Category Archives: Quality

Valdosta: Catch Basin finished

Valdosta has completed the long-awaited catch basin at the entrance to the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). That won’t stop spills that happen elsewhere, such as the big one in December 2019, but it might have stopped 2/3 of the December 2018 sewage spill gallons. And Valdosta’s press release also emphasizes further fixes elsewhere.

Valdosta WWTP Catch Basin

First proposed December 6, 2018, by by City Council Tim Carroll, just as Valdosta had its third major sewage spill episode of 2018, including eighteen locations, followed by five more on December 14 and 15. Only three of those spills came from the WWTP, but those three did account for most of the gallons spilled. However, the record December 2019 spill did not come from the WWTP at all.

Valdosta got a permit for the catch basin from GA-EPD in December 2019, before it was required to dig it in a new GA-EPD Consent Order. Valdosta held a groundbreaking July 21, 2020.

Now the catch basin is finished, after only a year and a half. It should decrease the likelihood of spills from the WWTP. December is the traditional Valdosta sewage spill season, and so far there have been none. Meanwhile, sanitary sewer work continues elsewhere in Valdosta.

Valdosta PR, November 19, 2020, Equalization Basin at Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Completed, Continue reading

Light Parade at Banks Lake, Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest on Steve Nichols radio 2020-12-08

We’re proud to announce that Steve Nichols has accepted our invitation to be the Master of Ceremonies at the Fourth Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, Saturday evening, August 2021, at the Turner Center Art Park in Valdosta, GA.
https://wwals.net/pictures/2021-08-21–songwriting/

He and I will talk about that on his radio show at 8:30 AM Tuesday, December 8, 2020, on 105.9 FM WVGA.

We’ll also discuss the WWALS Solstice Light Parade, Saturday, December 19, 2020, at Banks Lake, just west of Lakeland, GA.
https://wwals.net/pictures/2020-12-19–light-parade/

And how Georgia is all that stands between some strip miners from Alabama and the Okefenokee Swamp, and how you can help.
https://wwals.net/?p=54187

Suwannee Riverkeeper on Steve Nichols radio, 2020-10-06

WVGA FM says:

The top rated morning talk show in south Georgia, Steve Nichols offers both sides of every story from Berrien County to the Beltway, and everywhere in between.

When: 8:30 AM, Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Where: 105.9 FM WVGA

or the WVGA Live apps,
through ValdostaToday.com (link on front page),
on Alexa devices,
or you can stream in-studio video at the official Morning Drive Facebook page.
https://www.facebook.com/TheMorningDriveWithSteveNichols/ Continue reading

All green with Withlacoochee River water quality 2020-11-26

Thanks to WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach, we have clean water quality results for Thursday for Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps on the Withlacoochee River. The most recent Valdosta results we have are for Monday, also clean all the way to the state line. The most recent Florida results are from Thursday a week ago, also clean from the state line to FL 6. So whatever that was in the river at Knights Ferry Thursday a week ago, it’s long gone.

There has been little rain, so chances are the Withlacoochee River will remain clean for the weekend. Happy boating, swimming, and fishing!

Thanks to WWALS testers Josh and Angela Duncan, we have a clean Alapaha River result for Sasser Landing for Wednesday. Have fun on the Alapaha, as well!

[Pictures, Results, Map, Plates]
Pictures, Results, Map, Plates

I’ve marked all the Withlacoochee River “beaches” green on Swim Guide. Continue reading

Bad at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2020-11-19

Update 2020-11-27: All green with Withlacoochee River water quality 2020-11-26.

Something bad was in the Withlacoochee River at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp Thursday, which is a big change since our post earlier today. And there is yet another possible source.

[Maps and Chart]
Maps and Chart

WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach got 933 cfu/100 mL E. coli at Knights Ferry, which is well above the 410 one-time limit.

[Bad at Knights Ferry]
Bad at Knights Ferry
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality results, see
https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

Yet downstream they got 0 and 33 at Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps, which is very good. And Monday and Wednesday Valdosta got good results at US 41, GA 133, and US 84.

So what caused that bad KF result?

