Category Archives: Weather

Bad Upstream, Good Downstream, Withlacoochee River 2021-07-22

Unusual results: too high E. coli at US 41 and GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River, good downstream and on the Little and Alapaha Rivers. Unexpected because with the heavy rain in Brooks County, Georgia, problems downstream might have been expected. I would paddle on the Withlacoochee River this weekend.

[Chart, Up and Down Withlacoochee River, Map]
Chart, Up and Down Withlacoochee River, Map

We have no results from Valdosta newer than Monday upstream, and the previous week downstream. Also nothing from Madison Health since Tuesday a week ago.

But WWALS testers Valerie Folsom, Bobby McKenzie, and Gus Cleary filled the gap. Continue reading

Clean Withlacoochee River 2021-07-15

Update 2021-07-21: Valdosta Elsa spills finally in GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report 2021-07-20.

Good news! By all the test results we have, the Withlacoochee River is clean again, in Georgia and Florida. Happy swimming, fishing, and boating!

[Chart, Withlacoochee River scenes, Swim Guide]
Chart, Withlacoochee River scenes, Swim Guide
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality results, rainfall, and spills, see:
https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

WWALS test results from US 41 above Valdosta down to Cleary Bluff below Allen Ramp and nearly to the Suwannee, plus Troupville Boat Ramp on the Little River, are all clean for Thursday, July 15, 2021. Continue reading

Elsa again Tropical Storm, but hurricane warnings persist, landfall soon 2021-07-07

Update 2021-07-08: Sewage Spills: Valdosta, GA, Starke, FL 2021-07-08.

Elsa has downgraded to Tropical Storm again, and is late for landfall.

As of 8 AM this morning Elsa is 35 miles west of Cedar Key, according to the National Hurricane Center. Pretty much everything in Cedar Key is closed today.

The storm track has moved slightly west. “On the forecast track, Elsa will make landfall along the north Florida Gulf coast by late this morning or this afternoon.” Late morning would be high tide, making storm surge worse.

Elsa is still predicted to move north up the Suwannee River Valley, where county offices are closed today all the way up into Georgia. Then over the Okefenokee Swamp Thursday, on up the Georgia coast, but now somewhat inland, with tropical storm warnings most of the way, and storm surge warnings for the Georgia coast through Charleston, S.C. And on up the eastern seaboard, inland until Virginia, onwards to the Canadian Maritimes by Saturday.

[5-day Cone No Line And Wind]
5-day Cone No Line And Wind

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for…

  • West coast of Florida from the Middle of Longboat Key to the Aucilla River, including Tampa Bay

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…

  • West coast of Florida from Chassahowitzka to the Steinhatchee River

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…

  • West coast of Florida from south of Chassahowitzka to the Middle of Longboat Key
  • West coast of Florida north of the Steinhatchee River to Ochlockonee River
  • Mouth of St. Marys River, Georgia to Little River Inlet, South Carolina

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…

  • North of Little River Inlet, South Carolina to Chincoteague, Virginia
  • Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds

Interests elsewhere in the Carolinas, the mid-Atlantic coast, southeastern New England, and the Canadian Maritimes should monitor the progress of Elsa.

Tornadoes are possible along the coast and inland. Continue reading

Bad Upstream, Withlacoochee River 2021-07-02

Update 2021-07-06: Tropical Storm Elsa headed up Suwannee River Basin 2021-07-06

Valdosta has published its upstream results for Friday, which showed very bad water quality at US 41, GA 133, and US 84 on the Withlacoochee River.

[Chart, Map]
Chart, Map

There’s been even more rain since then, and more is coming straight at the Suwannee River Basin with Tropical Storm Elsa. Continue reading

Tropical Storm Elsa headed up Suwannee River Basin 2021-07-06

Update 9 AM 2021-07-07: Elsa again Tropical Storm, but hurricane warnings persist, landfall soon 2021-07-07

Recent heavy rains were just the start. Expect 4 to 6 inches more today or tomorrow from Tropical Storm Elsa, along with winds from hurricane force in Dixie County plus possible storm surge, dropping to maybe 30 mph in south Georgia, with marginal risk of flash flooding throughout.

