WWALS Honored at Georgia DNR Confluence Conference as Volunteers of the Year 2020-08-29


Hahira, GA, August 31, 2020 — WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman zoomed into the annual Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Confluence conference on Saturday, August 29, 2020, so WWALS could receive the statewide Volunteer of the Year award while we were finishing the Twomile Branch Cleanup.

[Award and Cleanup]
Award and Cleanup

The award is for “Individual has gone beyond the call of duty to improve water quality and meet AAS goals.” We emphasized it was not just one volunteer, but many, in our one-minute award acceptance video. We also thanked Georgia Power again for a grant. We didn’t have time to mention we’re getting testing kits to WWALS testers in Florida, upcoming WWALS water quality testing training, and branching out to the Santa Fe River, but all that is in this post.

Testers shown in the video include Sara Jay, Scotti Jay, Suzy Hall, Alex Chesna, Bobby McKenzie, Jacob Bachrach, and Trudy Cole.

Let’s not forget Michael Bachrach, Conn Cole, Tasha LaFace, Renee Kirkland, and Laura Bauer.

Adopt-A-Stream is a program of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA-DNR).

WWALS tester Scotti Jay also organized the Twomile Branch Cleanup. In this picture he is accepting a bottle from WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall, with tester Sara Jay in between.

[Twomile Branch Cleanup]
Twomile Branch Cleanup

The video also thanks again Georgia Power for the grant, and thanks Joe Brownlee, Georgia Power Southwest District Director, for arranging the grant.

[Thanks to AAS and Georgia Power from WWALS]
Thanks to AAS and Georgia Power from WWALS
Joe Brownlee of Georgia Power and family, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman, WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall

If you want to get trained to become a WWALS water quality tester, Gretchen is holding a training 9AM to 1PM, Saturday, September 12, 2020. It will be mostly online, watching videos and through zoom. Due to that Georgia Power grant, we have bought enough kits for trainees to have one for practice. Follow the above link to sign up in advance for the training. Be sure to include in the form where you can test. There is no charge for the training, and you don’t have to test for WWALS after you’re trained. But we would greatly appreciate it if you would. Also, to test for WWALS, you must be a WWALS member, which you can easily do online.


We test frequently on the Withlacoochee River, and also on the Little River and Alapaha River, Okapilco Creek, Onemile Branch, Twomile Branch, and Crooked Creek, among others, and sometimes on the Suwannee River.


For all our results, see https://wwals.net//issues/testing/. We’ve seen mostly good results for the Withlacoochee River lately, except GA 133 has high numbers on random weekdays; we are checking on that. The Alapaha River has always tested good for water quality, so E. coli in the Withlacoochee is not from deer.

See Swim Guide for a graphical summary of our latest results for eight “beaches” (river landings and Boat Ramps) on the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers in Georgia and Florida.

Tomorrow Gretchen is meeting Loretta Tennant halfway to Homosassa, Florida to get her a kit. Loretta was trained some time back, and now we have a kit for her. We will be adding more already-trained Florida testers, including Toni Greenberg, now that we have kits for them. All WWALS testers before getting a kit get added to the WWALS Testing Committee.

Science Committee Chair Dr. Tom Potter is also on the Testing Committee to keep an eye on how it’s going. With Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, Dr. Potter wrote “Current Situation of Water Quality Testing, Suwannee River Basin 2020-08-02.” Please read that twelve-page document, which shows how more water quality testing discovered that it’s not just Valdosta: most of the recent Withlacoochee River contamination has come from cattle manure. We know this due to water quality testing by WWALS, the City of Valdosta, Lowndes County, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), and the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD). Dr. Potter also authored “WWALS Summary of FDEP chemical and biological tracer measurements on Withlacoochee and Suwannee River samples”.

We have a request from Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson for training of some volunteers on the Santa Fe River, due to some problems with a spring there. We are working that out among two main methods of those volunteers attending the September 12th training, or maybe Gretchen will go to Rum 138 on September 11th to train them.

Florida water quality testing standards are somewhat different from Georgia’s. In particular, for results to be actionable, samples must go to a lab for bacterial results, instead of using our usual Georgia method of Petrifilm.

[Petrifilm Plates]
Petrifilm Plates

But a lab is necessary anyway for Fecal coliform, so we recommend it for the Santa Fe case. When WWALS uses a lab, it’s Flowers Chemical Laboratories of Madison, Florida, same as Lowndes County, Georgia, and Madison County, Florida, uses. But there are other Florida labs, some closer to the Santa Fe River. Using a lab does cost more: $65 to Flowers for a pair of Fecal coliform and E. coli results from one water sample. With Petrifilm we can only do E. coli, but the cost of plates and other supplies is less than $10 per sample.

One of our former trainers, Erica McLelland, has moved on. But Megan L. Parker has taken her old job at the Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC), and Gretchen and Erica got Megan trained as a trainer. So we still have two trainers in Lowndes County, Georgia, plus, if I’m not mistaken, Heather Brasell in Berrien County.

Here’s a WWALS video playlist:

WWALS Honored at Georgia DNR Confluence Conference as Volunteers of the Year 2020-07-29
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS)

About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.

Contact: Gretchen Quarterman, Executive Director
WWALS Watershed Coalition
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632


 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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