Tag Archives: Code Enforcement

Valdosta Neighborhood Covered In Raw Sewage —WCTV

Valdosta Flooding As he indicated yesterday, Gabe Fisher got his sewage-covered neighborhood on WCTV last night.

Greg Gullberg wrote for WCTV yesterday, Valdosta Neighborhood Covered In Raw Sewage,

Chad Harrison After days of torrential rain, the same rain that caused the rivers to flood, the sewage pump has been overwhelmed in the Meadow Brook Subdivison just off Gornto Road.

“You know how bad it smells in a bathroom when someone goes in and uses a public restroom. Multiple that ten times,” said Chad Harrison, a local resident.

Greg Gullberg The whole area behind their houses is just covered in raw sewage. Your boots sink down into it with every step. We’re talking everything from human waste, to toilet paper, to hygiene products and a whole other list of things that are just too graphic to mention.

“Probably about 12 to 14 inches of raw sewage,” said Harrison. “It’s just everywhere. It’s all up and down the creek. It’s all behind everybody’s houses.”

House There’s more in the WCTV story, such as that the city has included neighbors in meetings, but has not yet changed anything. The city’s PR about the flooding says:

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Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant Fully Operational

Received today. -jsq


Release #03-13-02
March 3, 2013

Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant Fully Operational

Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant At approximately 1:30 p.m. today, March 3, the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant was brought online and returned to normal operation, after a loss of function for only three days compared to the nine days of complete loss of function experienced in the flood of 2009. Today, the river receded to the point where the temporary by-pass pumps could be connected to the existing valves. The system was turned on, became fully operational and began full treatment capabilities.

Lessons learned from the 2009 flood resulted in proactive measures which include the following:

  • The installation of bypass pumps, pipes and valves to utilize in the event of an emergency or act of God.
  • In 2009, the berm only protected the pump station, which did not prevent flooding of the chemical building, the chlorine contact building, the filters and the belt presses. The plant's electrical system was destroyed in the flooded area and the filters and belt presses were inoperable.
  • In this event, the electric system, chlorine cylinders, de-chlorination system and all flooded areas were turned off to avoid the damage that was experienced in 2009.
  • In this event, the biological, natural occurring bacteria that are used in the treatment process were saved so that the system could treat wastewater immediately when it was turned back on. In 2009, the natural occurring bacteria were washed out of the plant as a result of the continuous pumping during the event.
  • In this event, the plant was fully operational in three days. In 2009, the plant had a complete loss of function for nine days and was not fully operational for over a month.

The city's drinking water supply is in no way

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The WWTP is firing back up as we speak. —Tim Carroll

Tim Carroll’s response to Gabe Fisher. -jsq


I know you are frustrated and pissed. My hope was with the info below all could see the city has not just been idly sitting by. What has been so frustrating for us is that our biggest problem is outside of the city limits.

As discussed below, we are about 90% complete on the design for the big force main project. Once completed it will eliminate the sewage spills during high rain events in your neighborhood.

Just spoke with Larry Hanson and the WWTP is firing back up as we speak. Soon you should start seeing the current spills end as the system is brought fully back up and running.

Something I might add we could not have done so quickly had we not taken the steps we did these past several days.

In regards to clean up —

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What the sewer system is currently doing to our backyards —Gabe Fisher

Received today in response to Tim Carroll’s email.

All, Gabe Fisher here—2420 Meadow Brook. I do not currently have the time, nor mental capacity to fully think through this issue, but I want you all to see what the sewer system is currently doing to our backyards. This video was taken today, in by backyard, after the flood. It has been spilling at least at this same rate for the last 7 days.

What the sewer system is currently doing to our backyards —Gabe Fisher
Video by Gabe Fisher, Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 3 March 2013.

This contaminated water breached my crawlspace, around 24″ deep, and must absolutely be dealt with ASAP. What is the city going to do for me, and my neighbors who are in this same situation??

