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City of Valdosta working to fix outdated sewer system

Posted at 6:27 PM, Jul 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-21 18:27:58-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — Sewage spills aren't just a problem because of the mess they create, water preservation groups say it could potentially cause health problems. The city of Valdosta reported two sewage spills in the last month.

The WWALS Watershed Coalition says recent water tests from the city showed high e-coli readings after several spills.

John Quarterman, the Suwanee River Keeper for the WWALS Watershed Coalition, is concerned about several recent sewage spills in the city of Valdosta.

"At least one of those said it may have been because of a rain event, there wasn't rain for all of those," said Quarterman. "Which makes me wonder are they having more spills than they're reporting or are they having more spills than they know about."

Quarterman said the concern is for the bodies of water it potentially effects.

"It's bad for people, it's bad for wild life, it's also bad for the economy. Valdosta is trying to be a place for ecotourism, and you're not really helping that if you have sewage spills, if you have trash in the creeks and rivers," Quarterman said.

Brad Eyre, director of utilities for the city of Vldosta, said the sewage spills are caused by outdated infrastructure.

"We've had this one collapse on highway 84 and another collapse right next to it back to back," Eyre explained. "We had a couple repairs on the other trunk line, which is an old concrete line and we've had two issues with that within a year."

Eyre said it would cost $19 million to replace two trunk lines, and expects overall repairs to cost around $50 million over the next few years.

"The end goal is to replace the aging infrastructure that's not suitable anymore for sanitary sewer conveyance," said Eyre.

Quarterman said his organization recently met with the city to raise concerns, including not getting sewage spills reports quickly enough. He says even with some issues still needing to be worked on, there has been an improvement.

"There have been a number of things they've done better lately, they don't have as bad or as frequent spills as they used to. The ideal number however is none," Quarterman said.

Eyre says the city is applying for grants to help offset the cost for repairs to the sewer system.