By Greg Gullberg
March 19, 2013
Valdosta, GA - It’s been a long clean up process for residents in the Meadow Brook Subdivision of Valdosta.
Their backyards were coated in raw sewage after a flood last month overwhelmed the Waste Water Treatment Plant. Millions of gallons of raw sewage flowed from the plant into local waterways and backed up into some neighborhoods.
"Just trying to move forward and it's tough with the smell and knowing what's back there. You really don't want your children playing in your yard," said resident Steve Cooper.
Residents say this sewage backup happens every time there’s a significant rain because of the Force Main behind their homes. But this time was exponentially worse because the treatment plant was overwhelmed and city leaders had to shut it down.
Now city leaders have a plan to fix the plant and eliminate the problem from happening again. But first they’re counting on voters to approve a local sales tax called SPLOST.
"Of course, it's very important for citizens to support this initiative because it's by far the best way to fund these much needed improvements," said Larry Hanson, City Manager.
The SPLOST tax had been in place in Lowndes County for decades until voters just shot it down last time it came up to vote. But city leaders say they need it, so it’ll be back on the next ballot.
"It's a two pronged project. One to move the Waste Water Treatment Plant out of the designated 100 year flood plain onto higher ground and then secondly, to move the collection system from the city to the new plant also away from some of those low lying areas," said Hanson.
SPLOST will come up for vote again this November. If it passes, Hanson says they will use 70% of the funds for this purpose. The tax is expected to generate $80 million dollars.