Tag Archives: FDOH

Bad Little, Withlacoochee Rivers, good Alapaha River 2021-09-09

Update 2021-09-17: Good water quality results, then hard rain, Withlacoochee River 2021-09-16.

Like last week, but worse: the Alapaha River would be a better choice for boating, swimming, and fishing this weekend than either the Little or Withlacoochee Rivers.

[Chart, Awful Plates, Rivers, Swim Guide]
Chart, Awful Plates, Rivers, Swim Guide

Yes, Madison Health today lifted its Health Advisory for the Withlacoochee, because they got good results for Tuesday and Thursday. But WWALS has more recent upstream data, and it’s not pretty. Continue reading

Bad at GA-FL Line: Health Alert, Withlacoochee River 2021-08-31

Update 2021-09-03: Filthy upstream Little, Withlacoochee Rivers, clean downstream 2021-09-02.

Madison County, Florida, Health Department got very bad E. coli results for its Tuesday sample at Horn Bridge just north of the GA-FL line on the Withlacoochee River. And today, Thursday, Madison Health issued a Health Advisory.

[Chart, Alert]
Chart, Alert

The usual alert limit for E. coli is 1,000 cfu/100 mL, and this Tuesday result is more than three times that.

As you can see in the chart, there was not much rain upstream beforehand to wash anything into the river. Seems like something different than usual got into the Withlacoochee River. Continue reading

Clean Withlacoochee River 2021-07-15

Update 2021-07-21: Valdosta Elsa spills finally in GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report 2021-07-20.

Good news! By all the test results we have, the Withlacoochee River is clean again, in Georgia and Florida. Happy swimming, fishing, and boating!

[Chart, Withlacoochee River scenes, Swim Guide]
Chart, Withlacoochee River scenes, Swim Guide
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality results, rainfall, and spills, see:
https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

WWALS test results from US 41 above Valdosta down to Cleary Bluff below Allen Ramp and nearly to the Suwannee, plus Troupville Boat Ramp on the Little River, are all clean for Thursday, July 15, 2021. Continue reading

Much cleaner: Withlacoochee River 2021-04-29

Update 2021-05-03: Still clean Friday: Withlacoochee River 2021-04-30.

Despite a Quitman sewage spill last weekend, the Withlacoochee River was already much cleaner Wednesday, as found by WWALS tester Gus Cleary at Cleary Bluff below Allen Ramp. He got similar results for Thursday, confirmed by Valdosta’s upstream results for Wednesday, and Madison Health’s Florida results for Thursday.

How can this be? The massive upstream rains Saturday are coming down the rivers now, washing the contamination downstream and diluting it.

While Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida, will probably leave their health alert in place until they get a second clean set of Florida results, I’d feel comfortable now with boating, swimming, or fishing in the Withlacoochee River.

I’d still wait a day or so for the Suwannee River downstream of the Withlacoochee.

[Results, Plates, Swim Guide]
Results, Plates, Swim Guide

We don’t have any new data for Knights Ferry or Nankin Boat Ramps (our usual testers are off this week, after discovering this problem Monday). So those two locations still show Continue reading

Health alert for Withlacoochee River 2021-04-27

Update 2021-04-30: Much cleaner: Withlacoochee River 2021-04-29.

Received 4:17 PM yesterday, April 28, 2021: “The Florida Department of Health in Hamilton and Madison counties have issued a health alert for the Withlacoochee River, April 28, 2021.”

[Bad State Line to FL 6, Swim Guide red, Health alert]
Bad State Line to FL 6, Swim Guide red, Health alert

That was after FDEP published the Madison Health downstream results for Tuesday, which, while not as bad as the WWALS results for Monday, were still above the 410 colony-forming units per 100 mililiter (cfu/100 mL) limit for of E. coli in a single sample.

The cause? Very likely agriculture, as in cattle manure, maybe horses, likely some wild hogs, plus cats, dogs, chickens, deer, and sheep. No, it’s almost certainly not the tiny and mostly-vacuumed Valdosta FOG Manhole sewage spill of Monday. Don’t be surprised if spills from elsewhere start showing up last on the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report. But those still probably won’t be the main problem, given how widespread the contamination is.

The good news is still that Continue reading

Withlacoochee River still clean, Florida bacterial advisory lifted 2021-03-23

Update 2021-03-29: Still clean last week, filthy Friday before, Withlacoochee River 2021-03-26.

Update 2021-03-27: Clean Withlacoochee River 2021-03-25.

Better than expected! Madison Health not only found clean Withlacoochee River water at State Line, Sullivan Launch, and FL 6, they lifted the health advisory from back in February!

This is good news for the Mayor’s Paddle this Saturday, March 27th, from Troupville Boat Ramp to Spook Bridge. Very little rain is predicted before then, and river levels are also good. We will test again Thursday (tomorrow) just in case.

[Alert Lifted, Madison Health WQ Data]
Alert Lifted, Madison Health WQ Data

Apparently we were too cautious last week. If the rains last Thursday had any effect on the river, it all got diluted or washed downstream by Tuesday.

After the clean results from the Bachrachs and Madison Health Thursday, we also got for Friday the cleanest result from Gus Cleary downstream from Allen Ramp: zero E. coli. Also Friday, Valdosta’s upstream results for US 41, GA 133, and US 84 were pretty clean. 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

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

Clean Forty Miles, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-04

Update 2021-02-11: Advisory lifted, Withlacoochee River, but big rains Tuesday 2021-02-09.

The Withlacoochee River tested clean at sites forty miles from US 41 to the state line on Thursday, February 4, 2021, in WWALS tests. We have no new data downstream, but chances are it was clean there, too. Plus the Little River at Troupville Boat Ramp was clean. The rains predicted for yesterday and today have been underwhelming, so chances are the Withlacoochee was clean into Florida, too. So according to the data we have, the Withlacoochee River is good for boating, swimming, and fishing at least from US 41 in Valdosta, Georgia, to CR 15 in Florida. Which serves us right, after we rescheduled the big paddle for today until February 27. It’s cold out there, though, and rain is still predicted.

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

However, the bacterial advisory by Madison and Hamilton Health has not been lifted. We now have four clean test results at State Line: WWALS, Valdosta, Madison Health, and WWALS again. But they probably won’t lift the Florida advisory until they get two successive clean test results themselves. Since more rain is predicted most of the coming week, don’t be surprised if they either don’t lift it for more than another week, or lift it and then issue another a few days later.

Thanks to WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach, who got zero E. coli at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, 33 at Nankin, and 133 at State Line Boat Ramp. Only that last one is above the 126 average test limit, and still well below the 410 one-time test limit. Continue reading

Withlacoochee advisory lifted; more FDEP DNA marker and chemical tracer data 2021-01-12

Update 2021-01-21: Clean Withlacoochee 2020-01-14 and Suwannee River tests 2021-01-18.

It’s lifted: the bacterial advisory from Madison and Hamilton Health Departments, because of two successive good sets of results from Madison Health on the Withlacoochee River, the lastest for Tuesday. And Valdosta got good results upstream for Monday. All of which corroborates the Thursday Madison Health, Friday Valdosta, and Saturday WWALS results.

[Lifted, Chart, Markers, Map]
Lifted, Chart, Markers, Map

We also have more DNA marker data from FDEP, for Wednesday, January 6, 2021, which shows continued high ruminant DNA marker results on the Withlacoochee River, this time for Horn Bridge at the State Line, plus CR 150 at Sullivan Launch, and FL 6 just above Madison Blue Spring. Plus some clarifications of what I wrote in the previous blog post.

Before we get into all that, happy boating, swimming, and fishing on the Withlacoochee River! Continue reading