Surprisingly Clean Withlacoochee River 2022-04-01

Update 2022-04-06: Location of Quitman sewage spill 2022-03-20.

Surprisingly after significant rain, all tested locations were pretty clean, including Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps on the Withlacoochee River. So as far as we know, this weekend is good for boating, fishing, and swimming. Me, I’d prefer the Alapaha over the Withlacoochee this weekend.

Oh, last Tuesday Quitman got around to reporting a sewage spill that happened nine days later. It’s long gone now.

[Chart, river, Swim Guide]
Chart, river, Swim Guide

Tests Wednesday downstream by WWALS and upstream by Valdosta were pretty clean. Samples Thursday upstream by WWALS were pretty clean. And samples Friday at Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps were also pretty clean. All were below the 126 cfu/100 mL E. coli average sample limit.

We also saw four Wednesday samples by the Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC), at Reedy Creek and Cow Creek on GA 129 (both enter the Alapaha River downstream from US 84 and Naylor Boat Ramp), and J. Frank Culpepper Road and GA 135 on the Alapahoochee River (which enters the Alapaha River downstream from Statenville Boat Ramp and slightly upstream of Sasser Landing @ CR 150 in Hamilton County, Florida. All those were well below 126, as well.

[Surprisingly Clean, Charts 2022-04-01]
Surprisingly Clean, Charts 2022-04-01
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of water quality and rainfall data, see: https://www.wwals.net/issues/testing

On Tuesday, March 29, Quitman, Georgia reported a 48,000 gallon sewage spill on Sunday, March 20, 2022. That’s right, nine days after it happened Quitman got around to reporting it. And the report doesn’t even have a street address, just “Influent Lift Station”. I have filed an open records request with Quitman for the actual location.

That Quitman spill could account for the 1,200 cfu/100 mL Valdosta got at US 84 on Okapilco Creek on Monday, March 21st, and the 490 at Knights Ferry, 450 at Nankin, and 690 at State Line Boat Ramp. All those are higher than the 410 one-time sample limit, and one higher than the 1,000 action limit.

We did not know about those Valdosta downstream results until Friday, when Valdosta published them on Valdosta’s website.

[Quitman Spill, Charts 2022-03-20]
Quitman Spill, Charts 2022-03-20

Thanks to Elizabeth Brunner for testing for WWALS with Thursday samples on GA 122 at Folsom Bridge on the Little River, Hagan Bridge on the Withlacoochee River, and at Lakeland Boat Ramp on the Alapaha River.

[Folsom Bridge Landing, Little River @ GA 122 2003-20-22]
Folsom Bridge Landing, Little River @ GA 122 2003-20-22

[Lakeland Boat Ramp, Alapaha River @ GA 122 2003-20-22]
Lakeland Boat Ramp, Alapaha River @ GA 122 2003-20-22

[Hagan Bridge Landing, Withlacoochee River @ GA 122 2003-20-22]
Hagan Bridge Landing, Withlacoochee River @ GA 122 2003-20-22

Thanks to Michael and Jacob Bachrach for sampling Friday at Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps (Knights Ferry Road was too muddy for them to get in). They deliberately waited until Friday to see what happened after the Thursday rains. Suprisingly, results were very low (clean). Maybe that’s because the rain recorded for the east side of Brook County at US 84 on the Withlacoochee River wasn’t enough to wash cattle manure down Okapilco Creek, even though rain on the west side of the county was more than an inch. Or maybe contamination just hadn’t reached Nankin yet.

Either way, whatever the cattle farmers are doing in Brooks County to be part of the solution is working. Only a year ago, this much rain would have resulted in much higher E. coli levels in the Withlacoochee River.

[Nankin Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee River @ Clyattville-Nankin Road 2022-04-01]
Nankin Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee River @ Clyattville-Nankin Road 2022-04-01

[State Line Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee River @ GA 133 2022-04-01]
State Line Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee River @ GA 133 2022-04-01

Thanks to Gus Cleary for sampling Wednesday at Cleary Bluff, downstream from Allen Ramp on the Withlacoochee River. He actually got zero cfu/100 mL; can’t get better than that. That was before the rain, of course.

[Cleary Bluff, Withlacoochee River @ NE Withla Bluffs Way 2022-03-31]
Cleary Bluff, Withlacoochee River @ NE Withla Bluffs Way 2022-03-31

So I’ve marked all the WWALS “beaches” for which we have results green on Swim Guide.

[Map: Surprisingly Clean, Swim Guide 2022-04-01]
Map: Surprisingly Clean, Swim Guide 2022-04-01

There are more images on the WWALS website.

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.

Or maybe you’d like to become a WWALS water quality tester; please fill out this form: https://forms.gle/DzWvJuXqTQi12N6v7

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

1 thought on “Surprisingly Clean Withlacoochee River 2022-04-01

  1. Pingback: Location of Quitman sewage spill 2022-03-20 | WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) is Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

Comments are closed.