Utilities Administration Notified of Impending Overflow

On April the 12th, 2024, at (0600), Utilities Administration were notified that the Withlacoochee River WPCP Secondary Equalization Basin was in danger of Overflowing. Utilities Staff arrived on site and found the Equalization (EQ) basin overflowing into a low-lying area with an unnamed tributary/drainage ditch that drains to Spring Branch and the Withlacoochee River.  The Withlacoochee WPCP is equipped with two equalization basins which are designed to help equalize treatment flow and to mitigate the risk of system overflows during wet weather.

This spill occurred in response to the recent weather event which took place on April 10th during which the city of Valdosta received between 6” and 8” of rain within 4 hours. The Lowndes County Emergency Management Director Ashley Tye stated in an emergency response email update distributed on April 11th: “In the central part of the county, including Valdosta and Remerton, we saw totals of 6 ½ - 8 inches.  This resulted in several flooded neighborhoods and some road closures to major roads like Inner Perimeter.  South of Hwy 84, including Dasher and Lake Park, we saw totals ranging from 7-9 inches.  All of this rain fell in about a 4-hour span, so it simply overwhelmed drainage infrastructure and had nowhere to go.” During severe weather events, rainwater seeps into the soil and the resultant groundwater can infiltrate the sewer collection and distribution system and possibly overwhelm treatment infrastructure.

The City Sewer collection System is still in a state of hydraulic overload and the Withlacoochee Plant is receiving that groundwater. Utilities personnel are still working around the clock to manage the inundated collection system.

The Spillage stopped at 0400 on 4/14/2024.   The total estimated volume of the spill is 6.7 million gallons.   This overflow is composed of approximately an estimated 20% conventional sewage and 80% groundwater. This approximation is based on the ratio of average dry weather treatment flows and wet weather flows we have experienced in response to the recent historic rain event.

All required regulatory authorities and other requested entities have been notified of this issue. The City is following all required testing and monitoring of the affected waterways and will continue to do so per Georgia Environmental Protection Division regulations. Results of Bacteriological testing for sites can be found on the city website under Water Quality Data.

The City of Valdosta continues to dedicate significant resources into preventing Sanitary Sewer overflows.  Currently the Utilities department is not only updating aging infrastructure but also managing a multitude of programs and developing new plans of action to limit and prevent Sanitary Sewer overflows in the City of Valdosta.  If you would like more information about these programs or how you can contribute, please contact the City of Valdosta Utilities Department, Environmental Division, at 229-259-3592.