Tag Archives: Darlene Velez

Suwannee River contamination running downstream to the Gulf 2020-03-01

Update 2020-03-05: Cleaner Withlacoochee Monday, Tuesday; Suwannee unknown 2020-03-03

Whatever the Saturday contamination is, by Monday it had apparently moved downstream from FL 51 (Hal W. Adams bridge between Mayo and Luraville). Unfortunately, it is not expected to dilute or dissipate. More likely it will be unhealthy all the way to the Gulf. You can help.

[2020-03-01 Suwannee river downstream]
2020-03-01 Suwannee river downstream
The entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of all known data sources is on the WWALS google drive.
For context, see https://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Katelyn Potter of SRWMD forwarded a message from SRWMD Water Resources Chief Darlene Velez, saying “results below from samples collected Sunday 3/1/2020.”

Suwannee at US90: Fecal – 98 mpn/100ml; E. coli – 172 mpn/100ml
Suwannee at CR250: Fecal – 131 mpn/100ml; E. coli – 116 mpn/100ml
Suwannee at SR51: Fecal – 187 mpn/100ml; E. coli – 114 mpn/100ml

She depicted all those numbers as green. By our color scheme, the 172 E. coli is orange, because it’s higher than the 126 cfu/100 mL that is what longterm averages should be below. See also what do these numbers mean?

She continued:

I also ran some calculations:

From Withlacoochee (Pinetta) to Suwannee (Ellaville) the dilution factor is 0.49

From Suwannee above Santa Fe River (Luraville) to Suwannee below Santa Fe River (Rock Bluff) the dilution factor is 0.78

We have several springs backflowing now with river levels up, and we are losing approximately 1000cfs to the aquifer between Ellaville and Luraville gages.

On the Suwannee the water velocities are between 1 and 1.5 mph, so the high bacteria we got at SR51 on Saturday morning should be near Manatee Springs tomorrow (Tuesday 3/3) morning and to the Gulf of Mexico sometime Wed (3/4). Based on the dilution factors above the 980 E. coli we got at SR51 is unlikely to be diluted below health threshold below the Santa Fe River.

Please let me know if you have questions. Continue reading

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

Update 2020-02-15: EPA passes the buck to GA-EPD for Valdosta raw sewage spill 2020-01-31.

This unusually-worded Florida bacterial advisory for the Withlacoochee River probably has nothing to do with yesterday’s Valdosta 200 gallon sewage spill into two-mile branch:

[02.11.20-Withlacoochee-River-Advisory-Hamilton-Madison-003-0001]
02.11.20-Withlacoochee-River-Advisory-Hamilton-Madison-003-0001
PDF

The unusual wording is that the advisory gives no hint of the source of the contamination:

Jasper, FL — The Florida Department of Health in Hamilton and Madison counties today issued a joint health advisory to residents and visitors near the Withlacoochee River in North Florida.

Until further information is known regarding possible bacterial contamination of the river, people in the area are urged to take precautions when in contact with the Withlacoochee River. The Florida Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protection are conducting water sampling.

We got the advisory at 4:42 PM today. At 5:10 PM Nathan Dean, reporter for WCTV, called to ask why the advisory. The best I could do was to say that tiny amount of Valdosta sewage could not possibly have made its way to Florida by today, and probably never would, because it was so small it would get diluted long before that.

At 7:48 PM I got forwarded through two intermediaries an explanation from SRWMD’s Darlene Velez that she orginally sent at 5:20 PM. She said Madison County Health Department had decided to do weekly sampling. I quote in part: Continue reading

SRWMD slides and water quality data after Valdosta raw sewage spill, Withlacoochee River 2020-01-14

Update 2020-01-17: Mostly clean in Georgia, not in Florida, Withlacoochee River 2020-01-15

Here’s why we keep sampling.

Suwannee Riverkeeper sampling water at Troupville Boat Ramp
Suwannee Riverkeeper sampling water at Troupville Boat Ramp, Emma Wheeler, WCTV, January 15, 2020, Withlacoochee River tested ahead of Mayor’s Paddle.

SRWMD reports high bacterial counts for the third time at State Line (GA 31), and again at CR 150 (Sullivan Launch).

