Tag Archives: Bill Slaughter

VDT on Mayor’s Paddle

This one went well. Next year we’ll call it something like the Mayor and Chairman’s paddle. Thanks to everyone who came for supporting WWALS outings and advocacy.

[Troupville Boat Ramp, WWTP Outfall]
Troupville Boat Ramp, WWTP Outfall; Photos: John S. Quarterman

Down the River: Mayor’s Paddle back on track, Bryce Ethridge, Valdosta Daily Times, 29 March 2021,

VALDOSTA — Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson and 40-plus city and Lowndes County residents gathered Saturday for a three-hour trip down the Withlacoochee River.

The Mayor’s Paddle is a fundraiser and kayaking experience that started in 2020 via a partnership with WWALS Watershed Coalition. “Last year, we formed it just to have a conversation with the cities and municipalities to our south, and to anybody who loved the river here,” Matheson said. “It was our way of saying we’re fully and only committed to keeping this waterway clean and useful for everybody in the area.”

WWALS also partners with Banks Lake Outdoors for free boat rental for the Banks Lake Full Moon paddles.

We partner with Friends of Reed Bingham State Park (FORB) for the BIG Little River Paddle Race, coming up April 24, 2021, at Reed Bingham State Park, between Adel and Moultrie, Georgia, and FORB actually does about half the work on that one.

You could say we partner with the downstream Florida counties in advocating that they should be paid back by Valdosta for the expense they’ve gone to in well and river water quality testing since Valdosta’s December 2019 record sewage spill.

We didn’t have many participants from Florida or elsewhere this time. Maybe we’ll have to do another paddle downstream in Florida for that.

Meanwhile, thanks to The Langdale Company for access at Spook Bridge and at the lunch stop. Continue reading

Florida, and Upstream water quality tests for Lowndes and Brooks Counties, GA 2020-06-10

Update 2020-06-13: Florida lifts Withlacoochee River advisory; more rain could mean more contamination 2020-06-11.

The Withlacoochee River from the state line to the Suwannee River looked much better Wednesday, according to FDEP results.

Upstream on the Withlacoochee and Little Rivers and two out of three creeks in Brooks County, not so good, according to samples I took Wednesday.

Valdosta’s Wednesday results fill in US 41 (North Valdosta Road), GA 133, and US 84 on the Withlacoochee River. We await Valdosta’s Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramp results.

Meanwhile, you can help.

[Withlacoochee R. @ GA 122 to Suwannee R. @ US 90]
Withlacoochee R. @ GA 122 to Suwannee R. @ US 90
For context and links to the WWALS composite spreadsheet and all its sources, see https://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Thanks to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for testing from GA 31 as far downstream as US 90.

[Horn Bridge, GA 31, Withlacoochee River]
Horn Bridge, GA 31, Withlacoochee River

But where did the contamination go? Did it get diluted? Or did it just wash farther downstream? Continue reading

Cleaner Withlacoochee Monday, Tuesday; Suwannee unknown 2020-03-03

Update 2020-03-06: Special meeting to approve an RFP for an environmental attorney –Madison BOCC 2020-03-06

Tuesday data from Lowndes County, Georgia, shows much better water quality in Okapilco Creek upstream from Quitman and in the Withlacoochee River downstream. Remember, Lowndes County has its own sewer system, which did not spill. And one of Lowndes County’s results for the previous week is very interesting.

All the maps and charts in this post are on the WWALS website in a PDF for printing. They’re also on facebook.

The most recent data we have from Valdosta and Florida is for Monday. WWALS has not tested this week because of rain, but soon. You can help.

Yesterday and today, five inches of rain fell on Tifton, and all that water is washing downstream, with the Withlacoochee already in flood at Pinetta.

[Quitman to Withlacoochee River]
Map: Quitman to Withlacoochee River.
In the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

In the above map, northeast of Quitman near Okapilco Creek, are the Quitman sewage settling ponds, which Continue reading

Not good: Withlacoochee River & Okapilco Creek 2020-02-11

Update 2020-02-18: Withlacoochee still not clean Thursday but not alarming in Florida results 2020-02-13.

Update 2020-02-14: Fixed typo; apparently FDOH tests were collected Monday, February 10, 2020.

Lowndes County’s upstream results for Tuesday, February 11, 2020, are as bad at US 84 as FDOH’s result at CR 150 (Sullivan Launch) the previous day.

Yes, Okapilco Creek downstream of US 84 is especially bad. But Okapilco Creek has more E. coli than anyone would like upstream at GA 76, too. And no, Valdosta is still not off the hook.

We still need to find out where all this contamination is coming from. You can help.

[Not Good Results 2020-02-11]
Not Good Results 2020-02-11
Thanks to Lowndes County Chairman Bill SLaughter for these Tuesday results, which are on the WWALS website, along with the full WWALS composite result table going back to December 10, 2019.

These results are much different from Lowndes County’s tests of Wednesday, February 5. There’s been no rain to speak of since last Thursday, February 6, five days before these recent Tuesday tests, so what’s going on?

[Quitman Gauge (US 84)]
Quitman Gauge (US 84)

Rain upstream is washing something downstream.

[Rain the week before]
Rain the week before

Much of that rain fell upstream and is still coming downstream. More than an inch fell that Thursday at the Continue reading

Clean Withlacoochee River; dubious Okapilco Creek; and rain 2020-02-05

Update 2020-02-12: Madison Co., FL Withlacoochee River Bacterial Advisory 2020-02-11.

