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Valdosta Wastewater Treatment Facility Has Second Spill In March

The Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Facility.
John S. Quarterman via Flickr

A wastewater treatment facility in Valdosta, Ga., continues to leaks sewage into surrounding swamps and rivers. Valdosta officials say they hope to seal off the latest discharge – the second in about a month -- with the installation of a bypass.

City of Valdosta spokeswoman Sementha Matthews says the spill in early March was due to grease buildup in pipes, but the latest one was caused by a collapsed sewer line. She says the bypass was installed as a temporary measure.

“The bypass allows the workers to fix the pipe and then it will be once again connected so that it will be back in service,” Matthews says.  “Then the bypass will be no longer used.”

The Florida Department of Health is monitoring the current spill but has yet to issue health warnings to North Florida areas as it did during the early March spill.

But Clean Water Network of Florida Director Linda Young believes the ongoing discharges could have major repercussions for the environment and the drinking water of those in the affected areas.

“The implications for that for the Withlacoochee River, which flows into the Suwannee River, are serious. There is not only a public health threat, but the impact on these waterways is enormous,” Young said.

Young says it’s normal for wastewater treatment facilities to have a spill every few years, but the proximity of multiple spills in Valdosta is "troublesome."

Donald DeBevoise is originally from Winter Park, Florida and now studies English and economics at Florida State University. He is a member of the Society for Collegiate Journalists at FSU. Donald also writes for a student-based magazine called The Last Word. He aspires to enter the journalism field upon graduating. In his spare time he enjoys reading, writing, hiking and jogging.