[SRWMD 2020-01-14 (WWALS composite spreadsheet)]
SRWMD 2020-01-14 (WWALS composite spreadsheet)

Will the Mayor’s Paddle happen as scheduled this Saturday, January 18, upstream (See Albany Herald, January 15, 2020)on the Withlacoochee River?

That depends on 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

WWALS water quality data, Withlacoochee River, after Valdosta record sewage 2019-12-12

Update 2019-12-17: City of Valdosta Water Quality Testing, Gornto Rd., US 84 2019-12-12.

Good news: WWALS data from the Withlacoochee River matches SRWMD data from the Suwannee River. Both showed clean of E. coli bacteria. This is mystifying: where is the sewage from Valdosta’s record largest sewage spill? So we’ve got WWALS data and SRWMD data posted. Valdosta, where is your data?

Results of WWALS testing Wednesday: zero (no) E. coli at State Line Boat Ramp, Nankin Boat Ramp, and Knights Ferry Boat Ramp showed zero (0) at all three locations.

You can donate to help pay for the Petrifilms and other equipment.

[Sean McCarthy, Scotti Jay, Sara Jay]
Sean McCarthy, Scotti Jay, Sara Jay at State Line Ramp.

This is not what we expected.

Our Petrifilm and incubator methods are not as precise as Florida’s fancy methods, as in we don’t usually detect levels as low as what Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) reported yesterday, so our zeroes are Continue reading

SRWMD water quality data, Withlacoochee River, after Valdosta record sewage 2019-12-12

Update 2019-12-13: WWALS water quality data on the Withlacoochee River down to the state line.

The record Valdosta sewage spill had not reached Florida yet as of today, according to timely notification of water quality sampling results by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD).

WWALS has some reason to believe the spill had reached Knights Ferry by Saturday. More on that below. And further WWALS bacterial results from yesterday should be available tomorrow morning. You can donate to the WWALS water quality testing program to help defray the costs of this emergency and our regular testing.

Meanwhile, where are Valdosta’s results? They’re supposed to be testing daily after a major spill. Why aren’t they publishing their results? I will file an open records request tomorrow, but why should that be necessary?

Received 5:01 PM today, December 12, 2019:

Hello Mr. Quarterman,

I don’t know if Julie was able to get back to you. I know that she has been in meetings the past several days. Here is the update on sampling efforts that I have as of now:

[Valdosta to Branford]
Valdosta to Branford, in WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

  • Dec 9: FL agencies were notified of the spill around 5:30pm.
  • Dec 10: FDEP sampled Withlacoochee at Continue reading

Barrel with toxic chemicals removed from Suwannee River at White Springs 2019-11-04

Scotti Jay reports:

Nov 4th a paddler noticed the barrel. Took a picture of barrel and label.

[Next to river]
Next to river

I asked his location. He was very accurate. I looked up the label information and was alarmed.

Continue reading

Raise no limits, sample more water, publish timely –WWALS to FDEP Triennial Review 2019-05-31

Dear FDEP, please raise no pollutant limits, do more water quality monitoring, and publish all testing results in days, not months.

[More water quality monitoring]
More water quality monitoring

Continue reading

SRWMD Water Quality Monitoring 2019-04-25

Confirmed today by telephone: FDEP is analyzing DNA and human tracers such as sucralose monthly at at least three stations: on the Withlacoochee and Alapahoochee Rivers at the Georgia-Florida line, and at the Withlacoochee River Confluence with the Suwannee River at Ellaville. Those are the top center left blue stars on this map.

[Surface water Trend Stations]
Surface water Trend Stations

Confirmed by: Darlene Velez, Water Resources Chief, Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD).

This is what Waterkeepers Florida (WKFL) heard in Orlando on April 15th from Continue reading

SRWMD Agenda 2019-05-14

Valdosta wastewater is back on the agenda at SRWMD, for Tuesday morning.

Water Ressource Program & E.D., Agenda

When: 9AM, Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Where: SRWMD District HQ, 9225 Co Rd 49, Live Oak, FL 32060

What: “Water Resources Program
WLR Page 20 29. Agricultural Water Use Monitoring Report
30. Valdosta Wastewater Update”

The WLR packet document with those two items did not seem to be included in the board packet.

I have left a message with Darlene Velez, head of SRWMD water quality testing, to get some more information.

Also on the agenda are Continue reading