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Hamilton County Sheriff, residents say 7 million gallon sewage spill is impacting businesses

Posted at 7:13 PM, Dec 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-11 19:20:25-05

HAMILTON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — People in Hamilton County are now dealing with the impacts of the 7 million gallons of sewage that poured into Sugar Creek.

"I grew up on this river fished it all my life," said James Lamar Combass, a Hamilton County resident. "And now, right back on this river again and I ain't been able to eat a mess of fish out of this river now in several years."

James Lamar Combass has been swimming, hunting and fishing along the Withacootchee River since 1954.

With another recent sewage spill from Valdosta flowing into the river, life has changed. Combass says he's disgusted with the way this keeps happening over and over again.

"They seem to have a problem with stopping this, and to me, it's money and politics -- it's got to be," Combass asserted. "There's no excuse for what's happening."

Hamilton County Sheriff Harrell Reid also expressed his frustration.

"I just kind of think it's inexcusable. I think it's negligence on somebody's part... I think that somebody outta be held accountable for it," said Sheriff Reid.

Reid says this is something that he's seen time and time again since starting the job three decades ago.

"I've been Sheriff 31 years so far and this has been an on-going problem for as long as I've been Sheriff," Sheriff Reid explained. "To my knowledge, nothing the city of Valdosta has never compensated any of those people that have to go through that inconvenience along the river."

An inconvenience that both men say needs to be figured out soon.

"It's there's," said Combass. "Keep it. We don't want it."

Combass owns and lives in this Madison Lodge in Hamilton County. He says that this reoccurring issue has hurt his business of renting out rooms for people due to not being able to use a clean river.

The City of Valdosta has had several major sewage spills in the past.

In December of last year, the city had two spills in the span of a few weeks thanks to heavy rain over-flowing the system.

In June 2018, about 300 gallons of sewage spilled because of an equipment malfunction. Another spill happened in January 2017.