[Rainfall]
Rainfall

Where I am near the GA-FL line, we already got 6.25 inches in the past two days. That’s six weeks of rain by the annual average. Also near the state line, western Brooks County, GA got almost an inch and a half, Skipper Bridge on the Withlacoochee River got almost an inch and US 84 more than half an inch, while Statenville on the Alapaha got almost an inch, and Fargo on the Suwannee got almost two inches.

According to the National Hurricane Center at 8AM this morning, Tropical Storm Elsa is west of Key West, heading up the Florida Gulf Coast past Tampa, expected to make landfall around 2AM Wednesday (tomorrow), probably in Dixie County, for which county a hurricane warning has been issued. Continue reading

Clean Rivers after Tuesday blip and before Thursday rains 2021-07-01

Update 2021-07-06: Bad Upstream, Withlacoochee River 2021-07-02.

The Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers are remarkably clean by samples Thursday, July 1, 2021. No sewage spills have been reported for Georgia.

Some bad news: something caused high E. coli in the Withlacoochee River at GA 133 on Tuesday. And Starke, Florida, had two more small spills above the Santa Fe River, but nothing like the big one that Florida city had a week ago.

The good news: according to those Tuesday tests, whatever was in the Withlacoochee River at GA 133 was not coming from Valdosta’s Mulch Yard off of Val-Tech Road. And by Thursday samples, whatever it was was gone by then.

So by the results we have right now, it’s clear for swimming, diving, fishing, and boating.

And still more good news: Madison Health has lifted its former Bacterial Advisory for the Withlacoochee River.

But beware: many inches of rain fell later Thursday and today. That usually washes more contamination into the rivers. See Cattle and hogs: Withlacoochee River water quality status 2021-06-27 https://wwals.net/?p=55966

[Chart, rivers, results, Swim Guide]
Chart, rivers, results, Swim Guide

Just don’t say we didn’t mention those rains yesterday and today, which in Brooks County started even earlier, and have been very heavy. If we’re all lucky, most of what manure would wash off has already washed off. We shall see.

With a dozen tests this week, we’re burning through testing materials. Thanks to Joe Brownlee, Southwest Director, Georgia Power, for another generous water quality testing grant that helps make this possible. Continue reading

Filthy GA-FL Line, Withlacoochee River 2021-06-26

Update 2021-07-02: Clean Rivers after Tuesday blip and before Thursday rains 2021-07-01.

Sewage spills were reported last week, but not from Georgia: Florida State Prison Tuesday into the New River (of the Santa Fe), and Starke WWTF Saturday above the Santa Fe River. I must commend FDEP for sending out pollution notices on a Sunday, and Starke WWTF for reporting on a weekend. We don’t know what effect those spills had on those rivers, because so far as we know nobody tests there.

Floridians, please ask SRWMD and FDEP to test water quality frequently on all the rivers, all the way to the Gulf, instead of wasting money on water pipe boondoggles.

Meanwhile on the Withlacoochee River for Saturday, Suzy Hall found State Line Boat Ramp filthy, yet Florida Campsites downstream pretty clean. Gus Cleary found Cleary Bluff below Allen Ramp spotless for Friday and with only one spot for Saturday.

How can it be dirty upstream but clean downstream? With all this recent rain, the rivers are moving fast, and a glob of E. coli can flit right past in a few hours.

We can also hope much of the cattle manure has already been washed off. See also Cattle and hogs: Withlacoochee River water quality status 2021-06-27.

We have no data from Valdosta more recent than for Monday, and nothing from Madison Health more recent than Tuesday. Meanwhile, WWALS testers wanted to know, so you could know.

I’d still be wary of the Withlacoochee River until we see repeated clean State Line results. Continue reading

Cattle and hogs: Withlacoochee River water quality status 2021-06-27

Update 2021-06-28: Filthy GA-FL Line, Withlacoochee River 2021-06-26.

