PFAS testing, Withlacoochee River, Georgia and Florida 2022-06-30

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.

[PFAS testing and locations]
PFAS testing and locations

Suwannee Riverkeeper got two kits: for Georgia and Florida. Each kit has two test sets, for upstream and downstream of likely contamination sources.

[Downstream PFAS sample, Sullivan Launch, 12:38:29, 30.5957780, -83.2602470]
Downstream PFAS sample, Sullivan Launch, 12:38:29, 30.5957780, -83.2602470

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.

[Dr. Tom Potter, WWALS Science Committee Chair, 09:58:16, 30.8932587, -83.3185618]
Dr. Tom Potter, WWALS Science Committee Chair, 09:58:16, 30.8932587, -83.3185618

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.

[Bad Withlacoochee River, Charts 2022-06-30]
Bad Withlacoochee River, Charts 2022-06-30
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of water quality results, rainfall, and sewage spills, see:
https://wwals.net/issues/testing

There was also far too much trash near the US 41 bridge.

[Trash at US 41 bridge, 09:40:49, 30.8930770, -83.3189730]
Trash at US 41 bridge, 09:40:49, 30.8930770, -83.3189730

At Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, WWALS bacterial (E. coli) water quality testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach also arrived.

[Second throw, 2022:06:30 10:52:13, 30.7124383, -83.4555408]
Second throw, 2022:06:30 10:52:13, 30.7124383, -83.4555408

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.

[Plates, Knights Ferry Boat Ramp 2022-06-30]
Plates, Knights Ferry Boat Ramp 2022-06-30

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.

[Road grader, thanks, Lowndes County Public Works, 10:42:32, 30.7178812, -83.4466959]
Road grader, thanks, Lowndes County Public Works, 10:42:32, 30.7178812, -83.4466959

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.

[Remains of KFBR WLRWT sign, 11:09:59, 30.7125824, -83.4555784]
Remains of KFBR WLRWT sign, 11:09:59, 30.7125824, -83.4555784

At State Line, the Bachrachs arrived again.

[Jacob and Michael Bachrach collecting bacterial sample, 11:45:52, 30.6360172, -83.3111318]
Jacob and Michael Bachrach collecting bacterial sample, 11:45:52, 30.6360172, -83.3111318

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?

[Shotgun shells, 11:40:52, 30.6357540, -83.3112780]
Shotgun shells, 11:40:52, 30.6357540, -83.3112780

At least our water trail signs are still at State Line.

[Signs, State Line Boat Ramp, 11:42:19, 30.6360695, -83.3111215]
Signs, State Line Boat Ramp, 11:42:19, 30.6360695, -83.3111215

The Withlacoochee looks real nice below the Florida 6 bridge at Sullivan Launch in Madison County.

[Upstream, Sullivan Launch, 12:10:58, 30.5958433, -83.2598681]
Upstream, Sullivan Launch, 12:10:58, 30.5958433, -83.2598681

I’s a bit of a climb up from the water.

[Ramp, Sullivan Launch, 12:12:24, 30.5957394, -83.2601907]
Ramp, Sullivan Launch, 12:12:24, 30.5957394, -83.2601907

Dr. Potter had never seen the Pinetta Gauge house.

[Pinetta Gauge house, 12:15:48, 30.5956539, -83.2598523]
Pinetta Gauge house, 12:15:48, 30.5956539, -83.2598523

Or the old bridge abutment.

[Old Belleville Bridge abutment, 12:16:02, 30.5956539, -83.2598523]
Old Belleville Bridge abutment, 12:16:02, 30.5956539, -83.2598523

We could not spot the twisted bridge cables in the river.

[Gauge house from bridge abutment, 12:16:15, 30.5956539, -83.2598523]
Gauge house from bridge abutment, 12:16:15, 30.5956539, -83.2598523

[Dr. Tom Potter at Belleville Bridge abutment and Pinetta Gauge house, 12:17:04, 30.5957146, -83.2598634]
Dr. Tom Potter at Belleville Bridge abutment and Pinetta Gauge house, 12:17:04, 30.5957146, -83.2598634

We’ll let you know what the PFAS test results show.

There are more pictures on the WWALS website. They’re also on facebook.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/

1 thought on “PFAS testing, Withlacoochee River, Georgia and Florida 2022-06-30

  1. Pingback: Bad Water Quality, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-30 | WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) is Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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