Valdosta Daily Times

February 25, 2013

Report of Major Spill in the Withlacoochee River


From the City of Valdosta

VALDOSTA — Over the two day period of Feb. 22-23, 2013, the Valdosta area received approximately six inches of rain.  Inflow and infiltration of stormwater into the sanitary sewer collection system have caused high flow conditions at the wastewater treatment plants. The high flow at the Withlacoochee Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) caused a hydraulic overload of the secondary system with a resulting loss of secondary solids into the plant effluent.

The total suspended solids result from the effluent sample collected on Saturday, Feb. 23 was 172 milligrams per liter.  This is greater than 1.5 times the seven day average allowed by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, which constitutes a major spill.  The volume of the major spill into the Withlacoochee River is the total flow for Feb. 23, which is 9,047,000 gallons.

The City of Valdosta is currently having a system of pump stations and force mains designed that will replace the existing 52” gravity main that runs along the river basin to deliver flow to the Withlacoochee WPCP.  This will greatly reduce the effects of river flooding on the collection system.  The city is also having a new headworks facility and equalization basin designed for the Withlacoochee WPCP that will reduce the effect of inflow and infiltration on the plant processes.  Both of these designs are 60% complete.

During the federally declared disaster flood of 2009, one-third of the Withlacoochee facility was under flood waters.  The City of Valdosta plans to move the facility to a higher elevation to prevent future flooding.  This move will allow the plant to be completely redesigned and re-built.

These three projects should remove the potential for hydraulic overflow due to inflow and infiltration in the future.  The City of Valdosta is currently seeking revenue sources to allow the completion of these necessary projects.

Upstream and downstream sampling of the Withlacoochee River is being initiated on Feb. 25.  For more information, contact Environmental Manager John Waite at (229) 259-3592 or atjwaite@valdostacity.com.