Tag Archives: Brooks County

One week to WWALS Boomerang paddle race from Georgia to Florida and back 2021-10-23

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, GA, October 15, 2021 — We have a group coming three hours from Dublin, GA, to paddle down the Withlacoochee River from Georgia three miles into Florida, and back upstream, in the WWALS Boomerang, one week from now, Saturday, October 23, 2021. Last year’s winner came from Tallahassee, FL. In one week, you could be the winner of the $100 First Prize! Or win in one of the many categories.

Today is the last day for the $20 early bird tickets. Later it’s $30 online or at the event.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wwals-boomerang-paddle-race-2021-tickets-168646372841

Canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards are welcome to register starting at 9 AM, Saturday, October 23, 2021, to be on the water by 10:45 AM. There will be prizes, and food, and drink.

You do not even have to bring a boat, if you reserve soon and let us know what type of boat you need: kayak or canoe, single or tandem. Free boat rental is provied by Madison Outpost Adventures of Lee, Madison County, Florida, and VSU CORE of Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia.

Boomerang mastermind Bobby McKenzie says, “Water levels were steadily dropping and now they are rising slightly.” We have a plan if the Withlacoochee River is running too fast to paddle up; we’ll just straighten out the course to go to Sullivan Landing.

“This is a great way to bring the outdoors community together and showcase the recreational opportunities we have to offer locally,” Bobby McKenzie added. “This event caters to all ages and skill levels, you can either blaze ahead and take first place overall, or push yourself for a personal achievement on the main course or one of the modified routes. You can even just come do a leisurely paddle with like minded outdoor enthusiasts. Just remember to make your way back before the time expires, at most will be 2.5 hours.”

[Flyer]
Flyer
PDF

State Line Boat Ramp is at Continue reading

WWALS at Brooks County Skillet Festival 2021-10-16

Get some fresh-fried food at the Skillet Festival, and come by the WWALS booth, in Quitman, Georgia, this Saturday. Yes, we will have the raffle kayak, the $950 value Vibe Yellowfin 120. And what will NextEra be up to this year?

When: 9AM-5PM, Saturday, October 16, 2021

Where: Brooks County Courthouse, 100 Screven Street, Quitman, Georgia 31643

What: Brooks County Skillet Festival is an artisan craft fair, food festival and vintage market, all tied up in a pretty burlap bow.

Volunteer: You can help at the WWALS booth. Send us email to contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org.

Event: facebook

Froggy toss was very popular, WWALS booth
WWALS at the Skillet Festival in 2018.

Continue reading

All clear, Withlacoochee River 2021-09-22

Update 2021-10-01: All Clean, Withlacoochee, Little, Alapaha Rivers 2021-09-30.

All WWALS test results for Wednesday were clean in Georgia and Florida, but Valdosta got bad results at US 84 on the Withlacoochee River.

Yet there has been no significant rain since Tuesday, so in the opposite of last time, I’m going to say that E. coli has probably washed downstream and gotten diluted by now.

Make your own decisions, but I would boat on the Withlacoochee River this weekend. And the Alapaha River yet again seems clean. The Little River, probably, according to the one site we tested.

[Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide]
Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide

Valdosta results for last Friday corroborate what I said last time: because of the heavy rains, it would not be a good idea to boat, swim, or fish in the Withlacoochee River last weekend.

Valdosta even got too high results at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp for Monday, after heavy rains Sunday in Brooks County, presumably because of the usual cattle manure runoff down Okapilco Creek. 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

More contamination after big rains, Withlacoochee River 2021-03-04

As usual, the big rains washed more contamination into the Withlacoochee River, most likely mostly down Okapilco Creek from cattle in Brooks County, Georgia.

However, since the rains were Monday and Tuesday, by the time Madison Health and WWALS tested Thursday, much of it had already started washing downstream. By Thursday it appears to have already been flushed down to the state line and beyond by more rainwater. By now it’s probably down into the Suwannee River, where it may well have been diluted by even more rainwater coming down the Alapaha and Suwannee Rivers.

So above the state line the Withlacoochee is probably OK to boat, swim, and fish this weekend. It may even be safe below the state line by Saturday morning, although we have no data on that.

[Last week, Swim Guide, this week]
Last week, Swim Guide, this week

So on Swim Guide I’ve set red from the state line down into Florida, yet green at Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps, as well as green for Valdosta’s readings upstream Monday before the rains.

[Map: Swim Guide]
Map: Swim Guide

The 3,784 cfu/100 mL E. coli Madison Health got at Florida 6 Thursday is far higher than the 1,000 alert limit. But a year ago on Thursday, March 5, 2020, Madison Health got TNTC (Too Numerous To Count) at all three of State Line, Sullivan Launch, and Florida 6. Plus that Friday Valdosta got 4,600 at the state line and 25,000 at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp. So there is still ample room for improvement, but it’s possible that the Best Management Practices (BMPs) the Brooks County dairies have been implementing are starting to work. Continue reading

Year in review: water quality testing, February 2020-2021

Suzy Hall, WWALS Testing Committee Chair, pointed out that bacterial water quality results a year ago were generally worse than recently.

