Valdosta didn’t mention it and the Florida Department of Health doesn’t seem to know it, but Knights Creek is in the Alapaha River watershed. Valdosta spilled sewage into it twice in February. Plus that 16 February spill into Dukes Bay Canal also ends up in the Alapaha River. But never you mind, Valdosta also spilled into the Withlacoochee River through the usual Sugar Creek. Somehow I don’t think all these spills are not Valdosta’s fault. Seems like it’s time for Valdosta to finish fixing its wastewater problem. And since the most recent spills were due to rainfall directly on Valdosta, the levee proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers on Sugar Creek at the Withlacoochee River wouldn’t help, nor would it help at any time for spills directly into the Withlacoochee River at GA 133, nor for Dukes Bay Canal nor Knights Creek, which flow into the Alapaha River.
News Release, Florida Department of Health (FDH), 27 February 2015, Florida Department of Health Advises of Possible Wastewater Contamination,
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. —The Florida Department of Health today issued an advisory to residents and visitors in two counties next to the Withlacoochee River in north Florida. The city of Valdosta has reported a spill, made up of a combination of stormwater and untreated sewage that has overflowed into Knights Creek, One-Mile Branch, Two-Mile Branch and Sugar Creek, which flow into the Withlacoochee River.
Until further information is known regarding possible contamination of the river, people in the area are urged to take precautions when in contact with the Withlacoochee River. This includes those individuals in the counties of Hamilton and Madison.
That PR continues with the usual health warnings.
But it doesn’t note that Knights Creek does not end up in the Withlacoochee River. It flows into Mud Swamp Creek, which joins with Grand Bay Creek to form the Alapahoochee River, which joins the Alapaha River, which flows into the Suwannee River. None of this is in Madison County, Florida, but the Alapahoochee also goes through Echols County, Georgia, and does flow through Hamilton County, Florida, as does the Alapaha River.
What does the City of Valdosta say about this overflow? The Utilities Department doesn’t say anything: its most recent News update about an overflow is about the 16 February 2015 overflow into Dukes Bay Canal.
And, wait a minute, Dukes Bay Canal also ends up in the Alapaha River, although Valdosta’s PR never mentioned that. Here is a map that shows Dukes Bay Canal flowing into Mud Creek from Valdosta’s own SWMP Update Phase 1 Final Report, Section 2 Methodology:
If we tarzan over to Valdosta’s front page and look under Valdosta News, we do find this PR of 26 February 2015, which adds more detail to the FDH PR: City Responds to Wastewater Spills due to Heavy Rains,
On Feb. 25-26, 2015, a severe weather system dumped over three inches of rain on the City of Valdosta and the surrounding areas, most of which arrived overnight between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Utilities Department crews responded throughout the night and early morning to several wastewater spills in the following locations:
- An overflow on Cypress and Mystic Streets spilled an estimated total of 48,000 gallons into a tributary of Knights Creek.
- An overflow on Scott Drive spilled an estimated total of 5,250 gallons into Sugar Creek.
- An overflow on Remer Lane spilled an estimated total of 311,250 gallons into One Mile Branch.
- An overflow on Meadowbrook Drive spilled an estimated total of 45,750 gallons into Two Mile Branch.
- Two overflows on Gornto Road spilled an estimated total of 157,500 gallons and 2,200 gallons into Sugar Creek, respectively.
- An overflow discovered on Hwy 133 spilled an estimated 22,000 gallons into the Withlacoochee River.
All of the overflows listed above have stopped, including an overflow from a broken sewer main off of Meadowbrook Drive, where crews are working diligently to repair the sewer main that caused this spill. An estimated total of 87,500 gallons spilled into Two Mile Branch at this location.
Warning signs have been placed at and downstream from the sites, and sampling of the affected waterways began today.
The state Environmental Protection Division and local Health Department have been notified as required, and the public should avoid contact with these waterways for the next several days.
For more information, contact Environmental Manager Russell Dorman at (229) 259-3592 or at email@example.com. Citizens may also visit www.valdostacity.com/utilities to view the progress of the city’s Force Main Project and other sanitary sewer collection system improvement projects.
All the other creeks mentioned do end up in the Withlacoochee River, and this PR does mention the Withlacoochee River because one spill went directly into it. But there’s no mention in this PR that Knights Creek goes into the Alapaha, not the Withlacoochee. How about a little more transparency, Valdosta?
And that was the second time into Knights Creek in February. Valdosta News, 8 February 2015, City Responds to Manhole Overflow on East Park Avenue,
On Feb. 6, 2015, at approximately 3 p.m., City of Valdosta Utility Department crews responded to a manhole overflowing in the 1900 block of East Park Avenue, between J.L. Newbern Middle School and Jaycee Shack Road.
The overflow was the result of a bypass pumping issue at the city sewer pump station on East Park Avenue, which is currently being rehabilitated under contract through the city’s Pump Station Rehabilitation Program. The contractor performing this work ordered additional bypass pumps to correct the problem. At 9 p.m., on Feb. 6, the new pumps were placed in service, and the overflow was stopped. Crews pumped standing sewage back into the collection system throughout the night. At 1 p.m., on Feb. 7, the spill site was cleaned and lime was applied for disinfection.
The city estimates that 96,500 gallons of sewage entered Knights Creek at the Park Avenue Bridge. Signs warning of the spill have been placed, and sampling of the affected stream began on the morning of Feb. 7.
The state Environmental Protection Division has been notified as required. Due to the possibility of high bacterial counts, the public should avoid contact with Knights Creek for the next several days.
For more information, contact Environmental Manager John Waite at (229) 259-3592 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.valdostacity.com/utilities.
Come now, Valdosta, don’t try to blame this on your contractor. You hired them; you supervise them; and you’re responsible for your own sewage.