More trouble for Valdosta sewage treatment plant - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

More trouble for Valdosta sewage treatment plant

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LOWNDES COUNTY, GA (WALB) -

 

Valdosta city officials are asking people to stay out of the Withlacoochee River for the next few days. Another major sewage at the wastewater treatment plant contaminated the water.

 

Warning signs have been placed near access points to the river.

No swimming or fishing in the Withlacoochee River for the next week means the SCUBA tanks at South Ocean Sports will remain empty. And with summer break in full swing Chris Miller with Southern Ocean Sports says he and his clients are angry.

"Nobody wants to dive in sewage. I mean that's just gross, nobody wants to do that. The first thing with them is frustration because the gulf is about an hour and a half away, the Withlacoochee is a hop skip and a jump," said Miller.

With heavy rains hitting the area, too much water got into the sewer system causing it to overflow. Yesterday nearly 8 million gallons of sewage spilled into the river. Right now officials are putting a temporary solution in place.

"One of the main problems we have right now is we simply have too much solids in the plant. We're taking some of our process tanks out of the process and we're going to store the solids in there, so they won't be available to wash out to the river any longer," said Environmental Manager, John Waite.

With this being one of the rainiest summers on record, Miller worries there will be more spills to come. "Its going to rain a lot in the next two years. We're right in the middle of hurricane season right now, and its not going to stop raining. So there's got be something they can do in the next two years"

But until the plant can be moved to higher ground and a new force main pump is installed in 2015, there's no guaranteed fix.

 

Copyright 2013 WALB.  All rights reserved.

 

With information from the City of Valdosta-

As a result of several days of consistently heavy rains in Valdosta, the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant discharged total suspended solids in excess of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limit.  

The total suspended solids result for the effluent sample collected July 23, 2013 was 77 milligrams per liter.  This is greater than 1.5 times the weekly average of 45 milligrams per liter allowed by the NPDES permit, which constitutes a major spill. 

The volume of the major spill into the Withlacoochee River is the total flow for July 23, which is 7.6 million gallons.

The city is working closely with a design consultant and a construction firm to implement seven projects that, once in place, will help keep the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant in compliance with the NPDES permit until the relocation of the plant is complete. 

The city's contractor is expected to be on site within the next two weeks to start work on these necessary improvement projects.  The city is also preparing to issue a design/build RFP for the relocation of the Withlacoochee Plant, which is expected to cost $20 million and be completed by August 2015. 

Warning signs have been placed downstream, and stream sampling of the Withlacoochee River has been initiated as required. 

Copyright 2013 WALB.  All rights reserved.