Water Treatment Facility Overload?

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The recent storms have put a burden on many public utility systems, but one of the most affected may be one you haven't considered.

Sewer systems around our area were pushed to their limit because of all the rain. Local sewer systems were severely tested, some having to process three times as much water as a typical day, but luckily for the local environment, the systems survived the test with flying colors.

When hurricanes moved through our area during the past couple of weeks, they dumped a lot of rain which had no where to go, so a lot of it ended up at Valdosta's wastewater treatment plant.

Leon Weeks, Valdosta Public Works director, says, "Anytime you have the amount of water falling on the earth like it has here in Valdosta for the last month, some of that rain water is going to get into your system, and that's going to cause some problems."

The system typically handles about six million gallons of wastewater per day, but on the worst days, that number tripled.

John Waite, the sewer plant manager, says, "We're somewhat equipped to handle it. We're able to handle 12 million gallons fairly easily. When it started getting up around 18 million gallons, we can have some problems. We can not shut down; we can't turn off the process, so we have to treat everything we get to the best of our ability."

The water, once it's treated, flows directly into the Withalcoochee River. Although this facility passed the latest test, workers continue to prepare for the worst.

Weeks adds, "We need to keep on with what we're doing. We need to make sure we do the required rehabilitation of our sewer system."

Luckily, there were no serious sewer street flooding, which is a possibility if the system becomes too full. Managers say there's no cause of concern right now because the area has had some time to dry out since Ivan moved north.