Update 2022-07-03: Withlacoochee River OK water quality except GA 133 2022-07-02.
WWALS Science Committee Chair Dr. Tom Potter and I took PFAS samples at four locations on the Withlacoochee River Thursday.
We shipped the samples to Cyclopure, a company with which Waterkeeper Alliance got a deal for test kits for all U.S. Waterkeepers.
We picked Thursday because it was after big rains Wednesday, reported in some places nearby as up to four inches. So if any of those forever chemicals were washing off of fields fertilized with biosolids, or coming out of Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, or just left over from Moody Air Force Base’s spills it documented in 2016, maybe we will detect them.
Suwannee Riverkeeper got two kits: for Georgia and Florida. Each kit has two test sets, for upstream and downstream of likely contamination sources.
So for Georgia we tested upstream and downstream of Valdosta and Okapilco Creek (cattle manure runoff) at US 41 (North Valdosta Road) and Knights Ferry Boat Ramp.
For Florida, we tested upstream and downstream of the PCA paper mill in Clyattville, at State Line Boat Ramp and Sullivan Launch. Just checking, PCA.
Dr. Potter, recently returned from touring much of Europe, enjoyed a morning at the river.
I splashed some of that river water on me, which was unfortunate, after Valdosta’s 1,000 cfu/100 mL E. coli result for the previous day at that same US 41 (North Valdosta Road) bridge. I washed my face with disinfectant later.
That contamination washed into the river from somewhere upstream of US 41. Likely suspects include horse farms, wild hogs, wildlife, and septic tanks.
There was also far too much trash near the US 41 bridge.
At Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, WWALS bacterial (E. coli) water quality testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach also arrived.
Knights Ferry is where the Bachrachs got their truly awful 11,333 cfu/100 mL E. coli result. 1,000 is the alert limit. This is almost certainly from cattle manure washed down Okapilco Creek from Brooks County, Georgia.
So far as we know, this was before Valdosta’s major sewage spill of that same day, which was downstream of US 41 and Sugar Creek, and more than 22 river miles upstream of Knights Ferry Boat Ramp. I say “so far as we know” because Valdosta has not said when that spill started. But even if it started early in the morning, it could not have reached Knights Ferry that same day.
Thanks to Lowndes County Public works for grading Knights Ferry Road so we could get in.
Oh, and could people please stop shooting up, stealing, and painting our Withlacoochee and Little River water trail signs. We will replace them (again) until you stop.
At State Line, the Bachrachs arrived again.
Shooting into the river is a bad idea. In addition to the shotgun shell litter, the lead pellets go into the river and poison everything. Olympia Bend Shooting Range is right next to State Line Boat Ramp. How about go there instead, eh?
At least our water trail signs are still at State Line.
The Withlacoochee looks real nice below the Florida 6 bridge at Sullivan Launch in Madison County.
I’s a bit of a climb up from the water.
Dr. Potter had never seen the Pinetta Gauge house.
Or the old bridge abutment.
We could not spot the twisted bridge cables in the river.
We’ll let you know what the PFAS test results show.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®