Clean again: Withlacoochee River 2021-04-15

Boring can be good, if it’s a clean Withlacoochee River, especially for the fourth week in a row.

And clean is the news from Valdosta for upstream Wednesday, from WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach for Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps Thursday, from Madison Health for State Line, Sullivan Launch, and FL 6, also for Thursday, and from WWALS tester Gus Cleary for Cleary Bluff, between Allen Ramp and the Suwannee River, again for Thursday.

[Clean chart, plates, steps, Swim Guide]
Clean chart, plates, steps, Swim Guide

Very little rain fell by Thursday, or today, on the Little, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, or Suwannee Rivers. Which with these test results mean clean as near as we can tell.

So happy boating, swimming, and fishing! Continue reading

Hutchinson Mill Pond 2020-12-10

What’s upstream on Hutchinson Mill Creek, which joins the Withlacoochee River just upstream (north) of Hagan Bridge on GA 122 in Lowndes County, Georgia?

[Spillway, Hutchinson Pond, 16:22:31, 31.0554820, -83.3514000]
Spillway, Hutchinson Pond, 16:22:31, 31.0554820, -83.3514000

Hutchinson Pond, in Cook County on Caulie Harris Road, presumably at the site of Hutchinson Mill Pond. Continue reading

Kinard Bridge Landing 2020-09-21

Kinard Bridge Road Landing on the Little River is not the most difficult river access in the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (that’s US 84 Landing on the Withlacoochee River). But this one is a close second.

[Kinard Bridge]
Kinard Bridge

This is at 2640 Kinard Bridge Rd, Lenox, GA 31637, in Cook County. From I-75 exit 49, go west on Central Avenue, which becomes Kinard Bridge Road, 3 miles to bridge.

You have to park on the side of the road and drag your boat down a steep highway slope to the river on the north (upstream) side of the road. Continue reading

Trash Traps

We recommend more trash traps to catch this stuff before it gets into ponds or rivers.

[Bottles and cans, two types of trash traps]
Bottles and cans, two types of trash traps

Valdosta already has one trash trap, off of Baytree Road west of Springhill Drive. Thanks to Valdosta Stormwater Manager Angela Bray for pointing that out. Continue reading

Clean week, Withlacoochee River 2021-04-08

Update 2021-04-16: Clean again: Withlacoochee River 2021-04-15.

No spills, little rain, clean rivers!

[Chart, clean plates, fruit, Swim Guide]
Chart, clean plates, fruit, Swim Guide

Samples by WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps came out about as clean as you can get, and actually zero at State Line. Also zero at Cleary Bluff downstream of Allen Ramp by Gus Cleary.

And there was little rain yesterday, and none so far today.

So happy boating, fishing, and swimming this weekend!

But what is this fruit? Continue reading

2020 ANNUAL REPORT, Lowndes County Impaired Streams Monitoring 2020-04-07

Some good news: “Low level mercury levels are well below acute standards at all sampling points.”

Some bad news: “fecal coliform sampling results indicated all sampling points exceeded water quality standards for the June and September sampling events.”

[Cover, Franks Creek and Mud Creek]
Cover, Franks Creek and Mud Creek

That’s in the 2020 ANNUAL REPORT from Lovell Enginnering Associates to Lowndes County for its Impaired Streams Monitoring project that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) required the county to do.

Thanks to Lowndes County Engineer Mike Fletcher for sending this report in response to a WWALS open records request. I don’t know why Lowndes County did not publish this report themselves. Maybe they did, and I just haven’t found it online yet.

Working through this data, so far it seems that Franks Creek, which comes down west of Hahira to the Little River, shows spikes in Fecal coliform after rains. Those spikes usually occur downstream of Hahira’s wastewater treatment facility. Continue reading

Earth Day Rivers Alive Cleanup: Joree Millpond, Withlacoochee River 2021-04-17

Pick from a pair of floating Georgia Rivers Alive cleanups for Earth Day, and bring your boat!

Gretchen Quarterman will lead a floating cleanup on Joree Millpond in Valdosta, Georgia, starting at 913 Millpond Road (PDF flyer for Joree Millpond). You can return whenever you want to, but we expect this boating cleanup to last about two hours. If you have a jon boat and are willing to take a volunteer onto the pond to remove litter, please contact either Gretchen Quarterman (229-834-1945) or Austin Fiveash (229-563-6262). You can also participate in your kayak or canoe. Volunteers will remove litter from along the edge of the pond and from near the spillway. The City of Valdosta is providing a large trash receptacle at the site, thanks to Valdosta Stormwater Manager Angela Bray.

Bobby McKenzie will lead a paddle cleanup from Sugar Creek behind the Salty Snapper off of Gornto Road, down the Withlacoochee River, and a short hop up the Little River to Troupville Boat Ramp. That’s less than 4 river miles, and even with stops for trash collection should take less than three hours. We will leave the bagged trash at that destination, where Lowndes County Public Works will pick it up Monday.

