Monthly Archives: December 2021

Mostly good, Withlacoochee River 2021-12-30

Update 2022-01-07: Bad upstream Withlacoochee, Little Rivers, Ashburn Spill Alapaha River 2022-01-06.

Better than last week. Michael and Jacob Bachrach spotted one blob of E. coli at Nankin Boat Ramp, but not at Knights Ferry or State Line on the Withlacoochee River. Gus Cleary tested both Sunday and Wednesday at Cleary Bluff downstream from Allen Ramp, and his results are very good. Elizabeth Brunner saw slightly elevated numbers at GA 122 on the Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers, but all within bounds.

More rain fell since all these tests, and more is expected, so there could be more contamination. Meanwhile, no new sewage spills have been reported.

So far, I’d risk it, if I was wanting to boat on the Withlacoochee River this weekend. Here’s the data, so you can make your own decisions.

Happy New Year, and thanks to the WWALS testers for testing on this holiday weekend.

[Chart, River, Swim Guide map]
Chart, River, Swim Guide map

Thursday’s rain was quite spotty. The only two gauges we follow that got more than half an inch were in Moultrie upstream on Okapilco Creek, and at Folsom Bridge on the Little River between Barney and Adel. Continue reading

WWALS Quarterly Board Meeting 2022-01-09

Update 2022-01-08: Agenda and zoom parameters.

The public is invited to the WWALS Quarterly Board Meeting, where we will be discussing the Chairman and Mayor’s Paddle, the BIG Little River Paddle Race, Songwriting Contest, cleanups, outings, water quality testing, opposition to mines, water withdrawals, coal ash, and pellet plants, promotion of solar power, water trails, and Troupville River Camp, and of course budget and fundraising.

That’s for the entire 10,000 square mile Suwannee River Basin, in Georgia and Florida, including many rivers: four (Alapaha, Withlacoochee, Santa Fe, and Suwannee Rivers), six (plus New and Little Rivers flowing into the Withlacoochee), ten (plus Willacoochee, Alapahoochee, and Little Alapaha Rivers flowing into the Alapaha, and Dead River flowing out of it), thirteen (Black River, Little River, and Gopher River flowing into the Suwannee River), or fifteen (Ichetucknee and New River flowing into the Santa Fe River). Plus many creeks, lakes, ponds, and swamps, such as Grand Bay, Banks Lake and the Okefenokee Swamp.

We will be meeting online by zoom, so you don’t even have to go anywhere.

When: 8-10 AM, Sunday, January 9, 2022

Where: Online: the zoom parameters will follow, as will an agenda.

Event: facebook

Much of the work of WWALS is done by committees of members, and many of them have some good results to report. If you’d like to join a committee, please fill out the application.

[WWALS Logo]
WWALS Logo

The board itself does most of its business online via email, but it’s good to have these gatherings once a quarter.

The current board members, officers, and staff are listed on the Board web page.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

KUR: M2 Blue cave system, Madison County, Florida

Update 2022-01-10: Chitty Bend East Distributary, Withlacoochee River –Shirley Kokidko 2022-01-07.

What’s underneath the Mystery: Withlacoochee River Distributary 2021-01-01? The M2 Blue cave system in Madison and Hamilton Counties, explored by Karst Underwater Research (KUR).

There’s a “Gully / Swallet” marked on this KUR map of the M2 caves, very close to where the sinkhole at the end of the distributary. Both maps in this post are credited to KUR. Please follow the links for the rest of KUR’s descriptions, pictures, and videos. Continue reading

Pictures: Alapahoochee River, GA 135 to Sullivan Launch Sasser Landing 2021-06-05

Bird Chamberlain and others had been suggesting it for years, and we finally did it: the Alapahoochee River from GA 135 to Sasser Landing on the Alapaha River. We paddled over many deadfalls, across the GA-FL line, past the creek of shark teeth, under old abandoned steel Beatty Bridge, through Devil Shoal, right by Turket Creek Waterfall.

[Banners, Alapahoochee River, Deadfall, Beatty Bridge, Devil Shoal, Turket Creek Waterfall]
Banners, Alapahoochee River, Deadfall, Beatty Bridge, Devil Shoal, Turket Creek Waterfall

Many thanks to Bobby McKenzie for organizing this expedition, to the WWALS Outings Committee for planning it, and to all who paddled, including Suzanne Welander, author of Canoeing and Kayaking Georgia, who came down from Atlanta for this outing. Continue reading

Bad upstream, watch out below, Withlacoochee River 2021-12-23

Update 2021-12-31: Mostly good, Withlacoochee River 2021-12-30.