[Knights Ferry PetriFilms]
Knights Ferry PetriFilms

It could be Continue reading

Good since Thursday, Withlacoochee River Water Quality 2020-11-17

Update 2020-11-20: Bad at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2020-11-19.

Water quality is still looking good in the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers after the big mess last Wednesday. WWALS tested Sunday, and got good quality all the way from Cook County Boat Ramp on the Little River down to Knights Ferry on the Withlacoochee River. Madison Health tested Tuesday, and got good quality from the state line down to FL 6, just above Madison Blue Spring. That continues good results since Thursday. If we have more results today, we will report those tonight or tomorrow morning.

[Maps and Chart]
Maps and Chart

There’s been no rain, so unless the mystery dumper strikes again, so I’ve set all the WWALS “beaches” to green on Swim Guide, and happy swimming, fishing, and boating this weekend!

Valdosta says the Wednesday contamination did not come from the city, and they are looking into a number of ways to find the source. Lowndes County assures us it did not come from them, plus the new force main they are installing does not have anything in it yet, and does not cross any existing sewage mains. The county has asked its installation contractor to keep an eye out. I have even enlisted Waste Management, the new owner of Advanced Disposal Services, which owns the Lowndes County landfill, to keep an eye out for trucks that look like they might be hauling fecal matter. More calls are going out.

Suzy Hall got Continue reading

Victory on Georgia Constitutional Amendment 1, and more voting for clean water

Voters in every county in Georgia approved Amendment 1, to dedicate state fees and taxes to their stated purposes. The statewide victory was 81.6%.

There is more work to do, to get the legislature to use this new law to stop taxes from being diverted to the general fund, so for example counties and cities can get more grants for tire amnesties. But now the mechanism is available.

That wasn’t the only good referendum news, and there is more voting for clean water to do.

[Victory: 82%]
Victory: 82%
Special thanks to the Suwannee River Basin cities of Adel, Hahira, and Valdosta, Atkinson, Lanier, and Lowndes Counties, for passing resolutions in support.
See also previous blog post.

The other good clean water news is that Amendment 2 passed with 74.5% Yes, also passing in every county. That’s HR 1023: people may petition for declaratory relief from certain acts of this state or certain local governments or officers or employees.

Dave Williams, Capitol Beat News Service, 4 November 2020, Georgia voters pass three ballot questions by wide margins,

The sovereign immunity amendment stems from a 2014 Georgia Supreme Court decision that essentially granted the state blanket immunity from citizen lawsuits in a case brought by the Center for a Sustainable Coast. The group had filed suit alleging the state Department of Natural Resources was illegally allowing alterations to private property in fragile coastal wetland areas protected by state law.

So that’s two victories for clean water by the people of the state of Georgia.

More voting for clean water to do

As everyone probably knows, there are Georgia runoff elections on January 5, 2021, with the usual early voting and absentee ballots. Both Georgia U.S. Senate seats are in the runoff.

A Public Service Commission runoff that was scheduled earlier will also be on January 5, 2021. WWALS has long advocated for GA-PSC to make responsible decisions on power plants and pipelines that affect all our waters, from water levels to coal ash to mercury.

Once again, we urge you to vote for clean water.

As an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, WWALS cannot Continue reading

Help Georgia stop titanium mine threatening Okefenokee Swamp –Dirty Dozen 2020, Georgia Water Coalition 2020-11-17

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, November 17, 2020 — Once again, the Okefenokee Swamp features in the Georgia Water Coalition Dirty Dozen, “the worst offenses to Georgia’s water.” The Swamp and the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers and the Floridan Aquifer are still threatened by a strip mine, but this time only Georgia can stop it, with your help.

[Great Blue Heron, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, TPM mine site]
Great Blue Heron, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, TPM mine site

Contact: This Okefenokee item was submitted by Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman (229-242-0102, contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org) and Georgia River Network Executive Director Rena Ann Peck, (404-395-6250, rena@garivers.org).

They also recently observed the mine site that threatens our ecosystems and drinking water for private profit. [TPM mine site with ONWR on left]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, TPM mine site with ONWR on left

They met again that same weekend on the Suwannee River in the Okefenokee Swamp with forty paddlers, experiencing the fragile natural beauty that makes the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge a great economic benefit to both Georgia and Florida.

