Tag Archives: MOST

The SPLOST Debate –Tim Carroll

Received 27 October 2013. -jsq

I have had a number of folks contact me about the upcoming SPLOST VII referendum and inquiring about a MOST. Trying to talk about all of this in as few a words as I can is not easy. But to give you some perspective—the city’s general fund budget is $32M. $5.9M of the revenue for this fund comes from property taxes. Based on the city tax digest a mill is worth $1.5M. The experts say 50.2% of the sales tax is paid by out of towners. In the opinion of some folks, it is closer to 30%. Pick the experts or local guesses ….it still is a significant amount. It clearly is very beneficial to the citizens of Valdosta and Lowndes County.

By now many have heard about a MOST or Municipal Option Sales Tax.

In the first part of this year—the city of Valdosta was faced with Continue reading

Valdosta PR about wastewater issues

The city of Valdosta responds. I have decorated this PR with a few images with links, and a few comments after it. -jsq

Mayor and Council Address Recent Wastewater Issues,

The Valdosta Mayor and City Council are committed to providing quality municipal services that meet the expectations of our citizens. In addition to providing fire and police protection and other beneficial quality of life services, the city leadership is equally committed to providing adequate water and wastewater treatment services to its citizens, maintaining a functioning sewer collection system and discharging treated water in an environmentally responsible manner.

Recently, citizens have been inundated with information about the current state of the city’s wastewater treatment plant and sewer collection system, as well as the decisions made during the recent flood event. The following information is provided to explain the recent event and to help citizens better understand these important issues and the dedicated work of their elected officials and municipal staff.


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Spilling Sewage Pictures by Gabe Fisher 3:30 PM 24 March 2013

Received yesterday. -jsq

Date: Sun, 24 Mar 2013 15:43:47 -0400


All, just so everyone is on the same page- the sewer line is currently spilling sewage. It just started at mu house but has been going strong at sugar creek for awhile by the looks of it. Here are some current pictures as of 3:30 today. It will get worse until the river crests..


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More Valdosta wastewater correspondence

Some interesting questions have come up in Gabe Fisher's continuing correspondence with the City of Valdosta about sewage in his back yard and under his house, while City Council Tim Carroll continues to respond, both copying a long list of people.

From: Gabe Fisher
Date: Mon, 4 Mar 2013 14:23:12 -0500

All, I appreciate the update on where the city stands on moving the sewer all together—I just wish we had been kept informed of the plans over the last 4 years. Living with the *real* threat of flooding is stressful enough, add in the guaranteed associated sewage spill is more than I can handle.

I also appreciate the city workers spreading lime and working on the sewer line behind my house today. But I have questions—What about the sewage in my yard and under my house? Is this my responsibility?

Thanks, Gabe

Tim Carroll responded with a couple of suggestions:

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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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