The VDT has apparently decided the City of Valdosta is to blame for the Withlacoochee Wastewater Woes, and has made its case in a story and two editorials. They seem to have forgotten about the overflow in 2012 already. And the VDT seems to have forgotten about it and its editor's own apparent roles in the loss of the recent SPLOST election that would have funded a new wastewater plant.
Jason Schaefer wrote for the VDT today, Money saved at river's expense: EPD investigates cause of sewage release as waters recede,
When the flooding occurred in April 2009, the City made extraordinary efforts to hold back the flooding, bringing in dirt and heavy machinery to build a berm around the influent pump station and other treatment equipment, working round the clock.
The efforts were successful. The treatment plant remained on during the duration of the flood, and Valdosta's raw sewage remained contained, though the facility incurred damages to its electrical and biological purification systems, according to Utilities Director Henry Hicks.
This year, the City opted for a different approach—cut electricity to the underwater portions of the plant, submit to the flooding and clean up afterwards.
The plant was “taken offline” Thursday at 9 a.m. “to prevent further damage to equipment and associated electrical and control systems,” according to a statement issued by the Department of the City Manager.
The City stated that as a result of the shutdown, “untreated sewage will be discharging directly into the river” at a rate of between five and six million gallons of raw sewage per day.
In addition, the floodwaters were allowed into the plant and around the remaining portions of the berm that was constructed in 2009 during the rising flood. Only half of the berm now remains, as the other half was removed to allow access to the lower portions of the plant, Hicks said.
So far, this year's response strategy seems to have saved the City money. In 2009, about $500,000 was spent in manpower, equipment and supplies to build the berm alone, and the plant, kept running, incurred significant damages though raw sewage was kept out of the river. This year, the money was not spent on the berm or to prevent the flooding, and at least 15 to 20 million gallons of raw sewage will have been released into the Withlacoochee by the time the plant is back online.
There's more in the story, which is well worth a read. Also note this inserted in the middle of the story:
Editor Kay Harris contributed to this story.
The VDT cites the EPA report, National Enforcement Initiative (FY 2011 - 2013) Keeping Raw Sewage and Contaminated Stormwater Out of Our Nation’s Waters, (more about that EPA initiative here) and continues: