Moultrie rain washed E. coli down Okapilco Creek; good now 2020-08-13

Update 2020-08-18: Good upstream water quality, Little, Withlacoochee, Okapilco, worst Crooked Creek @ 2020-08-16

The Withlacoochee River looks good for boating, swimming, and fishing this weekend, according to the latest water quality testing results, despite a contamination incident earlier this week.

[Chart and Map]
Chart and Map

More than an inch of rain at Moultrie Monday washed E. coli down Okapilco River (as they call it in Colquitt County) and Wednesday Valdosta got very bad 2,800 cfu/100 mL E. coli on Okapilco Creek @ US 84 in Brooks County, and bad 400 on the Withlacoochee River @ Knights Ferry Boat Ramp in Lowndes County. See What do these numbers mean?

Yet downstream at Nankin Boat Ramp and State Line was good Wednesday according to Valdosta, and also good Tuesday and Thursday at State Line, CR 150, and FL 6 according to Madison Health, in data updated online by FDEP early afternoon Friday. WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach also got very good results Thursday at Knights Ferry and State Line.

For context and the complete WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida bacterial test results and rainfall, see:

So I’ve marked all Withlacoochee River “beaches” green on Swim Guide.

However, once again there was heavy rain at Moultrie, this time on Friday, so don’t be surprised if E. coli shows up on Monday or even Saturday on Okapilco Creek @ US 84 or Withlacoochee River @ Knights Ferry.

Meanwhile, heavy rains at Tifton way upstream on the Little River should be reaching the Withlacoochee by now, probably diluting contamination.

[Green Swim Guide, Withlacoochee River]
Green Swim Guide, Withlacoochee River

We don’t know what happened to that E. coli that was at Knights Ferry Wednesday. Conceivably it was at Nankin Thursday, but we don’t know. For Swim Guide, we can only go by the data we have, so Nankin remains green.

Or that E. coli might have already gotten diluted by the rainwater coming down from Tifton, although Thursday seems too soon for that water to have traveled that far.

And what’s with Fecal coliform spiking at GA 133 on Monday and Wednesday? At least this week E. coli stayed within acceptable limits there. Looking back to Friday a week ago, at least there was no spike at GA 133 then, unlike the previous two Fridays. But did whoever was dumping or whatever was causing that contamination just spread it out to the beginning of this week?


For last Saturday, we have a 66 for Naylor Park Beach on the Alapaha River, thanks to WWALS tester Suzy Hall. Notice how we never seem to see high results in the Alapaha River, no matter how much rainfall upstream. While deer are ruminants, and there are probably plenty of them in the wooded areas next to the Alapaha River, apparently deer are not numerous enough to cause the kind of contamination we often see in the Withlacoochee River.

WWALS testers will be sampling this weekend.

We have purchased more testing kits, thanks to that grant from Georgia Power, and we will be getting more testers sampling soon.

Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for getting Valdosta test results posted before the weekend, and to Madison Health for sampling and FDEP for posting Florida results before the weekend.

Here are Michael and Jacob Bachrach’s incubated PetriFilms for Thursday. Click on any small image to see a larger one.




 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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