Contractor repairs began early Jan. 25 at the City of Valdosta’s new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant. A busted seal was determined to be the cause of a leak that was discovered earlier this week in and around the plant’s 6-million gallon equalization basin. The plant is under warranty and the repairs will be complete by end of day Jan. 25 at no cost to the city.
Approximately 2.2 million gallons of primarily stormwater leaked onto the city plant property, which is located over one and a half miles away from the banks of the Withlacoochee River, as well as into a nearby waterway. While the WWTP has a normal daily flow of 5 million gallons (MG), on Jan. 22, the influent flow was more 17 MG—three times the normal rate, meaning 70% of the spill that was absorbed onto the 75-acre plant site and into the waterway nearby was primarily stormwater.
The cause of the leak is still being investigated by the City and the contractor, who has been making the repair since early morning on Jan. 25. This week’s heavy rain event was the first real test of the EQ Basin for extreme flow conditions, and it was working well until the seal failed.
While the city regrets the spill that was outside of its control, flood levels in local rivers indicate that the impact of the spill on the waterways is minimal, if any, due to the extreme influx of stormwater that has also impacted these waterways. For example, on Jan. 23, a USGS meter located at the Withlacoochee River at HWY 84 indicated that 3,295,987,200 (or 3.3 billion) gallons of water were flowing in the river. When the spill volume is compared with river volume, the impact was less than 1/100 of a percent or 0.01%. See links below to locate current flood levels of local rivers.
Sewer spills are not acceptable. It has been the city’s top priority to prevent them all through the construction of the new WWTP and the Force Main, as well as the Lift Station Rehab Program, Smoke Testing Program, Annual Manhole Rehab Program , and the ongoing River Sampling Program that tests waters before, during and after major rain events.
In the past, during similar storm or flood events, the city would have experienced sewer spills at dozens of locations throughout the city. None of the past locations had any spillage, so the city’s efforts have been effective.
Individuals with questions should contact Superintendent John Waite at 229-259-3592 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.