Tag Archives: Hat Creek

All 2023 sewage spills into the Suwannee River Basin

Update 2023-08-29: 8,400 gallons of sewage into Dukes Bay Canal, Valdosta, GA, due to unknown obstruction 2023-08-28.

Inquiring minds (Suzy’s) wanted to know how many times Valdosta spilled sewage this year.

Answer: nine reported, five into Knights Creek, which goes to the Alapahoochee and Alapaha Rivers, two into Hightower Creek, which goes into Sugar Creek and the Withlacoochee River, one into One Mile Branch, also Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River, and one into Cherry Creek, directly into the Withlacoochee River.

Valdosta spilled 1,182,221 gallons of raw sewage, accounting for 61.93% of the total 1,908,971 gallons spilled in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia and Florida so far in 2023.

I would like to thank Valdosta Utilities Assistant Director Jason Barnes for calling the day after that most recent spill, to note that Utilties found the spill, he had personally been out there and got it stopped that same evening, and they tracked the amount with SCADA. Plus it was reported to the public and to GA-EPD the day after it happened. All that is improvement.

Of course, the only good number of spills is none, as I told WTXL after a previous spill.

[Sewage spills and WWALS water trails]
Sewage spills and WWALS water trails

Runner-up was tiny Ashburn, with 673,400 gallons, or 35.28% of the total, mostly spilled into Hat Creek, which goes into the Alapaha River, with some into Ashburn Branch, which goes into the Little River. Ashburn has had a chronic sewage spill problem for many years, and needs to get a grip. Ashburn did get some ARPA money to work on that, so maybe there will be improvement.

Also-rans included Continue reading

Valdosta February 2023 sewage spills, plus Ashburn 2023-03-01

2023-03-02: Videos: Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle, Sewage spills, Trash, Okefenokee Swamp over stripmine @ Radio 2023-02-28.

Valdosta, population 55,567, spilled almost a million (966,970) gallons of sewage in February 2023: that’s 17 gallons for each citizen.

Are we back to the bad old days before the GA-EPD Enforcement Order of 2020? This is the worst period since the notorious December 2019 spill that provoked that Order.

Anybody who sees dead fish in Knights Creek, please let us know.

[Bypass pipe north from US 84, Warning sign on E. Park Av. at Knights Creek, ARWT map to Alapaha River, Sewer bypass under CSX RR at US 84]
Bypass pipe north from US 84, Warning sign on E. Park Av. at Knights Creek, ARWT map to Alapaha River, Sewer bypass under CSX RR at US 84

Ashburn, GA, spilled about a third as much in late January and early February. Given its population is a tenth that of Valdosta’s, Ashburn was worse per capita.

Neither were good for people or wildlife. Zero gallons of sewage spilled should be the goal.

Here are Valdosta’s five February sewage spills: Continue reading

Clean Withlacoochee River 2023-02-23

Update 2023-03-03: Clean Rivers 2023-03-02.

2023-02-28: Yet another Valdosta sewage spill into Knights Creek 2023-02-22.

Happy boating, swimming, and fishing this weekend!

All the WWALS water quality test results for this Thursday were good.

We could use more water quality testers. If you want to get trained, please use this form:
https://forms.gle/DzWvJuXqTQi12N6v7

[Chart, River, Swim Guide 2023-02-23]
Chart, River, Swim Guide 2023-02-23

Even though Valdosta had yet another major sewage spill Monday, due to inadequate sewer main bypass, it probably did not have much effect on the Alapaha River. When WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall tested at Sasser Landing after Valdosta’s previous, even bigger, spill of Wednesday a week ago, due to sewer main collapse, results were fine at Sasser Landing, downstream of the spill location at Knights Creek, Mud Swamp Creek, the Alapahoochee River in Echols County, Georgia, and the Alapaha River in Hamilton County, Florida. Continue reading

Valdosta and Ashburn in GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report 2023-02-23

Update 2023-02-25: Ashburn sewage spills in Clean Withlacoochee River 2023-02-23.

Update 2023-02-24: Another Valdosta E. Park Ave. sewage spill, 171,750 gallons 2023-02-20

Thursday was jackpot day for the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report, with Ashburn reporting spills totalling 326,000 gallons, almost half of Valdosta’s one 672,250 gallon spill.

[GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report 2023-02-23]
GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report 2023-02-23

First let’s look at Ashburn, then Valdosta. Continue reading

Ashburn sewage problem and Moultrie 2022-09-16

Update 2022-09-23: One Mile Branch Fish Kill 2022-09-23.

Ashburn needs to get a grip on its sewage problem.

This summer, in five separate incidents, Ashburn spilled 1,229,000 gallons of raw sewage into Hat Creek, which runs into the Alapaha River.

Moultrie has a much tinier sewage problem, spilling 500 gallons into Okapilco Creek, which runs into the Withlacoochee River.

And no, we haven’t forgotten about Tifton’s spill or Valdosta’s five summer spills or the spills by Starke and High Springs, Florida. Those we have reported separately, and all of them together (plus the Moultrie spill) do not add up to Ashburn’s 400,000 gallon August 19th spill, much less Ashburn’s 800,000 gallon August 25th spill.

[Summer 2022 Ashburn and Moultrie sewage spills]
Summer 2022 Ashburn and Moultrie sewage spills

Ashburn’s excuses varied: Continue reading

Good river water quality 2022-09-01

Update 2022-09-09: Tifton sewage spill, Little River 2022-09-04.

