Update 2022-07-03: Withlacoochee River OK water quality except GA 133 2022-07-02.
Madison County, Florida, Health Department yesterday afternoon issued a Withlacoochee River health alert.
I hear that Madison Blue Spring is closed to swimming because of this alert. WWALS tested yesterday to attempt to find out how bad the problem really is; results later today.
To completely avoid the problem, I suggest putting in at Gibson Park on the Suwannee River and paddling down to Suwannee River State Park. Or try the Santa Fe, Ichetucknee, Little, Alapaha or Alapahoochee Rivers. WWALS has a rugged Alapahoochee paddle coming up next Saturday.
Madison Health based the alert solely on Valdosta’s 127,750 gallon sewage spill of Thursday afternoon. But remember, there was already E. coli contamination in the Withlacoochee River the previous morning, including at US 41, upstream of the later spill site. And WWALS testing Thursday morning found way too much E. coli at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, which almost certainly had washed down Okapilco Creek from cattle manure in Brooks County, Georgia, by the recent rains. So there are actually at least three sources of contamination in the Withlacoochee River this weekend.
WWALS tester Gus Cleary sampled at his place Friday, between Allen Ramp and the Withlacoochee River Confluence, and found no E. coli, although there was some minimal background Fecal coliform. So none of the three sources had reached his place in any significant quantities yet. I tested Thursday at Troupville Boat Ramp on the Little River and GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River, and Suzy Hall tested at State Line Boat Ramp and Florida Campsites Boat Ramp. Our results should be ready this afternoon. Spoiler: my GA 133 results will be high.
I also took a DNA test at State Line Boat Ramp to attempt to determine some contamination sources, but that will take longer to get results.
Valdosta sewage spill warning sign at Troupville Boat Ramp.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®