City Breaks Ground on $32 Million Force Main Project

On June 18, the City of Valdosta broke ground on the $32 million Force Main Project at the 75-acre future site of the new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), on Wetherington Lane. The project will take approximately 18 months to complete and is expected to resolve the overwhelming majority of the sanitary sewer overflows in flood-prone areas of the city during heavy rain events.

"City officials have worked diligently to protect the interests of Valdosta citizens and are prepared to move forward with the Force Main Project, the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant relocation and the continuation of many other improvements to the sanitary sewer collection system," said City Manager Larry Hanson. "In the process, we will continue to maintain open lines of communication with those who are equally concerned about these issue as we are."

Since 2009, the regional reoccurring flooding problems along the Withlacoochee River have resulted in major inflow and infiltration issues for the City of Valdosta's sanitary sewer collection system—which has been a major contributor to sewer spills. The majority of these local events have primarily been associated with river inflow and infiltration along the city's 54-inch gravity sewer main, which transports wastewater from sewer customers to the WWTP.

Funded by a low-interest Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) loan, the project includes the construction of a 6.2-mile force main that will replace the existing 54-inch gravity sewer main that runs alongside the Withlacoochee River. In addition, the project includes four new pump stations, and a new headworks structure and 6-million gallon flow equalization basin to be located at the site of the new WWTP. In conjunction with the Force Main Project groundbreaking, the Valdosta City Council is expected to award the Design Build contract within the next 30 days for the construction of the new wastewater treatment facility at the Wetherington Lane site. The WWTP is expected to be completed by Spring 2016 and will cost approximately $23 million.

"The city is fortunate to be working with some of the most talented design and construction companies in their fields on some of the most significant projects in our department's history," said Director of Utilities Henry Hicks about Parsons and Garney Construction. "We look forward to the completion of the Force Main Project and new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant and for their positive impacts on our sanitary sewer system and the overall quality of services to our citizens."

In addition to these projects, the Utilities Department also has the following projects underway:

  • A multi-year smoke testing program is underway to smoke test the entire 300-mile sewer system. This program is utilizing smoke tests to find-and-fix leaking sewer mains, which will help resolve stormwater inflow and infiltration into the sewer system that contribute to sewer overflows in the low lying areas of the city.

  • The city has 6,523 manholes, of which approximately 50% has been inspected to date under its Manhole Replacement/Rehabilitation Program. Through this program, which was instituted in early 2011, the city has either replaced or rehabilitated more than 70 manholes. On June 5, the City Council approved Phase 3 of the Manhole Replacement/Rehabilitation Program to address 38 additional deteriorated manholes.

  • Phase 2 of the Lift Station Replacement/Rehabilitation Project will upgrade four existing older stations. In addition, the City Council approved a bid on June 5 for the purchase of one emergency power generator for use at any lift station during power disruptions to ensure that stations are always capable of handling sewer flows, even during storm events with power outages. Two additional emergency power generators will be purchased over the next two years.

  • Plans are in the works for another multi-year program to begin rehabilitation of the entire sanitary sewer system using pipe and manhole lining technology. This program will start on the largest diameter pipe lines and work back into the sewer system's smaller mains.

"The City of Valdosta leadership is committed to providing adequate water and wastewater treatment services to its citizens, maintaining a functioning sewer collection system and discharging treated water in an environmentally responsible manner," said Mayor John Gayle.

To continue transparency and communication with citizens regarding these improvements, project updates are posted to the city's website. This information is conveniently assessable to citizens by clicking on the drainage pipe icon at or by going directly to For more information on the new force main project or the status of other sanitary sewer system improvement projects, contact Public Information Officer Sementha Mathews at (229) 259-3548.