Good another Wednesday: Lowndes County water quality results for the Withlacoochee River. Meanwhile, about an inch of rain registered upstream Thursday. We will have more WWALS results in a day or so. The only way to tell what is in our waterways is regular, frequent, closely-spaced testing. You can help.

[Good Withlacoochee]
Good Withlacoochee
Thanks to Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter for these Lowndes County results.
Along with the WWALS composite results spreadsheet, they are on the WWALS website.
There are no new Florida results; the Florida agencies stopped testing after Continue reading

Fourth wave: plus Lowndes County on Okapilco Creek and Withlacoochee River 2020-01-22

Update 2020-01-30: Florida Counties Task Force in Valdosta about sewage 2020-01-08.

We do already have Lowndes County’s results, and they show somewhat elevated E. coli counts at both Okapilco Creek south of US 84 and the Withlacoochee River at US 84, for Wednesday of last week, January 22, 2020. Both those sites are upstream of Knights Ferry and State Line (GA 31), where WWALS found too-high counts on Sunday, January 26. Below: what these numbers mean, and how you can help.

[Elevated at both Okapilco Creek and US 84 Withlacoochee 2020-01-22]
Elevated at both Okapilco Creek and US 84 Withlacoochee 2020-01-22
The entire WWALS composite spreadsheet is on the WWALS website.

Sara Jay pulled some upstream river samples yesterday, so her results should be ready later today or early tomorrow. I’m going to get some downstream ones and at Okapilco Creek at US 84 today. Lowndes County is also pulling samples today, so my results should be ready tomorrow or very early Friday. Lowndes County is pulling samples today, so their results should be available tomorrow or Friday. We also hope to get updates from Florida.

What do these numbers mean?

Continue reading

Okapilco Creek better, Withlacoochee still clean 2020-01-22

Update 2020-01-25: Florida advisory lifted, but WWALS warning signs stay up, and keep testing rivers, creeks and wells.

Okapilco Creek is down from 2419.6 cfu/100 mL E. coli last Thursday to 365 yesterday, Wednesday, January 22, 2020, according to data from Lowndes County received during the Florida Rivers Task Force meeting in Lake City.

[Okapilco Creek in Brooks County]
Okapilco Creek in Brooks County in Brooks County Tax Appraiser map.

That’s still higher than we’d like to see, but not way up in don’t touch the water range like before.

[Lowndes County 2020-01-22]
Lowndes County 2020-01-22
Thanks to Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter for sending these results, which are on the WWALS website along with the entire entire updated WWALS composite spreadsheet of all results from all sources.

Where did that contamination go? Did it show up on Continue reading

Signs in Georgia on Withlacoochee River and new data; thanks Lowndes County and SRWMD 2020-01-10

Update 2020-01-14: Recent water quality test results, Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers 2020-01-11

There are two warning signs at each of Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps as of yesterday: by Lowndes County, and by WWALS. According to new data from Wednesday evening, those signs may not have been necessary, but at this point better safe than sorry. The new data did not come from Valdosta, nor did the signs.

[County and WWALS warning signs]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, County and WWALS warning signs at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, 2020-01-10

Thanks to Lowndes County and Chairman Bill Slaughter for testing at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps, and for making and planting those tall metal caution signs after the county numbers for Monday, January 6, 2020, were quite high. The county is now doing weekly testing, including at additional locations.

Just in case, WWALS also made signs and placed them. Continue reading

Avoid Withlacoochee River from Knights Ferry to Confluence with Suwannee River 2020-01-08

Update 2020-01-11: Signs in Georgia on Withlacoochee River and new data; thanks Lowndes County and SRWMD 2020-01-10.

It would be prudent to avoid contact with the Withlacoochee River from Knights Ferry Boat Ramp all the way to the Suwannee River, due to test results from Lowndes County, Georgia, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

[Avoid red area]
Avoid red area.
WWALS Map of Landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

The problem access points would seem to include Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, Nankin Boat Ramp, and State Line Boat Ramp in Georgia, and in Florida Sullivan Launch, Florida Campsites Ramp, Madison Blue Spring, Madison Boat Ramp, and Allen Ramp on the Withlacoochee River. I believe Hamilton County also has a warning sign upstream on the Suwannee River at Suwannee River Campsites. There’s a sign at Madison Blue Spring, and I’d bet there’s one at Suwannee River State Park Ramp. There will be signs in Georgia today, one way or another.

Here is an excerpt from the latest FDEP data, received this morning. The entire updated FDEP spreadsheet is Continue reading

Valdosta sewage from Sugar Creek to Florida 2019-01-01 2020-01-01

Update 2020-01-03 Valdosta Sewage Public Meeting, Valdosta City Hall Annex, 2020-01-08.

You can see Valdosta’s sewage going down the Withlacoochee River as the high red numbers in these composite tables WWALS has cobbled together from various data sources (all acknowledged below).

Early on, the sewage apparently mostly sat in Sugar Creek downstream from the spill site, due to low water and no rain.

[Early (12/10-12/18)]
Early (12/10-12/18)

Most of the Georgia numbers in above table are from Valdosta Utilities data. The ones marked with a W are WWALS data using the Georgia Adopt-a-Stream 3M Petrifilms method.

Fecal coliform numbers started dropping in Sugar Creek at Gornto Road on December 14, and were much more acceptable by December 15 and 16th. Where did the sewage go? Continue reading