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Valdosta Wastewater Spill Not An Isolated Incident

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The Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers flow south to Florida from Georgia.

The Florid Department of Health is warning residents in North Florida’s Live Oak area to stay clear of the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers. A 9-million gallon spill of partially treated wastewater in Valdosta, Georgia is contaminating the area surrounding the two North Florida rivers.

Officials at a wastewater treatment plant in Valdosta made Florida health officials aware of the spill Friday. The Florida Department of Health issued an advisory shortly after saying: the water “presents several health hazards to humans.” DOH Doctor Carina Blackmore is waiting on the results of another state department’s water test before lifting the warning.

“The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the agency we work with and they have done sampling and we are expecting sample results here tomorrow. Based on those we’ll determine whether to lift the advisory or whether further sampling is needed,” Blackmore said in a phone interview Monday.

This is the third time since 2009 that the same Valdosta waste water plant has contaminated Florida waters. In fact, it’s nearly a year to the day since the last time the plant unleashed a flood of sewage on the Suwannee and Withlacoochee Rivers. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the City of Valdosta, and the Georgia Department of Environmental Protection did not return calls for comment and the federal Environmental Protection Agency declined to comment on the spill.