Tag Archives: Cat Creek

Training: Water Quality Testing, 2022-09-10

You can learn how to help test water quality in the Suwannee River Basin.

WWALS testing trainer Gretchen Quarterman will do the classroom portion of the course by zoom, followed by hands-on practical training at a waterway with physical distancing. This is both Chemical and Bacterial training by Georgia Adopt-A-Stream (AAS) methods.

Yes, we can and do use this in Florida as well as Georgia.

[Map and table, Georgia AAS]
Map and table, Georgia AAS

We currently have testers on the Little, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Ichetucknee, and Santa Fe Rivers.

We need more of those, and also for the Alapahoochee and Suwannee Rivers, as well as Cat Creek, Beatty Branch, Sugar Creek, and especially Okapilco Creek and Crooked Creek, plus others.

For more, see: https://wwals.net/testing/

Sign up: https://forms.gle/37DawiGAJYoyqtPKA Continue reading

Bad Quality Withlacoochee River 2022-07-21

Update 2022-07-29: Good Water Quality, Withlacoochee, Little, Alapaha Rivers 2022-07-28.

Update 2022-07-26: Madison Health Alert, Withlacoochee River 2022-07-25.

Update 2022-07-23: High Springs 500-gallon sewage spill, mostly cleaned up 2022-07-07.

Avoid the Withlacoochee River this weekend for fishing, swimming, and boating.

Try the Little, Alapaha, or Alapahoochee Rivers, or the Suwannee River upstream from the Withlacoochee River Confluence.

[Chart, River, Swim Guide 2022-07-21]
Chart, River, Swim Guide 2022-07-21

WWALS tested a record 18 sites Thursday, thanks to Elizabeth Brunner, Michael and Jacob Bachrach, and Gus CLeary, with WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall reviewing all the plates.

We didn’t find much upstream, except too high on Beatty Branch at Cat Creek Road.

I did take DNA samples on Cat Creek at Cat Creek Road and on the Withlacoochee River at US 41, so maybe we’ll see what’s getting into the waterways upstream. Continue reading

Videos: Suwannee Riverkeeper on Scott James radio 2022-07-19

Songwriters, don’t forget to send in your song to the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest by tomorrow, July 20, 2022! Really final deadline this time.

[Movie: Intro: Suwannee Riverkeeper and WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc.]
Movie: Intro: Suwannee Riverkeeper and WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc.

Valdosta Mayor Scott James and Suwannee Riverkeeper talked about that and many other topics on his radio show this morning.

Here’s a Continue reading

Withlacoochee River OK, Cat Creek bad 2022-07-14

Update 2022-07-22: Bad Quality Withlacoochee River 2022-07-21.

All clear for fishing, swimming, and boating on the Withlacoochee, Little, and Alapaha Rivers, according to the latest water quality test results we have.

But avoid Cat Creek and Beatty Branch for fishing. See below. (I don’t know anybody crazy enough to boat or swim in those creeks.)

There hasn’t been much rain the past few days, so probably not much contamination will wash into the rivers. No sewage spills have been reported in Florida or Georgia, other than Valdosta’s 200 gallon sewage spill on Baytree Road, which they vacuumed up quickly enough that probably little if any ever reached the Withlacoochee River.

Thunderstorms could change things quickly, but that’s what we know now.

[Chart, River, Swim Guide]
Chart, River, Swim Guide

Thanks to Scott Fowler of Valdosta Utilities for forwarding Valdosta test results soon after they are finished, so we know that Valdosta E. coli results were good for Wednesday and Monday at US 41, GA 133, and US 84. And we know Valdosta’s US 41 and GA 133 results for last Friday, July 8, 2022, were sky-high: 4,700 and 5,200 cfu/100 mL, respectively. The alert limit is 1,000.

Those high results could not be related to the July 9th Valdosta spill, because it hadn’t happened yet. That E. coli is probably not coming from Valdosta, since US 41 is upstream of almost all of Valdosta. Sure, something could be coming down Cherry Creek through Lake Cleve into the river, or it could be septic tanks in houses around there, or septic tanks across the river in Lowndes County.

Since high E. coli keeps turning up at US 41 and GA 133, WWALS set out to find out where it is coming from. Continue reading

Federal water grants funneled through Georgia to Suwannee River Basin

The Georgia Governor’s office yesterday announced grants to many cities and counties for water projects. The funds come from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021.

Of the eighteen awardees in the Suwannee River Basin, adding up to $57,285,314.00, no surprise, Valdosta got the most. No, it’s not to fix some more of those sewer and manhole problems. It’s to build a new drinking well system, “southwest of the City limits, west of I-75 on Highway 84 near exit 16…”

Hahira, with about 5% of Valdosta’s population, got the second most, to fix its wastewater treatment plant and some stormwater drainage. Maybe that will stop Hahira from leaking E. coli into Franks Creek and the Little River.

[Treatment Plant Flow Diagram]
Treatment Plant Flow Diagram

Ray City got a substantial amount to fix its aging wastewater treatment plant, which should be good for Cat Creek and the Withlacoochee River.

Unfortunately missing is Quitman, which wanted $482,000 to top off local funds for fixing its lift stations. So no ARPA help to Quitman for stopping sewage spills into Okapilco Creek and the Withlacoochee River.

Here are those awardees, most to least: Continue reading

2020 ANNUAL REPORT, Lowndes County Impaired Streams Monitoring 2020-04-07

Some good news: “Low level mercury levels are well below acute standards at all sampling points.”

