High E. coli at State Line in FDEP data Monday 2020-01-06

Update 2020-01-10: Avoid Withlacoochee River from Knights Ferry to Confluence with Suwannee River 2020-01-08.

In data received yesterday evening from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), after testing safe for a week, FDEP got 7,576 MPN/100 mL E. coli at GA 31. There are no warning signs at State Line Boat Ramp.

[Dec. 30 - Jan 6]
Dec. 30 – Jan 6

Is that a pocket of Valdosta sewage finally crossing into Florida? Something else big enough to cause those numbers? It’s hard to tell without upstream data, or followup data.

[Sewage dates, Dec. 3 - Jan 6]
Sewage dates, Dec. 3 – Jan 6,
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.

Whatever it is, there should be a warning sign at State Line Ramp, which is in Georgia, and there is none. Should Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida, put up a third warning for the Withlacoochee River in Florida? Just like there should have been warning signs on the Withlacoochee River in Georgia at U.S. 84, Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line at the earlier dates indicated on the above map I just made using data including some that is not in the spreadsheet FDEP sent yesterday. See Valdosta sewage from Sugar Creek to Florida 2019-01-01.

The Georgia Department of Health (GA-DOH) tells me such signs and warnings are the responsibility of Valdosta or the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD).

GA-DOH also tells me GA-EPD said Valdosta was “cooperating”. Cooperating with what, exactly? Not with warning people of a public health hazard.

Thanks to Julie Espy, Program Administrator, Water Quality Assessment Program, FDEP, for sending this data, which is now on the WWALS website. She also wrote about the meeting 1PM today in Madison with Florida state Senator Bill Montford:

Greg Deangelo, Deputy Director for our Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration, will be in attendance at the meeting tomorrow to respond to questions or comments regarding the monitoring. I believe John Truitt, Deputy Secretary for our Regulatory programs, will also be in attendance.

She didn’t say whether anyone from FDEP would be at the meeting 6PM today in Valdosta with the Florida Counties Task Force. GA-DOH does not plan to send anyone. Whether GA-EPD will send anyone to either meeting is a mystery.

But both are public meetings, so you can come.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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