Fourth wave: bad water quality at State Line and Knights Ferry 2020-01-26

Updated 2020-01-29: Plus Lowndes County data and what these numbers mean.

Updated 2020-01-28: Florida results added to the WWALS composite table, but the most recent from Florida was for Thursday, three days before the WWALS high Sunday results at the state line.

Bad news. WWALS found these results for Sunday, January 26, 2020:

[WWALS and County warning signs]
Photo: Suzy Hall for WWALS, of WWALS and County warning signs at State Line Boat Ramp 2020-01-26

cfu/100 mL E. coli Where
500Knights Ferry Boat Ramp
1233State Line Boat Ramp (GA 31)

Those stations are 15.55 river miles apart on the Withlacoochee River, with Nankin Boat Ramp in between. We are leaving our WWALS CAUTION signs up at all three locations.


The Lowndes County warning signs were also still up at those places Sunday.

Suzy Hall, who took these samples, remarked:

I’m saddened. I feel like these numbers are conservative because I only counted the obvious larger purples, whereas some of the typical small “reds” could be purple, I honestly cannot rule that out. The sheer numbers of bacteria is horrid tho.

[Too many E. coli colonies]
Photo: Suzy Hall, Too many E. coli colonies for 2020-01-26

You can easily see the difference in color between the blank and the rest. Just like they did with the very highest counts before.

There has been some drizzle of rain in the past few days, but hardly enough it would seem to cause this, especially since the river has continued going down.

[Little rain, much contamination]
Little rain, much contamination
The entire spreadsheet depicted above is on the WWALS website.

We don’t know where it came from. Maybe Okapilco Creek, which Lowndes County discovered contaminated back on January 10 and January 16. Maybe something still washing down from Valdosta’s record-largest December 2019 raw sewage spill.

Whatever it is, we recommend don’t go in the river from Knights Ferry to the state line.

The entire spreadsheet depicted above is on the WWALS website. You’ll notice it’s rather empty of results from Florida, Lowndes County, or Valdosta for the past ten days. I am sending this off to those other sources to see if they will send their results.

Donate to WWALS Water Quality Testing Program

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 and other materials after this Valdosta spill.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

7 thoughts on “Fourth wave: bad water quality at State Line and Knights Ferry 2020-01-26

    1. jsq Post author

      Lowndes County is checking Okapilco Creek, and has found high results there before, as mentioned in the blog post.
      No city has reported a spill into Okapilco Creek recently.
      The only city on that creek is Quitman.
      Could be something else: cows, horses, etc.
      Or could still be Valdosta sewage.
      We will all keep testing until we find out. -jsq

      1. Anonymous

        How can we find out where it’s coming from? The sewage from Valdosta is almost 2mo old now… how to tell what the source is?

  1. Jack

    There is no way these numbers are from December’s spill. In 24 hours the water moves 16 miles so find another culprit.

    1. jsq Post author

      Not when there was no flow because there was no rain and very low water levels. The sewage just sat there in Sugar Creek for at least a week, as even Valdosta agrees.

      1. Anonymous

        Sewage doesn’t just sit there!!! there are millions of gallons discharged into that river and I don’t believe Valdosta said that. Its easy to blame them….but they aren’t the issue this time sorry.

        1. jsq Post author

          I heard it directly from the City Manager in his office, and all of Lowndes County and three Florida agencies concur. What is the source of your opinion? And who are you?

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