[UPDATE] Valdosta Identifies Cause of Water Troubles

By: Dontaye Carter Email
By: Dontaye Carter Email

UPDATE Valdosta’s Boil Water Advisory Lifted

On Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 7:30 p.m., the City of Valdosta notified the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) that all bacti samplings collected from the city’s water system on Monday, Jan. 24, tested NEGATIVE for harmful bacteria. Negative results means the presence of harmful bacteria WAS NOT FOUND. Public drinking water standards required the city to conduct water quality testing for the past two days since the power outage. Not one sample tested positive and all samples were tested in a state certified lab and approved by the Georgia EPD. As a result, the EPD authorized the city to lift the Boil Water Advisory that has been in effect since Jan. 22. Citizens may begin using the city’s water supply for all consumption purposes.

The City of Valdosta would like to express its gratitude for the patience and understanding of its citizens, while crews worked around the clock to resolve this issue. City officials will continue meeting with all entities involved in the days and weeks ahead to ensure that this incident will not reoccur in the future.

For more information contact the Utilities Department at (229) 259-3592.

[UPDATE] 1-25

The City of Valdosta flushed the water system Sunday and Monday and began testing chlorine residual levels at the city's 180 regular bacti sampling points. Due to the time staking process of collecting the enormous amount of samples, the city brought in help from Georgia Rural Water to expedite the process. These procedures are in accordance with EPD guidelines and move the city one step closer to ending the Boil Water Advisory that has been in effect since Saturday. Depending on the results of chlorine residual testing on Tuesday, the city is hopeful that EPD will possibly remove boil water restrictions by end of day Wednesday.


The City of Valdosta now knows what caused an equipment failure at its water treatment plant, a failure that has left more than 20-thousand residents with virtually no water.

"I didn't have any water to do anything with."

Michelle Brown is just one of the thousands of residents left without water Saturday morning.

"My son came in and used the restroom and said he couldn't flush the toilet so he said mommy what's wrong with the toilet. I said I don't know I just used it it should be ok," said Brown.

But it wasn't...and the family was without water until just before 3 p.m.

Monday morning the city identified the problem as a short in an underground power line. A bypass line installed Saturday helped the city find the problem.

"Well, ultimately it was nothing within our control that we could've done anything about, when a power line shorts out underground it's not the same as when one shorts out above ground," said Valdosta Director of Utilities Henry Hicks. "You can rarely see that, you it's there. Underground until you have a failure of some system you won't know."

The city says it will continue to flush the system throughout the day. Officials say they hope to have the boil restrictions taken off by Wednesday.

Now this is just one of the ways the city is using to drain the well water from the system. Eventually they'll check the chlorine levels to see if it meets state standards to get the boil alert lifted.

So although residents have to boil their water, many are just happy to have it running again.
Update 1-23-011

The City of Valdosta Utilities Director Henry Hicks said Monday Morning they discovered Saturday night that there was nothing wrong with their Switchgear, which they originally believed to be the problem.

The Switchgear is similar to a circuit breaker in homes.

Experts determined after hours of examining the main power building that it was a problem with the one of the external lines.

The power line with the short caused the equipment to fail.

All City and county schools are still open Monday.

Officials say they are serving the students bag lunches, bottled water
and juices.

The Boil Water Alert is still in effect.

The City hopes to have it lifted by Wednesday.

January 23, 2011

Release #: 01-11-14

City Flushes Hydrants

Normal storage tank levels and distribution system water pressures have returned, following the City of Valdosta's Water Treatment Plant being down on Jan. 22. Chlorine disinfection doses leaving the water treatment plant were raised to start the process of flushing the entire distribution system of untreated well water and to re-establish normal chlorine residuals throughout the system.

On Jan. 23, water distribution system crews began flushing fire hydrants to pull necessary chlorine residuals out into the system, as well as flush out the untreated well water. This flushing effort started in water mains closest to the treatment plant and will gradually work outward until the minimum chlorine residual required by law is achieved throughout the distribution system.

This flushing process must be slow and methodical to ensure that water quality is safely returned to normal. Once minimum chlorine residual levels are met, the bacteriological testing of the entire system phase follows. Typically when two concurrent days with no positive bacterial results within the entire distribution system is achieved, EPD will then be contacted for their approval to remove all boil water requirements. Until then, the Boil Water Alert is in effect until further notice.

Citizens may use city water for all normal purposes, including all showering and sanitation needs. However, boiling is strongly recommended for consumption.
Update by Candace Riley 1-22 --

The boil water advisory issued, is for the City of Valdosta water customers until further notice.

Earlier this morning, the Nestle plant in Madison County, Florida, shipped a water supply to the South Georgia Medical center for their patients and doctors.

They also shipped cases to the 35-hundred students housed on the Valdosta State University campus.

Rob Fisher Director of Operations at Nestle says, "We delivered, today, about 3,000 cases to the hospital and to Valdosta state. we're still receiving calls."

The water supply for the South Georgia Medical center has been restored.City officials still advise folks to avoid using any city water, if possible.

Residents who must, should bring the water to a boil for at least a minute, and cool the water before using it.

"Sometimes we take things for granted."

Patrick Gunter got an unexpected surprise this morning when he got into the shower, there was no water.

"When I got in and there was a little trinkle of water I was kind of disappointed that I didn't get my morning shower," said Gunter.

The Valdosta Utilities Department says around 12:30 Saturday morning an equipment failure stopped power from reaching the plant, which stopped the treatment of water.

The city issued a Boil Water Advisory shortly after.

"When getting up, a hot shower is just the wake up call I need but on Saturday morning I was left with nearly no water."

Some grocery stores around Valdosta even sold out of bottled water.

The store manager at Harvey's says they sold out around nine Saturday morning, received a new shipment and sold out again.

The water troubles forced many restaurants like Chik-Fil-A to close early or not even open - something that dampened some residents' day.

"I was wanting to go to Taco Bell and noticed all of them were closed because all the water's off," said Rick Carter.

The city says they are working to fix the problem.

The Director of Utilities says numerous electrical companies have been on scene generator to get water service going.

"We'll look at what we can do to keep this from happening in the future as well as looking at putting an emergency quick connects on all our generators in case of emergency," said Henry Hicks.

The City has restored power to the plant. Water is running through the system but isn't being treated.

Officials advised that residents make sure they are boiling the water they consume for at least one minute and letting it cool.

Hick says it could be three to four days or maybe more before the water service is fully operational.

He also adds they had four million gallons of treated water in reserve just in case of an emergency.

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  • by SUER WATER Location: VALDOSTAga on Jan 25, 2011 at 11:38 AM
  • by Tom Location: So. Ga on Jan 23, 2011 at 04:53 AM
    Agree with A Confused American. Didn't Valdosta just spend several million dollars on a new/upgraded water plant?
  • by a confused American on Jan 22, 2011 at 06:25 PM
    Why aren't Americans helping our brother and sister Americans. I know I'm reading we are helping Haiti. And that's great. But "Baby Doc" is going back there to steal more of the money we give that country. Right now my sis is going to Bangledesh with Alliance for Smiles. Well that's great. But there are people in Apalachia who pay taxes and could use our help. Obama has closed down their coal mines. They have no money and they have no food. When are our citizens going to start helping OUR OWN?! Valdosta could have stood some help from their sister cities today - all they got was a story on the TV stations.
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