The North Central Florida Regional Planning Council Middle and Lower Suwannee River and Withlacoochee River Task Force met again on January 24, 2019 to talk more about how to curtail the frequent sewage spills from the Valdosta water treatment plant.
Scott Koons gave a PowerPoint overview of the problem going back to 2008, listing major (10,000 or more gallons) spills and water treatment plant installations and renovations. Many spills have occurred, with some in the millions of gallons (50,300,000 in 2009, others of 5, 18 and 9 million.)
Speaking of millions, many millions of dollars have been spent. The latest treatment expansions and renovations of both plants (Mud Creek and Withlacoochee) as of 7/12/16 totaled $59 million, but were obsolete the day they were completed, as seen last December when heavy rains overwhelmed the plants, whose maximum capacity per day was 22,500,000 gallons and the plants received 32,000,000 GPD. Not much you can do what that happens.
Obviously, they did not plan ahead very well.
The city has been under a consent order since 2013 and is on-going, with mention of a new one in the works.
Feelings were high among some task force members: “We are letting Georgia use us a septic tank.”
After much discussion, it was agreed that one or two Task Force members would attend the Valdosta City Council meetings with the idea that their presence would manifest Florida’s concern for the problem. Their presence was not meant to be confrontational or adversarial, rather to offer a partnership to find ways to stop the spills.
The second strategy to be implemented is to draft a resolution which would be distributed to various agencies, including the members of the Florida Legislature. Chairman Rick Davis added that at this point in time, nothing has been taken off the table.
Next meeting is Feb. 28,2019 at 4 pm.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-