Contractor Error Results in Sewer Overflow

On December 9, 2019, the City of Valdosta staff at the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment plant notified Environmental Services personnel to inform them that flow into the plant had decreased by 50% over the previous few days. After a brief investigation, Utilities personnel noticed that a contractor working on the city’s SCADA system disconnected a reference cable at the Remerton Lift Station for testing and failed to reconnect it. As a result of incident, the lift station’s level indicator and alarm agent were disconnected. The lift station’s alarm agent system did not operate as it normally would, bypassing the alert notification that is typically sent to utilities staff when there is an issue at a lift station.

Utilities crews resolved the issue Monday morning by turning the pumps back on and reconnecting the reference cable. The lift station is now back to normal operation.

Based on the flow information collected, approximately 7,592,910 gallons discharged from a manhole into Sugar Creek adjacent to the 1800 block of Norman Drive. All appropriate regulatory and public health agencies have been notified. Warning signs have been posted at the spill location and downstream to advise the public to avoid any contact with this waterway for the next seven days. Staff immediately began monitoring and testing the impacted area and began the cleanup and disinfection of the overflow location and discharge point into the stream.

Sewer spills are not acceptable at any time. 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.

The city continues its ongoing efforts to improve the infrastructure of the sewer system to eliminate these issues in the future. Improving our sewer system has and will continue to be a main priority.

For more information, contact the Utilities Department Environmental Manager Scott Fowler at 229-259-3592 or