Not looking good. The recent rains washed E. coli into the Withlacoochee River, starting way upstream at Hagan Bridge on GA 122 on Thursday, down through US 41, GA 133, and US 84 on Wednesday. We did not see it at Cleary Bluff for Wednesday, downstream from Allen Ramp. Maybe it’s gotten diluted before it got that far. Or maybe it just hadn’t gotten that far by Wednesday.

I’d stay off the Withlacoochee River this weekend.

[Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide]
Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide

We almost never see high numbers at Hagan Bridge, but that’s what Elizabeth Brunner got for Thursday.

Valdosta results were bad for US 41 for last Friday, even before the rain, much worse there and for GA 133 for Monday after the rain, and bad for all three of US 41, GA 133, and US 84 for Wednesday. Apparently the contamination is traveling downstream.

There have been no sewage spills reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia or Florida. Most likely the E. coli came from cows or horses near the river or its creeks: there are quite a few of those even upstream of Hagan Bridge. Plus possibly wild hogs. Continue reading

Mystery: Withlacoochee River Distributary 2021-01-01

Update 2022-01-10: Chitty Bend East Distributary, Withlacoochee River –Shirley Kokidko 2022-01-07.

Update 2021-12-28: KUR: M2 Blue cave system, Madison County, Florida.

Where exactly does Withlacoochee River water run into this creek, about three hundred feet into the woods, and disappear into a sinkhole? Left (east) bank, which is state land, or right (west) bank, which is private land? If it doesn’t have an observation platform, where is the one pictured? Maybe you can help us resolve this mystery.

One thing is clear: do not paddle into this distributary! When the river is high, the current is high, and you will have a hard time gettin back out. There are deadfalls and a sinkhole at the end.

[Platform, Distributary]
Platform, Distributary

Here’s where this mystery started:

“Some 7 miles downriver from CR 150, there is a 10- to 12-foot opening in the high banks on the east side where water comes rushing out of the river. If followed, this stream flows for 75 to 100 yards and then disappears under a high bank. In Florida, whole rivers disappear in this manner, but it is unusual to lose just part of a river.”

That’s from Canoeing & Kayaking Florida, Menasha Ridge Press; 2nd edition (November 11, 2007), by Johnny Molloy, Elizabeth F. Carter et al., Page 122, Georgia State Line to Suwannee River S.P. Hm, I see there’s now a third edition of November 11, 2016.

Helen Crowley says she and Shirley Kokidko and Don Crowley paddled past there on January 1, 2021. She sent this picture as of the distributary. Continue reading

Merry Christmas 2021-12-24

In this Yule season, as the sun returns after the Winter Solstice, let us be thankful that we can boat, fish, and even swim year-round here in our subtropical south Georgia and north Florida.

[Solstice Sunset, Yule Log: Merry Christmas]
Solstice Sunset, Yule Log: Merry Christmas

But even if you missed Festivus, there are still grievances to be aired.

It’s the season to burn the Yule log. I’ve got one in my fireplace right now. Well, little pieces of a naturally fallen oak tree. Continue reading

FPL opposes rooftop solar, deploys utility-scale solar 2021-12-20

FPL profits from deploying utilty-scale solar fields, but its executives and shareholders do not profit by home and business solar panels reducing need to generate power and reducing purchases of expensive mid-day electricity. So FPL opposes rooftop solar while bragging about being a world leader in solar energy.

FPL is regulated as a public utility, so you can demand the Florida legislature stop this bad bill. How about some solar financing instead?

[Rooftop vs. utilty-scale solar]
Rooftop vs. utilty-scale solar

Mary Ellen Klas for the Miami Herald and Mario Alejandro Ariza for Floodlight, 20 December 2021, Revealed: the Florida power company pushing legislation to slow rooftop solar; Florida Power & Light delivered bill text to a state lawmaker. Its parent company sent $10,000 to her campaign coffers,

The biggest power company in the US is pushing policy changes that would hamstring rooftop solar power in Florida, delivering legislation for a state lawmaker to introduce, according to records obtained by the Miami Herald and Floodlight.

Continue reading

Pictures: Banks Lake Full Cold Moon paddle 2021-12-18

The wind was brisk but died down as soon as we started paddling on a warm winter night, to see the sun set and the moon rise over Banks Lake, our mini-Okefenokee just west of Lakeland, Georgia.

[Banners, Sunset, Moonrise]
Banners, Sunset, Moonrise

Russell even saw an osprey nest. Continue reading

Good up and down water quality, Withlacoochee River 2021-12-16

Update 2021-12-25: Bad upstream, watch out below, Withlacoochee River 2021-12-23

There’s been no rain to speak of, and all the tests show no river contamination.

So, happy swimming, fishing, and boating this weekend.

[Chart, Rivers, Map]
Chart, Rivers, Map

Thanks to WWALS tester Elizabeth Brunner for Folsom Bridge Landing @ GA 122 on the Little River. Continue reading