Valdosta concurs last week, but not week before, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-28

Update 2020-09-05: OK this weekend and last, Withlacoochee River 2020-09-03.

Fast changes in water quality in the Withlacoochee River, Okapilco Creek, especially at GA 133 and Knights Ferry, as well as Twomile Branch and Sugar Creek: we could use still more testers to handle all this. The good news is that Valdosta’s results for last week (unlike week before last) are good for the Withlacoochee River.

Valdosta’s results for week before last are a good (bad?) example of how fast Withlacoochee River water quality can change. On Thursday, August 27, 2020, WWALS got excellent results at all three of Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps. Later we learned Madison Health also got excellent results at GA 31 (State Line), CR 150 (Sullivan Launch), and FL 6 (Madison Blue Spring).

[Good last week, bad previous week]
Good last week, bad previous week

Yet the next day, Valdosta got horrible results at K.F., Nankin, and State Line on Friday, August 28 21, 2020. This is why all our water quality posts are merely advisory. Good one day doesn’t necessarily mean good the next day.

[2020-08-17-21--baddown]
2020-08-17-21–baddown
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality results, see
http://wwals.net/issues/testing/

Now it would be easy to blame Valdosta for not letting us know that before the weekend, but it takes 24 hours to process bacterial results. However, it would have been nice to know less than a week later. And Valdosta could have told us Friday about the very high numbers on Okapilco Creek at US 84 for Wednesday, August 19, 2020. Apparently rain upstream as far as Moultrie washed some of that contamination down into the Withlacoochee River.

But the good news is that for last week, Valdosta’s downstream results continued to be OK for Monday and Wednesday, August 24 and 26, matching the Madison Health results for Tuesday and the WWALS results for Thursday. But we still know nothing about Friday, August 28, 2020. At least with little rainfall through the weekend, chances are good Withlacoochee River water stayed clean.

[2020-08-23-30--okdown]
2020-08-23-30–okdown

So all the WWALS “beaches” on the Withlacoochee River are green again on Swim Guide, even though it turns out many of them shouldn’t have been Friday last week, August 21, 2020.

[Map-swim-guide-lower-withlacoochee-river]
Map-swim-guide-lower-withlacoochee-river

You may recall that back on Tuesday, July 28, I tested Twomile Branch at Jerry Jones Drive and at the bottom of Lake Drive. The E. coli results using the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Petrifilm method were not too bad. However, the Fecal coliform results from Flowers lab in Madison, FL, were not good.

[2020-07-26-28--badtwomile]
2020-07-26-28–badtwomile

That was four days after a very high event downstream at GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River, and four days before another one. Both of those GA 133 events had high E. coli as well as Fecal coliform. The following Monday and Wednesday, August 3 and 5, at GA 133 Fecal coliform was high, but E. coli was not as bad. Plus yet more GA 133 incidents since then.

This GA 133 problem needs to be fixed before the Troupville River Park is built, since that is just downstream from GA 133.

We don’t know if there’s any relation between high Fecal coliform on Twomile Branch and the GA 133 problem. However, it looks like we need to see if we can test more frequently at least at Sugar Creek and just downstream on the Withlacoochee River, and probably on Twomile Branch.

Fortunately, we are deploying those new testing kits to new trained testers.

If you want to help test, there’s a training Saturday, September 12, 2020. Yes, Floridians can take the training and report results through Georgia Adopt-A-Stream and Swim Guide. Follow the above link and fill out the form linked into it, and we’ll work that out.

Maybe this sort of testing and analysis is why WWALS got the Volunteer of the Year award from Georgia Adopt-A-Stream.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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