Bad up and down: Withlacoochee River 2021-01-05

Update 2021-01-08: Bad Withlacoochee, OK Alapaha 2021-01-07.

Now with Madison and Hamilton Health advisory.

Monday Valdosta upstream water quality results are bad, and Tuesday Madison Health downstream results are worse. If I were you I would not swim, fish, or boat the Withlacoochee River until better results come in. Plus we have reports that Running Spring on the Suwannee River is brown like it usually is after contamination comes down the Withlacoochee River.

[Bad water quality, bad map on Swim Guide, Withlacoochee River]
Bad water quality, bad map on Swim Guide, Withlacoochee River

Madison and Hamilton Health have issued a joint health advisory.

[Health Advisory, Withlacoochee River]
Health Advisory, Withlacoochee River

It’s not clear how much of this is due to Tifton’s three weekend sewage spills into the New River and how much is from cattle, pig, and horse manure runoff. Probably mostly the latter. We have ordered some new DNA test kits, but they’re not here yet.

The slightly good news about this sitution is that before the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report and all the new testing by Valdosta, Madison Health, WWALS, and others, this kind of thing may have been going on after every big rain for years, and nobody knew. Also, as Valdosta was quick to point out, at least their Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant did not spill. Maybe the new catch basin helped.

However, it seems like Valdosta could at least fix the potholes in the middle of Mildred Street, where the Saturday spill apparently was.

[Potholes and drainage ditch]
Potholes and drainage ditch

I can’t imagine residents are amused that sewage once again ran through their yards and over their driveways.

[Ran through yards and driveways]
Ran through yards and driveways

We do not yet have any new bacterial results for the Alapaha River. But remember the Alapaha was bad Sunday at Naylor Beach near US 84, which is far upstream of where Valdosta’s Saturday Mildred Street spill would have reached the Alapaha River just upstream of Sasser Landing in Florida, after coming down Knights Creek, Mud Swamp Creek, and the Alaphoochee River. More when we know more.

[Bad up and down the Withlacoochee River]
Bad up and down the Withlacoochee River
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality results, rainfall, and spills, see:

Today’s Swim Guide map is worse than the last one. This one is red for every “beach” on the Withlacoochee River, except for Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps, and that’s merely because we have no new data, so those two are still showing yellow for historically bad.

[Map: Swim Guide]
Map: Swim Guide

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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