Tag Archives: Health

QUARTERMAN in VDT: Sewage situation better, trash needs work 2022-05-21

John S. Quarterman, Valdosta Daily Times, May 21, 2022, QUARTERMAN: Sewage situation better, trash needs work,

Thanks to Valdosta for no sewage disasters since December 2019. Some manholes still need fixing, such as at Wainwright Drive on One Mile Branch.

But Valdosta’s mayor, council and staff seem to be staying ahead of the sewage situation, for example by buying 37 emergency generators, one for each lift station.

[John S. Quarterman]
John S. Quarterman

Now Valdosta needs to get a grip on its trash problem.

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

Last day to oppose HB 1150 Bad Neighbor Bill in Georgia legislature 2022-04-04

Please use this handy form: https://www.protectgeorgia.org/farm.html#/334.

[Hog CAFO manure lagoons. Photo: Kemp Burdette]
Hog CAFO manure lagoons. Photo: Kemp Burdette.

Jeff Amy, U.S. News & World Report via AP, April 1, 2022,

The Senate voted 31-23 for House Bill 1150, sending it back to the House for final approval of changes.

Today is Sine Die, the last day before the legislature adjourns until next year. So there’s no time for a conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of HB 1150. The House can only vote to approve the Senate version, or not. Continue reading

Need better trash boom on Sugar Creek 2022-03-31

WWALS has made a good try with home-made trash booms. They don’t work with heavy rains: trash goes under and over, and sometimes they come loose. Trash the boom doesn’t catch washes downstream into the Withlacoochee River, right past where Valdosta and Lowndes County propose to fund building the Troupville River Camp and Nature Park, and on to Florida.

Need stronger trash booms with nets to help fix this public health trash problem. Fortunately, several of those are available at reasonable prices.

Valdosta has spent far more money on fixing its sewage problem, with much progress (and still room for improvement). Buying a few trash traps and cleaning them out would cost less than fixing one sewer line. Stopping the trash upstream at its source in fast foot parking lots would not cost much, either, since Valdosta already has excellent trash ordinances. WWALS is discussing solutions with Valdosta.

[Boom, trash caught, trash not caught]
Boom, trash caught, trash not caught

And maybe some of the obvious sources of this trash would like to be part of the solution: Jackson Hewitt, Chick-fil-A, Zacadoo’s, Polar Pop (Circle K), KFC, Bud Light (Anheuser-Busch), Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, Murphy USA, Gator Aid (PepsiCo), and all those water bottle manufacturers, starting with Nestle, oh, I mean BlueTriton. Local companies or franchises can clean up their parking lots, put out trash cans, and keep emptying them. Bigger companies can sponsor trash traps and other solutions.

For a summary of the trash problem, see: https://wwals.net/issues/trash/

Boom replaced 2022-03-20

Thanks to Continue reading

Bottle Bills work, and can be further improved 2022-03-15

A new report by Reloop North America finds that even five northeast U.S. states that have bottle recycling bills could greatly improve those for significant economic benefits (jobs), as wellas benefits to health, and environment ranging from less litter in creeks and streams to reduced greenhouse gases, with less stress on local and state governments. Bottle bill benefits would be even greater in Georgia or Florida, which do not yet have them.

[Deposit and Reuse]
Deposit and Reuse

Alex Kamczyc, Recycling Today, March 18, 2022, Reloop releases study on modernizing deposit return systems,

Reloop North America, New York, has released research showing how five states with bottle bills could improve environmental and economic conditions by modernizing their deposit return systems (DRS). The five states are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont.

“We did this study because time is not on our side,” says Elizabeth Balkan, director of Reloop North America. “The environmental implications of waste-based manufacturing and over-consumption demand urgent action. In the Northeast, more than 400 beverage containers per person are buried, burned or littered annually. We need to take action now so that bottles remain bottles and cans remain cans.”…

“Cities and towns across New York state as, as with cities and towns across the U.S. are struggling to keep their recycling programs afloat,” Balkan says. “Glass is a huge problem. And if you could pull that glass out of the recycling of the curbside recycling system and run it through the state’s bottle bill program, it would not only alleviate a huge operational burden for cities, but it’s going to save them a ton of money.”…

If that’s the case in states that already recycle around 69% of their beverage containers, bottle bills would be even more beneficial in states such as Georgia and Florida that do not yet have them. Continue reading

A trash source success: parking lot on St. Augustine Road, Valdosta

Valdosta, GA, October 7, 2021 — Other businesses can do what Stafford did, and our creeks and rivers will be a lot cleaner! That will make Valdosta, Lowndes County, and every place downstream, more attractive to new and existing businesses, and healthier for people who live here.

