Daily Archives: March 2, 2020

Suwannee River contamination running downstream to the Gulf 2020-03-01

Update 2020-03-05: Cleaner Withlacoochee Monday, Tuesday; Suwannee unknown 2020-03-03

Whatever the Saturday contamination is, by Monday it had apparently moved downstream from FL 51 (Hal W. Adams bridge between Mayo and Luraville). Unfortunately, it is not expected to dilute or dissipate. More likely it will be unhealthy all the way to the Gulf. You can help.

[2020-03-01 Suwannee river downstream]
2020-03-01 Suwannee river downstream
The entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of all known data sources is on the WWALS google drive.
For context, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Katelyn Potter of SRWMD forwarded a message from SRWMD Water Resources Chief Darlene Velez, saying “results below from samples collected Sunday 3/1/2020.”

Suwannee at US90: Fecal – 98 mpn/100ml; E. coli – 172 mpn/100ml
Suwannee at CR250: Fecal – 131 mpn/100ml; E. coli – 116 mpn/100ml
Suwannee at SR51: Fecal – 187 mpn/100ml; E. coli – 114 mpn/100ml

She depicted all those numbers as green. By our color scheme, the 172 E. coli is orange, because it’s higher than the 126 cfu/100 mL that is what longterm averages should be below. See also what do these numbers mean?

She continued:

I also ran some calculations:

From Withlacoochee (Pinetta) to Suwannee (Ellaville) the dilution factor is 0.49

From Suwannee above Santa Fe River (Luraville) to Suwannee below Santa Fe River (Rock Bluff) the dilution factor is 0.78

We have several springs backflowing now with river levels up, and we are losing approximately 1000cfs to the aquifer between Ellaville and Luraville gages.

On the Suwannee the water velocities are between 1 and 1.5 mph, so the high bacteria we got at SR51 on Saturday morning should be near Manatee Springs tomorrow (Tuesday 3/3) morning and to the Gulf of Mexico sometime Wed (3/4). Based on the dilution factors above the 980 E. coli we got at SR51 is unlikely to be diluted below health threshold below the Santa Fe River.

Please let me know if you have questions. Continue reading

Source of the Alapaha River 2020-02-27

What’s the source of the Alapaha River like? Well, it’s in some woods on private land in the edge of Dooly County, Georgia, was all I could say, other than a map and the GPS coordinates.

Thursday I happened to be near there, so I asked the landowner if I could go look, if I told other people not to go in there. She said if you get stuck there will be nobody to pull you out. I’ll walk, I said.

Through many catbriars and mud (without mud boots), I found something surprising:

[A mound!]
A mound!

Here’s a 360 degree movie from the top of the mound.

[Movie: View from the mound, 32.0572798, -83.6400845 (65M)]
Movie: View from the mound, (65M) 32.0572798, -83.6400845

The movie:

Looking downstream, this is the most upper reach of the Alapaha River.

[Downstream seen from the mound]
Downstream seen from the mound

Another view of the mound, from the other (northeast) side, looking across the precise USGS location of the source.

[Mound seen from the northeast, 32.0573666, -83.6398916]
Mound seen from the northeast, 32.0573666, -83.6398916

I didn’t see anything that looked like a spring. Apparently the Alapaha River is formed from two creeks that join at that point. Here is the northern branch:

[Slowly moving water]
Slowly moving water

The two branches run through these two lines of woods.

[Two branches, 32.0600440, -83.6421570]
Two branches, 32.0600440, -83.6421570

On this map you can see where the two creeks run into the woods that contain the source.

[Map: Source of the Alapaha River]
Map: Source of the Alapaha River
In WWALS map of the Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT).

Google maps will direct you along GA 257 to turn south on Melon Lane. Nope, locked gate.

[Nope: Melon Lane off of GA 257]
Nope: Melon Lane off of GA 257

Looking back north from near the source, obviously you’re not going to get through that way.

[no go Melon Road]
no go Melon Road

It’s in there.

[Source is in there, looking ESE]
Source is in there, looking ESE

[South branch looking upstream (west)]
South branch looking upstream (west)

[South branch looking downstream (east)]
South branch looking downstream (east)

She wasn’t kidding about you could get stuck:

[Melon Lane to Source, 2020:02:27 13:08:38]
Melon Lane to Source, 2020:02:27 13:08:38

If the landowner’s request to stay out isn’t enough, maybe this downed tree covered with catbriars will convince you:

[Deadfall and catbriars, 2020:02:27 13:11:36]
Deadfall and catbriars, 2020:02:27 13:11:36

So, as near as I can tell, the source of the Alapaha River is where two small creeks join in some woods.

There’s also a mound, which is a little hard to explain as a natural phenomenon.

A few more pictures are on the WWALS website.

See also the Alapaha River Water Trail.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Still bad Saturday: Withlacoochee and Suwannee River to Mayo and Luraville 2020-02-29

Update 2020-03-02: Suwannee River contamination running downstream to the Gulf 2020-03-01.

Still bad water quality all the way to Luraville and Mayo, according to FDOH Friday for the Withlacoochee River and SRWMD Saturday for the Suwannee River.

A catalog of WWALS, Valdosta, Lowndes County, FDEP, FDOH, and SRWMD results is at wwals.net/issues/testing/. You can help.

Extract from WWALS composite water quality test results from Georgia and Florida.

A couple days ago I remarked that nobody knew the water quality of the Suwannee River downstream from Dowling Park, because nobody had tested that. Saturday SRWMD did test down at the Hal W. Adams Bridge on FL 51, between Mayo and Luraville, and the result was above the alert level of 1,000, while at Dowling Park it was back below the too-high level of 410. Apparently something was moving down the Suwannee River.

We still don’t know what’s going on downstream of FL 51, for example at US 27 (Branford) or CR 340 (Rock Bluff Ramp). This is more evidence that we need regular, frequent, testing at all these locations, not just after a spill or other upstream alert.

Thanks to Katelyn Potter of the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) for forwarding the Florida updates late Sunday evening. Thanks to SRWMD and Madison Health for testing on a weekend, and to Florida Department of Health (FDOH) for helping. Thanks to Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and Julie Espy for posting results on an FDEP web page. No update on Valdosta’s results website for Friday yet.

WWALS testers Conn and Trudy Cole got Continue reading