Tag Archives: Health

Fourth wave: plus Lowndes County on Okapilco Creek and Withlacoochee River 2020-01-22

Update 2020-01-30: Florida Counties Task Force in Valdosta about sewage 2020-01-08.

We do already have Lowndes County’s results, and they show somewhat elevated E. coli counts at both Okapilco Creek south of US 84 and the Withlacoochee River at US 84, for Wednesday of last week, January 22, 2020. Both those sites are upstream of Knights Ferry and State Line (GA 31), where WWALS found too-high counts on Sunday, January 26. Below: what these numbers mean, and how you can help.

[Elevated at both Okapilco Creek and US 84 Withlacoochee 2020-01-22]
Elevated at both Okapilco Creek and US 84 Withlacoochee 2020-01-22
The entire WWALS composite spreadsheet is on the WWALS website.

Sara Jay pulled some upstream river samples yesterday, so her results should be ready later today or early tomorrow. I’m going to get some downstream ones and at Okapilco Creek at US 84 today. Lowndes County is also pulling samples today, so my results should be ready tomorrow or very early Friday. Lowndes County is pulling samples today, so their results should be available tomorrow or Friday. We also hope to get updates from Florida.

What do these numbers mean?

Continue reading

Fourth wave: bad water quality at State Line and Knights Ferry 2020-01-26

Updated 2020-01-29: Plus Lowndes County data and what these numbers mean.

Updated 2020-01-28: Florida results added to the WWALS composite table, but the most recent from Florida was for Thursday, three days before the WWALS high Sunday results at the state line.

Bad news. WWALS found these results for Sunday, January 26, 2020:

[WWALS and County warning signs]
Photo: Suzy Hall for WWALS, of WWALS and County warning signs at State Line Boat Ramp 2020-01-26

cfu/100 mL E. coli Where
500Knights Ferry Boat Ramp
1233State Line Boat Ramp (GA 31)

Those stations are 15.55 river miles apart on the Withlacoochee River, with Nankin Boat Ramp in between. We are leaving our WWALS CAUTION signs up at all three locations. Continue reading

FL state Sen. Montford in Madison about Valdosta sewage 2020-01-08

Update 2019-01-28: Fourth wave: bad water quality at State Line and Knights Ferry 2020-01-26

Update 2020-01-24: Emma Wheeler, WCTV, January 24, 2020, Wells test positive for e-coli in Madison County,

If you weren’t at the Madison County meeting about Valdosta sewage, 1PM, Wednesday, January 8, 2020, you can see the whole thing in these videos I took for WWALS.

[Movie: Fines? Lawsuits? EPA answer questions? (331M)]
Movie: Fines? Lawsuits? EPA answer questions? (331M)

If you want a shorter version, try Stew Lilker, Columbia County Observer, January 11, 2020, 7.5 Mil Gal of Raw Sewage Headed Into N. FL From Valdosta – FL Sen. Bill Montford Wants Answers. See Stew ask his very perceptive question, Continue reading

Georgia Department of Health can’t or won’t do as much as FDOH 2020-01-07

Georgia Department of Public Health (GA-DPH) was not informed by Valdosta of the December 2019 raw sewage spill; so far as I know, I was the first to tell DPH, as Suwannee Riverkeeper. Lowndes County Environmental Health did then offer free water well testing, for both Lowndes and Brooks Counties, Georgia.

However, DPH itself does not test river water, and was not asked by Valdosta to help advise the public of river contamination. DPH does not have authority to compell Valdosta to test or plant warning signs. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) does have such authority.

This is all in marked contrast to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), which was informed by Valdosta, did put out three sequential warnings, and has been testing the Withlacoochee River. Seems like we need to get some policies or laws changed in Georgia.

[DPH was not notified of Valdosta sewage spill]
DPH was not notified of Valdosta sewage spill

For his speedy and informative response, I’d like to thank Continue reading

No LNG by Rail Rule –WWALS to PHMSA 2020-01-13

One of seventeen reasons for PHMSA to reject its own proposed rule for LNG in rail tanker cars:

  • The solution to risks of leaks, wrecks, and explosions of LNG truck tankers is not to add another source of risk in LNG rail cars, no matter what design.

