Update 2020-10-16: Ashburn spilled sewage three times in September 2020-09-27
It was harsh, but it went by fast. Except there seem to have been at least two sources of contamination.
The Health Advisory has been lifted for the Withlacoochee River, and I’ve set all the Withlacoochee “beaches” green again on Swim Guide.
The contamination that reached the GA-FL line on October 1st appears to have started from rainfall in eastern Brooks County, between Dixie and the Withlacoochee River. Given that Valdosta’s results show sky-high at Knights Ferry on the Withlacoochee River but not very high on Okapilco Creek at US 84, that seems to spell cattle manure runoff coming down Crooked Creek into Okapilco Creek. Looks like we need to get some DNA testing kits or chemical marker tracers to resolve this kind of question.
However, notice yet again a spike at GA 133, with higher Fecal coliform than E. coli, like far too many spikes at the same location. This time there was rain upstream on the Withlacoochee River, and there was a small Fecal coliform spike at US 41. I’ve highlighted in yellow those items as well as some other downstream results with Fecal coliform much higher than E. coli, at US 84 on Wednesday and Friday, and at Knights Ferry on Friday. Those could be that same GA 133 contamination washing downstream, diluted by rainwater coming down from the Little River.
So what is this GA 133 contamination? Popular suggestions include horse farms or RV dumping. More testing is needed to find out.
Whatever was in the Withlacoochee River had washed downstream past FL 6 by Friday, and Monday’s Florida results stayed clean, so Madison and Hamilton Health lifted their health advisory this afternoon.
I suspect that upstream contamination from GA 133 passed the state line during the weekend, probably Saturday, when nobody saw it.
And where did this all go downstream? Well, it could be making its way down the Suwannee River by now. We don’t know, because no Florida agency tests down there.
Meanwhile, for Swim Guide we go by the latest actual test results we have, so all the WWALS “beaches” are green again on Swim Guide.
Thanks to Valdosta Public Information Officer Ashlyn Johnson for getting the Valdosta data posted this afternoon.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
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