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.

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

Also from samples Tuesday, Suzy found, “State line was slightly elevated at 200/100 mL. Double from 3 days earlier.”

[State Line & Knights Ferry]
Photo: Suzy Hall, of Petrifilms from water from State Line & Knights Ferry 2019-12-24.

You can see the difference between these two sites just by looking at the sample water.

[Water from State Line and Knights Ferry]
Photo: Suzy Hall, of sample Water from State Line and Knights Ferry Boat Ramps 2019-12-24.

It is odd that the counts at State Line, while rising, are still not high. I really hope we were wrong to warn the sewage has already reached Florida. I’d much rather be alarmist than be like Valdosta and not warn anybody. Maybe the sewage just hasn’t made it those last 15.55 miles, despite the recent rains. We will test more and see.

[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.

As Suzy also reports, “Again Zero signage.”

[State Line Boat Ramp]
Photo: Suzy Hall at State Line Boat Ramp 2019-12-24.

Well, the WWALS signs for the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT) are there, but no Valdosta warnings signs. The only one of those remains the one at Troupville Boat Ramp, a few thousand feet up the Little River from its Confluence with the Withlacoochee River, just west of Valdosta.

[Valdosta Caution sign]
Photo: Scotti Jay, of Valdosta Caution sign at Troupville Boat Ramp, 2019-12-21.
Someone has decorated that signpost with flowers,
like the crosses you see at highway wreck sites.

At the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River, Sara Jay found E. coli counts still high in a sample from Saturday, December 21, 2019.

So apparently the Withlacoochee River is still contaminated from that Confluence at least to Knights Ferry, and probably still from Sugar Creek to the Confluence. (N.B., Floridians: Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River west of Valdosta, not the other Little River that runs into the Suwannee River.)

If you live near the Withlacoochee River and you want your well water tested, follow this link.

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

Monday, 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? There’s some old Valdosta data in the Georgia Environmental Monitoring and Assessment System (GOMAS), but it stops in May and June 2018. See above Valdosta 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!