Sewage spill not Valdosta’s fault this time

Not every spill is the city’s fault.

City of Valdosta PR, VDT, 18 February 2015, Sewage spilled into waterway,

VALDOSTA — An estimated 375 gallons of sewage dumped into a tributary of Dukes Bay Canal Monday, according to city officials.

A spokesperson for the city said the wastewater spill near Old Statenville Road and Arlington Ave. was the result of a manhole overflow at the 1100 Block of Old Statenville Road around 11 a.m. Monday.

The public is being cautioned to avoid contact with the tributary and the Environmental Protection Division and Health Department have been notified of the spill.

City officials have issued a notice of violation of the city’s Sewer Use Ordinance to a property owner, saying that the spill was the result of a buildup of rags and grease from a poorly maintained private sewer system discharging into a City of Valdosta sewer main.

According to a statement released by the city Tuesday morning, the incident is the second instance in the last two years in which a sewer spill at the location was caused by what the Valdosta Utilities Department called, “the improper maintenance of this internal private sewer system.”

A spokesperson said, if another spill occurs at the location, the Utilities Department will initiate court proceedings against the property owner.

City crews reportedly cleaned the area, recovered wastewater and applied lime to disinfect the affected areas.

Winnie Wright, WCTV, 17 February 2015, City Of Valdosta Not To Blame For Manhole Sewage Overflow,

Henry Hicks, the City of Valdosta Utilities Directors says, “It was a combination of grease and rags that clogged the system and caused the overflow.”

This is not the City’s first sewage overflow, but this time they say a private business is to blame. Hicks says the City has an ordinance in place to discourage restaurants from pouring grease down their drains. However, regulating private residences is much more difficult.

Hick adds, “What we are doing is we are checking all of our records so we are getting everything together, sending a notice of violation. We will give them a 15 day period to respond. That’s why we’ve got to find out who the owners are. It may be multiple owners. I don’t know. But they’ve got to respond with a remedial action plan on how they’re going to prevent that from happening again.”

In this case, it’s up to the apartment complex management to keep their sewage lines cleared by educating residents, or by hiring a private company to clean the lines, Hicks says.

This incident is actually different from the more general flooding and wastewater problem, which Valdosta has a funded plan to fix and is busily working towards that end.