[FEC Timetable North from Miami to Jacksonville]
FEC Timetable North from Miami to Jacksonville

Many thanks to Maxine Connor and Cecile Scofield for comments, corrections, and additions of this WWALS comment, sent to the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) yesterday, which was the deadline for comment on PHMSA Notice of Proposed Rulemanking (NPRM HM-264) Hazardous Materials: Liquefied Natural Gas by Rail, PHMSA Docket No. PHMSA-2018-0025.

Cecile also had already filed her own excellent comment. Both hers and this WWALS comment draw on a fascinatingly wrong and inadequate document Cecile previously obtained via FOIA: Continue reading

Water quality permitting, paddle with Mayor of Valdosta this Saturday 2020-01-18

Update 2020-01-17: Mostly clean in Georgia, not in Florida, Withlacoochee River 2020-01-15

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, January 13, 2020 — Water quality tests since last Wednesday are looking good for the Withlacoochee River in Georgia, and if those continue this Monday and Wednesday, it will be all clear to paddle with the new Mayor of Valdosta, Scott James, this Saturday, January 18, 2020. “We’ll paddle by the site of the projected Troupville River Camp, supported by Valdosta and Lowndes County, Georgia, and Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “We’ll also pass the outflow from Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), which did not spill, although it is in a stretch of the river that was contaminated by Valdosta’s December 2019 record raw sewage spill.”

[Movie: WWTP Outfall, 11:23:17, 30.83622, -83.35924 (15M)]
WWTP Outfall, 2019-06-15 30.8362200, -83.3592400

Mayor Scott James was quoted in Valdosta Today:

“The paddle was requested by me and John was gracious enough to organize it and call it the ‘Mayor’s Paddle.’ It is to show my commitment to zero tolerance for future spills and to show my love for our natural resources.”

“The only way to dispell the stigma of sewage spills that affects the entire Suwannee River Basin, is frequent, regular, water quality sampling with published results,” added Quarterman. “The dozen-county Florida Rivers Task Force to deal with Valdosta sewage wants to promote cross-state-line eco-tourism. We should all be marketing our rivers. We are, with this paddle, and with Troupville River Camp. But we need a solid foundation of testing so we can say when the rivers are clean, and the few (we hope) times when they are not.”

WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc., parent organization of Suwannee Riverkeeper, will be collecting water quality samples this Wednesday at numerous points on the Withlacoochee River to have current results before the paddle. Lowndes County (which has its own sewer system, that did not spill) is sampling weekly. The Florida Department of Enviromental Protection (FDEP) and the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) are sampling downstream, and SRWMD has even sampled some sites well into Georgia. WWALS is publishing all this data, along with what data Valdosta has supplied in response to open records requests, online:
http://wwals.net/issues/vww/valdosta-spills/#vldrecord2019

On the paddle, WWALS will be sampling above and below the WWTP outfall and at other locations along the route.

Meanwhile, the recent rains have provided plenty of water in the river, several feet more than when we paddled the same route with 300 people in Paddle Georgia in June 2019, so we should have smooth sailing!

How To Paddle with the Mayor

Continue reading

Well testing results, Madison County, FL, after Valdosta sewage spill 2020-01-03

The Madison County, Florida, Board of County Commissioners is meeting again this Wednesday morning before the two other meetings about Valdosta wastewater that same day.

When: 9 AM, January 8, 2020

Where: Courthouse Annex – Commission Meeting Room,
229 SW Pinckney Street, Madison, FL 32340

What: Regular Meeting, Madison County Board of County Commissioners

Speaking: Sign in for Petitions from the Public, 5 minutes each, at the beginning of the meeting.

The Madison BOCC has had three special called meetings about Valdosta wastewater, in which it allocated $5,000 for water well testing, declared a State of Emergency, extended it twice, and received a report of results of testing of private wells. Madison BOCC also also distributed information from Madison County Health Department about testing water wells and when and how to disinfect a water well.