There is no other word for it—I am pissed. I have seen zero results since the flood in 2009. Yes, maybe receiving 12″ inches of rain is an act of God, but that does not account for all the man made structures that force the flood waters higher at my location, nor other obstacles it must overcome to quickly and efficiently escape our area—such as the train trestle along Gornto. And it absolutely does not account for the city’s poorly planned sewer system..

This isn’t the first sewage spill since the flood of 2009—there have been countless others in my area. I have photos and video evidence of at least 5 that would likely be classified as ‘major’.

This cannot and will not be ‘swept under the rug’.. I am still currently upside down on my property due to the flood of 2009 and this current flood has only further degraded my property’s value.


Looking at his address in the Lowndes County Tax Assessor’s maps, and turning on Flood Map, Lakes and Rivers, and Aerial Photos, you can see that his property and most of all his neighbors’ lots are in the flood plain:

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The rest of the story on waste water —Tim Carroll

Received today from Valdosta City Council Tim Carroll, who sent it to a long list of people, apparently responding to the VDT's recent article and editorials.


During my tenure as a city councilman, I have tried to keep everyone updated on events and issues with our city. I want to share and email I sent out recently that hopefully you will agree is important information. In regards to today's paper — the story has some serious errors and omissions. First of all in 2009- all we saved from the flood was the pump station. No sewage treatment was taking place and contrary to what the VDT says, then as we are now — raw sewage was going into the river. It lasted about a month in 2009. With the decision to pull equipment/tanks etc so they would not be destroyed this year — we not only saved a lot of tax payer money….but we will be able to bring the plant back on line in about a week. Reducing by several weeks the amount of sewage going into the river. In regards to city water systems being compromised — considering our water plant is 10-15 miles north of the WWTP and the amazing fact that the river flows south — your water is completely safe. Do we like discharging raw sewage into the river? Of course not. During the flood it was going to happen either way.

I want to add one other note — the men and women in our Utility department, fire, police, sanitation, engineering etc, etc Floridan Aquifer have been working long days this past week trying to manage flooding issues. They deserve our thanks. It is very frustrating for those whose homes and businesses were threatened by the flood. It is very frustrating to our city employees who have worked so hard to manage this crisis.

So as Paul Harvey says — “here is the rest of the story”.

I think Council Carroll is a bit cavalier about the city's wells being upstream of the wastewater treatment plant, because while the river may flow south, it's not clear how the Floridan Aquifer flows, especially with multiple 800 foot deep wells sucking water out of it. Also I wonder what people downstream of the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant think of all that raw sewage coming down at them, especially considering some of them have wells downstream.

However, he makes a number of points that the VDT omitted, including a plan to do something about the situation, and appended is his "rest of the story".

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VDT v Valdosta Re Wastewater

The VDT has apparently decided the City of Valdosta is to blame for the Withlacoochee Wastewater Woes, and has made its case in a story and two editorials. They seem to have forgotten about the overflow in 2012 already. And the VDT seems to have forgotten about it and its editor's own apparent roles in the loss of the recent SPLOST election that would have funded a new wastewater plant.

Jason Schaefer wrote for the VDT today, Money saved at river's expense: EPD investigates cause of sewage release as waters recede,

When the flooding occurred in April 2009, the City made extraordinary efforts to hold back the flooding, bringing in dirt and heavy machinery to build a berm around the influent pump station and other treatment equipment, working round the clock.

The efforts were successful. The treatment plant remained on during the duration of the flood, and Valdosta's raw sewage remained contained, though the facility incurred damages to its electrical and biological purification systems, according to Utilities Director Henry Hicks.

This year, the City opted for a different approach—cut electricity to the underwater portions of the plant, submit to the flooding and clean up afterwards.

The plant was “taken offline” Thursday at 9 a.m. “to prevent further damage to equipment and associated electrical and control systems,” according to a statement issued by the Department of the City Manager.

The City stated that as a result of the shutdown, “untreated sewage will be discharging directly into the river” at a rate of between five and six million gallons of raw sewage per day.

