Bad far upstream and far downstream: Withlacoochee, Clyatt Mill Creek, Suwannee, Santa Fe 2020-09-21

Update 2020-09-26: GA 133 and Knights Ferry in 2.5 weeks of Valdosta and Florida water quality data 2020-09-24.

The most diverse set of testing data ever! It’s not bad upstream on the Withlacoochee River, but worse the farther down the Suwannee River, and, surprisingly, also the Santa Fe River.

[Rivers and Results]
Rivers and Results

Valdosta has reported for upstream on the Withlacoochee River for last Wednesday (good) and Friday (bad at GA 133, good at US 84).

Suzy Hall reported for WWALS at Clyatt Mill Creek (not bad, and thanks Langdale Company), and on the Suwannee River at Gibson Park (good for E. coli but very puzzling) and Anderson Spring Launch (good).

Loretta Tennant reported for WWALS on the Santa Fe River at Lemmons Ramp (alert!) and on the Suwannee River at Ivey Metropolitan Park in Branford (bad) and at Yellow Jacket Ramp between Manatee Springs and Fowlers Bluff (horrible). That’s enough to make us wonder if some of what’s getting into the Lower Suwannee River might be coming from the Santa Fe River.

We have no new data from FDEP or other Florida government agencies. Floridians, maybe you’d like to ask your elected and appointed officials for more water quality testing, especially downstream where we’re finding these bad results.

Meanwhile, all the WWALS “beaches” on Swim Guide remain green. That’s because we don’t have as beaches GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River nor as yet anything on the Suwannee River.

[Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers]
Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers
in the WWALS map of all public boat access in the Suwannee River Basin.

Withlacoochee River

Valdosta reported late this afternoon on its usual upstream locations for Wednesday and Monday. Those results are in the yellowish highlights at the top of the chart.

[Bad far upstream and far downstream]
Bad far upstream and far downstream
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida results, see

At the top of the map is Langdale Park Boat Ramp, and US 41 (North Valdosta Road) is just above that. Valdosta’s US 41 results weren’t great, but stayed below the 410 one-time sample limit for E. coli.

But yet again something got into the river between US 41 and GA 133, with bad Friday GA 133 results.

At US 84, the results remained excellent, thus the continued green on Swim Guide. Maybe we should add Langdale Park Boat Ramp as a “beach” so we can report Valdosta’s US 41 results for there on Swim Guide.

We have no new Florida state agency results since last time. The previous Madison Health Thursday results are visible on the chart, for GA 31 (State Line), CR 15 (Sullivan Launch), and FL 6 (Madison Blue Spring). Just above them are the WWALS results from that same Thursday.

The new WWALS results are in the purple-highlighted area towards the bottom of the chart.

Clyatt Mill Creek on railroad tract

Suzy Hall got 200 cfu/100 mL E. coli from a sample for WWALS Sunday, September 20, 2020. That’s not great, since it’s over the 126 average sample limit, but it’s well below the 410 single-sample limit.

Clyatt Mill Creek is visible on the above map, running south through Clattville to the Withlacoochee River. Suzy took this sample about halfway, thanks to permission from landowner the Langdale Company.

[Culvert, Clyatt Mill Creek RR]
Culvert, Clyatt Mill Creek RR

I say we can fit kayaks through that culvert, and paddle all the way from Clyattville-Nankin Road to the Withlacoochee River, then down past McIntyre Spring and the shoals to State Line Ramp!

[Downstream, Clyatt Mill Creek RR]
Downstream, Clyatt Mill Creek RR

Suzy is not so sure.

[Plates, Clyatt Mill Creek RR]
Plates, Clyatt Mill Creek RR

Suwannee River, Part 1

We have four WWALS samples, from just above the Alapaha River Confluence to within 25 miles of the Gulf.

Gibson Park, Suwannee River

Hamilton County’s Gibson County Park is on the Suwannee River, just upstream of the Alapaha River Confluence, and downstream from the Alapaha River Rise.

[Upstream, Gibson Park, Suwannee River]
Upstream, Gibson Park, Suwannee River

Suzy Hall’s PetriFilm plates for Saturday were puzzling.

[Plates, Gibson Park, Suwannee River]
Plates, Gibson Park, Suwannee River

Suzy reported:

Water was churning. That is such a nice park! But the results are alarming. My objective was to test above and below the Confluences with particularly the Withlacoochee. These plates changed color and to the eye against a white background they appear blue. But with a flashlight, they appear red. I have a headache from studying them.

Suzy settled on zero (0) E. coli for those plates. I agree, alarming as they appear, those plates have no blue colonies. But something is causing a large number of other Fecal coliform colonies.

Meanwhile, downstream….

[Downstream, Gibson Park, Suwannee River]
Downstream, Gibson Park, Suwannee River

Anderson Spring Launch, Suwannee River

Not far downstream from the Withlacoochee River Confluence, south of US 90 on River Road, Anderson Spring Launch is a nice takeout.

[Upstream, Anderson Spring, Suwannee River]
Upstream, Anderson Spring, Suwannee River

But Suzy Hall’s Saturday PetriFilms were puzzling for here, too.

[Plates, Anderson Spring, Suwannee River]
Plates, Anderson Spring, Suwannee River

This time, she found one blue colony, so that’s 33 cfu/100 mL E. coli, although once again something is causing all those other Fecal coliform colonies.

[Downstream, Anderson Spring, Suwannee River]
Downstream, Anderson Spring, Suwannee River

Santa Fe River

We interrupt this Suwannee River testing with a sample from the Santa Fe River.

William Guy Lemmons Ramp, Santa Fe River

Suzy Hall Loretta Tennant for Sunday got 1,133 at this ramp about a third of the way up the Santa Fe River towards the Ichetucknee River. That’s well over the 1,000 alert limit.

[Lemmon Ramp, Santa Fe River]
Lemmon Ramp, Santa Fe River

Suwannee River, Part 2

We now return you to our testing down the Suwannee River.

Ivey Metropolitan Park Ramp, Suwannee River, Branford

Just around the corner from the Santa Fe River Confluence, Ivey Metropolitan Park Ramp, in Branford, Suwannee County, on the Suwannee River, advertises jumping sturgeon, and I can attest they are there.

[Jumping Sturgeon, Ivey Ramp, Suwannee River]
Jumping Sturgeon, Ivey Ramp, Suwannee River

On Friday, Loretta Tennant tested at Ivey MP Ramp. Two plates weren’t bad, but the third was bad.

The averaged result was 500 cfu/100 mL, which is well above the 410 one-time sample limit.

Loretta remarked:

Sadly, another yuk. And lots of algae growing in the cracks, right up to the floodline. Nitrate-N > 1.0 ppm & Orthophosphate > 1.0 ppm (Dilution needed? Both off the comparator color scales)….

Yellow Jacket Ramp, Suwannee River

Finally, down between Manatee Springs and Fowlers Bluff, Yellow Jacket Ramp also tested poorly for Sunday.

[Yellow Jacket Ramp Plates, Suwannee River]
Yellow Jacket Ramp Plates, Suwannee River

16+14+17=47 (gas forming CFUs).

47/3 x 100 = 1,567 CFU/100 mL

It’s hard to blame these bad Lower Suwannee River results on the Withlacoochee River, especially with good test results upstream.

Floridians, maybe you’d like to ask your elected and appointed officials to get FDEP to fund and organize regular, frequent, closely-spaced water quality testing all the way from the GA-FL line to the Gulf.

There are more pictures on the WWALS website.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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