Monthly Archives: March 2021

VDT on Mayor’s Paddle

This one went well. Next year we’ll call it something like the Mayor and Chairman’s paddle. Thanks to everyone who came for supporting WWALS outings and advocacy.

[Troupville Boat Ramp, WWTP Outfall]
Troupville Boat Ramp, WWTP Outfall; Photos: John S. Quarterman

Down the River: Mayor’s Paddle back on track, Bryce Ethridge, Valdosta Daily Times, 29 March 2021,

VALDOSTA — Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson and 40-plus city and Lowndes County residents gathered Saturday for a three-hour trip down the Withlacoochee River.

The Mayor’s Paddle is a fundraiser and kayaking experience that started in 2020 via a partnership with WWALS Watershed Coalition. “Last year, we formed it just to have a conversation with the cities and municipalities to our south, and to anybody who loved the river here,” Matheson said. “It was our way of saying we’re fully and only committed to keeping this waterway clean and useful for everybody in the area.”

WWALS also partners with Banks Lake Outdoors for free boat rental for the Banks Lake Full Moon paddles.

We partner with Friends of Reed Bingham State Park (FORB) for the BIG Little River Paddle Race, coming up April 24, 2021, at Reed Bingham State Park, between Adel and Moultrie, Georgia, and FORB actually does about half the work on that one.

You could say we partner with the downstream Florida counties in advocating that they should be paid back by Valdosta for the expense they’ve gone to in well and river water quality testing since Valdosta’s December 2019 record sewage spill.

We didn’t have many participants from Florida or elsewhere this time. Maybe we’ll have to do another paddle downstream in Florida for that.

Meanwhile, thanks to The Langdale Company for access at Spook Bridge and at the lunch stop. Continue reading

Still clean last week, filthy Friday before, Withlacoochee River 2021-03-26

Update 2021-04-03: Little Rain, Still Clean, Withlacoochee River 2021-04-01.

WWALS testers Conn and Trudy Cole found the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers still clean at two spots Friday after the WWALS clean results over thirty river mils Thursday. Crooked Creek was dirty Friday as it often is; see below.

[Filthy Friday before, Swim Guide, Clean last week]
Filthy Friday before, Swim Guide, Clean last week

Valdosta upstream Monday and Wednesday data concurs: clean.

There was a bit of rain yesterday (Sunday), but not much, so cleanliness probably continues. Happy boating, swimming, and fishing!

The week before was not so clean after all. Continue reading

Clean Withlacoochee River 2021-03-25

Update 2021-03-29: Still clean last week, filthy Friday before, Withlacoochee River 2021-03-26.

Clean everywhere, according to five WWALS testers who sampled spots on 80 Withlacoochee River miles Thursday, plus two on the Little River and one on the Alapaha River.

The latest we have from Madison Health is for Tuesday, and from Valdosta is for Friday a week ago, but those were clean, too. There’s been little to no recent rain, so probably nothing bad has washed into the rivers.

Good news for this morning’s paddle from Troupville Boat Ramp to Spook Bridge that Scott James calls the Mayor’s Paddle.

Laissez les bon bateaux rouler! Continue reading

Song submissions open April First (no fooling!) Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, March 25, 2021 — With online voting for finalists, and judges selecting winners at the Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, GA, with $300 in cash to the First Prize winner plus one day of recording studio time, the Fourth Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest seeks songs. Submissions open Thursday, April 1, 2021. Yes, no fooling!

“Georgia Beer Co. is back as our top-tier sponsor, which helps us get these new songs about our rivers, swamps, springs, and sinks,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

Submissions can be songs about any river, stream, spring, sink, swamp, lake, or pond in the Suwannee River Basin or Estuary (except not the Santa Fe Basin; that has its own contest).

“There’s always room for a new song about the Suwannee River, or other rivers in the Basin or Estuary!” said 2018 winner and 2019 headliner Laura D’Alisera, scribe for the WWALS Songwriting Contest Committee.

This year we will have online voting on the songs submitted, which the Committee will take into account when selecting finalists.

Finalists will play at the Contest, 7-10 PM, Saturday, August 21, 2021, and judges will judge at the Turner Center for the Arts, 527 N. Patterson St., Valdosta, GA 31601. There will be food and a cash bar, as you watch and listen, and you can browse the artworks at the Turner Center. There will also be a kayak raffle and a silent auction, as well as a range of buttons, stickers, hats, notecards, signs, shirts, and posters for sale (this is a fundraiser for WWALS Watershed Coalition).

