The water treatment plants of both Starke and Valdosta are unable to handle summer rains. Simple human error so often is the cause of these unnecessary environmental disasters, but it seems such is not so much the case here. But yes, indirectly this is human error in that inadequate planning has resulted in the spills.
If Florida cannot handle its citizens’ waste perhaps we should put a moratorium on new developments which bring in more people. We already know we are swiftly running out of water for them and it is now becoming more and more apparent we cannot provide adequate waste disposal. Daily there are advisories of contaminated water at different locations throughout the state.
We have posted ad nauseam on Valdosta’s follies which have been going on for many years; Starke, however, hits home because their sewage heads for the Santa Fe River. Their spills are unacceptable and must be stopped now.
It rains in Florida and they must prepare for that.
Our thanks go to John Quarterman, Suwannee RiverKeeper, for his efforts with Valdosta and now Starke. You can view his post here on the WWALS website.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum
Sewage Spills: Valdosta, GA, Starke, FL 2021-07-08
The good news: there were no spills from Valdosta’s two wastewater treatment plants, and the new WWTP catch basin is only half full (so far). Plus, the Mayor of Valdosta called to let us know about these spills.
The bad news: Valdosta spilled 89,980 gallons of raw sewage from at least six manholes, and Starke spilled probably 40,000 gallons or more from at least six locations. At least one of the Valdosta spills was from a repeated spill offender we have complained about many times: Wainwright Drive on Onemile Branch.
The other Valdosta spills apparently went into either Twomile Branch or Sugar Creek upstream from the Withlacoochee River, and two possibly into creeks in the Alapaha River Basin. Can’t tell without more precise locations.
A press release is expected soon from Valdosta. I will probably follow up with that and which waterways were affected. Maybe GA-EPD will post Valdosta’s spill reports in the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report.
The Starke spills were all into or near Alligator Creek 00277787, into Lake Rowell, Lake Sampson, Sampson River, Santa Fe River.
Thanks to Valdosta Mayor Scott James for forwarding this message from Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber:
Good Morning All,
I wanted to update you regarding the effects of Elsa on the City’s utility system. We did experience 6 spills at manholes. The spills were at the following locations: Gornto Rd. (43,350 gallons), Forrest/Brookwood (90 gallons), Wainwright (37,500 gallons), Berkley (2,182 gallons), Lee St. (2 adjacent manholes on Lee St. one discharged 4,125 gallons and the other 2,733). Each of these areas have been appropriately cleaned and sanitized. The Gornto Rd. and the Wainwright Dr. are considered major spills according to EPD standards and have been reported to EPD accordingly.
The Water Plant on Guest Rd. did not experience any issues. The Mud Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant did not experience issues. Currently at the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant flows are 22 million gallons, but seem to be decreasing. The primary equalization basin is full, and the secondary basin (this is the basin we recently installed) is half full and is still rising. The plant remains in full storm mode. Crews are working diligently to insure there is no spill at Withlacoochee.
I don’t enjoy reporting any spills, but this was a large amount of water in a relatively short period of time. However due to your continued support of the budgetary needs of the utilities area, the total negative impacts of Elsa was greatly minimized.
Please let me know if you have additional questions,
We also have a WWALS member report about an apparent plumbing sewage leak between Loganberry Circle and White Oak Drive, into a ditch that goes north across Gornto Road into Twomile Branch. That one did not make Valdosta’s list.
Thanks to City of Starke Superintendent of Water & Wastewater Kyle Jerrels for answering some questions after the report came in by email from FDEP.
I noticed the report said “Est. Volume Recovered: 0” but for “Est. Gallons Released to Water:” there was no number.
Superintendent Jerrells said he must have forgotten to put that in in the middle of the night. He estimates probably 40,000 gallons. I’m guessing he may have meant 45,000 gallons, since that’s the sum of the numbers spilled.
I mentioned that 6.7 inches of rain is a lot. He noted that the ground in Bradford County is so saturated that only 2 inches of rain causes SSOs (Sewer System Overflows).
He said, “We have been working very diligently with SRWMD and others. We have gotten some loans to fix the collection system.”
He said they have already started fecal testing upstream and downstream. That will continue several days until the tests show no more problem. He sends the test results to FDEP, but he hasn’t ever seen them on the FDEP website. More than likely it’s on Oculus.
Notice of Submission
Pursuant to Section 403.077, F.S., the Department of Environmental Protection has received the following Public Notice of Pollution for a reportable release. All information displayed was submitted by the reporting party.
Type of Notice: Initial Report
Date of Notice: 07/08/2021
Name of Incident: Starke July 7 2021 SSO
State Watch Office Case Number: 2021359
Start of Incident: 07/07/2021 10:00
End of Incident: 07/08/2021 02:00
SPILL EVENT RESPONSE REPORT
Environmental Compliance and Incident Response State Warning Point Number: 2021- 3599, 3598, 3600, 3602, 3604, 3603, 3601
Event Date: July 7, 2021
Event Start Time: Notified 10:15
Event End Time: On going still at 6:20 p.m. Stopped @ 0200
Event Address: N. Water Street Water street and SR 16 SR 16 and Clark St Orange street Legion Terrance and Milton Terrance Sidewalk on SR 100 and Alligator Creek
City: Starke FL
Facility Name: City of Starke Wastewater Treatment Plant ? FL0028126
Responsible Party: X0 City of Starke 0
Source: Hurricane Elsa
Third Party Name:
Characteristics: X0 Untreated X0 Domestic 0 Industrial
Composition: 0Wastewater Only X0 Storm water/Wastewater 0
Surface Water Affected: X0 Yes 0 No
Site Restricted: 0 Yes 0 No
Est. Spill Volume:
Collection system 30,000
Est. Volume Recovered: 0
Est. Gallons Released to Water:
Samples Collected: NO
Public Notification: Yes
Waterway Name: Alligator Creek
Retention Pond Overflow During Spill:
Retention Pond Overflow Details:
Preliminary Cause: Hurricane Elsa. 6.7 inches of rain checked at 6:20 p.m.
Facility/Installation Name: City of Starke WWTF
Address Line 1: P.O. Drawer C
Address Line 2:
Zip Code: 32091
Coordinates (in decimal degrees):
Lat: 29.95566880657297, Long: -82.1076049804676
Click to view Incident Location
Impacted Counties: Bradford
Incident Reported By
Name: Kyle Jerrels
Title: Superintendent of Water & Wastewater
Phone: (904) 368-1350
E-mail Address: email@example.com
Name: Kyle Jerrels
Phone: (904) 930-3016
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
To view a list of all received Public Notices of Pollution or to modify your e-mail subscription settings, please click the link below:
Public Notice of Pollution
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
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