Hamilton County, Florida BOCC and Health Department implemented the same measures. Will Valdosta pay for these extraordinary expenditures of money and resources by downstream counties?

What did Valdosta, Lowndes County, or Brooks County, Georgia, do? It seems that there are fewer people living along the Withlacoochee River in those counties than in these Florida counties, but some concern for those that do would seem appropriate.

In the agenda packet, on page 12, are the one-page MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL MEETING, FRIDAY, JANUARY 3, 2020:

[Well testing results]
Well testing results
PDF

New Business #1: Discussion and Possible Approval of Extension of Declaration of State of Emergency in Response to the City of Valdosta Sewage Spill into the Withlachoochee River. Continue reading

Florida Sen. Bill Montford hosting Valdosta sewage public meeting in Madison, FL 2020-01-08

Update 2020-01-06: Well testing results, Madison County, FL, after Valdosta sewage spill 2020-01-03.

Florida state Senator Bill Montford has scheduled “a meeting concerning the Valdosta sewage spill issue” this Wednesday afternoon, the same day and before the meeting of the Florida Counties Rivers Task Force with the Valdosta City Council. We have some questions (see below). You probably do too, and you can ask them at one or both of these Wednesday public meetings.

When: 1 PM, Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Where: Madison County University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Office
184 Northwest College Loop, Madison, FL 32340

Event: facebook

Table, Committee

I have confirmed that this Madison meeting is a public meeting. The venue is small, but that’s no reason for the public not to come.

Sen. Montford held a Continue reading

Even filthier E. coli counts at Knights Ferry on Withlacoochee River 2019-12-24

Update 2019-12-28: Contamination apparently spread to Nankin Boat Ramp by December 26, and still no warning signs.

Suzy still saw no Valdosta warning signs yesterday at Knights Ferry or State Line, despite even higher E. coli counts at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River. There were still no warning signs there or at State Line Boat Ramp, even though the only source of contamination this bad that seems plausible is Valdosta’s record-largest raw sewaage spill. Why does Valdosta not put up warning signs for the public health situation it has apparently caused?

[Knights Ferry Boat Ramp]
Photo: Suzy Hall, of Petrifilms of water from Knights Ferry Boat Ramp 2019-12-24.

“I kinda want to call Knights TNTC (Too Many To Count), but I did my best and count 6,767/100 mL.” reports Suzy Hall on test results from a sample she took at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp yesterday, Tuesday, December 24, 2019.

That’s more than six times the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream alert level for E. coli. And we thought 4,966.67 from three days earlier was ridiculously high.

Please don’t let your children play in that water with these readings. Continue reading

E. coli at Troupville, Little River Confluence, and Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River 2019-12-21

2019-12-25: Even filthier E. coli counts at Knights Ferry on Withlacoochee River 2019-12-24.

The Withlacoochee River is still filthy with Valdosta’s record-largest raw sewage spill. Please don’t even touch the river water from Sugar Creek in Valdosta all the way to the Florida state line and beyond into Hamilton and Madison Counties, Florida. If you have a well near the Withlacoochee River in that area, there is free well testing available from Lowndes County (and maybe Brooks County), Georgia, and Hamilton and Madison Counties, Florida.

[Green at the Confluence]
Photo: Scotti Jay, Green at the Confluence, with Sara Jay preparing to test, 2019-12-21.

Slightly upstream from the Little River Confluence, Sara Jay tested Saturday and got 533 cfu/100 ml E. coli. This is in between the numbers she got a bit upstream at the GA 133 Withlacoochee Bridge, 633 last Tuesday and 433 on Thursday.

[Sugar Creek via Ga 133 to US 84]
Sugar Creek via Ga 133 to US 84, Withlacoochee River with the GA 133 bridge highlighted,
on the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

As reported yesterday, Saturday Suzy Hall saw 4,966 cfu/100 ml at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, which is up in the ranges of Continue reading