[Submissions open April 1, 2021, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, Headliners last year]
Submissions open April 1, 2021, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, Headliners last year
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, of Dirty Bird and the Flu,
Headliners at the 2020 Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

“We hope that one or more songs will become well-known and enter the Great American Songbook, at the 2021 Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest!” said Tom H. Johnson, Jr., who is the Committee Chair and WWALS President.

So you’ll know what you’re supporting, there will be talks about WWALS advocacy, from water quality testing to opposing pipelines and mines and plastic water bottles, to promoting water trails and a Troupville River Camp.

You do not have to be a songwriter to come listen to the finalists. Judging of finalists will take into account Continue reading

Withlacoochee River still clean, Florida bacterial advisory lifted 2021-03-23

Update 2021-03-29: Still clean last week, filthy Friday before, Withlacoochee River 2021-03-26.

Update 2021-03-27: Clean Withlacoochee River 2021-03-25.

Better than expected! Madison Health not only found clean Withlacoochee River water at State Line, Sullivan Launch, and FL 6, they lifted the health advisory from back in February!

This is good news for the Mayor’s Paddle this Saturday, March 27th, from Troupville Boat Ramp to Spook Bridge. Very little rain is predicted before then, and river levels are also good. We will test again Thursday (tomorrow) just in case.

[Alert Lifted, Madison Health WQ Data]
Alert Lifted, Madison Health WQ Data

Apparently we were too cautious last week. If the rains last Thursday had any effect on the river, it all got diluted or washed downstream by Tuesday.

After the clean results from the Bachrachs and Madison Health Thursday, we also got for Friday the cleanest result from Gus Cleary downstream from Allen Ramp: zero E. coli. Also Friday, Valdosta’s upstream results for US 41, GA 133, and US 84 were pretty clean. Continue reading

Valdosta meeting, Suwannee-Satilla Regional Water Planning Council 2021-04-15

Meeting in the most populous city in its region, on tax day 2021, the Suwannee-Satilla Regional Water Planning Council. Worth attending. 9:45 AM, Thursday, April 15, 2021, Valdosta City Hall Annex, Suite # 206, 300 N Lee St. Valdosta, GA 31601.

[Notice, Region and Assessment]
Notice, Region and Assessment

Georgia’s water councils are nothing like Florida’s Water Management Districts. The Georgia councils have no ability to tax or fine, and no staff. Their appointed and unpaid members just plan, with assistance from GA-EPD staff and some consultants. Continue reading

Fun race or paddle for the whole family: the Ninth Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race

Update 2021-04-25: BIG Little River Paddle Race is cancelled due to weather.

Postponed due to weather to 2PM, Sunday, April 25, 2021.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (PDF)

Adel, Georgia, March 22, 2021 — You could win in any of a dozen categories, or up to $300 if you beat the previous winning record time. But you are not required to race: it’s a nice spring paddle anyway! On Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Reed Bingham State Park, between Adel and Moultrie, Georgia, it’s the ninth annual BIG Little River Paddle Race. There will be lunch and a kayak raffle. You can just paddle along this scenic three-mile stretch of tea-colored river on the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail among cypress trees, turtles, birds, and yes, alligators. (Don’t pet the alligators and they aren’t likely to bother you.) This race also has fierce competitors, with one past winner finishing in barely more than half an hour.

BLRPR mastermind Bret Wagenhorst, an eye doctor in Tifton, GA, and a charter board member of WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS), said, “After having to cancel last year’s event due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we found a way this year, with staggered heats and limited boats, to try to keep the event within Covid guidelines for outdoor activities. This is a great opportunity to learn about the joys of paddling canoes and kayaks, to see the natural beauty of our region’s blackwater rivers, and to have fun while getting some outdoor exercise with family and friends.”

There are several categories in which you could win, from fastest paddler, one and two person canoe (male and female), solo or tandem kayak (male and female), youngest paddler, oldest paddler, paddler from furthest away, and slowest paddler.

[Tandem female canoe, orange (BW)]
Photo: Bret Wagenhorst, of 2019 First female tandem kayak: Megan Robinson & Lily Robinson, of Tifton, GA.

Dianne Walters, president of Friends of Reed Bingham State Park (FORB), said, “This is a great community event, with volunteers from all around helping paddlers from everywhere.”

