City and EPD Enter Agreement to Address Permit Violations
The City of Valdosta and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) entered an agreement on Sept. 23, 2013 regarding a Consent Order that addresses permit violations at the Withlacoochee Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP) and Mud Creek WPCP during the years 2008-2013. The consent order identifies capital improvement projects to be completed and the timelines in which they will be completed.
The projects identified in the Consent Order are the projects identified in the city's Five-Year Action Plan, adopted by the Mayor and Council at the April 25, 2013 City Council meeting. The projects address wastewater issues and include the relocation of the Withlacoochee WPCP, as well as the construction of a new force main, equalization basin and headworks facility at the Withlacoochee plant. The agreement also includes the inspection of all 300-miles of sewer lines and 6,000 manholes with associated repairs and the implementation of $2.5 million of improvements to the existing plant to keep it in permit compliance until the relocation is complete—by 2016 according to the Consent Order or by the city's goal of year end 2015. The short-term plant improvements are already well underway. All of the projects identified in the consent agreement have all already been adopted by the city.
"We are pleased that the EPD accepted the city's Five-Year Action Plan, which demonstrates that the city's plan is complete, thorough, achievable and will resolve the issues," said Director of Utilities Henry Hicks. "The EPD and the city have worked together in good faith, with both parties recognizing the importance of resolving the wastewater issues as promptly and efficiently as possible."
The agreement also recognizes that the city has made significant investments in its wastewater infrastructure, documenting nearly $50 million in capital projects since 2009 and over $5.5 million in repairs to the Withlacoochee WPCP since the 2009 flood event. Furthermore, the City of Valdosta has received approximately $180 million in total SPLOST proceeds over the past 25 years, during which time it has invested nearly $170 million from all funding sources into its water and wastewater systems.
The projects in the proposed order will cost the city in excess of $55.4 million, with $52 million for the plant relocation and the force main project alone. The city has placed $55.4 million in wastewater projects on the SPLOST VII referendum for these needed and required improvements.
The Consent Order and the Five-Year Action Plan is available for citizens' viewing on the City of Valdosta website. For more information, contact the Public Information Office at (229) 259-3548.