Cleaner Withlacoochee, horrid Crooked Creek 2020-04-16

Update 2020-04-20: Better Saturday at Knights Ferry, Nankin, Withlacoochee River, but rain 2020-04-18.

I put back up a WWALS Caution sign at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp yesterday because of recent bacterial results on the Withlacoochee River; our signs are still up at Nankin and State Line. Thanks to WWALS testers and Madison Health, we have a pretty good picture of creeks and Withlacoochee River health yesterday, to add to what Valdosta got Wednesday. More WWALS testing this weekend. You can help.

And you can watch the livestream Saturday morning (probably today when you read this), April 18, 2020, starting at 8AM, as we demonstrate cleaning up and posting water trail signs at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp. Look for the livestream on the facebook event.

[Caution sign]
Caution sign

You can’t see E. coli, but you can see trash, such as this at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, Thursday, April 16, 2020. That location had much less E. coli, 233 cfu/100 mL, than only two days before, as did State Line Boat Ramp and CR 150 (Sullivan Launch), but Nankin Boat Ramp had 800 and Florida 6 had 538, just above Madison Blue Spring. Okapilco Creek was OK at US 84, with 166, but Crooked Creek at Devane Road was horrid with TNTC, Too Numerous to Count. See also What do these numbers mean?


How can these numbers change so rapidly? Lots of flow in the creeks and rivers after the recent rains. Is the contamination now downstream from FL 6?

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

Nobody knows, because nobody is testing down there. Seems like that would be the responsibility of FDEP, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. You can ask FDEP and your Florida state legislative delegation to do more testing.

[Better Withlacoochee, horrid Crooked Creek]
Better Withlacoochee, horrid Crooked Creek
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida data, see

Conn and Trudy Cole tested the Withlacoochee River at US 84 for WWALS, and that wasn’t too bad.

[166 cfu/100 mL, Withlacoochee River @ US 84]
166 cfu/100 mL, Withlacoochee River @ US 84

Ditto Okapilco Creek at US 84.

[166 cfu/100 mL, Okapilco Creek @ US 84]
166 cfu/100 mL, Okapilco Creek @ US 84

But Crooked Creek at Devane Road, before that feeder creek crosses US 84 and joins Okapilco Creek, was really bad. The Coles don’t give up counting colonies easily, but you can see why they did this time. We are making progress about the likely source(s). Please be patient.

[TNTC, Crooked Creek @ Devane Road]
TNTC, Crooked Creek @ Devane Road

Knights Ferry

Yet downstream from Okapilco Creek at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Little River, I got only 233 cfu/100 mL. How can that be? Well, the previous wave of contamination had probably already washed downstream, and that new wave hadn’t gotten there yet.

[233 cfu/100 mL, Withlacoochee River @ Knights Ferry]
233 cfu/100 mL, Withlacoochee River @ Knights Ferry

You sure can’t tell by just looking.


Not even by looking at the test water in the Whirlpak.



Nankin Boat Ramp was worse, with 800 cfu/100 mL. I’m guessing this was some of the remaining contamination from the previous wave, when Valdosta got 2,200 at the same location only the day before.

[800 cfu/100 mL, Withlacoochee River @ Nankin]
800 cfu/100 mL, Withlacoochee River @ Nankin

Looks pretty.


Except for the trash.


But that trash is not producing E. coli.


Mostly harmless.


Our WWALS warning sign is still relevant.

[Signs, Ramp, River]
Signs, Ramp, River

State Line

While 233 cfu/100 mL is above the longterm average limit of 122, it’s well below the single-sample limit of 410.

[133 cfu/100 mL, Withlacoochee River @ State Line]
133 cfu/100 mL, Withlacoochee River @ State Line

Yet the day before Valdosta got 7,700 cfu/100 mL from the nearby bridge, so our Caution sign stays up.


Is this enough to encourage Florida to do more regular testing, including farther down the rivers?

[Two rains, two contaminations]
Two rains, two contaminations
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida data, see

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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