Withlacoochee River looks good; odd Suwannee River results 2020-09-10

Update 2020-09-13: Alapaha River good water quality at Berrien Beach and Lakeland Boat Ramp, also Withlacoochee 2020-09-12

So far as we know, water quality is good for boating, swimming, and fishing in the Withlacoochee River this weekend. There’s also been very little rain, so nothing should have washed into the creeks and rivers. So everything is still green on Swim Guide.

We did get some puzzling results way down the Suwannee River, though.

[Valdosta to Fowlers Bluff and the Gulf]
Valdosta to Fowlers Bluff and the Gulf
Maps by WWALS. Petrifilms by Loretta Tennant. Photos by John S. Quarterman 2019-02-24.

Withlacoochee River

The most recent data we have from Valdosta is for US 41, GA 133, and US 84 from Friday and Wednesday (Monday was a holiday and apparently they didn’t test). All good.

The most recent data we have from Madison Health is from Thursday of last week and from this Tuesday, for State Line, CR 150, and FL 6, also all good.

WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach report for their Thursday samples they got zero (0) and State Line and Nankin Boat Ramps, and 33 at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp. That’s almost as good as you can get.

Suwannee River

Going where no tester has gone before in recent memory, new WWALS tester Loretta Tennant forged far downstream on the Suwannee River.

Fowlers Bluff Ramp

Loretta got results at Fowlers Bluff Ramp for Saturday, September 5, 2020. That’s in Levy County, southwest of Chiefland, and only 22.7 river miles from the Gulf.

Those Fowlers Bluff results weren’t pretty: 633 cfu/100 mL E. coli, well above the 410 one-time limit.

[Fowlers Bluff 1]
Fowlers Bluff 1

I’m sure somebody will try to blame that on Valdosta, but remember there’s no sign of anything bad coming down the Withlacoochee River, not from Valdosta or anywhere else, not even cattle in Brooks County, Georgia.

Plus, Fowlers Bluff is 104.8 miles downstream from the Withlacoochee River Confluence with the Suwannee River, and that’s 22.7 miles downstream from Valdosta, so Fowlers Bluff is 170.55 combined river miles downstream from Valdosta.

[170 river miles: Valdosta to Fowlers Bluff]
170 river miles: Valdosta to Fowlers Bluff
in the WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

On the above map, Valdosta is near the top, and Fowlers Bluff is just to the right of the bottom of the WWALS logo.

Sure, bad enough contamination can travel that far. But not if it didn’t start upstream in the first place.

Where is it coming from? We don’t know. There’s no obvious industry near upstream from Fowlers Bluff, and not even any cattle near the river. But I bet there are septic tanks.

Joe Anderson Ramp

The next day, Sunday, September 6, 2020, Loretta tested a dozen miles upstream at Joe Anderson Ramp, in Dixie County not far downstream from Old Town, and just across the river on US 19 and US 98 from Fanning Springs in Gilchrist County.

That was a much better number, 200 cfu/100 mL E. coli, which is below the one-time limit of 410, although still above the average limit of 126.

[Anderson 1]
Anderson 1

The Joe Anderson Ramp is highlighted in a white circle near the upper right of this map, and Fowlers Bluff is once again to the right of the WWALS logo.

[Joe Anderson and Fowlers Bluff Ramps, Suwannee River]
Joe Anderson and Fowlers Bluff Ramps, Suwannee River
in the WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail.

Remember: watch your children. No, we didn’t put that sign there.

For the WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality test results, and more context, see:

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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