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 Fecal coliform Valdosta tested on Sugar Creek on December 10, 2019. For sure, Fecal coliform numbers hardly ever exactly match E. coli numbers, but they tend to be in the same general range.

Saturday Sara Jay got 66 cfu/100 ml at Troupville Boat Ramp, which is a few thousand feet up the Little River from its Confluence with the Withlacoochee, so that makes sense.

[Sara testing under Spook Bridge]
Photo: Scotti Jay, of Sara Jay testing under Spook Bridge, 2019-12-21.

Mysteriously, she also got 66 cfu/100 ml at Spook Bridge, which is a bit downstream from U.S. 84 on the Withlacoochee River, between the Little River Confluence and Knights Ferry Boat Ramp. We can only guess that the sewage is moving in more than one lump.

Thanks to The Langdale Company for testing access to Spook Bridge.

More WWALS testing is going on today.

[Valdosta to Madison Blue Springs]
Valdosta to Madison Blue Springs, in WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin, these all on the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

People ask us how long will it take for all this sewage to wash away or dilute enough not to be a problem? Nobody knows, because, as near as we can find, there has never been an incident like this before, of a major raw sewage spill of many millions of gallons when there was no rain, followed by rain. We also don’t know how much of the sewage Valdosta succeeded in sucking up with pumper trucks. So the only way to tell is to keep testing.

You can help WWALS test water quality by donating to our WWALS water quality testing program. Thanks to all who have already donated, we ordered more Petrifilm yesterday.

Well Testing

People ask us how to get their wells tested if they’re near the Withlacoochee River. Here’s information for the most obviously affected counties.

Another question is how far away can river water travel through groundwater to wells? Nobody knows.

Lowndes Environmental Health

According to Dwain Butler, South Health District Deputy Health Director, Lowndes Environmental Health is offering free well testing for a short period. Well tests usually cost $50, so that’s a big savings.

To get your well tested, contact:
Kyle Coppage, Lowndes Environmental Health,
PH: 229-245-2314
FAX: 229-245-2315

Brooks Environmental Health

The listed contact is:
Shannon Walker
PH: 229-263-5042
FAX: 229-263-5332

However, calling that number gets a message saying they will be out for weeks, so please call Lowndes Environmental Health.

Madison County Health Department

The Madison County BOCC has funded well testing for residents near the Withlacoochee River.

Fax 850-973-5007
218 SW Third Ave.
Madison, FL 32340

Hamilton County Health Department

The Hamilton County BOCC has funded well testing for residents near the Withlacoochee River.

209 SE Central Ave
PO Box 267
Jasper, FL 32052

Still no warning signs or Code Red

So far as we know, the only Valdosta warning sign on any river remains the one at Troupville Boat Ramp on the Little River, upstream of the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River.

[Valdosta Caution sign]
Photo: Scotti Jay, of Valdosta Caution sign at Troupville Boat Ramp, 2019-12-21.

If you see any warning signs anywhere on the Withlacoochee River in Lowndes County, Georgia, please let us know. Send a picture if you can.

And you may want to call these numbers and ask why not:
(229) 259-3592 Valdosta Utilities, Director Darryl Muse
229-259-3500 Ask for City Manager Mark Barber

Yesterday, we discussed with Lowndes County EMA whether they were going to put out a Code Red telephone call to warn people. They said they were checking with Valdosta. I haven’t gotten any Code Red; have you?

Meanwhile, Hamilton and Madison Counties, Florida, have put up warning signs. I hear Hamilton County may have done a Code Red a few days ago.

All our reports after this Valdosta record-largest sewage spill are here:

Our data is showing up Georgia Adopt-A-Stream; soon all of it will be there.

Why isn’t Valdosta’s data in Georgia Adopt-A-Stream or otherwise publicly visible? See above numbers to call.

Why isn’t Florida DEP’s data publicly visible?

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

[Suzy with a Petrifilm]
Suzy Hall with a Petrifilm.
Each bacterial test costs $6 for Petrifilms alone.
WWALS is spending about $40 a day on Petrifilms after this Valdosta spill.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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