[Great Blue Heron flying, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, 2019-12-07]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Great Blue Heron flying, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, 2019-12-07

The entire text of the Okefenokee Dirty Dozen item is below. Also below is how you can help.

This year’s Dirty Dozen report includes the following: Continue reading

Okefenokee discussion in Moniac and mine site drive by 2020-11-06

A small group of people who value the Okefenokee Swamp and the rivers it feeds, the St. Marys River down to the Atlantic and Cumberland Island, and the Suwannee River of song and legend through Fargo and north Florida to the Gulf; this group met in Moniac, Georgia, on November 6, 2020, at Lacy’s Kountry Store. Most of us then visited the proposed mine site, which has quite a bit of equipment on it already.

If you want to help oppose this strip mine far too close to the Swamp, now that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has abdicated oversight, you can ask the Georgia government to reject these permits.

[Mine site, discussion]
Mine site, discussion

Georgia River Network Executive Director Rena Ann Peck had just written Continue reading

Better now, Withlacoochee River water quality 2020-11-14

Update 2020-11-20: Good since Thursday, Withlacoochee River Water Quality 2020-11-17

Whatever that was Wednesday at GA 133 and US 84, it did not reappear on Valdosta’s Friday results at the same locations, nor in the WWALS results upstream and down for Saturday on the Withlacoochee and Little Rivers.

[Maps, Chart]
Maps, Chart

Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for publishing the updated Valdosta upstream Friday results on a Saturday afternoon. She says the City of Valdosta has not had any spills. And according to Valdosta Assistant City Manager Richard Hardy, the city goverment is well aware of the problem and is working on ways to find the culprits. I have left a message with Lowndes County Utilities. I am also talking to law enforcement. A letter will go to GA-EPD today.

[Better now]
Better now
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality, see
https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

Thanks to WWALS testers Jacob and Michael Bachrach for testing at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps. Thanks to WWALS testers Angela and Josh Duncan for testing at US 41 and Troupville Boat Ramp. The point of that last one, on the Little River, is as a control: since Troupville Boat Ramp is about 2,000 feet upstream of the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River, it should be clean.

And it was. But so were all the other test locations. So whatever it was either moved so fast downstream it was below FL 6 when Madison Health tested Thursday, or it was small although toxic, and got diluted pretty quickly.

The chronic problem test station at the GA 133 Withlacoochee River bridge is highlighted Continue reading

Horrendous water quality at GA 133 & US 84 Wednesday, clean downstream 2020-11-12

Update 2020-11-16: Better now, Withlacoochee River water quality 2020-11-14.

We’ve never seen anything quite like this.

Valdosta got 137,600 cfu/100 mL E. coli for Wednesday at GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River. That’s 137 times the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream alert limit of 1,000.

That’s far higher than the highest E. coli reading we’ve ever seen for the Withlacoochee River, which was the 39,000 Valdosta got on December 10, 2019, just after its infamous record spill. Which at least makes it unlikely that this contamination is coming from Valdosta.

Even the 85,600 Valdosta got for US 84 Wednesday is higher than that previous record at GA 133, and far above unprecedented for US 84. The previous US 84 record was 1,505 on April 1, after a big rain.

GA 133 is the same place Valdosta keeps finding very high E. coli and Fecal coliform, including 11,600 E. coli Friday a week ago. There has not been any rain. Which makes it very unlikely that this is runoff from farm animals.

[Horrendous upstream, clean downstream]
Horrendous upstream, clean downstream
Photos: Michael and Jacob Bachrach at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps, Thursday, November 12, 2020.

Yet Valdosta’s Wednesday downstream water quality results were all good, as were those by WWALS and Madison Health for Thursday.

According to the latest water quality results downstream of US 84, things look great for the Withlacoochee River this weekend. But I have to tell you I wouldn’t get in that water without more sampling.

I wish I could tell you what caused this, but so far I can only say a few things it’s not, and then speculate. Continue reading