This was unexpected. GA-EPD asked if we wanted to complete redesignating the rest of the Withlacoochee River in the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT) in Georgia from Fishing to Recreational, for tighter contamination restrictions. We said yes.
What’s the difference? There are three levels of waterbody designations considered every three years in the Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards required of each state by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These are Fishing, Recreational, and Drinking. Fishing has the least restrictions on contamination, and Drinking has the most. Nobody drinks out of our Suwannee River Basin rivers, so Recreational is what we want.
If this new request gets approved, that’s 46.3 more Withlacoochee River miles, added to the 23.71 miles redesignated in 2023, that’s 70 river miles.
Since Florida by default designates all rivers as Recreational, that means that if this redesignation happens, all of the Withlacoochee River in the WLRWT will be Recreational. That’s 97.6 river miles in Georgia and Florida.
Her question, received July 19, 2023: “I am reaching out regarding a potential designated use change for the Highway 37 to Tiger Creek section of Withlacoochee River for the 2022 Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards. The section south of that (Tiger Creek to state line) was updated to include recreation in its designated uses for the 2019 Triennial Review. We did not prioritize the upper portion in the last triennial review due to time constraints and the need for stakeholder outreach. If you are interested in pursuing a designated use change to recreation for Withlacoochee River (Highway 37 to Tiger Creek) for the 2022 Triennial Review, please fill out and return the attached initial nomination form. You do not need to attach a map.”
Our answer, sent the next day:
Good to hear from you.
Attached is the completed form that you requested, and a map.
You are invited to our upcoming paddles in this stretch of the Withlacoochee River:
- Cleanup, Sugar Creek to Troupville Boat Ramp, July 22, 2023, https://wwals.net/?p=62071
- Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle, Langdale Park Boat Ramp to Troupville Boat Ramp, March 3, 2023 (not yet announced)
FYI, here are some paddle cleanups in that stretch of the river, all of which involved getting in the water:
- 2022-05-09: https://wwals.net/?p=58566
- 2022-06-05: https://wwals.net/?p=58633
- 2022-06-25: https://wwals.net/?p=58783
- 2022-07-30: https://wwals.net/?p=59191
- 2022-10-16: https://wwals.net/?p=59844
They also all involved chainsaws, to clear deadfalls, to make the Withlacoochee River easier to paddle.
Probably you still have my letter of March 8, 2019 with its lists of supporting stakeholders.
If not, I’d be happy to send it to you again.
And if EPD is entertaining stretches of rivers not considered last time, I can send in a few more.
She didn’t say they were not entertaining other stretches, so I may send her a request for each of the Little, Alapahoochee, Alapaha, and Suwannee Rivers.
Here’s the appended map.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®