Tag Archives: e. Coli

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

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

Withlacoochee River water quality good again 2022-07-03

Update 2022-07-06: Still clean: Withlacoochee River 2022-07-05.

Turns out Valdosta did test during the holiday weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They finally posted their Friday results on their website yesterday. Saturday and Sunday we know because Madison Health sent them to WWALS. There is nothing about them on Valdosta’s own website, facebook, or twitter. A report of Valdosta’s Thursday sewage spill finally did show up in GA-EPD’s Sewage Spills Report, but it is lacking key information.

These Valdosta results mostly match what WWALS found through the weekend.

So by the most recent WWALS and Valdosta results, the Withlacoochee River is clean again. The three different contamination sources from Thursday seem to have all gotten diluted. The other two were probably agricultural, including the usual cattle manure down Okapilco Creek from Brooks County, Georgia.

Happy boating, swimming, and fishing.

There was some heavy rain last night just north of Valdosta, so conditions could change rapidly. However, we’ve already had the first flush after the recent dry spell, so I’d guess the rain won’t have much effect on river water quality. Continue reading

Withlacoochee River OK water quality except GA 133 2022-07-02

Update 2022-07-06: Withlacoochee River water quality good again 2022-07-03.

By WWALS samples Friday and Saturday, the Withlacoochee River appears clean from State Line Boat Ramp downstream, with tests also at Florida Campsites and Cleary’s Bluff between Allen Ramp and the Confluence.

Upstream at GA 133, it’s still bad. Possibly some of Valdosta’s Thursday sewage spill is still seeping into the river, or we’re just seeing residual contamination from that or from whatever got into the river from upstream of US 41 before that spill.

Around the corner at Troupville Boat Ramp on the Little River, that’s OK.

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

There was quite a bit of rain in Colquitt County on Okapilco Creek, so more cattle manure may wash down from there.

Where all that previous contamination went is Continue reading

PFAS testing, Withlacoochee River, Georgia and Florida 2022-06-30

Update 2022-07-03: Withlacoochee River OK water quality except GA 133 2022-07-02.

WWALS Science Committee Chair Dr. Tom Potter and I took PFAS samples at four locations on the Withlacoochee River Thursday.

We shipped the samples to Cyclopure, a company with which Waterkeeper Alliance got a deal for test kits for all U.S. Waterkeepers.

We picked Thursday because it was after big rains Wednesday, reported in some places nearby as up to four inches. So if any of those forever chemicals were washing off of fields fertilized with biosolids, or coming out of Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, or just left over from Moody Air Force Base’s spills it documented in 2016, maybe we will detect them.

[PFAS testing and locations]
PFAS testing and locations

Suwannee Riverkeeper got two kits: for Georgia and Florida. Each kit has two test sets, for upstream and downstream of likely contamination sources. Continue reading

Bad Water Quality, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-30

Update 2022-07-03: PFAS testing, Withlacoochee River, Georgia and Florida 2022-06-30.

Update 2022-07-03: Madison Health Advisory, Withlacoochee River 2022-07-02.

Please avoid the Withlacoochee River this weekend, at least downstream from Hagan Bridge (GA 122). Try the Little River or the Alapaha, or the Suwannee upstream of the Withlacoochee River Confluence.

[Chart, River, Swim Guide 2022-06-30]
Chart, River, Swim Guide 2022-06-30

There was already contamination washed into the river by rain up to 4 inches in spots, according to Valdosta’s Wednesday results at US 41 and GA 133: 1,000 cfu/100 mL and 2,000 cfu/100 mL, where 1,000 is the alert level.

Then Valdosta had a major sewage spill. Continue reading

Bad Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-23

Update 2022-07-01: Bad Water Quality, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-30.

Update 2022-06-25: Plus Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers also clean, thanks to Pam Thomas and the TREPO crew.

Not good at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River: 1,333 cfu/100 mL E. coli, above the alert level of 1,000. That was a Thursday sample, so watch out downstream. This is puzzling, since there has been no rain to speak of. Also, no sewage spills have been reported in Georgia or Florida in the Suwannee River Basin. Yet chances are something came down Okapilco Creek from Brooks County, Georgia. Sure, it could have been wild hogs directly on the river, but that’s less likely. Maybe there was more rain in Brooks County than the stations we use reported. Or maybe there was a sewage spill that has not yet been reported.