Wagenhorst added, “in 2019, the first woman across the finish in a solo kayak was Nikki York, of Adel, GA. And for the first time, a canoe finished first to win the $100 cash prize. It was a two-person canoe of gentlemen from Gray, GA: Continue reading

Withlacoochee River flood paddle 2021-02-27

Some of us paddled anyway back in February, after we first rescheduled the Mayor’s Paddle, which is coming up next weekend, Saturday, March 27, 2021. Two months earlier, it was smooth sailing for experienced paddlers. The overhanging branches would have been a problem for novices, and there were very few places to get out if you did capsize.

But the Withlacoochee River should be just right by this Saturday, so come on along!
https://wwals.net/?p=54923

You’ll get to see the Little River Confluence, future site of Troupville River Camp, when it’s not underwater, as well as the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant Outfall (of clean treated water), Millrace Creek and other creeks, as well as three bridges, including our takeout just below Spook Bridge. Thanks to The Langdale Company for access there and at the lunch stop.

WWALS is happy to have Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson as our guest. He will speak before we paddle, as will Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter. We are inviting nearby county and city officials in Georgia and Florida, as well as statehouse and Congress members. Each elected official will get three minutes to speak.

[Left: Smooth paddling, Mayor at WWTP Outfall, Sunny overhanging limbs, Buzzards, Lunch stop with Russell's turtle, Spook Bridge]
Left: Smooth paddling, Mayor at WWTP Outfall, Sunny overhanging limbs, Buzzards, Lunch stop with Russell’s turtle, Spook Bridge

[Need a bigger boat, Mayor?, 09:06:29, 30.8515344, -83.3478232]
Need a bigger boat, Mayor?, 09:06:29, 30.8515344, -83.3478232

I will say a few words about advocacy, especially water quality testing. Expedition leader Bobby McKenzie will give the safety lecture. Then we will paddle!

Click on any small picture to see a larger one. Continue reading

Clean week despite rain, Withlacoochee River 2021-03-18

Update 2021-03-29: Still clean last week, filthy Friday before, Withlacoochee River 2021-03-26.

Update 2021-03-24: Withlacoochee River still clean, Florida bacterial advisory lifted 2021-03-23.

Surprisingly, the results Michael and Jacob Bachrach got today, for the samples they collected yesterday after the rains, were almost as clean as possible at Knights Ferry and State Line, and really as clean as possible at Nankin Boat Ramp: zero (0) E. coli.

[Good chart, clean plates, green Swim Guide]
Good chart, clean plates, green Swim Guide

This matches what Madison Health saw at the state line, Sullivan Launch, and FL 6 yesterday, presumably just before the rains. And with what Madison Health and Valdosta saw earlier in the week.

It’s surprising because we expected Continue reading

Spring Reschedule: Adams Tract River Camping, Suwannee River, Hardenbergh Boat Ramp, 2021-04-10

All the river camps are closed due to high water for the Spring Equinox weekend, so we are rescheduling the Adams Tract Camping paddle for Saturday and Sunday 10-11 April, 2021.

Join us for our first spring paddle, on the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail in Florida!

We will paddle 8 miles on the Suwannee River the first day, and 10 miles on the second day, after camping at Adams Tract River Camp. There are many springs along the way.

We will check temperatures with an infrared thermometer, and everyone will be expected to keep their distance from people not in their party, and to wear masks when closer than six feet. Self shuttle if you can (have a close friend or relative shuttle you), or join the team shuttle from the takeout back to the put-in; see below.

To be sure you have a spot at the camp, please say you’re going on the meetup.
https://www.meetup.com/Withlacoochee-Alapaha-Suwannee-RIvers-WWALS-Outings/events/276407283/
River Camp platforms are available on first-come first-serve basis, so plan for primitive camping.

When:
Gather 9:30 AM, launch 11 AM, end overnight, Saturday, April 10, 2021
Gather 8 AM, launch 9 AM, end 2 PM, Sunday, April 11, 2021

Put In: Hardenbergh Boat Ramp. From Mayo, travel east on US 27 to NE CR 361; turn left; travel north to NE CR 354; cross over to NE Pecan Avenue; turn right on NE River Road and follow to the boat ramp, in Lafayette County.

GPS: 30.0903, -83.111903

Take Out: Ivey Memorial Park Ramp, in Branford on the south side of US 27 at the Bridge in Ivey Memorial Park, in Suwannee County.

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat, paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. You can pay the $10 at the outing, or online:
https://wwals.net//donations/#outings

We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/#join

Event: facebook, meetup

[Adams Tract River Camp, Spring lily, map, Suwannee River Wilderness Trail]
Adams Tract River Camp, Spring lily, map, Suwannee River Wilderness Trail

Continue reading