Action Alert, Valdosta Sewage Spills

valdosta treatment plant
Valdosta water treatment plant. Photo by Jim Tatum

Thanks to Merrillee  Malwitz-Jipson for this advisory about the task force meeting.  This has been an on-going problem for years, but the last spill in December 2019 was by far the worst and put hundreds at risk needlessly.

One thing is to have record-breaking rains to tax an inadequate system, but it is quite another to put 7.5 million gallons of raw human waste in our public waters because of  rank incompetence and carelessness, which is the case here.

It is our opinion that we are well past the point of tolerance and cooperation with the unqualified, inept public employees who oversee Valdosta’s wastewater system.  There must be new personnel put in place who can handle the responsibility of this important job.

There must also be compensation for the harm rendered to citizens downstream into Florida whose wells were contaminated and whose health was put in harm’s way.

There should also be punitive damages for literally making sewers out of Florida’s rivers.

If you believe this unnecessary and worsening problem should be solved now, come to this meeting and tell the task force we want action.  Public input is welcomed by the task force.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
[email protected]
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum


Please be advised that there will be a Middle and Lower Suwannee River and Withlacoochee River Task Force meeting on Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites, 213 NW Commerce Boulevard, Lake City.


   Please find attached the meeting notice for the meeting.


Click on the following link for a printable version of the complete Task Force meeting packet.


Please note hard copies of the complete meeting packet will be available at the Task Force meeting.


                                Tara Tucker
Executive Assistant to the Executive Director

                                North Central Florida Regional Planning Council
2009 NW 67th Place, Gainesville, FL 32653-1603
Voice: 352.955.2200, ext. 100

                                Fax: 352.955.2209


  1. No offense meant to OSFR historian Jim Tatum, but I think he is mistaken in one of his comments. I believe the original article on this disaster stated that the responsibility for this spill was not due to “inept public employees”, but to “third party contractors” who incorrectly wired the controls being repaired. I see this as the result of what should be the responsibility of public employees, being privatized to businesses that don’t have the safety of the public as their primary purpose, but have a “bottom line” profit motive. This leads to businesses hiring the fewest employees, and paying them the least amount possible, while over working them, which results in mistakes like this, with disastrous results.

    I’m sure there is plenty of blame to go around, including with the public entities that are ultimately responsible for ensuring our safety. All that being said, computer systems that are designed to operate these controls should have a “fail safe” provision that ensures they don’t operate incorrectly if they are not wired properly. The city of Valdosta seems to be taking steps in that direction, but it’s a matter of too little, too late, and too many spills have occurred to not take serious action.

  2. This is unacceptable! Our natural resources are ruined. Our drinking waters are ruined I live appropriately 15 minutes from the Suwannee River. My family enjoys the rivers but will be avoiding it and anything that comes out of it. Florida is a tourism state, heavily dependent on tourists revenue. The company, city, county, and states should be sued for allowing this to continue.

  3. Yes i think something should b done to have more responsible employees and everyone from ga to fl should b paid damages and if there r gonna b ppl handle the sewage than they need to b responsible and do what their supposed to ..mthey r putting so many ppl at risk for sickness and illnesses

Back to top
Skip to content