Everywhere else tested by WWALS Thursday was good: Little, Alapaha, and Withlacoochee Rivers.

The most recent Valdosta downstream results were for Monday, and was clean. The most recent Valdosta upstream were for Friday (apparently Valdosta city staff took Monday off for the new Juneteenth holiday), and were also clean, after the high GA 133 results last week.

So I’d avoid the Withlacoochee River from Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on down this weekend. Elsewhere looks good for boating, swimming, and fishing.

Thundershowers are expected this weekend, so conditions could change rapidly.

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

Thanks to Continue reading

All rivers bad water quality 2022-04-07

Update 2022-04-15: Clean Rivers 2022-04-15.

Best to avoid the Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers this weekend. In very unusual results, all three were too high in E. coli at GA 122, and the Withlacoochee was way too high at Nankin Boat Ramp.

The Ichetucknee tested clean for Tuesday at TREPO’s Hodor Park.

You might try lakes that are not downstream from likely rivers, such as Banks Lake and Grassy Pond, and maybe Reed Bingham State Park, but we have no data on those lakes.

In good news, no sewage spills have been reported in Georgia or Florida. Of course, certain cities (Quitman, Ashburn) almost always report a week or more late, so stay tuned on that.

[Chart, rivers, Swim Guide]
Chart, rivers, Swim Guide

The most recent data we have from Valdosta is for Monday upstream, which was before the Wednesday and Thursday rains. So WWALS data is what we have to go on, and the WWALS results are pretty bad. Continue reading

Location of Quitman sewage spill 2022-03-20

Update 2022-04-08: All rivers bad water quality 2022-04-07.

Quitman’s 48,000 gallon sewage spill on Sunday, March 20, 2022, was from the Quitman settling ponds, which are slightly uphill from Okapilco Creek. Which explains why Valdosta got too-high E. coli at US 84 on Okapilco Creek, and at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps downstream on the Withlacoochee River.

We know this location because of the response to the WWALS open records request to Quitman asking where is this “Influent Liftstation”:

GPS 30.793581, -83.544316
800 North Highland Dr

This has been going on for years. For example, the April 24, 2022 spill from the same location contaminated the Withlacoochee River and the Suwannee River probably as far as Running Springs, if not all the way to the Gulf.

The form Quitman’s contractor sent GA-EPD says the spill was not preventable. Well, according to Quitman’s permit from GA-EPD, “Power failure” is not an excuse, because the permitee is supposed to have backup power. It’s time for Quitman to find a way to prevent these spills from contaminating Okapilco Creek and the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers. This is a public health hazard.

What will the Georgia Environment Protection Division (GA-EPD) do to stop these spills from Quitman, and meanwhile to get much more timely reporting by Quitman to GA-EPD and to the public?

[Map and doc: location of Quitman sewage spill]
Map and doc: location of Quitman sewage spill

It’s only 1.10 creek miles to US 84, and 5 creek miles all the way down Okapilco Creek to the Withlacoochee River. Then 3.68 river miles more to Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, for 8.68 water miles total. At even two miles per hour, that’s less than five hours for contamination to travel. Continue reading

Bad Knights Ferry heading downstream 2022-03-10

Update 2022-03-18: OK water quality, Withlacoochee, Little, Alapaha Rivers 2022-03-17.

Not a good weekend for boating, fishing, or swimming in the Withlacoochee River. Better stick to the Alapaha River, or the Suwannee upstream from the Withlacoochee River Confluence.

WWALS found very high E. coli at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp for Thursday, and high background Fecal coliform there and downstream at Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps.

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

Knights Ferry is where E. coli from cattle manure usually is first detected in the Withlacoochee River after washing down Okapilco Creek out of Brooks County, Georgia. Notice almost an inch of rain on the east side of Brooks County at US 84 on the Withlacoochee River, and 1.4 inches on the west side at Dixie, GA. When there’s more than half an inch of rain on Brooks County, we usually see this problem. Continue reading