Tag Archives: creeks

GA 133 Friday bad again? But good everywhere else, 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

Current Situation of Water Quality Testing, Suwannee River Basin 2020-08-02

People mostly don’t know about all the additional testing, nor the cows, nor the new Consent Order on Valdosta.

Even if you’ve been following the Withlacoochee River water quality situation, some of what has happened and has been discovered is probably not obvious. Here is an attempt to describe the current situation, many of the people and organizations involved, and some things you can do to help. See also printable PDF.

[Page 01]

August 2, 2020

To: Potential Partners in helping clean up the Withlacoochee River

Re: Current Situation of Water Quality Testing, Suwannee River Basin

Dear Potential Partner,

Trudy Cole wrote about water quality testing for WWALS:

“We do this so not just our grandchildren,
but your grandchildren have clean water to drink, fish, and swim in.

“Clean water, it’s not just important,
it is vital.”

We’ve never found anyone who wants to swim, boat, or fish in dirty water, much less drink it. Continue reading

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

Update 2020-08-01: Florida clean? Withlacoochee River 2020-07-30.

Subtitle: lack of data doesn’t mean good water quality.

Valdosta finally came through with downstream results for Friday, Monday, and Wednesday, at 1:21 PM today, and they ain’t pretty.

[Map: Bad Knights Ferry and Nankin in Swim Guide]
Map: Bad Knights Ferry and Nankin in Swim Guide

Valdosta got results way above the 1,000 cfu/100 mL E. coli alert level at Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps Friday, at Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps Monday, and again at Nankin on Wednesday, with a too-high single-sample count of 510 at Knights Ferry for Wednesday. See What do these numbers mean?

So we have set Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps red in Swim Guide.

We can’t set State Line Boat Ramp red because, even though that contamination has probably reached there by now, we have no data for yesterday or today. Similarly, we can’t set anything new for Florida stations, because we have no Florida data since Tuesday a week ago.

Floridians: maybe you’d like to ask your statehouse elected officials to fund FDEP to implement regular river testing all the way from the state line to the Gulf. If Valdosta can do it, the great state of Florida can do it. For that matter, FDEP told us last November that they already had money for that and were allocating it regionally. Maybe you’d like to ask FDEP to allocate some of it to the Suwannee River Basin.

[Bad downstream]
Bad downstream
For the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of results from Georgia and Florida, as well as other context, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Valdosta’s Friday 3,900 E. coli for Okapilco Creek @ US 84 shows something did wash down Okapilco Creek from the upstream rains. That testing station is upstream from where Crooked Creek joins Okapilco, so that E. coli did not come from Crooked Creek. And maybe some of this downstream contamination did come down from GA 133 over the weekend.

[Map: Devane Road to State Line]
Map: Devane Road to State Line, in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

You may wonder: how can the WWALS Wednesday results for Knights Ferry and State Line Boat Ramps be so different from Valdosta’s results? Usually, because Continue reading

Still green to go, Withlacoochee River to GA-FL line 2020-07-29

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

Excellent water quality, Withlacoochee River, but raining now 2020-07-22

Update 2020-07-27: Alert bacteria level at GA 133, Withlacoochee River, Friday 2020-07-24.

Valdosta already reported downstream Withlacoochee River results for Wednesday! They are excellent: 30 cfu/100 mL E. coli for Okapilco Creek @ US 84, same for Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps, and 40 for State Line: all well below the 126 longterm average limit. Valdosta results for Friday and Monday were similar, so the longterm average is in fact excellent. Plus we have Thursday and Tuesday Florida results, none higher than 10 for any of GA 31 (State Line), CR 150 (Sullivan Launch), or FL 6 (Madison Blue Spring). All that backs up the zero WWALS tester Suzy Hall got at State Line Boat Ramp Saturday.

Upstream, the most recent results from Valdosta are 30 for US 41, 140 for GA 133, and 0 (zero) for US 84, which is as good as it gets.

However, the UGA station for Dixie, GA, on the west side of Brooks County, already reported more than an inch of rain. Not so much rain anywhere else, so we don’t know what that rain will wash to the waterways. WWALS will be testing this weekend.

[Accuweather Radar]
Accuweather Radar Map.

Here’s the data: Continue reading

Valdosta holds ground-breaking on WWTP catch basin 2020-07-21

Long-awaited, since December 2018, with GA-EPD permit in hand since December 2019, today was the groundbreaking for the new catch basin at the entrance to Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).

[Ground breaking]
Photo: City of Valdosta, Ground breaking

The catch basin probably would have stopped 2/3 of the December 2018 spills. *The other 1/3 in December 2018 was from city infrastructure not acting as designed, unless 2 million gallons of raw sewage spilling from manholes was in that design.

It would not have done anything to stop the record December 2019 raw sewage spill, which resulted from the Remer Lane Pump Station being left offline and disconnected from the SCADA system.

