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Wastewater contamination again in the Withlacoochee

Staff Reports

Madison, Fla. – Once again the Florida Department of Health in Hamilton and Madison counties, Monday, December 17, 2018, issued a joint health advisory to residents and visitors near the Withlacoochee River in North Florida. The city of Valdosta has reported a large spill of untreated and partially treated sewage mixed with rain water; the spillage will impact water quality in the Withlacoochee River. This happened just two weeks ago due to heavy rains.

Although, according to the City of Valdosta, they are doing everything they can to fix the issue, many North Florida residents are saying that if that happened to a business owner, especially after years of repeated issues, they would be forced to shut down and/or relocate.

The City of Valdosta stated in a release that fixing this issue is top priority for them and they are working with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to design and install additional storage capacity at the facility, but one must ask, how many years does it take to plan and design a better system before implementing it?

Until further information is known regarding possible contamination of the river, people in the area are urged to take precautions when in contact with the Withlacoochee River. The Florida Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protection are conducting water sampling.

Water contaminated with wastewater 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 should wash thoroughly, especially before eating or drinking. Children and older adults, as well as people with weakened immune systems, are particularly vulnerable to disease so every precaution should be taken if in contact with the river water.

For more information about the potential health effects of wastewater overflow, Floridians are encouraged to contact DOH-Hamilton at 386-758-1059 or and DOH-Madison at 850-973-5000 or visit

For information pertaining the spill, contact the Valdosta Utilities Department Environmental Manager, Scott Fowler, at 229-259-3592 or