Big rains and big contamination 2021-10-28

Update 2021-11-06: Good Thursday, but big Friday rains probably will cause contamination, Withlacoochee River 2021-11-04.

Our upstream tester got rained out at GA 122 Thursday, but downstream at Knights Ferry on the Withlacoochee River WWALS got way too high E. coli. That contamination is now running downstream.

[Chart + Alapaha River; Withlacoochee River; KF plates, Clearys Bluff; Swim Guide Map]
Chart + Alapaha River; Withlacoochee River; KF plates, Clearys Bluff; Swim Guide Map

Where did it come from? Chances are the usual cattle manure runoff out of Brooks County, Georgia, down Okapilco Creek. Probably plus wild hogs.

This is unfortunately what we’ve come to expect after big rains. And every gauge we follow got more than an inch of rain Thursday.

So I do not recommend river fishing, swimming, or boating this weekend.

[Bad Knights Ferry 2021-10-28]
Bad Knights Ferry 2021-10-28
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of water quality data, rainfall, and sewage spills, see

There are no new sewage spills reported in the Suwannee River Basin. I won’t be surprised if some reports show up within the next week or two, reporting spills for yesterday. Sure, maybe Valdosta, but my money would be on Ashburn and Quitman.

Maybe you’d like to get trained to join our testing crew?

Thanks to the WWALS testers:

  • Valerie Folsom for Willacoochee Landing @ GA 135 on the Alapaha River
  • Michael and Jacob Bachrach for the downstream Georgia Withlacoochee River sites:
    • Knights Ferry Boat Ramp
    • Nankin Boat Ramp
    • State Line Boat Ramp @ GA 31
  • Gus Cleary for Cleary Bluff downstream from Allen Ramp on the Withlacoochee River in Florida.

Thanks to Joe Brownlee and Georgia Power for a generous grant for water quality testing equipment and materials.

You or your organization could also donate to the WWALS volunteer water quality testing program.

We have no new data from FDOH or FDEP since September 9.

The most recent data we have from Valdosta is for Friday a week ago upstream and Friday a week before that downstream. The GA 133 contamination problem is back, shown in Valdosta’s results for October 8th. We still don’t know where that’s coming from, but it sure looks like somebody is dumping something upstream of GA 133.

[Bad GA 133 2021-10-06-13]
Bad GA 133 2021-10-06-13

And bad GA 133 on October 20th.

[Bad spots 2021-10-13-20]
Bad spots 2021-10-13-20

Only Knights Ferry Boat Ramp shows red on the Swim Guide map, because we set those colors by the water quality test results we have. However, quite a few other “beaches” probably would be red if we had data for today. Unfortunately, that’s not possible, because it takes 24 hours to incubate water samples to see how many E. coli colonies develop.

[Bad Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River, Swim Guide, 2021-10-28]
Bad Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River, Swim Guide, 2021-10-28

There are more images on the WWALS website.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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