Some bad news: “fecal coliform sampling results indicated all sampling points exceeded water quality standards for the June and September sampling events.”

[Cover, Franks Creek and Mud Creek]
Cover, Franks Creek and Mud Creek

That’s in the 2020 ANNUAL REPORT from Lovell Enginnering Associates to Lowndes County for its Impaired Streams Monitoring project that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) required the county to do.

Thanks to Lowndes County Engineer Mike Fletcher for sending this report in response to a WWALS open records request. I don’t know why Lowndes County did not publish this report themselves. Maybe they did, and I just haven’t found it online yet.

Working through this data, so far it seems that Franks Creek, which comes down west of Hahira to the Little River, shows spikes in Fecal coliform after rains. Those spikes usually occur downstream of Hahira’s wastewater treatment facility. Continue reading

GA-EPD GORA response about Ray City wastewater permit violations 2021-04-05

Ray City has had a long string of wastewater violations, many each year, going back years, at its wastewater treatment plant on Cat Creek, just below Beaverdam Creek, and 8.36 Cat Creek miles upstream from the Withlacoochee River.

[Catwalk, Outfall, Fecal coliform]
Catwalk, Outfall, Fecal coliform

Most of them did not involve fecal bacteria, but two did, on monthly average, for December 2018 (see page 57), for August 2017 (see page 73). Curiously, none of these violations ever showed up in GA-EPD’s Sewage Spills Report, nor in its underlying spreadsheet going back to 2015, which is as far back as I have it. We have some idea why not about the January and February 2021 Total Suspended Solids (TSS) overflows, but not about the previous incidents.

In response to a Notice of Violation of September 22, 2020, on November 2, 2020, the City of Ray City told GA-EPD it was “in the process of developing a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) to address the issue of non-compliance with the 85% Minimum BOD removal rate stipulated in our NPDES Permit.“ The City proposed to change its sampling method to deal with “periodic low influent BOD levels”, and also to get on with dealing with the “high volumes of infiltration and inflow“ it says is the cause, including filing an application for a CDBG grant before the end of March 2021.

Thanks to Jay Howell of the EPD Southwest office in Albany for scanning and emailing to me the documents of my Georgia Open Records Act (GORA) request of last week. I asked for all the enforcement actions on Ray City that I found listed on EPA ECHO, (see the previous post) together with related correspondence. documents and emailing them to me yesterday. They are on the WWALS website. Update 2021-04-07: website page labels fixed for this GORA document.

This November 2020 CAP is apparently a new one, after the CAP accepted by GA-EPD on June 19, 2019, and submitted by the City on May 2, 2019: Continue reading

Ray City sewage spill in Berrien Press 2021-03-24

Update 2021-04-07: GA-EPD GORA response about Ray City wastewater permit violations 2021-04-05.

The bad news: Ray City, Georgia, had not one, but two wastewater spills this year. The good news: they were both mostly treated effluent, and Fecal coliform levels were well within limits.

[Process Flow, Spill Report, Map: Ray City, Cat Creek, Withlacoochee River]
Process Flow, Spill Report, Map: Ray City, Cat Creek, Withlacoochee River

Why was it a spill, then? It exceeded limits of total suspended solids (TSS).

How did we find out about this? Informants (who shall remain nameless unless I confirm they want to be named) told us that Ray City Council minutes for January and February mentioned water quality tests being within GA-EPD limits, but did not say why this was relevant. But this appeared in the Berrien Press on March 24, 2021: Continue reading

Ray City and Lakeland wastewater permits, plus Moody AFB

Update 2021-04-02: Ray City sewage spill in Berrien Press 2021-03-24.

Ray City and Lakeland, Georgia, have wastewater permits, and have never had a spill appear in GA-EPD’s Sewage Spills Report since 2015. That’s impressive, since pretty much everything else around them in Georgia has spilled at one time or another. Moody Air Force Base, for example, made statewide and national news for spilling PFAS firefighting chemicals from this wastewater plant and from other locations on base.

[Ray City, Lakeland, both + Moody AFB, WTP maps]
Ray City, Lakeland, both + Moody AFB, WTP maps
in the WWALS map of All Public Landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

Ray City WPCP is towards the upper left of the map, about 8.4 creek miles upstream from the Withlacoochee River. Cat Creek reaches the river a bit downstream of Franklinville Landing, towards the lower left.

Moody AFB WPCP is to the right of Franklinville Landing on the map, on Beatty Branch, which in about a mile runs into Cat Creek, a few thousand feet upstream of the Withlacoochee River. currently operated by Lowndes County. See http://www.l-a-k-e.org/blog/?p=17140.

Lakeland WPCP is towards the right of the map, in the north edge of Lakeland, less than two creek miles upstream from where Big Creek 00311363 reaches the Alapaha River between Pafford’s Landing and Burnt Church Landing.

We have to use a number in the creek name to Continue reading

Quitman, GA, April 2020 spill cause of contamination in Withlacoochee River? 2020-04-24

The recent Georgia spills are now in the WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality data.

Other than the very large December 2019 Valdosta spill, none of the spills (except one) obviously correlate with high E. coli as tested.

Which one? The April 24, 2020, Quitman spill, which may have been seen four days later at Running Springs on the Suwannee River.

[Withlacoochee, Quitman spill, Running Springs, Suwannee]
Withlacoochee, Quitman spill, Running Springs, Suwannee

Continue reading