However, some of the other projects mentioned in the below Valdosta press release may help with both those 2018 and 2019 other problems. It’s good to see Valdosta moving ahead to fix its chronic sewer system infrastructure problems.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 21, 2020
Release #07-21-104

City Breaks Ground on 7.26 Million-Gallon Equalization Basin at Withlacoochee WWTP

On Tuesday, July 21, 2020, The City of Valdosta broke ground on the new Equalization (EG) Basin located at the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The new secondary basin will provide more than double the available storage for extended periods of operation at the peak hourly flow thereby reducing the potential for overflows at the Plant. The Project includes a lined 7.26 MG excavated Basin, a new pump station, and an associated gravity pipe and force main.

Since its start-up in 2016, Continue reading

All green to go, Withlacoochee River 2020-07-18

Update 2020-07-23: Excellent water quality, Withlacoochee River, but raining now 2020-07-22.

We don’t always get zero E. coli on the Withlacoochee River, but when we do, we like it!

That’s zero cfu/100 mL at State Line Boat Ramp Saturday, by WWALS tester Suzy Hall, and zero at FL 6 just above Madison Blue Spring Tuesday by Madison Health. With below 410 (that’s good) everywhere upstream in Valdosta Monday, Wednesday, and Friday results.

Plus, we have good results on the Alapaha River, thanks to WWALS testers Tasha Ekman LaFace and Suzy Hall.

[Green on Swim Guide, Withlacoochee River]
Green on Swim Guide, Withlacoochee River

Yes, even Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps showed good results all week. We didn’t know that until today, but now we do, thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson getting those numbers posted about 1PM today. Continue reading

Bad Friday and Saturday water quality results, Withlacoochee River 2020-07-11

Update 2020-07-14: Bad Friday and Saturday water quality results, Withlacoochee River 2020-07-11.

Not looking good downstream on the Withlacoochee River. Madison Health unusually tested on a Friday, and found too-high E. coli results at Florida 6, just above Madison Blue Spring: 414 cfu/100 mL. Saturday, WWALS results at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp were horrible: 5,233. Nankin Boat Ramp results were merely too high: 600. State Line Boat Ramp was within acceptable limits Saturday, but that contamination probably washed down that far by Sunday and well into Florida by this morning.

[Withlacoochee River, Swim Guide]
Withlacoochee River, Swim Guide

Thanks to WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach for collecting those downstream Withlacoochee River samples, and to Suzy Hall for providing the results. See also What do these numbers mean?

[Dirty Knights Ferry, Nankin, FL 6]
Dirty Knights Ferry, Nankin, FL 6
For the complete WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida results and other context, see wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Friday Conn got 2,100 on Crooked Creek at Devane Road. Remember, Crooked Creek runs into Okapilco Creek downstream of US 84. That 2,100 is actually lower than many results we’ve seen at that location, and Crooked Creek has much less flow than Okapilco Creek. So that number is not enough to account for the 5,233 downstream of Okapilco Creek on the Withlacoochee River at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp the next day. Did it come from somewhere else, such as upstream on Okapilco Creek?

This map may help with understanding where all these places are.

[Landings, Suwannee River Basin, WWALS Map]
Landings in Suwannee River Basin, WWALS Map

However many places the E. coli came from, there is reason to believe that the most likely sources are cattle.

[Little River, Swim Guide]
Little River, Swim Guide

Meanwhile on Saturday, upstream WWALS testers Conn Cole and John S. Quarterman found good results on the Little River at GA 76 (Cook County Boat Ramp) and GA 122 (Folsom Bridge Landing), as well as at GA 122 on the Withlacoochee River (Hagan Bridge Landing). Friday Conn Cole aso got good results on Okapilco Creek at US 84.

Plus, Valdosta’s Friday results for US 41, GA 133, and US 84 are all good. Valdosta did get a high Fecal coliform result for US 41, but we go by E. coli. Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for getting these Valdosta Friday results published this morning.

Back downstream, you don’t even have to count the blue-with-bubbles colonies to see Continue reading

Clean Little and Withlacoochee Rivers to GA-FL line 2020-07-03

Update 2020-07-10: Data behind Florida bacterial advisory for Withlacoochee River 2020-07-09.

Update 2020-07-09: Possible bacterial contamination, Withlacoochee River, Hamilton, Madison Co. FL 2020-07-09.

Thanks to new WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach assisting Suzy Hall, results for samples taken Friday, July 3, 2020, are all green for Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps on the Withlacoochee River. The samples I took upstream were also good: zero for Hagan Bridge Landing at GA 122 on the Withlacoochee River, and 333 for Folsom Bridge Landing at GA 122 on the Little River.

Suzy did remark, “The mosquitoes got a little annoying at Nankin!”

You can help by donating to the WWALS water quality testing program.

[Michael and Jacob Bachrach testing]
Michael and Jacob Bachrach testing

There was quite a bit of rain Friday, but almost all upstream on the Little River and upstream of Okapilco Creek at Moultrie (or Okapilco River, as Colquitt County calls it). While there was heavy rain at US 84 on the Withlacoochee River at the east side of Brooks County, meanwhile on the west side of Brooks at Dixie there was not much rain. So if we’re lucky, not much Continue reading