorful and always a hit with the fans for his long drives and humble demeanor, John Daly’s return to Kinderlou Forest and the South Georgia Classic is a boon for Valdosta.

    April 9, 2014

  • Too many pinwheels

    April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, with numerous volunteers assisting the Child Advocacy Center in placing pinwheels on the lawn of the Valdosta City Hall. Each pinwheel represents one child that was a victim of abuse in 2013. Volunteers placed 887 pinwheels in remembrance.

    April 8, 2014

Top News
Poll

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results