By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
March 7, 2019
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- Communities continue to push for more prevention of spills at Valdosta's wastewater treatment system.
Several North Florida counties down the river from Valdosta formed a task force last year to try and protect local waterways. The group is now hoping the states can step in to help.
Counties across North Florida and South Georgia are making it a priority to protect the rivers. The task force has passed a resolution, saying the spills are unacceptable and that it's time everyone works together to find a solution.
The goal is to ensure the rivers are safe for local communities.
The next step for the task force is to involve both Florida and Georgia state representatives. They hope to get more funds allocated for things like infrastructure improvements and frequent water quality testing all along the rivers.
Volunteers with WWALS Watershed Coalition test waters in Valdosta, but organizers said that isn't enough.
"We hope it helps spur some action from the states. While we're doing volunteer water quality testing program, we have someone testing here every week, a tiny little volunteer organization trying to cover 10,000 miles of the Suwannee River Basin, it seems like that states could do it quicker, faster and probably more thoroughly," said John Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper.
Organizers hope that with more people involved, the more likely change is going to happen.
Last month, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division began publishing all reported sewage spills across the state on a daily basis, something WWALS has been pushing for. This means quicker and broader notification when the water quality is compromised, which WWALS said is a big step forward.
"We hope that it says the states are starting to realize that we need to do more about our rivers," Quarterman said.
The North Florida task force said they are now working with the City of Valdosta to schedule a workshop in order to all work together and find a solution. They hope to have that scheduled in April.
Members said the Madison County Board of Commissioners plans to address a similar resolution for its county next week.