Clean Withlacoochee, Okapilco Creek (mostly), and Little River 2020-02-02

Update 2020-02-08: Clean Withlacoochee River; dubious Okapilco Creek; and rain 2020-02-05.

Even better news: clean everywhere WWALS tested Sunday on the Withlacoochee River, Little River, and Okapilco Creek. If this keeps up, eventually we, and presumbably Lowndes County, will remove our warning signs. We’ll make some inquiries in Quitman while waiting for Lowndes County’s data upcoming this Wednesday.

At least weekly ongoing testing is still needed. What Lowndes County keeps seeing in Okapilco Creek illustrates that while Valdosta is chronically the biggest problem, and Valdosta has some remediation to do, it’s not the only source of contamination. The only way to tell when our rivers are clean or not, so we can market eco-tourism and gradually lift the reputational stigma on our rivers, is regular, weekly, water quality testing.

You can help.

[With reference dog]
Photo: Suzy Hall, of the Withlacoochee RIver downstream of Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, With reference dog.

Suzy Hall tested the three southernmost Georgia boat ramps on the Withlacoochee River. Conn and Trudy Cole tested at US 84 on both the Withlacoochee River and Okapilco Creek, and at GA 76 (Cook County Landing) on the Little River:

Wherecfu/100 mL
E. coli
Little River @ GA 76133
Okapilco Creek @ US 84100
Withlacoochee @ US 840
Knights Ferry67
State Line (GA 31)33

What we want to see is zero (0) like that Withlacoochee US 84 number, or like Sara Jay’s zero Friday on the Withlacoochee River just above the Little River Confluence. But all these numbers are well within what various sources consider clean.

[All signs on same post]
Photo: Suzy Hall, of all signs on same post at Nankin Boat Ramp.

As you can see, the only site above 100 cfu/100 mL was the GA 76 on the Little River, and that was still well below the 410 EPA and GA AAS problem level for one-time sampling. See What do these numbers mean?

[Sunday WWALS data 2020-02-02]
Sunday WWALS data 2020-02-02
The entire WWALS composite spreadsheet is on the WWALS website.

We show no data from Florida, because the Florida agencies stopped collecting after they lifted the third advisory. The Florida Counties Task Force has asked its state legislative delegation to fund ongoing at least weekly testing.

[Big gator]
Photo: Suzy Hall, of big gator on State Line Boat Ramp.

We need ongoing at least weekly testing in Georgia, too. WWALS will continuing doing what it can, slowly building up our water quality monitoring program, but it seems like Valdosta could assist with that.

[Cook County Landing to State Line Boat Ramp]
Map: Cook County Landing to State Line Boat Ramp in the WWALS Map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

After Wednesday we’ll see what Lowndes County finds on Okapilco Creek downstream of US 84. And we’ll make some inquiries in Quitman. We already have several people checking around Brooks County for possible sources of contamination.

And yes, we are aware of the Quitman Land Application Site (LAS). It hasn’t reported any spills since its 120,000 gallons of raw sewage on January 3, 2019. But maybe something is leaking out of there they don’t know about.

You Can Help

You can help WWALS test water quality by donating to our WWALS water quality testing program. Or maybe you know a bank or other source of larger financial support.

[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.

Maybe you want to get trained and help test; if so, follow this link.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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