Not looking good, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-16

Update 2021-02-21: Clean downstream Friday Withlacoochee River 2021-02-19.

As usual, heavy rains washed contamination into the Withlacoochee River, first detected by Madison Health Tuesday at State Line and FL 6, although oddly Sullivan Launch @ CR 150 was within the one-time sample limit for E. coli.

[Chart, Gauges, Swim Guide map]
Chart, Gauges, Swim Guide map

The good news: with so much rain, the contamination will probably be diluted and washed downstream rapidly.

The bad news: more rain likely coming. And there’s more cattle manure that can wash down Okapilco Creek into the Withlacoochee River. Plus with the Withlacoochee River rising in Valdosta, and more rain falling on Valdosta and Quitman, will we see manhole sewage spills?

We hope to have WWALS results for today ready by tomorrow (Friday), and most likely FDEP will publish Madison Health results, as well. Possibly even Valdosta will publish their Wednesday results by Friday.

We also have a surprising spot check in Drexel Park, and Valdosta’s last week results, which fit with the Madison Health and WWALS results.

[Bad State Line Tuesday 16 Feb 2021]
Bad State Line Tuesday 16 Feb 2021
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality results, rainfall, and spills, see:

Valdosta’s upstream results for Monday show US 41, GA 133, and US 84 within limits.

Also, WWALS trainer Gretchen Quarterman tested Onemile Branch at the bridge in Drexel Park during the WWALS water quality testing training Saturday, and got probably the best result we’ve ever seen in that usually-dirty creek.

[Bobby McKenzie with a bucket]
Bobby McKenzie with a bucket, Onemile Branch, Drexel Park, Valdosta, GA, 2021-02-13.

Valdosta this week published their results from last week. Their previously-missing results for Wednesday, February 10, show good upstream, but very bad downstream. This matches what Madison Health saw one day later at State Line and below.

Valdosta also got too-high results for Friday, February 12, even though WWALS testers the Bachrachs got within limits that day. That was most likely due to testing at different times of the day.

[Bad Week of Tuesday 9 Feb 2021]
Bad Week of Tuesday 9 Feb 2021

As the Withlacoochee River continues to rise, probably this contamination will dilute and wash downstream quickly.

[Quitman @ US 84]
Quitman @ US 84, USGS Gauge 02318500

But what will happen as the river reaches flood stage in Valdosta?

[Valdosta @ US 41]
Valdosta @ US 41, USGS Gauge 02317755.

So I’ve set State Line and the downstream “beaches” red on Swim Guide, except for Sullivan Launch, which remains green, like all the upstream “beaches”. We shall see if they remain green.

[Swim Guide: bad State Line and FL 6]
Swim Guide: bad State Line and FL 6

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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