Bad at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2020-11-19

Update 2020-11-27: All green with Withlacoochee River water quality 2020-11-26.

Something bad was in the Withlacoochee River at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp Thursday, which is a big change since our post earlier today. And there is yet another possible source.

[Maps and Chart]
Maps and Chart

WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach got 933 cfu/100 mL E. coli at Knights Ferry, which is well above the 410 one-time limit.

[Bad at Knights Ferry]
Bad at Knights Ferry
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality results, see

Yet downstream they got 0 and 33 at Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps, which is very good. And Monday and Wednesday Valdosta got good results at US 41, GA 133, and US 84.

So what caused that bad KF result?

[Knights Ferry PetriFilms]
Knights Ferry PetriFilms

It could be the mystery source above GA 133, if somebody dumped up there Wednesday after Valdosta tested.

It could be something coming down Okapilco Creek from Brooks County.

However, when we tested DNA on October 30, 2020, Jonah Ventures got significant markers at only one of four locations: Knights Ferry. That same day, KF was also the only location we got high E. coli: 3,466, far higher than the Bachrach’s result for yesterday.

The significant DNA markers were for human and pig. That’s right, pig, not cattle.

According to Suzy Hall, who usually tests at Knights Ferry on weekends, and who has relatives who live near there, wild hogs roam at Knights Ferry and upstream. Plus someone released a herd of pot-bellied pigs, or they escaped. And somebody slaughtered one the latter at Knights Ferry recently.

The human DNA on October 30? Well, Quitman did followup bacterial testing after their spill in April. They tested a hundred feet upstream and downstream of their ponds on Highland Avenue, which was where the spill was. And on October 29 they got Fecal coliform 1,855.3 upstream and 1,986.3 downstream. They didn’t test for E. coli. But those Fecal coliform numbers were high enough to suspect that the human DNA markers came down Okapilco Creek from that.

So, we have to track down human DNA from several possible sources, cattle DNA from various dairies and beef cattle operations, maybe horse, and now also pig DNA.

Each DNA test costs $125, so we will be using those sparingly.

[Map: Swim Guide bad Knights Ferry]
Map: Swim Guide bad Knights Ferry

Meanwhile, we’ve got a bright red Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Swim Guide map.

Thanks again to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for getting the Valdosta results published.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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