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Community pushes for solutions after massive sewage spill in Withlacoochee River

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Posted at 6:21 PM, Jan 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 10:19:54-05

MADISON, Fla. (WTXL) — Another meeting took place in Madison County, where those same issues are affecting neighbors there.

Many showed up, hoping to figure out next steps.

But many left with more frustrations.

"What legal options does the federal government have to address this issue," said Bill Montford, Florida Senator?

That question from Senator Bill Monford is one that brought nearly 50 people to a community meeting in Madison.

Despite two hours of pushing for answers back and forth with local leaders and the Environmental Protection Agency, a solution is still unclear.

It's something that's left people who live in the area frustrated.

"Everybody in Florida is so invested in this. And I really am sad that you came here to talk about this problem... it violates the Clean Water Act."

In December, more than 7 million gallons of sewage spilled out of a manhole into Sugar Creek and into the Withlacoochee River.

The city says it happened when a contractor working to gather data disconnected cable at the Remerton Lift Station.

At least one test showed E. Coli contamination at one area boat ramp.

"We're done with talking. We need action."

Many have called for Valdosta to take action on fixing the issue that's led to yet another spill.

Senator Montford says Georgia Leaders were invited to Wednesday's meeting but declined.

"We made arrangements for them to call in by telephone. They have made a decision not to participate in this meeting by phone," said Senator Montford.

No matter who's to blame, it's clear that this community wants answers and they want them now.

"I'm asking you red flag the well when you get an E. Coli test and help us. Give us the funding. It all boils down to money, guys. It's a money issue."

Monday, a sampling of the Withlacoochee River, showed high levels of E. Coli.

Officials are asking anyone in that area to take precautions, and get your water tested.


It has been over a month since a sewage spill contaminated over seven million gallons of water in the Withlacoochee River.

Wednesday, people in those impacted counties are pushing for answers. People showed up hoping to figure out next steps. But many left no better off than where they started.

Florida Senator Bill Montford and other local leaders were part of the community meeting in Madison.

"What legal action does the federal government have to address this issue?" said Sen. Montford.

Despite two hours of pushing and back and forth with local leaders and the Environmental Protection Agency-- the answer is still unclear.

It's something that's left people who live in the area frustrated.

In December, more than 7 million gallons of sewage spilled out of a manhole into Sugar Creek and into the Withlacoochee River. The city says it happened when a contractor working to gather data disconnected cable at the Remerton Lift Station.

Water samples have continued to be tested since sewage spill on Dec. 3 that led to a contamination of over seven million gallons of water.

One of the samples taken on Monday says that State Line Boat Ramp is heavily contaminated with E. Coli. There are warning signs at the State Line Boat Ramp.

Georgia officials were invited to this meeting either in-person or by phone. Senator Bill Montford says they declined.

The focus now turns to speaking with officials in a meeting Wednesday night in Valdosta that the people in this community say will hopefully give some sense of a resolution.

One person says this issue hasn't been resolved simply because of funding.

People in Valdosta plan to address the sewage issue with their own community meeting. That meeting is happening Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Valdosta City Annex.