Category Archives: Weather

Bad far upstream and far downstream: Withlacoochee, Clyatt Mill Creek, Suwannee, Santa Fe 2020-09-21

The most diverse set of testing data ever! It’s not bad upstream on the Withlacoochee River, but worse the farther down the Suwannee River, and, surprisingly, also the Santa Fe River.

[Rivers and Results]
Rivers and Results

Valdosta has reported for upstream on the Withlacoochee River for last Wednesday (good) and Friday (bad at GA 133, good at US 84).

Suzy Hall reported for WWALS at Clyatt Mill Creek (not bad, and thanks Langdale Company), and on the Suwannee River at Gibson Park (good for E. coli but very puzzling) and Anderson Spring Launch (good).

Loretta Tennant reported for WWALS on the Santa Fe River at Lemmons Ramp (alert!) and on the Suwannee River at Ivey Metropolitan Park in Branford (bad) and at Yellow Jacket Ramp between Manatee Springs and Fowlers Bluff (horrible). That’s enough to make us wonder if some of what’s getting into the Lower Suwannee River might be coming from the Santa Fe River.

We have no new data from FDEP or other Florida government agencies. Floridians, maybe you’d like to ask your elected and appointed officials for more water quality testing, especially downstream where we’re finding these bad results.

Meanwhile, all the WWALS “beaches” on Swim Guide remain green. That’s because we don’t have as beaches GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River nor as yet anything on the Suwannee River.

[Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers]
Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers
in the WWALS map of all public boat access in the Suwannee River Basin.

Withlacoochee River

Valdosta reported late this afternoon on its usual Continue reading

Bad lower Suwannee, good Withlacoochee and Alapaha 2020-09-14

Update 2020-09-18: OK Withlacoochee River Quality, sewage spill Suwannee, FL, Suwannee River 2020-09-17

Sunday, Suzy Hall tested for WWALS at Sullivan Launch @ CR 15 on the Withlacoochee River, and got good results.

This despite a report of cows in a creek near the river just upstream in Hamilton County, Florida: that’s right, Florida, not Georgia.

Loretta Tennant’s WWALS results for the lower Suwannee were not so pretty.

And while Valdosta’s results for late last week corroborate those of WWALS and Madison Health, for Wedensday, September 2, Valdosta got bad results at State Line Boat Ramp.

[Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers]
Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers

Lower Suwannee River

Monday, September 14, 2020, Loretta Tennant tested again for WWALS at Continue reading

Good downstream, but recurring GA 133, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-27

Update 2020-09-01: Valdosta concurs last week, but not week before, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-28

The good news: all WWALS results for Thursday were good downstream on the Withlacoochee River, and for Tuesday from Madison Health. So as far as we can tell, happy boating, swimming, and fishing this weekend on the Withlacoochee River.

The bad news: something is still getting into the Withlacoochee River above GA 133, and it does not seem related to rainfall. This bad news has been going on too long. It really needs to be resolved for the Troupville River Park.

[Good Troupville, Knights Ferry, Nankin, State Line Boat Ramps; bad GA 133]
Good Troupville, Knights Ferry, Nankin, State Line Boat Ramps; bad GA 133

Thursday (yesterday) I sampled at Continue reading

Valdosta concurs: Withlacoochee River quality still looks good 2020-08-17

Update 2020-08-21 Looking clean downstream, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-20

Valdosta’s Friday and Monday results upstream and down concur with WWALS’ Sunday upstream results: the Withlacoochee River looks good for boating, swimming, and fishing. All such indications are merely advisory, of course, because water quality can change rapidly. There was rain upstream on the Little River Tuesday, but very little in Brooks County, so chances are good conditions will continue until there’s heavier rain.

[Chart and Swim Guide map]
Chart and Swim Guide map

The high E. coli in Crooked Creek Sunday apparently really did get diluted in Okapilco Creek and the Withlacoochee River before it reached Continue reading

Good upstream water quality, Little, Withlacoochee, Okapilco, worst Crooked Creek @ 2020-08-16

Update 2020-08-19: Valdosta concurs: Withlacoochee River quality still looks good 2020-08-17.

WWALS testers for Sunday after little rain found low water and good water quality upstream on the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers and Okapilco Creek in Cook, Lowndes, and Brooks Counties, Georgia, but very bad E. coli on Crooked Creek @ Devane Road in Brooks County.

[Green Swim Guide, pictures, results]
Green Swim Guide, pictures, results

Conn and Trudy Cole got 200 cfu/100 mL E. coli on the Little River @ GA 76 (Cook County Boat Ramp). That’s above the 126 long-term average limit, but still good enough to mark Cook County Boat Ramp green on Swim Guide. They remarked that’s the highest they’ve gotten there. Well, recently: back on April 25, 2020, after very heavy rain, they got 433, which is above the 410 one-time sample limit. That would be a red mark on Swim Guide, so it’s good they got 200 this time. See also What do these numbers mean?

[Good upstream, nasty Crooked Creek]
Good upstream, nasty Crooked Creek
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality results, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/

A bit downstream on the Little River @ GA 122 (Folsom Bridge Landing) I got Continue reading

Moultrie rain washed E. coli down Okapilco Creek; good now 2020-08-13

Update 2020-08-18: Good upstream water quality, Little, Withlacoochee, Okapilco, worst Crooked Creek @ 2020-08-16

The Withlacoochee River looks good for boating, swimming, and fishing this weekend, according to the latest water quality testing results, despite a contamination incident earlier this week.

[Chart and Map]
Chart and Map

More than an inch of rain at Moultrie Monday washed E. coli down Okapilco River (as they call it in Colquitt County) and Wednesday Valdosta got very bad 2,800 cfu/100 mL E. coli on Okapilco Creek @ US 84 in Brooks County, and bad 400 on the Withlacoochee River @ Knights Ferry Boat Ramp in Lowndes County. See What do these numbers mean?

