City System Impacted by Severe Storms and Regional Watershed

The City of Valdosta is ahead of schedule and plans to bring online nearly $60 million in wastewater system improvements next month. The $35 million Force Main project and the $23 million new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) are both ahead of schedule, and bringing them both online cannot come a day too soon for the city. 

“We are pleased to be in the final stages of construction on both projects. Testing is underway now with full startup expected in late May,” according to Director of Utilities Henry Hicks. “We are also pleased that these projects and other awarded sewer collection system improvement projects underway will resolve all the areas of the city impacted by reoccurring overflows that often follow heavy rains and regional flooding.”

The projects became necessary following the 2009 presidentially declared disaster flood, with a second flood occurring in 2013. After waiting three years for a final decision from FEMA to assist the city, the denial was received in August 2012. The city had to identify funding for the $60 million dollars’ worth of projects with local funds and a low interest loan. The projects had to be designed, bid and constructed. Nearly 100 parcels of property had to be secured, many from private property owners. Much of the construction has taken place in built out areas making it more time consuming to allow businesses and residents access to their homes and businesses while managing active construction projects. Both projects are extremely complex, with the Force Main Project including nearly 6 miles of underground pipe and four large pump stations--with two capable of handling over 30 million gallons of wastewater a day.

Over the last seven days, the Lowndes County area has received over 7 inches of rain. Combined with being impacted by the regional watershed, the rivers in Lowndes County were at flood stage prior to this weekend’s major rain event. Beginning Friday night and into early Saturday morning, the City of Valdosta received 4 inches of rain within an eight-hour period. Due to the already saturated ground and rivers approaching moderate flood stage, numerous manholes began to overflow in the city starting around 7 a.m., on April 2, 2016. Some of these were underwater due to the rising river levels. All the sewer manholes along the river have been under water since Wednesday when the Withlacoochee River reached flood level. These overflows were discovered during routine rainfall inspections of the sewer system by Utility Department staff. The spills resulted from excessive storm water and river water infiltration and inflow (I&I) into the sanitary sewer system, causing the combined sewer and storm water flow to exceed the capacity of the city’s sewer collection system. The Withlacoochee River is outside its banks by nearly one-half of a mile today at the WWTP site, and flood waters are on the plant’s property in sight. These floodwaters are expected to crest by tonight. If forecasts are correct, these regional floodwaters will not further impact the plant beyond the fact they currently have submerged manholes in the area that deliver wastewater to the plant, resulting in high flows from river water. Prior to the river flooding, plant flows were at approximately 9 million gallons a day. Plant flows yesterday approached 16 million gallons, meaning approximately 7 million gallons of river water and stormwater entered into the city’s collection system. The relocation of the WWTP will resolve this matter, however, it will not prevent the regional flooding that has occurred in the area since 2009.

The combined storm water and sewer flows resulted in manhole overflows at the following locations:

Spill Location

Time Start

Day Start

Time Finish

Day End

Gallons

Waterway Impacted

600 Block Scott Drive

7:19 AM

4/2/2016

7:36 AM

4/3/2016

167,475

Sugar Creek

700 Block Cypress St

7:02 AM

4/2/2016

7:03 AM

4/3/2016

72,050

Knights Creek

1800 Block Remer Lane

8:20 AM

4/2/2016

7:11 AM

4/3/2016

321,225

Sugar Creek

1400 Block Gornto Rd (T)

7:39 AM

4/2/2016

7:08 PM

4/2/2016

80,650

Sugar Creek

1300 Block N. Lee St

7:36 AM

4/2/2016

8:27 PM

4/2/2016

279,330

One Mile Branch

1600 Block of James P Rogers

2:13 PM

4/2/2016

7:22 AM

4/3/2016

92,150

Mud Creek

2400 Block of Meadowbrook

7:59 AM

4/2/2016

6:09 PM

4/2/2016

44,280

Two Mile Branch

1200 Block of Lake Dr

8:03 AM

4/2/2016

4:16 PM

4/2/2016

105,365

Two Mile Branch

1200 Block of Wainwright Dr

7:35 AM

4/2/2016

7:20 PM

4/3/2016

199,550

One Mile Branch

1100 Block of Joree St

7:30 AM

4/2/2016

7:54 PM

4/2/2016

80,800

One Mile Branch

1400 Gornto Rd (Creekside)

8:00 AM

4/2/2016

7:08 PM

4/3/2016

100,200

Sugar Creek

800 Block of Gornto Rd

8:20 AM

4/2/2016

9:46 AM

4/2/2016

860

Sugar Creek

500 Block of Rouse Rd

9:35 AM

4/2/2016

7:47 PM

4/2/2016

3,060

One Mile Branch

All appropriate regulatory and public health agencies have been notified, and warning signs have been posted at the spill locations and downstream to advise the public to avoid any contact with these waterways for the next seven days. Staff immediately began monitoring and testing the impacted area, as well as cleanup and disinfecting, at the overflow locations and discharge points into the streams.

The city continues its ongoing effort to improve the infrastructure of the sewer system to eliminate these issues in the future. Improving the sanitary sewer system continues to be the city’s main priority.

For more information, contact the Utilities Department Environmental Manager Scott Fowler at 229-259-3592 or sfowler@valdostacity.com.

Posted by Sementha Mathews Monday, April 4, 2016 1:25:00 PM Categories: Administration Environmental Press Release Public Information Utilities