In addition, the floodwaters were allowed into the plant and around the remaining portions of the berm that was constructed in 2009 during the rising flood. Only half of the berm now remains, as the other half was removed to allow access to the lower portions of the plant, Hicks said.

So far, this year's response strategy seems to have saved the City money. In 2009, about $500,000 was spent in manpower, equipment and supplies to build the berm alone, and the plant, kept running, incurred significant damages though raw sewage was kept out of the river. This year, the money was not spent on the berm or to prevent the flooding, and at least 15 to 20 million gallons of raw sewage will have been released into the Withlacoochee by the time the plant is back online.

There's more in the story, which is well worth a read. Also note this inserted in the middle of the story:

Editor Kay Harris contributed to this story.

The VDT cites the EPA report, National Enforcement Initiative (FY 2011 – 2013) Keeping Raw Sewage and Contaminated Stormwater Out of Our Nation’s Waters, (more about that EPA initiative here) and continues:

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Videos of the Withlacoochee River in flood

Here are pictures and videos of the Withlacoochee River at GA 122 18 Feb 2013 Withlacoochee River @ GA 122 27 Feb 2013 Withlacoochee River @ GA 122 on 18 February 2013 (on the left when the river was rising) and 27 February 2013 (on the right, when it was clearly in flood stage).

Pictures and videos of the Withlacoochee River at GA 122 by John S. Quarterman and Gretchen Quarterman for WWALS Watershed Coailition.

Brandon Powers for the VDT
And the Valdosta Daily Times has discovered video! VDT posted 25 February 2013, The effects of rain, which includes video of numerous locations around Lowndes County. This is all relevant to the Withlacoochee Wastewater Woes for Valdosta and Lowndes County.


Withlacoochee Wastewater Woes for Valdosta and Lowndes County

AP picked up the story about flooding at Valdosta's Withlacoochee wasterwater treatment plant, citing the VDT and the City as sources. The City of Valdosta thinks the County should contribute to replacing the plant, or maybe the legislature will authorize a municipal option sales tax (MOST).

AP in GPBNews 1 March 2013, Valdosta Treatment Plant Floods,

Authorities shut down a Valdosta wastewater treatment plant as a river flooded critical buildings and structures. The city estimates an average of 5 million to 6 million gallons of untreated sewage will discharge daily into the Withlacoochee River until the flood waters recede and the plant can resume operation. (Photo Courtesy of John S. Quarterman via Flickr.)

Authorities shut down a south Georgia wastewater treatment plant as a river flooded critical buildings and structures.

Valdosta city officials said power at the plant was shut down Thursday to prevent further damage to equipment and control systems.

The city estimates an average of 5 million to 6 million gallons of untreated sewage will discharge daily into the Withlacoochee River until the flood waters recede and the plant can resume operation.

The AP story continues, but let's cut to the sources.

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Proposed abandonment of a portion of County Road 16/Old State Rd. —Brett Huntley @ LCC 2013-02-25

Received today; he sent it to all the Commissioners. -jsq

To the commission on the proposed idea of road abandonment on County Rd. #16:

On the morning of 2/25/13 after the county commission’s morning work session, my wife and I spoke with Joyce Evans and Bill Slaughter on some of our concerns and new found technical information about road abandonment, Georgia state waterways, and what the county and state are expected to protect.

During our conversation we were told that for unexplained legal reasons the county would have to give the road back to the land owner. At this time my thoughts and questions come back to: Why if for legal reasons do we have to give the land back or away, and why are we even having to have a public hearing on this matter, if the public has no say?

Also during this conversation Bill mentioned

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Georgia Recreational Use Statute

Suppose you owned land next to a river. You might have concerns about liability for people getting out of canoes or kayaks onto your land. But you’re in luck! Georgia state law says you’re not liable for most things that could happen.

The Georgia Recreational Use Statute is in O.C.G.A. §51-3-20 through §51-3-26. Here are a few excerpts.

§51-3-20. Purpose of article

The purpose of this article is to encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting the owners’ liability toward persons entering thereon for recreational purposes.

Does that include boating?

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