Yet downstream at Nankin Boat Ramp and State Line was good Wednesday according to Valdosta, and also good Tuesday and Thursday at State Line, CR 150, and FL 6 according to Madison Health, in data updated online by FDEP early afternoon Friday. WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach also got very good results Thursday at Knights Ferry and State Line.

[2020-08-10-14--betterdown]
2020-08-10-14–betterdown
For context and the complete WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida bacterial test results and rainfall, see: http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

So I’ve marked all Withlacoochee River “beaches” green on Swim Guide.

However, once again there was heavy rain at Moultrie, this time on Friday, so don’t be surprised if E. coli shows up on Monday or even Saturday on Okapilco Creek @ US 84 or Withlacoochee River @ Knights Ferry.

Meanwhile, heavy rains at Tifton way upstream on the Little River should be Continue reading

WWALS concurs, good to boat, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-06

Update 2020-08-15: Moultrie rain washed E. coli down Okapilco Creek; good now 2020-08-13

WWALS testers Jacob and Michael Bachrach also got good results from their Thursday samples: 66 cfu/100 mL E. coli at State Line Boat Ramp and zero (0) at Nankin and Knights Ferry Boat Ramps. Can’t get much better than that!

WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall did remark that the Petrifilms for State Line showed quite a bit of other Fecal coliforms. But we can’t quantify those with the Petrifilm method, and we go by E. coli.

Of course, something else could have gotten into the river since Thursday. All of these results are always merely advisory.

But as far as we can tell, it’s a great weekend for boating on the Withlacoochee River!

[Good WWALS results, Knights Ferry, Nankin, State Line]
Good WWALS results, Knights Ferry, Nankin, State Line
For context and the complete WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida results, see: http://wwals.net/issues/testing/

As you can see, the WWALS 66 at State Line was quite similar to the Madison Health 10. The Florida agencies use laboratories with more precision in their results than WWALS can get with Petrifilms: 66 is the lowest WWALS can show before zero.

These Thursday WWALS results at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line corroborate what Valdosta got Wednesday at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line, shifted downstream somewhat due to water flow and a day later. Note Valdosta got slightly higher results at Nankin Wednesday, and WWALS got slightly higher at State Line, which is about what we would expect from water flow.

Until the next big rain (or dumping or, we sure hope not, sewage spill), water quality will probably remain good.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

GA 133 Friday bad again? But good everywhere else, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-06

Update 2020-08-08: WWALS concurs, good to boat, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-06.

The good news: all green for boating, fishing, swimming, etc. from Cook County Boat Ramp on the Little River @ GA 76 and on the Withlacoochee River from US 41 through the GA-FL line past Madison Blue Spring. Thanks to Madison Health and the City of Valdosta for testing, and to WWALS testers Trudy and Conn Cole for finding zero E. coli on the Little River @ GA 76 (Cook County Boat Ramp).

The bad news: last Friday, again there was massive fecal bacterial contamination in the Withlacoochee River @ GA 133, far higher than the 410 cfu/100 mL single-test limit and twice the 1,000 alert limit. See also What do these numbers mean?.

The better news: a usually reliable source tells me that GA-EPD has found the culprit and is dealing with it. And the culprit was not governmental; it was a private company. More on that when I know more.

[Map: All green on Swim Guide]
Map: All green on Swim Guide.

It’s really strange that such a high concentration of fecal bacteria at GA 133 did not show up downstream. Where did it come from? It’s not runoff: there was no rain, except way up at Skipper Bridge, which should have showed runoff contamination at US 41 before GA 133 if that was the source.

It’s not Valdosta or Lowndes County: they had no spills.

It’s almost like somebody dumped some septic tank or RV liquids into the river. Continue reading

Twomile Branch and Withlacoochee River 2020-07-28

Update 2020-07-31: Just when you think it’s safe, nope, Withlacoochee River to GA-FL line 2020-07-29.

For Monday, July 27, 2020, Valdosta reports still slightly elevated bacterial counts at GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River, but nothing like the alert level of Friday. Yet counts at US 41 upstream and US 84 downstream remain completely normal. We can guess that rainwater coming down the Little River into the Withlacoochee diluted the contamination.

[Towmile Branch, Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River]
Towmile Branch, Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River

We don’t know where that Friday GA 133 contamination came from. Both Valdosta and Lowndes County say they did not spill any sewage, and the state of Georgia still reports no sewage spills in the Suwannee River Basin (ditto for Florida).

[Downstream, 16:25:10, 30.8661346, -83.3102568]
Downstream, 16:25:10, 30.8661346, -83.3102568

I even tested Tuesday on Twomile Branch just below Joree Millpond and behind the last house on Lake Drive (thanks to the landowner). Results there were higher than are good for longterm average, but below the single test limit.

[Upstream again, 16:12:23, 30.864, -83.3158]
Upstream, Twomile Branch, Lake Drive, Valdosta, GA, 2020-07-28, 16:12:23, 30.8640000, -83.3158000

We have no Valdosta results downstream of US 84 since Wednesday a week ago, and nothing from Florida since Tuesday a week ago. Continue reading

Suwannee Springs work in progress 2020-07-22

The Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) is removing the debris from Suwannee Springs that was left by recent flooding of the Suwannee River.

[Four views of Suwannee Springs]
Four views of Suwannee Springs

When I spoke to Edwin McCook, SRWMD Sr. Land Management Specialist, yesterday, he mentioned that SRWMD is looking into further improvements beyond just the debris removal and fixing the staircase mentioned in the SRWMD PR below. It will probably take a few weeks to decide what more can be done. When we know more, I’ll post more. Continue reading