Clean Rivers after Tuesday blip and before Thursday rains 2021-07-01

Update 2021-07-06: Bad Upstream, Withlacoochee River 2021-07-02.

The Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers are remarkably clean by samples Thursday, July 1, 2021. No sewage spills have been reported for Georgia.

Some bad news: something caused high E. coli in the Withlacoochee River at GA 133 on Tuesday. And Starke, Florida, had two more small spills above the Santa Fe River, but nothing like the big one that Florida city had a week ago.

The good news: according to those Tuesday tests, whatever was in the Withlacoochee River at GA 133 was not coming from Valdosta’s Mulch Yard off of Val-Tech Road. And by Thursday samples, whatever it was was gone by then.

So by the results we have right now, it’s clear for swimming, diving, fishing, and boating.

And still more good news: Madison Health has lifted its former Bacterial Advisory for the Withlacoochee River.

But beware: many inches of rain fell later Thursday and today. That usually washes more contamination into the rivers. See Cattle and hogs: Withlacoochee River water quality status 2021-06-27

[Chart, rivers, results, Swim Guide]
Chart, rivers, results, Swim Guide

Just don’t say we didn’t mention those rains yesterday and today, which in Brooks County started even earlier, and have been very heavy. If we’re all lucky, most of what manure would wash off has already washed off. We shall see.

With a dozen tests this week, we’re burning through testing materials. Thanks to Joe Brownlee, Southwest Director, Georgia Power, for another generous water quality testing grant that helps make this possible.

[Presentation and Play, Alapaha River, Naylor Beach]
WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman receives the envelope from Mary Beth and Elizabeth Brownlee via Hazel, Elleanor and Lindsey Williams; back: Suzy and Abbie Hall, at Naylor Beach on the Alapaha River in Naylor Boat Ramp Park, Lowndes County, Georgia.

Thanks to WWALS testers Elizabeth Brunner (Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers @ GA 122), Valerie Folsom (Willacoochee Landing @ GA 135, Alapaha River), Bobby McKenzie (GA 133 * 3 and US 41, Withlacoochee River, Troupville Boat Ramp, Little River), Michael Bachrach (US 84, Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps, Withlacoochee River) and Gus Cleary (Cleary Bluff, Withlacoochee River). Thanks to WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall for herding those cats. Thanks to WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman for training the testers and distributing testing materials.

[Chart: Clean rivers Thursday 2021-07-01]
Chart: Clean rivers Thursday 2021-07-01
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality results, rainfall, and spills, see:

Thanks to Lisa B. Hayes and Madison Health for testing at the state line, and to Donnie Waldrep Sr. and the Madison County Commission for continuing to fund that testing. Thanks to Katrina Yancey and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for posting the Madison Health water quality results.

Floridians, please ask your statehouse delegation to fund and direct FDEP or FDOH to test all the rivers from the state line to the Gulf. If Valdosta, Georgia, can do it three times a week on forty river miles to the GA-FL line, the great state of Florida can do the rest.

And thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for getting at least the upstream Valdosta results posted in a timely manner.

On Wednesday, Valdosta issued a boil water notice for selected housing between North Oak Street Extension and Cherry Creek. The reason: “due to a 12-inch water main break in the 3000 Block of North Oak Street Extension that occured on Tuesday, June 29.” They lifted that notice Thursday.

[Map: Cherry Creek Lake Laurie]
Map: Cherry Creek Lake Laurie in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

We don’t know whether that drinking water main break had anything to do with the high E. coli results Bobby McKenzie got at GA 133 Tuesday. The coincidence does seem, ah, interesting.

[Outfall, Mulch Yard, at Withlacoochee River 2021-06-29]
Outfall, Mulch Yard, at Withlacoochee River 2021-06-29

But at least the test results indicate whatever the contamination was, it apparently was not coming from Valdosta’s Mulch Yard on Val-Tech Road, because the results were higher upstream than downstream of the Mulch Yard.

[Mulch Yard Location Google Map 2021-06-29]
Mulch Yard Location Google Map 2021-06-29

Meanwhile, downstream for that same Tuesday, Madison Health got very good water quality results at the state line. And Wednesday Madison Health lifted its former Bacterial Advisory.

[Lifting Bacterial Advisory, Madison Health 2021-07-01]
Lifting Bacterial Advisory, Madison Health 2021-07-01

We don’t know what will happen with all this rain right now. But according to all the test results we have from Thursday, I have set to green all the WWALS Swim Guide “beaches” that have corresponding test results.

[Clean before rain, Swim Guide 2021-07-01]
Clean before rain, Swim Guide 2021-07-01

There are more images of rivers and test results on the WWALS website:–wq

Happy Fourth of July!

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

One thought on “Clean Rivers after Tuesday blip and before Thursday rains 2021-07-01

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