Most Withlacoochee River contamination comes from cattle manure runoff, according to extensive testing. Yet there is the myth that every problem with the Withlacoochee River comes from Valdosta sewage. Actually, Valdosta has not had a spill that got into the river in more than a year and a half.

Other cities do have sewage spills (especially Quitman), which do cause problems. But when the rivers have E. coli after big rains, it usually comes from cattle manure runoff.

Most of the time our rivers are clean, and here’s how we know that.

[Map: Quitman, Valdosta, Okapilco Creek, Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee-River]
Map: Quitman, Valdosta, Okapilco Creek, Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee-River in the WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

These questions from a year ago still reflect many we get to this day: Continue reading

Filthy at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2021-06-24

Update 2021-06-27: Cattle and hogs: Withlacoochee River water quality status 2021-06-27.

Going by WWALS water quality testing results for Thursday, it’s best to stay off the Withlacoochee River, and maybe the Alapaha River, for a few more days.

[Bad Knights Ferry and Willacoochee Landing]
Bad Knights Ferry and Willacoochee Landing

Very unusual: too-high E. coli on the Alapaha River, at Willacoochee Landing on GA 135 in Atkinson County, Georgia. Thanks to WWALS tester Valerie Folsom. There was a lot of rain upstream in the previous few days, which make me wonder about the city of Alapaha’s wastewater treatment plant.

Unfortunately expected: way-high E. coli on the Withlacoochee River, at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, downstream of Okapilco Creek, with many thousand cattle in Brooks County, Georgia. Thanks to WWALS tester Michael Bachrach. Don’t be surprised if Quitman had a spill and gets around to reporting it about a week later.

Somewhat puzzling: downstream on the Withlacoochee results range from acceptable to clean as a whistle at Cleary Bluff, between Allen Ramp and the Suwannee River. Thaks to WWALS tester Gus Cleary. Even with the river high and fast after the recent rains, it takes a little while for the contamination to wash downstream. Three inches of rain fell in Brooks County Thursday, so don’t be surprised if things get dirty downstream.

We have no new data upstream of Knights Ferry, because we had a technical glitch with upstream WWALS tests.

Meanwhile, Valdosta has posted nothing newer than for Monday. They did catch up to last week with the downstream data, which corroborated what we already knew from WWALS tests.

The Tuesday too-high Madison Health result for the state line still has not appeared on the FDEP website. Continue reading

Health Advisory, Withlacoochee River, bad at GA-FL line after rains 2021-06-22

Update 2021-06-25 Filthy at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2021-06-24.

Unfortunately as expected, the recent rains have washed Fecal coliform and E. coli into the Withlacoochee River. The Madison County, Florida, Health Department has issued an advisory of possible bacterial contamination. I wouldn’t want to get that river water on me until better results are seen. It’s most likely both upstream and downstream of the one datapoint Madison Health collected, which is for the GA-FL line. Better wait a few days before swimming, fishing, or boating on the Withlacoochee River.

[Bacterial Advisory, TNTC and 800 cfu/100 mL, Red State Line on Swim Guide]
Bacterial Advisory, TNTC and 800 cfu/100 mL, Red State Line on Swim Guide

The contamination most likely comes from the usual source: cattle manure, mostly washing off of open pastures in Brooks County, Georgia, down Okapilco Creek.

But we do not really know, because the only data we have for this week is the one report by Madison Health for yesterday, Tuesday, June 22, 2021. We only know that much because Madison County Chairman Donnie Waldrep Sr. posted it on his facebook page. It does not yet appear on the public web page of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

The most recent data we have for Valdosta is from last week, before the rains, and only for US 41, GA 133, and US 84, all upstream of where Okapilco Creek enters the Withlacoochee River. The last downstream data Valdosta has published is for two weeks ago, Monday, June 7, 2021.

I hear Valdosta wants people downstream in Florida to understand that recent contamination is not coming from Valdosta. Well, timely publishing that downstream data would help with that.

Not publishing that data until weeks later could give the impression that Valdosta does not care about people downstream. Continue reading