Results were awful for Monday, February 17, 2020 on the Withlacoochee.

[Awful KF, Nankin, SL 2020-02-17]
Awful KF, Nankin, SL, 2020-02-17

Suzy Hall filed Nankin Boat Ramp for Monday, February 17, 2020, as TNTC: Too Many To Count. Yes, that is a technical term, and you can see why: how many blue colonies with bubbles would you count?

Knights Ferry Boat Ramp wasn’t much better, at 8,933 cfu/100 mL. The Georgia Adopt-A-Stream high alert level is 1,000; see What do these numbers mean?. We have seen worse, namely the 39,000 Valdosta result at GA 133 on December 10, 2019.

But that was plenty bad enough.

Also, Valdosta later reported an even higher result for Knights Ferry for that same Feb 17, 2020, and Madison Health got horrible for the next day at State Line, Sullivan Launch, and FL 6.

For Wednesday, FDOH found a hot spot Continue reading

Very bad, GA-FL line and downstream, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-11

Update 2021-02-13: Better, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-12.

I’d avoid the Withlacoochee River for a few days if I were you. Apparently the Tuesday rains did wash more manure out of Brooks and Colquitt Counties down Okapilco Creek into the Withlacoochee River.

Valdosta’s Wednesday results upstream of Okapilco Creek were only slightly elevated, but Madison Health’s Thursday downstream results were very high. The WWALS Thursday samples had a technical glitch, so we don’t know about Knights Ferry or Nankin Boat Ramps, but they were probably pretty bad. We hope to have Friday results soon.

Meanwhile, I would not want to get that river water on me until the upstream rainwater dilutes and washes down the contamination, which will probably take a few days. Unless, of course, it rains harder and washes more in.

[Chart, Swim Guide map]
Chart, Swim Guide map

Yesterday afternoon FDEP posted Madison Health results for Thursday, February 11, 2021, and they were very bad: Continue reading

Advisory lifted, Withlacoochee River, but big rains Tuesday 2021-02-09

Update 2021-02-13: Very bad, GA-FL line and downstream, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-11.

Madison and Hamilton Health on February 10th lifted their bacterial advisory of January 18th for the Withlacoochee River, due to good Florida water quality results for Tuesday. But there were big rains Tuesday, so conditions may have already changed, and not for the better.

[Chart, Lifted, Swim Guide]
Chart, Lifted, Swim Guide

This was after Madison Health got clean results Tuesday (yellow highlights), matching clean results last Thursday, at the GA-FL line, Sullivan Launch, and FL 6. Continue reading

Video: Virus, Full Moon, Bacteria, Okefenokee, Mayor’s Paddle, Songwriting –Suwannee Riverkeeper on Scott James radio 2020-12-14

On the radio Monday I announced that the Solstice Light Parade for this Saturday is canceled due to worries about the audience during the virus pandemic resurgence, so come to the December 29, 2020, Full Moon paddle instead.

Please help get the candidates in the Georgia runoff elections to help get the state of Georgia to stop the strip mine proposed far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

[Many topics]
Many topics

Valdosta Mayor Scott James gracefully conceded the M.C. spot at the August 2021 Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest to Steve Nichols, who is also a radio host. We talked about what it will take to pull off the Mayor’s Paddle, February 6, 2020, from Troupville Boat Ramp to Spook Bridge on the Withlacoochee River.

For any paddles, it’s good to know the water is clean, so we talked about Valdosta’s sewer system progress, including how the outflow from the WWTP is clean now, and the new catch basin is good, but is it big enough? We asked listeners to report anybody seen dumping into the Withlacoochee River, and the general water quality testing situation, including in Brooks County.

Starting this weekend, WWALS volunteers will be planting the new at-water water trail signs.

Here’s a WWALS video playlist: Continue reading

Valdosta data: Quitman sewage spill, Okapilco Creek, Withlacoochee River

Update 2020-12-19: Bad Knights Ferry Thursday, Withlacoochee River 2020-12-17.

Valdosta’s downstream test results show the Withlacoochee River still clean on the day of the Quitman sewage spill, Wednesday, December 9, and on that Friday and Monday, just as Madison Health and WWALS results showed for the Friday.

[Clean downstream, and likely spill sites]
Clean downstream, and likely spill sites

Valdosta did show quite high E. coli on Okapilco Creek at US 84 for the Friday, higher than WWALS saw on the Saturday.

If the spill location really was the South Highland Road Lift Station, maybe it took a few days for the contamination to ooze Okapilco Creek. Continue reading