Vickers Branch and Hahira LAS 2020-05-11

How is the mysterious Vickers Branch south of Hahira related to the Hahira Land Application Site? What is that creek the rest of that LAS is on? And what does all this have to do with Lowndes County’s new IMPAIRED WATERS MONITORING AND IMPLEMENTATION PLAN? Why do we care about all this for the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail?

About six weeks ago, the bridge on Old US 41 North just south of Hahira broke and Lowndes County fixed it. Revealing that nobody knew a name for it. Except Phillip Williams, who says, “Some maps show it as Vickers Branch. The Vickers family were the ones who owned most of the land in the area back in the 1800s.”

[Map: Vickers Branch, Hahira LAS]
Map: Vickers Branch, Hahira LAS
in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

The Vickers Branch Bridge marker south of Hahira looks slightly too far south, but it’s where google street view and aerials show the bridge. It seems that the USGS stream trace I used in this map is not quite right.

[Photo: Lowndes EMA, of broken Vickers Branch Bridge]
Photo: Lowndes EMA, of broken Vickers Branch Bridge

Upstream of that Vickers Branch US 41 bridge, several branches or runs that drain quite an area. I have named them after the current property owners, as discovered through the Lowndes County Tax Assessors online map: Parrott Branch, Parrott Run, Briggs Tyler Run, Lawson Run, Odom-Cornelius Run, Cain-Brogdon Run, and Gold Leaf Run. The hyphenated names are for the landowners at the top and bottom of the named stream.

Using USGS traces for those streams reveals yet another place the USGS HUC maps are wrong. Bobby Wetherington’s big pond northeast of Hahira apparently drains into Vickers Branch, which means all that is in the Little River watershed, not the Withlacoochee.

The shading on the map goes by the USGS HUC boundaries, and shows the divide between the Little and Withlacoochee River watersheds running south down Sparrow Drive, east on GA 122 (Main Street), south on S. College St. through the Middle School, and east along Lee Street and across S. Hagan Bridge Road, swooping down near Hahira Elementary School, across Drew Circle, to Coppage Road. This makes no sense with Lawson Run coming down from a pond just south of E. Main St. across Coppage Road, and crossing that “divide” on the way to Vickers Branch.

So apparently all of Hahira is in the Little River watershed.

Oh, the Hahira Land Application site?

[Treatment System Flow Diagram]
Treatment System Flow Diagram

According to Hahira’s NPDES permit GA0037974, the actual Hahira LAS Spray Field is just north of Vickers Branch, between Tillman Street and Brookridge Drive. That’s marked on the map as the southern-most blue symbol.

The permit shows the spray field being fed from the Hahira LAS Storage Pond, west of the main permit address of 598 Hall St, Hahira, GA 31632. That address is shown on the map as the northern-most blue symbol, with the pond to its west clearly visible and marked with another blue symbol.

[Location Map]
Location Map

What the permit calls the “unnamed tributary of Franks Creek”, that runs through the Pond, we’re naming the Hahira LAS Pond Branch. It starts just south of where Old US 41 and West Main Street separate, runs south across Park Street and West Sargent Street, and into the Pond.

South of the pond is the Hahira LAS Aerated Lagoon.

[Treatment Plant Flow Diagram]
Treatment Plant Flow Diagram

We’re calling the little run that comes down from Hall Street between the lagoon and the pond, Hahira LAS Lagoon Run.

Note on the above Treatment Flow Diagram from the permit that there is a “DISCHARGE TO STREAM” marked going into Hahira LAS Pond Branch.


Hahira LAS Pond Branch is what the new Lowndes County IMPAIRED WATERS MONITORING AND IMPLEMENTATION PLAN coyly calls “Pond 780 Feet Upstream of Union Rd” on “Tributary To Franks Creek (R031102040504)”. We know the actual location because on the same page (page 20) they list a sampling station: “#1 Tributary To Franks Creek | Hahira WWTP Discharge Upstream FC”

[Tributary To Franks Creek (R031102040504) Pond 780 Feet Upstream of Union Rd 1 mile to Franks Creek]
Tributary To Franks Creek (R031102040504) Pond 780 Feet Upstream of Union Rd 1 mile to Franks Creek

I don’t know about you, but I’d kind of like to see what Lowndes County’s results are for that station and the other one at Union Road for this branch. Unfortunately, the PLAN seems to only require annual reports. I am asking the county about that.

Also for the county’s two new sampling locations on Franks Creek at Old Valdosta Road (which is downstream of Hahira LAS Pond Branch) and Shiloh Road. These could give an indication of what might be getting into the Little River not far south of Shiloh Road and upstream of Troupville Boat Ramp, which is just upstream of the Withlacoochee River.


Lowndes County does not have in its plan any sampling sites on Vickers Branch, and its upstream Franks Creek site is upstream of Vickers Branch, so there’s no way to distinguish Vickers Branch in what it’s seeing at Shiloh Road.

I wonder if Lowndes County thought of this in the two years they were constructing their Plan?

Hahira has not reported a sewage spill in years. However, Valdosta’s failure to detect for many days its record spill in December 2019 indicates that wastewater permit holders don’t always even know if they are spilling. So water quality testing would be useful. Maybe WWALS will fill in some testing gaps.

Meanwhile, all this is an example of how the water trail maps are never finished.

The next update will be for bridges and streams in Brooks County.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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