Valdosta fined $122,000 for December sewage spill

Water testing labs at the Valdosta treatment plant.  Photo by Jim Tatum
Water testing labs at the Valdosta treatment plant. Photo by Jim Tatum

 

The second paragraph in the following article implies that Valdosta is unfairly paying for the mistake of another.  By its own admission, Valdosta failed in its oversight of the repairs and its employee inexcusably failed to monitor the operations over a period of several hours, thus allowing the huge spill.

We could add that the effects went far beyond “local.”  Wells in Florida were also contaminated.

Over the many years that the City of Valdosta has continually polluted the Suwannee River, with objectivity we can say that the City has been guilty of poor planning, poor execution and incompetence.  At the same time they have spent millions trying to reach a solution, and while perhaps merited, this fine will not help fix the problem.

There is strong evidence that there are multiple sources of Suwannee River pollution other than the Valdosta water treatment plant. Eventually these sources will be revealed with more testing, which, incredibly, langored for years on both sides of the border until the efforts of Suwannee RiverKeeper John Quarterman and OSFR board member Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson finally got it kick-started.

mmjvalblg4 In: Valdosta fined $122,000 for December sewage spill | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson seated foreground, and John Quarterman, standing in front of banner, at the Valdosta wastewater plant. Photo by Jim Tatum

Read the entire article here on WCT.

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


Valdosta fined $122,000 for December sewage spill

By Amber Spradley |



By: Amber Spradley | WCTV Eyewitness News
May 6, 2020

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) – The City of Valdosta is charged with a consent order and a $122,000 fine by the Environmental Protection Division for a sewage spill into the Withlacoochee River last year.

It happened in December when a company based in Alabama, E.M.C., was hired to work on the Valdosta system. One contractor failed to make the right connection between pipes, and now the city is paying for it.

The mistake resulted in 7.5 million gallons of raw sewage pouring into the Withlacoochee River.

According to EPD, about 1,500 fish were killed, and local residents were advised not to touch the water for weeks.

Last Monday, state and city officials agreed on a consent order with a series of changes to prevent more spills and a $122,000 fine.

“A large part of this order that we’re now speaking of are things that we’ve already put in place,” City Manager Mark Barber said.

Besides paying the fine, the city has also agreed to the following regulations:

  • Pay penalty
  • Establish CMOM Program
  • Revise SOPs for lift stations and spill reporting
  • Include North Florida authorities in spill notification
  • Post stream monitoring results
  • Submit schedule for construction of an additional EQ basin
  • Establish weekly stream monitoring
  • Complete pipe rehab projects
  • Complete SCADA installation
  • Create rehab schedule  Barber says the city has already implemented almost all of the orders, including posting water test results and breaking ground on a new Equalization Basin to help prevent overflow.”That’s part of the consent order to finish that project,” he said. “That project’s already begun and will be finished in October of this year.”The order will last five years. According to EPD, the city was cooperative and willing to pay a higher fine. But the state felt that money would be best used for the improvement projects…. 
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