Update 2022-07-06: Still clean: Withlacoochee River 2022-07-05.
Turns out Valdosta did test during the holiday weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They finally posted their Friday results on their website yesterday. Saturday and Sunday we know because Madison Health sent them to WWALS. There is nothing about them on Valdosta’s own website, facebook, or twitter. A report of Valdosta’s Thursday sewage spill finally did show up in GA-EPD’s Sewage Spills Report, but it is lacking key information.
These Valdosta results mostly match what WWALS found through the weekend.
So by the most recent WWALS and Valdosta results, the Withlacoochee River is clean again. The three different contamination sources from Thursday seem to have all gotten diluted. The other two were probably agricultural, including the usual cattle manure down Okapilco Creek from Brooks County, Georgia.
Happy boating, swimming, and fishing.
There was some heavy rain last night just north of Valdosta, so conditions could change rapidly. However, we’ve already had the first flush after the recent dry spell, so I’d guess the rain won’t have much effect on river water quality.
The one exception was my 533 cfu/100 mL at GA 133 for Saturday was significantly higher than Valdosta’s 170. Maybe different time of day, after some lump washed down, or some other reason.
This is the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) Sewage Spills Report for July 5, 2022. As you can see, it finally shows Valdosta’s 127,750 gallon raw sewage spill. However, it does not show a location and it doesn’t even show the Withlacoochee River as affected.
Thanks to Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson alerting WWALS while the spill was still going on, and to three WWALS members reporting from the spot, we know where it was: at Valdosta’s Gornto Road Pump Station, 2412 Gornto Rd., Valdosta, GA 31602, next to the YMCA. That’s at 30.859016, -83.321326.
Yet all Valdosta put in its own one press release for location was “at the 2400 block of Gornto Road” and apparently they didn’t even tell that much to GA-EPD.
That Gornto Road Pump Station is about a thousand feet uphill from the Withlacoochee River.
There’s nothing on the City of Valdosta’s website about this spill. Its facebook feed has at least four Fourth of July posts, but nothing about this spill The most recent thing on its twitter feed is from before the spill:
Congratulations to our City Manager, Mark Barber! He received the prestigious Certificate of Recognition from the Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute during the Georgia Municipal Association’s (GMA) Annual Convention in Savannah on June 27.
Since the Utilities Director left the week before the spill, and the Assistant Director over Utilities is out of town this week, apparently the City Manager is handling the aftermath of the spill.
Thanks to Gus Cleary for the most recent WWALS report so far, his zero at Cleary Bluff for Sunday, halfway between Allen Ramp and the Withlacoochee River Confluence with the Suwannee River.
WWALS sampled six more locations yesterday, and we will have another report this evening after 5PM.
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®