Bad Knights Ferry water quality, Withlacoochee River 2020-10-30

Before last weekend all the water quality results from Valdosta for Wednesday and Madison Health for Thursday seemed good. But then it rained late Thursday. I tested Friday, and while US 41, just below Sugar Creek, and US 84 were good on the Withlacoochee River, Knights Ferry Boat Ramp was not good at all.

That contamination must have washed downstream. It may have already passed State Line by Monday, and it may never show up in Valdosta or Madison Health results. We shall see what their results for this week say.

But it was there at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp Friday. This is a good illustration of why even more frequent testing is needed.

Oh, and vote for clean water.

[US 41, NSRR, US 84, KF]
US 41, NSRR, US 84, KF

At Knights Ferry, I counted 39 + 38 + 39 = 116 * 100 / 3 = 3,866 cfu/100 mL E. coli. I went with Gretchen’s slightly lower counts of 40 + 25 + 39 = 104 * 100 / 3 = 3,466, because there was some doubt whether some E. coli colonies were separate or not. Sara Jay got an even lower 2,633. Whichever, it’s clear they’re all well above the 1,000 Georgia Adopt-A-Stream alert limit. So we’re using the 2,633 3,466 middle number, which is plenty bad.

[3,466 cfu/100 mL, Knights Ferry (below Okapilco Creek)]
3,466 cfu/100 mL, Knights Ferry (below Okapilco Creek)

You really couldn’t tell by looking at or smelling the water. In this picture, Dr. Tom Potter, Chair of the WWALS Science Committee, and a member of the WWALS board of Directors, helps me urge all of you to vote for clean water.

[Knights Ferry Boat Ramp]
Knights Ferry Boat Ramp

US 41 is North Valdosta Road, and I counted 3 + 0 + 2 = 5 * 100 / 3 = 166 cfu/100 mL E. coli. There is some difference of opinion among the Testing Committee, some getting 1 colony more for 200 cfu/100 mL.

But the consensus as stated by WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall, after Trudy Cole, Conn Cole, and Gretchen Quarterman also weighed in, was that my counts were close enough.

Either way, they match pretty closely Valdosta’s 245 for the same location and day.

[Bad Weekend]
Bad Weekend
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality testing results (and rainfall and sewage spills), see

All are within the one-time sample limit of 410, although higher than the average limit of 126.

[166 cfu/100 mL, US 41 (North Valdosta Road)]
166 cfu/100 mL, US 41 (North Valdosta Road)

Nice spot, really, in the woods there above the main highway into Valdosta.

[US 41]
US 41

I admit I expected higher at the Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge, on the Withlacoochee River just below Sugar Creek. But I got 0 + 3 + 7 = 10 * 100 / 3 = 333 cfu/100 mL E. coli. Some WWALS testers counted slightly lower, but all agreed that my counts were close enough.

[333 cfu/100 mL, NSRR (below Sugar Creek)]
333 cfu/100 mL, NSRR (below Sugar Creek)

So apparently the rains did not wash much down Sugar Creek.


At US 84, all the WWALS testers agreed with my counts of 1 + 0 + 0 = 1 * 100 / 3 = 33 cfu/100 mL E. coli. That’s pretty clean. And it agrees very closely with Valdosta’s 40, same day, same place.

[33 cfu/100 mL, US 84 (below Little River)]
33 cfu/100 mL, US 84 (below Little River)

That’s not sand behind me. That’s the rapids just above the US 84 bridge. The bridge is visible through the branches above me.

[US 84]
US 84

The previous week was not bad.

[Not Bad Week]
Not Bad Week

Here are two weeks worth of data.

[Two Weeks]
Two Weeks

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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