Parts of Alapaha, Withlacoochee Rivers to be Recreational –GA-EPD 2021-08-11

Update 2021-09-01: More Recreational redesignation of waterbodies still possible –GA-EPD 2021-09-01.

GA-EPD picked a subset of the river stretches they previously said they would consider for Recreational designation: in the Georgia Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards: parts of the Alapaha River, and a smaller part of the Withlacoochee River.

There’s an online Update Meeting next month.

[Header, Suwannee River Basin]
Header, Suwannee River Basin

So that’s the Alapaha River from the Willacoochee River to Dampier Branch, and from Cherry Creek to the state line. I guess you can still paddle from Willacoochee Landing @ GA 135 to Berrien Beach Boat Ramp @ GA 168 without getting into any non-Recreational stretches. But Lakeland Boat Ramp and Pafford’s and Burnt Church Landings are right out. But you can paddle from Hotchkiss Road Landing to Naylor Boat Ramp, Mayday Landing, Statenville Boat Ramp, and on to Florida.

Redesignated Recreational is the Withlacoochee River from Tiger Creek (at Spook Bridge, just below US 84) to the state line. So Knights Creek, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps can all be Recreational, even though they’re all downstream of Okapilco Creek and all those cattle in Brooks County, but Langdale Park Boat Ramp and Troupville Boat Ramp are not designated Recreational, despite the Valdosta Mayor’s letter of support.

However, the big win is that anything at all got redesignated. In previous cycles, GA-EPD declined to consider such a thing. And we can reapply next time.

Completely missing from this list are:

  • The Okefenokee Swamp. I know Charlton County declined to support the redesignation, although the Okefenokee NWR did support it.
  • The Suwannee River. Probably Clinch County also declined.
  • The Alapaha River downstream from Alapaha and around Lakeland. Probably GA-EPD was still worried about the Alapaha and Lakeland Wastewater Treatment Plants, even though neither seem to have ever reported a sewage spill.
  • Grand Bay. Moody AFB declined to support, and Lowndes County probably never sent anything in.
  • Banks Lake. Don’t know why, given that both Lakeland-Lanier Chamber and Banks Lake NWR supported.
  • The Withlacoochee River upstream of Tiger Creek (Spook Bridge). Don’t know why, other than GA-EPD’s worries about wastewater plants.
  • Little River outside Reed Bingham State Park Lake. Presumably GA-EPD’s worries about wastewater plants and agriculture.

You may wonder why Lake Laura S. Walker, Laura Walker State Park Beach, and their Big Creek are listed as in the Suwannee River Basin, when they are actually in the Satilla River Basin. I mentioned that to GA-EPD several years ago, and again today.

Update Meeting

There is an update zoom meeting next month:

Notice of Public Meeting for Updates on Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards -September 13, 2021

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Georgia EPD Watershed Protection Branch

Notice of Public Meeting for Updates on Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards

September 13, 2021

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) Watershed Protection Branch will hold a virtual public meeting to review and discuss proposed changes to the Georgia Rules for Water Quality Control, Chapter 391-3-6.03 (Water Use Classifications and Water Quality Standards) that were initiated at the beginning of the 2019 Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards, in February 2019. The meeting will be held on Monday, September 13, 2021, beginning at 10:00 am on the Zoom web conferencing platform.

The purpose of this meeting is to provide the public and interested stakeholders the opportunity to learn about the proposed updates to Georgia’s Water Quality Standards. A working draft of the proposed rule change is attached to the bottom of this email announcement. The working draft PDF file can also be downloaded on the EPD Water Quality Standards web page, under the 2019 Triennial Review section (

Among the changes being considered are adoption of EPA’s recommended aquatic life criteria for Acrolein and Carbaryl, adoption of language to allow site-specific WER and biotic ligand models for aquatic life criteria, update of bacteria criteria for fishing and drinking water designated uses, update of Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair criteria, addition of definitions for primary and secondary contact recreation, and revision of the designated uses to change 16 waterbody segments to recreation.

Zoom Meeting Details:

September 13, 2021, beginning at 10:00 a.m.

Join Online:

Join by Phone:

470-381- 2552 (Atlanta)

888-788-0099 (Toll-free)

Meeting ID: 963 6840 3687

Passcode: 883516

At the virtual public meeting, anyone may make a statement, or offer comments either orally or in writing. Lengthy statements or statements of a considerable technical or economic nature, as well as previously recorded messages, should be submitted in writing.

Written comments are also welcomed and must be received by close of business on Friday, September 17, 2021. Written comments may be emailed to or sent via regular mail to: EPD Watershed Protection Branch, Attention: Gillian Gilbert-Wason, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr., Suite 1152, East Tower, Atlanta, Georgia, 30334. If you choose to e-mail your comments, please include the words “Triennial Review Comments” in the subject line to help ensure that your comments will be forwarded to the correct staff.

Meanwhile, in Florida the Suwannee, Alapaha, and Withlacoochee Rivers are already designated Recreational.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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