Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.
Another sewage spill in Lowndes County, Ga. has raised concerns for the Withlacoochee River.
On Saturday, Sept. 23, approximately 25,000 gallons of untreated sewage entered into a ditch that flows into the Withlacoochee River. The incident occurred in Lowndes County, on Val-Tech Rd., approximately 1.2 miles south of Wiregrass Technical College, just north of the City of Valdosta.
The cause of the spill was a split in the 16” force main pipe that runs along Val-Tech Rd. The spill lasted approximately four hours, and the pipe was quickly repaired. Lowndes County Utilities workers were able to catch some of the water and treat it before it made its way into the river.
“Due to the nature of servicing and maintaining miles of water/sewer infrastructure, addressing repairs involving pipe failure is inevitable. While a water line leak may cause no more discomfort than a temporary outage while the infrastructure is repaired, sewer leaks increase the cause for concern due to possible contamination. This being the case, Lowndes County focuses heavily on pressure monitoring systems and preventative maintenance. Together, these two efforts significantly decrease the likelihood of a spill,” said Lowndes County Utilities Director Steve Stalvey. “Unfortunately, no approach is one hundred percent effective. On average, major sewer spills from Lowndes County’s sewer system occur no more than once or twice a year, which is remarkable considering the system includes many miles of pipe infrastructure. When spills do occur, guidelines set by the environmental protection division are followed with regards to public notification and a thorough treatment of the area.”
This is not the first time raw sewage has entered into the river. In April, 2016, the Florida Department of Health issued health advisories to residents of Madison County due to a sewage spill from the City of Valdosta. Paige Duke, Public Information Officer for Lowndes County said no health warnings were anticipated as a result of this spill, however.
The Lowndes County Utilities Department is continuing to monitor the situation.