Suwannee River contamination running downstream to the Gulf 2020-03-01

Update 2020-03-05: Cleaner Withlacoochee Monday, Tuesday; Suwannee unknown 2020-03-03

Whatever the Saturday contamination is, by Monday it had apparently moved downstream from FL 51 (Hal W. Adams bridge between Mayo and Luraville). Unfortunately, it is not expected to dilute or dissipate. More likely it will be unhealthy all the way to the Gulf. You can help.

[2020-03-01 Suwannee river downstream]
2020-03-01 Suwannee river downstream
The entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of all known data sources is on the WWALS google drive.
For context, see https://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Katelyn Potter of SRWMD forwarded a message from SRWMD Water Resources Chief Darlene Velez, saying “results below from samples collected Sunday 3/1/2020.”

Suwannee at US90: Fecal – 98 mpn/100ml; E. coli – 172 mpn/100ml
Suwannee at CR250: Fecal – 131 mpn/100ml; E. coli – 116 mpn/100ml
Suwannee at SR51: Fecal – 187 mpn/100ml; E. coli – 114 mpn/100ml

She depicted all those numbers as green. By our color scheme, the 172 E. coli is orange, because it’s higher than the 126 cfu/100 mL that is what longterm averages should be below. See also what do these numbers mean?

She continued:

I also ran some calculations:

From Withlacoochee (Pinetta) to Suwannee (Ellaville) the dilution factor is 0.49

From Suwannee above Santa Fe River (Luraville) to Suwannee below Santa Fe River (Rock Bluff) the dilution factor is 0.78

We have several springs backflowing now with river levels up, and we are losing approximately 1000cfs to the aquifer between Ellaville and Luraville gages.

On the Suwannee the water velocities are between 1 and 1.5 mph, so the high bacteria we got at SR51 on Saturday morning should be near Manatee Springs tomorrow (Tuesday 3/3) morning and to the Gulf of Mexico sometime Wed (3/4). Based on the dilution factors above the 980 E. coli we got at SR51 is unlikely to be diluted below health threshold below the Santa Fe River.

Please let me know if you have questions.

Darlene

Darlene Velez
Water Resources Office Chief
Division of Water and Land Resources
9225 CR 49, Live Oak, FL 32060
Office: 386-362-1001
Direct Line: 386-647-3122
Cell: 386-362-9714
Darlene.Velez@srwmd.org

[Downstream to the Gulf]
Downstream to the Gulf
In the WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

Valdosta has not yet updated its website to show its Friday February 28 results on the Withlacoochee River. We are also still expecting some WWALS Withlacoochee results from Sunday.

But this picture downstream on the Suwannee River seemed important enough to go ahead and post.

Many people are surprised at all these spikes of contamination moving down the rivers. We have reason to believe this is not a new phenomenon. People haven’t know about it before because there wasn’t enough and frequent enough testing to see it.

Yes, we are working to identify the sources. However, given that some of them appear to be non-point-source agricultural, there may be no quick fixes.

The good news is that if enough testing continues, we will know when the rivers are clean and when they are not.

For the other sources of data and much more context, see the WWALS web page on Water Quality Testing.

You Can Help

Please continue to contact your local and state elected officials in Florida and Georgia to ask for funding and personnel for frequent (several times a week) testing at closely-spaced stations along all our rivers, with timely online publication.

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!