When: Gather 9 AM, launch 9:30 AM, end 12:30 PM, Saturday, April 17, 2021

Millpond put in: 913 Millpond Road, Valdosta, GA, Take Country Club Drive to Mill Pond Road. Turn right and 913 is last house on left before right-only exit onto Jerry Jones Road.
Drop your boat at the water, then park near the street.
Millpond GPS: 30.867375, -83.309558

River paddle put in: The Salty Snapper parking lot, 1405 Gornto Road, Valdosta, GA.
Go to the back of the parking lot to drop off your boat at Sugar Creek.
Sugar Creek GPS: 30.861785, -83.318793

River Paddle Take Out: Troupville Boat Ramp, 9664 Valdosta Hwy, Valdosta, GA 31602. Go west on St. Augustine Road across I-75 (exit 18) and cross the Withlacoochee River. At the light for Val Tech Road, turn left, which takes you down to the boat ramp.
Troupville Boat Ramp GPS: 30.851842, -83.346536.

Safety: All volunteers must sign a WWALS liability release, which makes WWALS insurance cover them, and must wear a life jacket at all times while in boats.

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat, paddles, snaks, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags, and good boots.

Free: This outing is free to everyone, because it is a cleanup.

We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/#join

Event: facebook, meetup

[Joree Millpond, trash, Withlacoochee River]
Joree Millpond, trash, Withlacoochee River
Photos: Russell Allen McBride.

Continue reading

Alligator snapping turtle threatened status: another reason to protect the Okefenokee Swamp 2021-04-07

Let’s put the end of the story up top:

John Quarterman, who is the Suwannee Riverkeeper with the WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc., said he hopes potential new federal protections will highlight the need to shield part of the turtle’s potential habitat from a proposed mining project near the Okefenokee Swamp. The [Georgia] state Department of Natural Resource[s] is weighing whether to issue mining permits to Twin Pines [Minerals LLC of Alabama].

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is included in the turtle’s range outlined by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

“It’s yet another reason to protect the swamp,” Quarterman said this week.

Please send your comments to Georgia officials asking them to thoroughly review and then reject the five permit applications from the miners:
https://waterkeeper.org/news/help-suwannee-riverkeeper-save-okefenokee-swamp/

Suwannee alligator snapping turtle
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) listed the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle as State Threatened in September 2018.

Jill Nolin, Georgia Recorder, 7 April 2021, Feds propose protection for hefty Suwannee alligator snapping turtle,

A rare prehistoric looking turtle only found in south Georgia and north Florida might soon gain federal protection after struggling to rebound.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that it has proposed listing the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The announcement kicks off a public comment period that will wrap up this June.

The turtle is the largest found in north American rivers, with some males weighing in at more than 200 pounds. The Suwannee gator snapper makes its home in the waterways flowing through Tifton and Valdosta before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.

The federal agency reported Tuesday that only about 2,000 of the turtles remain across the two states. The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle was only recently split off as its own species.

“The science that the Service has gathered on this turtle indicates Continue reading

Notice: WWALS Quarterly Board Meeting 2021-04-18

The public is invited to the WWALS Quarterly Board Meeting, where we will be discussing the BIG Little River Paddle Race, Songwriting Contest, cleanups, outings, water quality testing, opposition to mines, water withdrawals, coal ash, and pellet plants, promotion of solar power, and of course finances.

That’s for the entire 10,000 square mile Suwannee River Basin, in Georgia and Florida, including the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Alapahoochee, Little times two, New times two, Santa Fe, and Suwannee Rivers, and all their creeks, springs, sinks, ponds, and swamps, such as Grand Bay, Banks Lake and the Okefenokee Swamp.

We will be meeting online by zoom, so you don’t even have to go anywhere.

When: 2-4 PM, Sunday, April 18, 2021

Where: Online: the zoom parameters will follow, as will an agenda.

Event: facebook

Much of the work of WWALS is done by committees of members, and many of them have some good results to report. If you’d like to join a committee, please fill out the application.

[WWALS Logo]
WWALS Logo

The board itself does most of its business online via email, but it’s good to have these gatherings once a quarter.

The current board members, officers, and staff are listed on the Board web page.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Trash Trap, Sheri Run at Baytree Road near Twin Street, Valdosta, GA 2020-12-08

Turns out the City of Valdosta already has a trash trap on one creek. It’s next to Baytree Road, upstream from Lake Sheri, on what I’m calling Sheri Run. The creek ends up in the Withlacoochee River, just upstream from the I-75 bridge. But, because of the trash trap, most of the trash does not reach Lake Sheri or the river, because it gets caught after it comes down from Valdosta Mall and all the restaurants and stores on St. Augustine Road.

[Outfall of trash trap, 10:16:37, 30.8471573, -83.3288788]
Outfall of trash trap, 10:16:37, 30.8471573, -83.3288788

Continue reading