Good upstream, bad down, Withlacoochee River 2021-05-13

Update 2021-05-22: All clear, Withlacoochee River 2021-05-20.

There’s good water quality news upstream for tomorrow’s Withlacoochee River paddle from Langdale Park Boat Ramp to Sugar Creek and the Salty Snapper.

Yesterday (Thursday) Bobby McKenzie sampled Langdale Park Boat Ramp and GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River, and Troupville Boat Ramp on the Little River. His results today for all three were well within the single-sample limit for E. coli.

Eyeballing the Withlacoochee at GA 133, he decided the level was too low for that stretch of the paddle. However, Bobby paddled from Langdale Park Boat Ramp to Sugar Creek and up it, and except for a couple of portages as you get to Sugar Creek, there’s plenty of water. Bring mud boots and you can stand up in the river there and drag your boat across. And 10% off lunch for each paddler at the Salty Snapper!

[Results, Plates, River, Swim Guide]
Results, Plates, River, Swim Guide

Also for Thursday, there’s bad news from Knights Ferry Boat Ramp downstream to the state line, and by now that contamination has probably washed farther down the river. WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach got horrendous results at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, and above the single-sample limit at State Line Boat Ramp. Nankin Boat Ramp was barely within that limit. If I were you, I would stay off the Withlacoochee River below US 84 for a few days.

[Clean upstream, bad downstream, 2021-05-13]
Clean upstream, bad downstream, 2021-05-13
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality results, rainfall, and spills, see:

We have no new upstream results from Valdosta for a week, and no new downstream Valdosta results for more than two weeks. I wonder if they’re even still testing?

Madison Health got very clean results both Tuesday and Thursday at the state line, Sullivan Launch, and Florida 6. Since they test early in the day, it seems that the upstream contamination reached the state line between then and when the Bachrachs tested.

Considering where the contamination first showed up, at Knights Ferry, it seems likely that its source is cattle manure coming down Okapilco Creek from Brooks County, Georgia. However, this seems odd since there was not much rain in Brooks County. Maybe some of it is wild hogs.

Still farther downstream, Gus Cleary got zero E. coli Thursday at Cleary Bluff, between Allen Ramp and the Suwannee River. I suspect it did not stay that clean there.

[Cleary Bluff Plates, 2021-05-13]
Cleary Bluff Plates, 2021-05-13

Nice looking river there, but you can’t tell the water quality by looking at it.

[Cleary Bluff, Withlacoochee River]
Cleary Bluff, Withlacoochee River

I’ve set Swim Guide according to all these results for Thursday. However, water flows downstream, so the contamination has probably reached farther into Florida by now.

[Swim Guide: bad Knights Ferry and State Line 2021-05-13]
Swim Guide: bad Knights Ferry and State Line 2021-05-13

There are more images on the WWALS website.–wq

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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