Better Saturday at Knights Ferry, Nankin, Withlacoochee River, but rain 2020-04-18

Update 2020-04-24: OK quality mid-week, but much rain yesterday, Withlacoochee River 2020-04-22.

WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall got 300 cfu/100 mL E. coli at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp Saturday, and 333 at Nankin Boat Ramp, both on the Withlacoochee River. That’s similar to Thursday at Knights Ferry, and better at Nankin; both not good, but not terrible. See also What do these numbers mean?

But watch out: it rained a quarter inch in Brooks County, Georgia, Sunday. WWALS continues testing and correlating results from various sources with rainfall.

You can help by donating for water quality collection supplies. Even those metal yellow Caution signs cost money. See below for those signs going up during the livestreamed virtual Earth Day cleanup at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp.

[Boaters, Suzy, signs, trash, Bobby]
Boaters, Suzy, signs, trash, Bobby

There were a bunch of boaters, all keeping their distance. They were already aware of the contamination, but did not plan to get in the river water.

Apparently most of the previous contamination had washed down the river, but how far?

[Better but rain]
Better but rain
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida data, see

How far down the rivers? To the Suwannee? Nobody knows, because nobody is testing downstream from Florida 6, just above Madison Blue Spring, and only Madison Health is doing that much.

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

Sometime in the next few days we expect Valdosta’s Friday results will arrive. Valdosta’s Monday results will be especially interesting after the Sunday rain. Madison Health will probably test this Tuesday.

Thanks to WWALS Science Committee Chair Tom Potter, we have added rainfall numbers for a University of Georgia station in Dixie, GA, west on US 84 in Brooks County. That’s actually in the Piscola Creek watershed, not Okapilco Creek, but weather tends to move west to east across Brooks County, so usually if it fell on Dixie, a few minutes later it fell upstream on Okapilco Creek and Crooked Creek.

As you can see in this chart, rain at that station preceded the recent high bacterial counts on Crooked Creek and downstream on Okapilco Creek and the Withlacoochee River. How well does that Dixie rainfall correlate with such results? We’re studying that.

[Rain in Brooks County, GA]
Rain in Brooks County, GA

Floridians, please ask your statehouse elected officials and FDEP to sample at least as frequently as Valdosta (three times a week) all the way down the rivers to the Gulf of Mexico.

Yes, we are working on fixes to the most likely source(s), but since they are agriculture, that will take months if not years. Even if all that gets fixed, there are other sources of contamination of our rivers, some of them in Florida; more on that later.

[Context with Brooks, Co., GA, rain]
Context with Brooks, Co., GA, rain

WWALS testers Conn and Trudy Cole tested Saturday at GA 76 (Cook County Boat Ramp) on the Little River, and go 133, which isn’t bad, although still above the 126 limit for longterm average results. Not much rain fell recently upstream on the Little River, so probably not much else will wash into it.

However, 1.4 inches of rain fell at Skipper Bridge on the Withlacoochee River, and all that water is heading downstream, carrying whatever washed into the river with the rain. Notice the high results Valdosta got at US 41 (North Valdosta Road) on April 15, after the last substantial rain at Skipper Bridge.

Virtual Earth Day Cleanup

WWALS Outings Chair Bobby McKenzie posted three facebook livestreams on the WWALS facebook event for the virtual Earth Day cleanup at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp. WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman held a watch party for the first one, which is this one.

Watch it and you can hear Bobby point out large numbers of shotgun shells. Seems like people who shoot there could pick up after themselves. We collected quite a few of those shells, but there are more.

There’s apparently no longer any way to download or embed a facebook livestream video.

WWALS Caution Signs

Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman attached a new metal WWALS Caution sign to the metal signpost. Also a Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT) sign, because the old WLRWT sign was stolen (again). We are reprinting the other WLRWT sign, the one specific to Knights Ferry Boat Ramp.

The third sign is by GA-DNR, about fish. Somebody had removed the fish sign since I tested Thursday, but we put it back Saturday.

[Caution, WLRWT, Fish]
Caution, WLRWT, Fish

We have added to the

[Rain in Brooks County, GA]
Rain in Brooks County, GA

Our usual sampling point at Knights Ferry was underwater. I call is mosquito point because of the copious quantities of mosquitos there.

[Mosquito Point underwater]
Mosquito Point underwater

In Bobby’s second livestream, you can see how high the river level is. Also in these pictures.

Somebody had been fishing before, and left this two-foot gar laying on the ground. Why catch it if you’re not going to eat it?

[Why catch it if you're not going to eat it]
Why catch it if you’re not going to eat it

The best advice we’ve heard is that if you cook fish thoroughly, any E. coli it might have gotten from the river water will be killed and the fish will be safe to eat.

We didn’t pick up the fish, but we did pick up many shotgun shells, bottles, cans, and broken glass from wine bottles.

You can see the trash, the new Caution sign, and a WWALS and Suwannee Riverkeeper banner in Bobby’s third livestream video.

I do like this picture Suzy took. There are more pictures on the WWALS website.

[Suzy Hall: Bobby, jsq-2-hands]
Suzy Hall: Bobby, jsq-2-hands


Next, we went down to Nankin Boat Ramp, where Suzy collected a sample.

[Jsq: Suzy Hall with a bucket at Nankin Boat Ramp]
Jsq: Suzy Hall with a bucket at Nankin Boat Ramp

Here’s a video:

Suzy Hall water quality testing, Nankin Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee River, 2020-04-18
Video by John S. Quarterman for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS).

We put up the new metal Caution sign at Nankin.

[Suzy Hall Nankin attaching sign]
Suzy Hall of jsq attaching Nankin Caution sign

We carefully maintained our distance, as you can see with Bobby and Suzy with a measuring tape.

[Jsq: Bobby McKenzie, Suzy Hall, Caution signs, 6 feet]
Jsq: Bobby McKenzie, Suzy Hall, Caution signs, 6 feet

Suzy is holding the previous 8.5×11″ paper sign that WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman laminated. It held up quite well for many weeks. But it’s time for the bigger metal signs.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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