New health advisory issued for Withlacoochee & Suwannee rivers due to sewage spill

Published: Jan. 9, 2020 at 12:45 PM EST
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By: Edan Schultz | WCTV Eyewitness News

January 9, 2020

SUWANNEE COUNTY, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Florida Department of Health says a sewage release from Valdosta, Georgia, is just now impacting water quality along two stretches of river in North Florida.

Officials say recent testing shows the release has moved into the Withlacoochee River and the contaminated water will enter the Suwannee River.

More than seven million gallons of untreated sewage spilled from a Valdosta wastewater facility on December 3. The spill flowed down Sugar Creek into the Withlacoochee.

Health officials say the flow of contaminants has been slower than expected because of low rainfall.

The advisory for the Suwannee River stretches from its confluence with the Withlacoochee to County Road 250.

Health officials continue to monitor the situation and are conducting ongoing water sampling.

Water contaminated with sewage overflow presents several health risks to humans. Untreated human sewage with microbes could cause gastrointestinal issues and other conditions.

Anyone who comes into contact with the river water is advised to wash thoroughly, especially before eating or drinking. Children and older adults, as well as people with weakened immune systems, are particularly vulnerable.

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