All WWALS water quality results for Thursday came in below the one-time test limit of 410 cfu/100 mL. There has been rain, but not as much as it usually takes to wash significant contamination into the rivers. More rain is predicted for the next week, but no more than what we’ve seen this week.

Ashburn got around to reporting two sewage spills this week, but those are both old and on Hat Creek, far upstream from the top of the Alapaha River Water Trail, so probably they did not have much effect on that river.

Starke reported a sewage spill from two manholes, but it was small and not near a waterbody, so it probably had no effect on the Santa Fe River.

So by what we know today, happy swimming, boating, and fishing this weekend. Conditions could change rapidly, of course.

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

Thanks to Continue reading

Clean Rivers 2022-01-27

Update 2022-02-04: Clean Rivers 2022-02-03.

Good news! All tests pretty clear for the Little, Alapaha, and Withlacoochee Rivers for Wednesday and Thursday. So if you want to boat, fish, or swim in that cold snap tomorrow, or Sunday, the water quality is good so far as we know, with little E. coli. No rain is predicted until mid-week, so nothing else should wash into the rivers.

Oh, and Ashburn had another sewage spill on January 16th, but it does not seem to have affected Alapaha River water quality.

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

Gus Cleary’s Wednesday test downstream from Allen Ramp at Cleary Bluff was as clean as Valdosta’s upstream tests at US 41, GA 133, and US 84. Thanks to Scott Fowler of Valdosta Utilities for that upstream Wednesday data.

Elizabeth Brunner’s GA 122 tests of Thursday samples at Folsom Bridge on the Little River, Hagan Bridge on the Withlacoochee River, and Lakeland Boat Ramp on the Alapaha River, were also all good. Continue reading

Bad upstream Withlacoochee, Little Rivers, Ashburn Spill Alapaha River 2022-01-06

Update 2022-01-14: Bad US 84 Wednesday, good Withlacoochee River Thursday 2022-01-13.

Water quality is not looking good upstream on the Little or Withlacoochee Rivers. But not much sign of contamination downstream Thursday. I’d avoid those rivers upstream for a few days.

Downstream, chances are the E. coli will get diluted before it reaches the state line. But of course we can only go by the test results we have. I would paddle downstream this weekend, but you have to make your own decisions.

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

WWALS tester Elizabeth Brunner got too-high results at Folsom Bridge on the Little River and Hagan Bridge on the Withlacoochee River, both on GA 122. There was much rain upstream Sunday at Sylvester and Moultrie, and probably Tifton, so what Elizabeth found may have washed down from far upstream.

Ashburn had a 40,000 gallon sewage spill Monday, which showed up today in the daily GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report. The Ashburn spill went into Hat Creek, which runs into the Alapaha River. Elizabeth’s third GA 122 test site, Lakeland Boat Ramp on the Alapaha River, was OK. This is not unusual: Ashburn is so far upstream we’ve never detected effects of one of its spills downstream.

Valdosta got a bad result at GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River for Monday. That could have been something washing downstream, or it could be the notorious suspected dumper. All three of US 41, GA 133, and US 84 tested OK for Wednesday.

WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach got OK results at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps for Thursday.

And WWALS tester Gus Cleary got OK for Cleary Bluff, downstream of Allen Ramp, for Wednesday. Continue reading

Ashburn spilled sewage three times in September 2020-09-27

Update 2020-10-17: Very clean Withlacoochee River 2020-10-15.

Ashburn, Georgia, spilled 210,000 gallons of raw sewage spread over three times in September and the public only got notified Wednesday, four weeks after the first spill. There’s not enough water quality testing data downstream from those spills to know what effects they may have had for example on Reed Bingham State Park.

[Charts and Map: Ashburn spills to GA-FL line]
Charts and Map: Ashburn spills to GA-FL line

Ashburn spilled once into Hat Creek, which runs into the Alapaha River, and twice from its MLK Lift Station into a tributary of Ashburn Branch, which runs into the Little River. We don’t have any data downstream on the Alapaha for that time period, so we don’t know anything about downstream effects. We do have quite a bit of downstream data for the other two spills, but so far downstream and with so many other things going on that it’s hard to tell if there were any effects showing up in that data.

About the only thing we know for sure is it would be great for Ashburn to get a grip on its chronic sewage spill problem, starting by at least reporting spills in a timely manner. That and it would be great if the state of Georgia or the federal government would resume testing on the Little and Alapaha Rivers as they apparently used to do up until about 1998, so we would know, for example, did this spill affect Reed Bingham State Park.

These are the spills, as reported in the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) Sewage Spills Report. WWALS commends GA-EPD for those online reports. GA-EPD can’t publish spills until it receives reports from the spilling organizaiton. Maybe Ashburn could be a bit more timely in reporting. Continue reading

Sewage spills, Suwannee River Basin, Dec. 2019 – Sept. 2020

Rochelle, Ashburn, Tifton, Adel, Moody AFB, Valdosta, and Quitman all spilled sewage into the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia from December 2019 through September 2020. But only one of those spills since December is likely to explain any contamination we’ve been seeing on the Withlacoochee River.

[Little, New, Withlacoochee, Summary, Alapaha River]
Little, New, Withlacoochee, Summary, Alapaha River

Yes, there were also some spills in Florida in the Suwannee River Basin, but those are actually harder to interpret, and they were mostly small, so they will have to wait.

At least Florida lets people sign up for pollution notices by county as they happen. Georgia has no such signup. So I’ve modified the scripts WWALS uses to display changes in the Georgia Sewage Spills Report to also send me an email alert.

Here are the Georgia spills, where, what streams they went into, and how far upstream that was: Continue reading