Tag Archives: creeks

Why Withlacoochee River floodplain deannexation from Valdosta? @ GLPC 2021-07-26 2021-07-26

Valdosta should not deannex 310 acres of Withlacoochee River floodplain around Cherry Creek. No good reason for deannexation has been given by the applicant, and there are substantial reasons to be concerned about potential uses of that land if deannexed. Instead, Valdosta and Lowndes County should purchase the entire 530.24 acre property down to the Withlacoochee River to add to a trails system up and down the Withlacoochee River. The advisory Greater Lowndes Planning Commission (GLPC) at its meeting this Monday should recommend against annexation, and then the Valdosta Mayor and Council should deny.

I am sending a letter to that effect today to Valdosta City Planner Matt Martin, and I recommend you do, as well: mlmartin@valdostacity.com

[Public land and Uvalde Land Trust Deannexation request, Withlacoochee River]
Public land and Uvalde Land Trust Deannexation request, Withlacoochee River

That deannexation is on the GLPC agenda for this Monday, July 26, 2021. The only land access to the property is through the City of Valdosta, and since that whole area of the river has extensive flood plain and little road access, Lowndes County cannot provide public utilities, fire/police protection, or emergency medical response across the river to the subject property, as the City Planner points out in the agenda sheet. The landowner’s stated purpose would be better served by the property remaining inside the city limits: “to use for wildlife management, and rec. use as it is in a mitgation bank & has no development use.” The City Planner even recommends annexing the rest of the subject property into the city, down to the river. Continue reading

No Valdosta City repair work at chronic sewage spill manhole, Wainwright Drive, Onemile Branch 2021-07-08

Update 2021-07-14: Valdosta Manhole Rehabilitation lists 2021-07-13.

“Doesn’t look good,” WWALS member Scotti Jay summed up the situation at the Wainwright Drive Onemile Branch manhole that spilled yet again in Tropical Storm Elsa. “No lime was put out.”

[Caution, Sewage Spill, Manhole ajar, Wainwright Drive, Onemile Branch, Valdosta, GA]
Caution, Sewage Spill, Manhole ajar, Wainwright Drive, Onemile Branch, Valdosta, GA

This is a manhole at 1212 Wainwright Drive, where Valdosta, Georgia, spilled 37,500 gallons of raw sewage on July 7, 2021, during Tropical Storm Elsa. That’s the same place Valdosta has spilled numerous times before, listing it as 1208 Wainwright Drive, or “1200 block”, including 51,800 gallons 2018-12-14, 166,275 gallons 2018-12-03, 9,800 gallons 2017-01-22, and 90,500 gallons 2016-02-04. That’s a total of 355,875 gallons spilled at that one location.

Is a third of a million gallons of raw sewage not enough for Valdosta to pay attention and fix that location? Will it require a million gallons?

Back on November 11, 2017, Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse joined WWALS on a cleanup of Onemile Branch, including at the bridge in these pictures. He said they were trying to get the number of sewer spills down to zero.

Yet a year later at a Valdosta City Council meeting and then at a SRWMD Board meeting, Director Muse neglected to mention the 218,075 gallons spilled at that location alone in December 2018. In both cases I had to stand up and correct him in public.

SRWMD Board member Virginia Sanchez noted, “You don’t want to swim in a little sewage versus a lot of sewage either. Both of them are bad. A spill is bad.”

When I asked him another year later during one of the Florida dozen-county Valdosta sewage Task Force meetings with the Valdosta City Council when Wainwright Drive would be fixed, Darryl Muse did not recall that location.

Still years more later, Scotti Jay last week observed, “You would be amazed at all the incompetent work being done around the Wainwright location. With no effort whatsoever towards improving the faulty, damaged manhole. Absolutely nothing.”

WS

“Will the City of Valdosta finally repair the most dangerous sewer hole that threatens sewage intrusion. Ask your local government to update the sewer system.” Asked about the sign, Scotti Jay wrote, “it’s just zip tied. But some locations have permanent signs.” Continue reading

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

Update 2021-07-09: Detail of Sewage Spills: Valdosta, GA * 8, Starke, FL * 6, 2021-07-08

Two cities spilled sewage during Tropical Storm Elsa: Starke, Florida, and Valdosta, Georgia.

The good news: there were no spills from Valdosta’s two wastewater treatment plants, and the new WWTP catch basin is only half full (so far). Plus, the Mayor of Valdosta called to let us know about these spills.

The bad news: Valdosta spilled 89,980 gallons of raw sewage from at least six manholes, and Starke spilled probably 40,000 gallons or more from at least six locations. At least one of the Valdosta spills was from a repeated spill offender we have complained about many times: Wainwright Drive on Onemile Branch.

[Closed manhole at 1208 Wainwright Drive]
Closed manhole at 1208 Wainwright Drive

The other Valdosta spills apparently went into either Twomile Branch or Sugar Creek upstream from the Withlacoochee River, and two possibly into creeks in the Alapaha River Basin. Can’t tell without more precise locations.

A press release is expected soon from Valdosta. I will probably follow up with that and which waterways were affected. Maybe GA-EPD will post Valdosta’s spill reports in the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report.

The Starke spills were all into or near Alligator Creek 00277787, into Lake Rowell, Lake Sampson, Sampson River, Santa Fe River.

Valdosta Spills

Thanks to Valdosta Mayor Scott James for forwarding this message from Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber: 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

Trash Traps

We recommend more trash traps to catch this stuff before it gets into ponds or rivers.

