Better: Valdosta and Quitman, Withlacoochee River, Suwanneee River past Santa Fe River 2020-02-22

Something is still getting into Okapilco Creek, and even more into its tributary Crooked Creek. For last week, we could follow it downstream way into Florida, using data from WWALS, Valdosta, and Florida Departments of Health. Fortunately, Friday the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers were within health limits from US 41 above Valdosta down past Branford. You can help.

[State Line Boat Ramp]
State Line Boat Ramp
Photo: Suzy Hall. Somebody stole all our signs from Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, but we will reprint and replant. If you want a sign to hang on your wall, you can just buy it from WWALS; prices are reasonable.

Possible sources of contamination getting into Okapilco Creek and then into the Withlacoochee River from Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on down include (but are not limited to) the Quitman Land Application Site (LAS), a sewage settling pond and another sewage pond, and lots of cows. We continue testing to find out.

[Quitman Land Application Site]
Quitman Land Application Site
in WWALS map of Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

Whatever it was, it went way down the Suwannee mid-week last week, maybe even as far as Rock Bluff Ramp at CR 340 below Branford. Yet what I detected on Crooked Creek Friday didn’t even make much of a mark on Okapilco Creek downstream of US 84 that same day.

[Week of February 17, 2020]
Week of February 17, 2020
The entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of data from WWALS, Lowndes County, Valdosta, FDOH, SRWMD, and FDEP is on the WWALS website. “>

Where did that contamination go? Was it diluted by rainwater in Okapilco Creek and the Withlacoochee River? We don’t know.

[Quitman to GA-FL Line]
Quitman to GA-FL Line
in WWALS map of Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

We know as much as we do because not only does WWALS continue sampling, but Florida county Departments of Health (FDOH) are sampling daily still since their latest advisory. Thanks to Katelyn Potter of Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) for forwarding that FDOH information to us.

[Valdosta and Quitman to Rock Bluff Ramp]
Valdosta and Quitman to Rock Bluff Ramp
in WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

And Valdosta last week started testing three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). We don’t actually get the Florida or Valdosta results for a day or two, which means we don’t get Friday until Monday or Tuesday.

[Updated Testing Data-0002]
Updated Testing Data-0002

Since Friday, February 14, 2020, Valdosta posts its results on its Water Quality Data web page. Click on River & Creek Testing Data. If you’ve been there before, you may have to refresh your cache for the Water Quality Data page first (control-shift-R) to get the most current River & Creek Testing Data.

We are told by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) that any day now FDEP will start posting Florida results on a web page.

We do have WWALS Friday results by late Saturday, allowing us to post them Sunday.

We are working on a composite solution to display all the resultss in a more comprehensible form.

And of course we are still working to track down the sources of contamination. For example, I collected more samples Monday morning in Brooks County. Notice Suzy Hall also tested on Clyatt Mill Creek, looking for another reported possibility.

You Can Help

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.

Much more about recent water quality is on the WWALS website.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

4 thoughts on “Better: Valdosta and Quitman, Withlacoochee River, Suwanneee River past Santa Fe River 2020-02-22

  1. Anonymous

    Proper lab tests using standard methods for fecal coliform bacteria take 22-26 hours… so of course they aren’t available until a few days later. Standard Method 9222D.

    1. jsq Post author

      Yes, we know. The main delay is the long chain of review, which is proper.
      WWALS also runs results through its Testing Committee before posting. -jsq

      1. Anonymous

        Oh, OK. The comment that you don’t get Florida or Valdosta’s results for a day or two sounded like a complaint.

        1. jsq Post author

          Well, neither Valdosta nor the Florida agencies work on the weekend or holidays,
          so that introduces more delay. We do.
          However, practically speaking, if you want to know the condition of the rivers for the weekend, the Wednesday samples are usually going to be the most recent results that are available, and then we’ll probably be publishing them Friday. -jsq

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