High E. coli near One Mile Branch fish kill, and maybe fuel spill 2022-09-23

Update 2023-11-09: GA-EPD Consent Order on Valdosta for One Mile Branch fish kill and sewage spills 2023-09-15.

Update 2022-10-01: Good Water Quality, Withlacoochee, Little, Alapaha Rivers 2022-09-29.

Update 2022-10-01: Equipment next to One Mile Branch at VSU was put there by Valdosta to route around a sinkhole.

The City of Valdosta says “a fuel spill may be a contributing cause” of the One Mile Branch fish kill.

Meanwhile, WWALS finds E. coli counts too high even upstream of the fish kill, but more than doubling in the fish kill.

WWALS rescheduled our Chainsaw cleanup, which was supposed to be this morning, on the Withlacoochee River downstream from Sugar Creek, which is downstream of One Mile Branch.

I recommend everyone else also avoid One Mile Branch, Sugar Creek, and the Withlacoochee River from Sugar Creek at least down to the Little River Confluence, until there is some resolution of this fish kill, the high E. coli counts, and the alleged fuel spill.

[One Mile Branch sites]
One Mile Branch sites

Scotti Jay collected water samples Friday and Sara Jay plated them. The results are:

Drexel Park Bridge: 966 cfu/100 mL
One Mile Branch Waterfall: 1,100 cfu/100 mL
West Gordon Street: 2,566 cfu/100 mL

The Georgia Adopt-A-Stream (GA-AAS) one-time sample limit for E. coli is 410. The GA-AAS alert limit is 1,000.

[Map: One Mile Branch fish kill 2022-09-23]
Map: One Mile Branch fish kill 2022-09-23 in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

So even in Drexel Park, upstream of all the equipment on the VSU campus at One Mile Branch, E. coli is too high. Drexel Park is outlined in yellow on the right of the map, with the bridge marked in the middle of it.

[Drexel Park bridge, One Mile Branch, Photo: John S. Quarterman, 2016-03-12]
Drexel Park bridge, One Mile Branch, Photo: John S. Quarterman, 2016-03-12

The upstream equipment is at the yellow diamond just left of Drexel Park.

[Two pipes, 30.846576, -83.287409]
Two pipes, just west of Patterson Street, 30.8465760, -83.2874090: Photo: Scotti Jay, 2022-09-23

E. coli is even higher, above the alert limit, at the waterfall (highlighted near the center of the map) between the two sets of equipment.

And E. coli is more than double the alert limit at West Gordon Street in Remerton, next to many dead fish, downstream of all the equipment, almost to Sugar Creek, which flows into the Withlacoochee River. That location is marked by the yellow diamond on the lower left of the map.

[Many dead fish, 30.8405, -83.3064]
Many dead fish, at W. Gordon Street in One Mile Branch, 30.8405000, -83.3064000; Photo: Scotti Jay, 2022-09-23

While the Valdosta press release does not say how they found out about this fish kill, it does say “At approximately 8:15 pm on Friday, September 23rd 2022, the City of Valdosta received a notification of a possible environmental incident”. Perhaps not coincidentally, 8:15 PM is four minutes after WWALS sent out our press release, including to several Valdosta City officials and to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD).

The Valdosta PR also does not say who maybe spilled fuel, but a Valdosta City Council member tells us that the Council was told yesterday by the City Manager that Valdosta State University (VSU) spilled the fuel, and the equipment on One Mile Branch was not put there by the City, rather by VSU. Nobody from VSU has yet responded to inquiries from WWALS.

Valdosta City press release 2022-09-24

Received Saturday, September 24, 2022, at 9:12 PM.

See also WCTV story.

Subject: MEDIA ADVISORY Environmental Incident At One Mile Creek

DATE: Saturday, September 24, 2022
CONTACT: Sharah Denton, Community Relations & Marketing Manager
Telephone: (229) 259-3548

At approximately 8:15 pm on Friday, September 23rd 2022, the City of Valdosta received a notification of a possible environmental incident that resulted in causing a number of fish to die in One Mile Creek. The area is located down stream of N Oak St. The City of Valdosta is currently investigating possible causes and Georgia Department of Natural Resources response personnel are on site making assessments. Based on preliminary findings, a fuel spill may be a contributing cause. The is no evidence of a sewerage spill at this time. We ask that the public avoid any contact with One Mile Creek until further notice. The City of Valdosta will provide updates when a thorough investigation has been completed. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Scott Fowler, Environmental Manager Sfowlervaldostacity.com.


 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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One thought on “High E. coli near One Mile Branch fish kill, and maybe fuel spill 2022-09-23

  1. Pingback: Clean Withlacoochee River water quality test results then One Mile Branch fish kill 2022-09-22 | WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) is Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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