Update 2020-08-08: WWALS concurs, good to boat, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-06.
The good news: all green for boating, fishing, swimming, etc. from Cook County Boat Ramp on the Little River @ GA 76 and on the Withlacoochee River from US 41 through the GA-FL line past Madison Blue Spring. Thanks to Madison Health and the City of Valdosta for testing, and to WWALS testers Trudy and Conn Cole for finding zero E. coli on the Little River @ GA 76 (Cook County Boat Ramp).
The bad news: last Friday, again there was massive fecal bacterial contamination in the Withlacoochee River @ GA 133, far higher than the 410 cfu/100 mL single-test limit and twice the 1,000 alert limit. See also What do these numbers mean?.
The better news: a usually reliable source tells me that GA-EPD has found the culprit and is dealing with it. And the culprit was not governmental; it was a private company. More on that when I know more.
It’s really strange that such a high concentration of fecal bacteria at GA 133 did not show up downstream. Where did it come from? It’s not runoff: there was no rain, except way up at Skipper Bridge, which should have showed runoff contamination at US 41 before GA 133 if that was the source.
It’s not Valdosta or Lowndes County: they had no spills.
It’s almost like somebody dumped some septic tank or RV liquids into the river.
Whatever it was, was even higher last Friday than the Friday before. The previous Friday, July 24, 2020, there was rain in Brooks County, which apparently resulted in contamination coming down Okapilco Creek into the Withlacoochee River. That didn’t happen last Friday, July 31, 2020, and downstream from GA 133 no significant E. coli was detected. There was high Fecal coliform at US 84, but no farther downstream.
We should not expect to see high fecal bacteria at GA 133 again for this Friday.
And meanwhile, happy boating!
PS: Thanks to Ashlyn Johnson, Valdosta PIO, for getting the Valdosta results posted in a timely manner.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
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