Valdosta water quality testing data 2018-09-12

Here is most of a year’s river water quality testing data from the city of Valdosta, on a Water Reporter map:

Valdosta stations, Map

Click on any of the colored diamonds for graphs. Scroll right to see more graphs. Click on any graph to see every datapoint. Clearly fecal coliform (FCOLI) and E. coli (ECOLI) have significant spikes way beyond the Georgia state limit of 200 cfu/100 ml.

However, as we already saw on the spill followup data map, often, even usually, FCOLI and ECOLI are just as bad or worse upstream of a spill or of Valdosta’s wastewater treatment plants (WTPs). The WWALS Science Committee hopes to see how those spikes correlate (or don’t) with rainfall, river level, and river flow.

This map includes several stations beyond those you saw on the spill followup map: at the GA 133 Little River bridge, at St. Augustine Road on Mud Swamp, and at GA 135 on the Alapahoochee River in Echols County, just upstream from the Florida line. Here are some of the graphs for that Alapahoochee station:

Alapahoochee River, Graphs

Valdosta seems unclear on what “to today’s date” means, given that the spreadsheet they sent goes only to 2018-09-12, which is Wednesday, 12 September 2018. Since the spreadsheet shows data collections every Wednesday, and I sent the request on Monday, 24 September 2018, one might have expected data from 2018-09-19. Or, considering Valdosta took five business days, rather than the GORA-required three business days, to provide the data, maybe even 2018-09-26, since that Wednesday occurred before the Friday Valdosta finally sent the data.

I will file another request Monday. Three business days from then would be Wednesday, which is the same day as the Tour of Valdosta wastewater treatment plants. Maybe we’ll even get the data before then.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

Georgia Open Records Act (GORA) request, WWALS to Valdosta, 2018-09-24

This is the text of the request I sent to Valdosta Utilities and the City Clerk on Monday, 24 September 2018:

Dear Valdosta Utilities and Valdosta City Clerk,

Thank you for last week’s data.
Please note that what I received was a scanned copy of a printout
of what appears to be a spreadsheet.
Per GORA this time I am specifically requesting the spreadsheet,
not a printout.

Also, by “all collection points” I mean including all streams.
For example, if Valdosta is collecting data on Sugar Creek,
please include that data if it can be done so without much trouble.

Pursuant to the Georgia Open Records Act
(O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70 et seq., also known as GORA),
I am requesting for all data to today’s date in calendar year 2018,
collected by the City of Valdosta (or contractors
or other personnel hired by or otherwise working
for the City of Valdosta) in the “River Sampling Program
that tests water quality before, during and after major rain events”
mentioned in Valdosta Press Release #08-14-75
dated August 14, 2018 and entitled
“Overnight rain event prompts debris blockage
at Mud Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant”.
This request is for all such data not just related
to the Mud Creek WTP, rather for all such data from
all collection points used by the City of Valdosta.

In addition, this GORA request is for all regular water quality
testing data (monthly, weekly, daily, or other period)
for all collection points used by the City of Valdosta
for calendar year 2018 to today’s date.

I agree to pay any copying and/or administrative costs incurred in fulfilling my requests to the extent permitted by Georgia law. Such costs may include copying charge of $.10 per page and administrative charges for search, retrieval, and other direct administrative costs, such administrative charges not to exceed the salary of the lowest paid full-time employee who, in the discretion of the custodian of the records, has the necessary skill and training to perform the request. (The requester is not charged for the first fifteen minutes of time).

My contact information is as below.

I am requesting the data in a spreadsheet via email,
per Georgia Open Records Act, specifically Georgia Code 50-18-71:

(f) As provided in this subsection, an agency’s use of electronic record-keeping systems must not erode the public’s right of access to records under this article. Agencies shall produce electronic copies of or, if the requester prefers, printouts of electronic records or data from data base fields that the agency maintains using the computer programs that the agency has in its possession. An agency shall not refuse to produce such electronic records, data, or data fields on the grounds that exporting data or redaction of exempted information will require inputting range, search, filter, report parameters, or similar commands or instructions into an agency’s computer system so long as such commands or instructions can be executed using existing computer programs that the agency uses in the ordinary course of business to access, support, or otherwise manage the records or data. A requester may request that electronic records, data, or data fields be produced in the format in which such data or electronic records are kept by the agency, or in a standard export format such as a flat file electronic American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) format, if the agency’s existing computer programs support such an export format. In such instance, the data or electronic records shall be downloaded in such format onto suitable electronic media by the agency.

In case the data was produced by a contractor or other third party,
please also note in the same law:

(h) In lieu of providing separate printouts or copies of records or data, an agency may provide access to records through a website accessible by the public. However, if an agency receives a request for data fields, an agency shall not refuse to provide the responsive data on the grounds that the data is available in whole or in its constituent parts through a website if the requester seeks the data in the electronic format in which it is kept. Additionally, if an agency contracts with a private vendor to collect or maintain public records, the agency shall ensure that the arrangement does not limit public access to those records and that the vendor does not impede public record access and method of delivery as established by the agency or as otherwise provided for in this Code section.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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