Hamilton, Madison Counties Health Lift Advisory for the Withlacoochee River 2020-03-26

2020-03-31: Zero E. coli at Nankin and State Line, Withlacoochee River 2020-03-29.

Received 6:57 PM 26 March 2020. For the data on which this decision was based, see Cleaner downstream with no rain 2020-03-24.


March 26, 2020


Sallie Ford

Lisa Hayes

Jasper, FL — The Florida Department of Health in Hamilton and Madison counties today lifted the joint health advisory for the Withlacoochee River in North Florida that was issued on February 11, 2020 because of elevated indicators of fecal-indicator bacteria.

Since the advisory was issued, both Florida Department of Health in Hamilton and Madison counties conducted sampling along the Withlacoochee River. The recent test results indicate the river water again meets surface water quality standards ensuring the public may resume water-related activities (https://www.flrules.org/gateway/notice_Files.asp?ID=17115667).

For more information about the potential health effects of wastewater overflow, Floridians are encouraged to contact DOH-Hamilton at 386-758-1059 or hamilton.floridahealth.gov and DOH-Madison at 850-973-5000 or visit madison.floridahealth.gov.

About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.

Here’s the important part from the cited Florida Rule 62-302.530 Table: Surface Water Quality Criteria.

(6) (b) Bacteriological Quality (Escherichia coli Bacteria)

Number per 100 ml (Most Probable Number (MPN) or Membrane Filter (MF))

MPN or MF counts shall not exceed a monthly geometric mean of 126 nor exceed the Ten Percent Threshold Value (TPTV) of 410 in 10% or more of the samples during any 30-day period. Monthly geometric means shall be based on a minimum of 10 samples taken over a 30-day period.

That’s for Class III Surface Water, Predominantly Fresh Waters. The only difference in the table for Class I is 5 samples instead of 10.

MPN / 100 mL is functionally equivalent to the Colony Forming Units (cfu) / 100 mL used by Georgia Adopt-A-Stream and WWALS.

See also what do these numbers mean?

[Quitman and Valdosta to Suwannee River]
Quitman and Valdosta to Suwannee River
In the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

If this good water quality trend continues, WWALS will eventually remove its Caution signs from Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps. However, the averages are not yet as good there as downstream in Florida. We’d also prefer not to remove our warning signs (the yellow diamond ones) before Lowndes County removes its warning signs (the red caution ones).

[Signs, State Line Ramp]
Photo: Suzy Hall, Signs, State Line Ramp

So WWALS can continue testing, WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman just bought another case of Petrifilm, to the tune of $753.25. That’s a big buy for a tiny nonprofit such as WWALS. You can help.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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