Update 2020-01-17: Mostly clean in Georgia, not in Florida, Withlacoochee River 2020-01-15
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hahira, Georgia, January 13, 2020 — Water quality tests since last Wednesday are looking good for the Withlacoochee River in Georgia, and if those continue this Monday and Wednesday, it will be all clear to paddle with the new Mayor of Valdosta, Scott James, this Saturday, January 18, 2020. “We’ll paddle by the site of the projected Troupville River Camp, supported by Valdosta and Lowndes County, Georgia, and Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “We’ll also pass the outflow from Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), which did not spill, although it is in a stretch of the river that was contaminated by Valdosta’s December 2019 record raw sewage spill.”
WWTP Outfall, 2019-06-15 30.8362200, -83.3592400
Mayor Scott James was quoted in Valdosta Today:
“The paddle was requested by me and John was gracious enough to organize it and call it the ‘Mayor’s Paddle.’ It is to show my commitment to zero tolerance for future spills and to show my love for our natural resources.”
“The only way to dispell the stigma of sewage spills that affects the entire Suwannee River Basin, is frequent, regular, water quality sampling with published results,” added Quarterman. “The dozen-county Florida Rivers Task Force to deal with Valdosta sewage wants to promote cross-state-line eco-tourism. We should all be marketing our rivers. We are, with this paddle, and with Troupville River Camp. But we need a solid foundation of testing so we can say when the rivers are clean, and the few (we hope) times when they are not.”
WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc., parent organization of Suwannee Riverkeeper, will be collecting water quality samples this Wednesday at numerous points on the Withlacoochee River to have current results before the paddle.
Lowndes County (which has its own sewer system, that did not spill)
is sampling weekly.
The Florida Department of Enviromental Protection (FDEP) and the
Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) are sampling downstream,
and SRWMD has even sampled some sites well into Georgia.
WWALS is publishing all this data, along with what data Valdosta has supplied in response to open records requests, online:
On the paddle, WWALS will be sampling above and below the WWTP outfall and at other locations along the route.
Meanwhile, the recent rains have provided plenty of water in the river, several feet more than when we paddled the same route with 300 people in Paddle Georgia in June 2019, so we should have smooth sailing!