Health Alert, Withlacoochee River, high Fecal coliform 2021-07-28

Update 2021-07-30: Good upstream and downstream, Withlacoochee, Little, Alapaha Rivers 2021-07-29.

Madison County, Florida, Health Department issued a health alert to “residents and visitors near the Withlacoochee River in North Florida.”

[Alert, Data, River]
Alert, Data, River

It’s not obvious why from the datapoint for yesterday at the state line on the FDEP website. FDEP only publishes E. coli results, so what they published for yesterday from Madison Health was 132 cfu/100 mL E. coli. That’s above the average limit of 126, but well below the one-time limit of 410. So I asked about that.

[Withlacoochee River Alert 2021-07-28]
Withlacoochee River Alert 2021-07-28

Then Madison Health sent the rest of their results. They also got 9,210 cfu/100 mL Fecal coliform, which is nine times as high as the 1,000 alert limit.


There’s nothing in the Valdosta upstream Monday data similar to that FDOH State Line Tuesday result.

[Chart: bad Fecal coliform]
Chart: bad Fecal coliform
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality results, rainfall, and spills, see:

We can see there was a previous contamination episode Wednesday last week, in the most recent Valdosta downstream data we have.

WWALS testers will be sampling tomorrow (Thursday) for results to be published Friday.

Meanwhile, I’d stay away from the Withlacoochee River for a day or two. Needless to say, State Line Boat Ramp is red on Swim Guide.

And this would be a good (bad?) example of why FDEP should publish the Fecal coliform figures along with the E. coli figures.

Plus the Florida legislature should fund and some Florida agency (SRWMD, FDEP, other?) should sample water quality on all the rivers from the state line to the Gulf of Mexico. If Valdosta, Georgia, can do it three times a week six places on on forty river miles, the great state of Florida can do the rest. Floridians, please ask your statehouse delegation to make it so.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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