Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

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.

At 305 million gallons spilled in seven years, by the city and EPD’s reckoning, Valdosta has spewed more raw and partially treated sewage into the waters of the state than any other municipality ever has. Atlanta’s legendary EPD fines were for a small percentage of what Valdosta has spilled and yet the city received no fines. With construction of the plant and the various projects aimed at resolving the issues at least two to four years from full completion, the system is crumbling under the city with no short term solutions even proposed.

The Times found several manholes leaking sewage this week that the city didn’t know about. It’s difficult to find spewing manholes if you aren’t even looking. And if you don’t know about spills, you don’t have to report them.

The city’s excuse is that with more than 6,000 manholes, it’s impossible to get around to them all. They’ve only been able to inspect about half of them in two years, so perhaps the city needs to get creative about finding leaks and spills in order to prevent more from happening.

Between city employees, citizens and civic groups, surely there are enough volunteers to “adopt” manholes to report leaks in order to expend the millions in resources the city has at its disposal to stop the sewage from flowing.

It’s a shame that environmental groups are more interested in stopping theoretical disasters than addressing real ones. It’s also a shame that those whose lack of oversight and judgment has allowed water pollution of this magnitude continue to go unpunished.

The saying is that “fish stink from the head down.” Until the real problems are addressed, the sewage will continue to flow.

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