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.
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.
For Friday, March 19, 2021, Valdosta found Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps filthy, even though the Bachrachs’ samples for WWALS that Thursday were clean.
Even though the Bachrachs sampled after the Thursday rains, apparently it took longer than a few hours for contamination to come down the creeks into the Withlacoochee River. That makes sense, since it is four or five miles from the closest likely Brooks County cattle manure contamination on Crooked Creek downstream through Okapilco Creek to the Withlacoochee River, and another 3.68 river miles from there to Knights Ferry Boat Ramp. So that’s at least eight stream miles, which at 2 miles per hour would have taken four hours, and even at 3 miles per hour would have taken about 2 and 2/3 hours. If some of it also came from wild hogs upstream on the river, those could be at least as far upstream.
From Nankin no doubt it continued downstream to State Line Boat Ramp and Florida over the weekend.
When Gus Cleary sampled at Cleary Bluff that Friday, March 19th, the river was still clean between Allen Ramp and the Withlacoochee Confluence with the Suwannee River. But that is about thirty river miles downstream from Nankin Boat Ramp, and the contamination probably took at least another day to get there.
It would have been nice to know about that filthy Friday before a week later. It turns out Valdosta did email that back data to us Friday afternoon, but I was looking for it in the agreed-upon location in their website, in River & Creek Testing Data. It finally appeared in that web page Saturday morning after I spoke to Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse at the Mayor’s Paddle, just before more than thirty people started paddling down the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers.
This is what we like to see: zero E. coli colonies on Conn and Trudy Cole’s Cook County Boat Ramp PetriFilms.
Only one colony on one plate for the Withlacoochee River @ US 84 is also quite good, and well within limits.
This is not good, and not unusual after a rain. However, remember that Crooked Creek has very low flow, so it usually gets diluted by Okapilco Creek, and further diluted by the Withlacoochee River. So even this too-high Crooked Creek reading most likely had little effect on the river. When Crooked Creek gets up to several thousand, the effect is different.
By all the latest water quality data, I’ve set all the WWALS “beaches” on Swim Guide to green. Except Gibson Park Boat Ramp on the Suwannee River just upstream from the Alapaha River Confluence, because we have no new data for there.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
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