Update 2019-12-13: WWALS water quality data on the Withlacoochee River down to the state line.
The record Valdosta sewage spill had not reached Florida yet as of today, according to timely notification of water quality sampling results by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD).
WWALS has some reason to believe the spill had reached Knights Ferry by Saturday. More on that below. And further WWALS bacterial results from yesterday should be available tomorrow morning. You can donate to the WWALS water quality testing program to help defray the costs of this emergency and our regular testing.
Meanwhile, where are Valdosta’s results? They’re supposed to be testing daily after a major spill. Why aren’t they publishing their results? I will file an open records request tomorrow, but why should that be necessary?
Received 5:01 PM today, December 12, 2019:
Hello Mr. Quarterman,
I don’t know if Julie was able to get back to you. I know that she has been in meetings the past several days. Here is the update on sampling efforts that I have as of now:
- Dec 9: FL agencies were notified of the spill around 5:30pm.
- Dec 10: FDEP sampled Withlacoochee at CR150 and FL6, and Suwannee at US90, SRWMD sampled Suwannee at Hwy 250, Hwy 51, and Hwy27
- Dec 11: FDEP and SRWMD sampled at same locations. Results from Dec 10 sampling were received and are listed below. All were at background concentrations and under the E. coli 410 mpn/ 100 ml threshold for human health concerns for contact with water. Flow rates and travel time were calculated with best available data and it was estimated that once the effluent reached the Withlacoochee River that it would take approximately 6 days to reach the Florida border. With the information that we have available, it was unlikely that the effluent passed our sampling locations and most likely that it hadn’t reached the Florida border yet due to low flow conditions in Georgia.
- Dec 12: SRWMD sampled Withlacoochee at CR150 and CR 141, and Suwannee and US 90. We received results of the sampling done on Dec 11 and are listed below. All were at background concentrations and under the E. coli 410 mpn/ 100 ml threshold for human health concerns for contact with water. FDEP, FDOH and SRWMD coordinated via phone earlier in this afternoon and have developed a plan to continue monitoring the situation through the weekend.
December 10, 2019 sampling results:
Field ID FCOLI-MF (CFU/100 mL) ECOLI-18QT (MPN/100 mL) Withlacoochee @ CR 150 16 B 21.6 A Withlacoochee @ FL-6 18 B 23.1 Suwannee River @ US 90 23 B 25.9 Suwannee River at Dowling Park (Hwy 250) 1.00 18.7 Suwannee River at Luraville (Hwy 51) 1.00 5.20 Suwannee River at Branford (Hwy 27) 2.00 10.9
December 11, 2019 sampling results:
Field ID FCOLI-MF (CFU/100 mL) ECOLI-18QT (MPN/100 mL) Withlacoochee @ CR 150 30 B 52 Withlacoochee @ FL-6 50 52 Suwannee River @ US 90 34 B 41 Suwannee River at Dowling Park (Hwy 250) 20.1 13.4 Suwannee River at Luraville (Hwy 51) 6.20 9.80 Suwannee River at Branford (Hwy 27) 7.40 10.9
We share your concern and thank you for your dedication to protecting our resources and citizens.
Water Resources Office Chief
Division of Water and Land Resources
9225 CR 49, Live Oak, FL 32060
Direct Line: 386-647-3122
Thank you, Darlene Velez and SRWMD, for responding to my request of yesterday for timely data from Florida.
It’s about 38 miles from Sugar Creek to the state line. The spill was a couple of miles up Sugar Creek. Call it 40 miles, and to take six days, that’s 6.66… miles per day.
From Sugar Creek to Knights Ferry is 22.41 miles. Add a couple of miles for the spill distance up Sugar Creek, for 24.41. It should have taken 3.66 days for the spill to get to Knights Ferry.
So either the spill started earlier than Thursday, or it’s moving faster than SRWMD’s calculations, or our preliminary high E. coli results at Knights Ferry Saturday were caused by something else.
We’ll know more tomorrow.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
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