After many times cleaning up trash from Sugar Creek near the Withlacoochee River, WWALS member Bobby McKenzie went upstream in Valdosta, found some sources, and one of the big ones listened. Other businesses can follow this example: put trash cans in parking lots, empty them, and keep them swept.

[Parking lot, Hightower Creek]
Parking lot, Hightower Creek

Bobby tells the story:

We identified hundreds of pounds of trash being thrown into the tree line just feet from Hightower Creek. The parking lot owner is Valdosta Mall Corners c/o Stafford Development Company (Stafford). Continue reading

Health Alert, Withlacoochee River, high Fecal coliform 2021-07-28

Update 2021-07-30: Good upstream and downstream, Withlacoochee, Little, Alapaha Rivers 2021-07-29.

Madison County, Florida, Health Department issued a health alert to “residents and visitors near the Withlacoochee River in North Florida.”

[Alert, Data, River]
Alert, Data, River

It’s not obvious why from the datapoint for yesterday at the state line on the FDEP website. FDEP only publishes E. coli results, so what they published for yesterday from Madison Health was 132 cfu/100 mL E. coli. That’s above the average limit of 126, but well below the one-time limit of 410. So I asked about that. Continue reading

Health Advisory, Withlacoochee River, bad at GA-FL line after rains 2021-06-22

Update 2021-09-19: Advisory lifted, Withlacoochee River 2021-08-18.

Update 2021-06-25 Filthy at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2021-06-24.

Unfortunately as expected, the recent rains have washed Fecal coliform and E. coli into the Withlacoochee River. The Madison County, Florida, Health Department has issued an advisory of possible bacterial contamination. I wouldn’t want to get that river water on me until better results are seen. It’s most likely both upstream and downstream of the one datapoint Madison Health collected, which is for the GA-FL line. Better wait a few days before swimming, fishing, or boating on the Withlacoochee River.

[Bacterial Advisory, TNTC and 800 cfu/100 mL, Red State Line on Swim Guide]
Bacterial Advisory, TNTC and 800 cfu/100 mL, Red State Line on Swim Guide

The contamination most likely comes from the usual source: cattle manure, mostly washing off of open pastures in Brooks County, Georgia, down Okapilco Creek.

But we do not really know, because the only data we have for this week is the one report by Madison Health for yesterday, Tuesday, June 22, 2021. We only know that much because Madison County Chairman Donnie Waldrep Sr. posted it on his facebook page. It does not yet appear on the public web page of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

The most recent data we have for Valdosta is from last week, before the rains, and only for US 41, GA 133, and US 84, all upstream of where Okapilco Creek enters the Withlacoochee River. The last downstream data Valdosta has published is for two weeks ago, Monday, June 7, 2021.

I hear Valdosta wants people downstream in Florida to understand that recent contamination is not coming from Valdosta. Well, timely publishing that downstream data would help with that.

Not publishing that data until weeks later could give the impression that Valdosta does not care about people downstream. 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

Bad upstream, too: Withlacoochee River water quality 2021-04-26

Update 2021-04-29: Health alert for Withlacoochee River 2021-04-27.

Valdosta results for Monday are just as bad upstream as the WWALS downstream results.

So indeed it’s best to stay off the Withlacoochee River for a few days, with bacterial counts this high for April 26, 2021. This is not a good time for boating, fishing, or swimming in the river.

The worse news is that since the Withlacoochee River was contaminated Monday at least as far upstream as US 41, that mess will keep running downstream for probably a day or so, as in it’s probably in Florida today.

The good news is that it’s not nearly as bad as a year ago under similar conditions.

[Bad upstream, water quality results and Swim Guide]
Bad upstream, water quality results and Swim Guide

Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for posting the Valdosta results.

We are still waiting for Madison Health’s downstream results from Tuesday.

One of our WWALS testers also drew a farther downstream sample today.

Until those or later tests show clear, better safe than sorry.

This time it can’t be just cattle manure coming down Okapilco Creek out of Brooks County, Georgia, because all three of Valdosta’s Monday results are for upstream of there. But there is a dairy and a hog farm on the Withlacoochee River upstream of Lowndes County, and at least three horse farms near the river in Lowndes County, plus many cats, dogs, chickens, deer, and septic tanks. Some of their manure was no doubt washed into the creeks and rivers by the Saturday rain. I also won’t be surprised if in a few days we start seeing sewage late reports on the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report.

This contamination is almost certainly not from the tiny FOG spill Valdosta had Friday. That one wasn’t anywhere near big enough, and US 41 is upstream of Sugar Creek, anyway. Continue reading