[Bottles and cans, two types of trash traps]
Bottles and cans, two types of trash traps

Valdosta already has one trash trap, off of Baytree Road west of Springhill Drive. Thanks to Valdosta Stormwater Manager Angela Bray for pointing that out. Continue reading

Earth Day Rivers Alive Cleanup: Joree Millpond, Withlacoochee River 2021-04-17

Pick from a pair of floating Georgia Rivers Alive cleanups for Earth Day, and bring your boat!

Gretchen Quarterman will lead a floating cleanup on Joree Millpond in Valdosta, Georgia, starting at 913 Millpond Road (PDF flyer for Joree Millpond). You can return whenever you want to, but we expect this boating cleanup to last about two hours. If you have a jon boat and are willing to take a volunteer onto the pond to remove litter, please contact either Gretchen Quarterman (229-834-1945) or Austin Fiveash (229-563-6262). You can also participate in your kayak or canoe. Volunteers will remove litter from along the edge of the pond and from near the spillway. The City of Valdosta is providing a large trash receptacle at the site, thanks to Valdosta Stormwater Manager Angela Bray.

Bobby McKenzie will lead a paddle cleanup from Sugar Creek behind the Salty Snapper off of Gornto Road, down the Withlacoochee River, and a short hop up the Little River to Troupville Boat Ramp. That’s less than 4 river miles, and even with stops for trash collection should take less than three hours. We will leave the bagged trash at that destination, where Lowndes County Public Works will pick it up Monday.

When: Gather 9 AM, launch 9:30 AM, end 12:30 PM, Saturday, April 17, 2021

Millpond put in: 913 Millpond Road, Valdosta, GA, Take Country Club Drive to Mill Pond Road. Turn right and 913 is last house on left before right-only exit onto Jerry Jones Road.
Drop your boat at the water, then park near the street.
Millpond GPS: 30.867375, -83.309558

River paddle put in: The Salty Snapper parking lot, 1405 Gornto Road, Valdosta, GA.
Go to the back of the parking lot to drop off your boat at Sugar Creek.
Sugar Creek GPS: 30.861785, -83.318793

River Paddle Take Out: Troupville Boat Ramp, 9664 Valdosta Hwy, Valdosta, GA 31602. Go west on St. Augustine Road across I-75 (exit 18) and cross the Withlacoochee River. At the light for Val Tech Road, turn left, which takes you down to the boat ramp.
Troupville Boat Ramp GPS: 30.851842, -83.346536.

Safety: All volunteers must sign a WWALS liability release, which makes WWALS insurance cover them, and must wear a life jacket at all times while in boats.

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat, paddles, snaks, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags, and good boots.

Free: This outing is free to everyone, because it is a cleanup.

We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/#join

Event: facebook, meetup

[Joree Millpond, trash, Withlacoochee River]
Joree Millpond, trash, Withlacoochee River
Photos: Russell Allen McBride.

Continue reading

Trash Trap, Sheri Run at Baytree Road near Twin Street, Valdosta, GA 2020-12-08

Turns out the City of Valdosta already has a trash trap on one creek. It’s next to Baytree Road, upstream from Lake Sheri, on what I’m calling Sheri Run. The creek ends up in the Withlacoochee River, just upstream from the I-75 bridge. But, because of the trash trap, most of the trash does not reach Lake Sheri or the river, because it gets caught after it comes down from Valdosta Mall and all the restaurants and stores on St. Augustine Road.

[Outfall of trash trap, 10:16:37, 30.8471573, -83.3288788]
Outfall of trash trap, 10:16:37, 30.8471573, -83.3288788

Continue reading

Little Rain, Still Clean, Withlacoochee River 2021-04-01

Update 2021-04-10: Clean week, Withlacoochee River 2021-04-08.

The rain came gently Wednesday, and the Withlacoochee River was still clean Thursday, April 1, 2021, no joke.

[Clean results, Withlacoochee River down and up, Swim Guide]
Clean results, Withlacoochee River down and up, Swim Guide

Thanks to WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach for testing Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps, and to Gus Cleary for testing at Cleary Bluff below Allen Ramp. All came out zero or within one E. coli colony of zero. Can’t ask for much better than that.

We have no new results from Madison Health since Thursday a week ago, and nothing new from Valdosta since Monday.

So according to the data we have, all from WWALS, happy boating, swimming, and fishing in the Withlacoochee River this weekend, at least if you don’t mind a bit of chill! 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

Tifton Sewage Spills 2021-02-16

Update 2021-02-26: And more Tifton spills, two days later; Tifton Spills, Little River, New River 2021-02-18.

Update 2021-02-21: Nothing obvious related to the Tifton spills in downstream testing; see Clean downstream Friday Withlacoochee River 2021-02-19.

The City of Tifton spilled three places, for a total of 35,500 gallons of raw sewage, Sunday and Tuesday, February 14 and 16, 2021. Why? “Wet weather.” It’s true that an inch of rain fell on Tifton Saturday, an inch and a half Sunday, and almost another inch Tuesday.

Any spill is too many. However, these were all so far upstream that probably will not show up in any of the downstream water quality testing currently going on. It would be good to get some testing on the Little River between Tifton and Reed Bingham State Park to see if Tifton Spills reach that park.

[Spills, Locations]
Spills, Locations

One spill location was repeated: Agrirama Lake, which drains into the Little River. Tifton previously spilled there in 2015, 2016, and 2018. See Continue reading