A lot of people in Valdosta are rightfully upset over an ecological disaster that created a smelly mess. The city's only waste water treatment plant is in a flood zone.
Raw sewage ended up in people's yards, creating a health hazard. The Withlacoochee River flooded the plant, shutting it down. That meant millions of gallons of raw sewage flowed directly into the river every day for several days.
Smaller sewage releases happen fairly often, and this is the second time in four years it's been this severe. The city has land and a plan to build a new water treatment plant. It doesn't have the $90 million to pay for it. FEMA has denied requests from the city for money for the project. After this latest disaster, city leaders will appeal again.
We hope this time, FEMA listens and realizes federal disaster relief money is probably the only thing that will solve the problem. But Lowndes County voters are partly to blame. The city hoped to use revenue from the Special Local Option Sales tax to fund the project, but last year voters defeated a sales tax extension.
No one likes to pay taxes, but tax revenue does pay for some necessary services. With the federal government's indifference and local taxpayers' refusal to pay an extra penny on purchases, people who live near or care about the Withlacoochee River can only hope it doesn't flood again.