Tag Archives: Joe Brownlee

Good Little, Withlacoochee Rivers, bad Alapaha River 2021-10-14

Update 2021-10-22: All clean: Withlacoochee, Little, Alapaha Rivers 2021-10-21.

Something we’ve never seen: the only too-high result is on the Alapaha River for Thursday. We’ve never seen a reading at Lakeland Boat Ramp that high.

The Little and Withlacoochee Rivers tested good for Thursday, which is what we expected since there has been no rain for days.

So in the reverse of what we often say, avoid the Alapaha River and swim, fish, and paddle on the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers this weekend, according to the best data we have.

Still looking good for the WWALS Boomerang paddle race from Georgia into Florida and back, coming up in one week at State Line Boat Ramp.

[Chart + Little + Alapaha River, Withlacoochee River, Swim Guide]
Chart + Little + Alapaha River, Withlacoochee River, Swim Guide

You can also see in the charts that Valdosta’s upstream results for last Friday showed extremely high Fecal coliform for US 41 (upstream from Valdosta), GA 133, and US 84, and way-too-high E. coli for GA 133. That somewhat helps explain why our plates for that Thursday (October 7th) for Knights Ferry Boat Ramp showed high background Fecal coliform colonies.

No, we don’t know what it is. There have been no sewage spills reported this past week in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia. Most likely it is some sort of manure runoff, this time coming from far upstream on the Withlacoochee River. Continue reading

All Clean, Withlacoochee, Little, Alapaha Rivers 2021-09-30

Update 2021-10-08: Clean rivers again 2021-10-07.

All clear for swimming, boating, and fishing on the Withlacoochee River, and also the Little and Alapaha Rivers, by all the water quality results we have available.

Of course, conditions could change, but no rain is predicted until Monday. So there’s nothing to wash any cattle manure down Okapilco Creek, or any trash down Sugar Creek (more on that in a later post). And no sewage spills have been reported.

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

Valdosta results up through Wednesday concur with WWALS Wednesday and Thursday results: all well below the 410 one-time E. coli test result limit. Continue reading

Filthy upstream Little, Withlacoochee Rivers, clean downstream 2021-09-02

Update 2021-09-10: Bad Little, Withlacoochee Rivers, good Alapaha River 2021-09-09.

In a very unusual configuration, the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers at GA 122 showed too much E. coli in Thursday samples, while everywhere downstream tested clean, also clean on the Alapaha River.

Whatever got into the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers upstream is no doubt washing downstream. Probably it will pass by in a day or two.

The Alapaha River would be a better choice for swimming, boating, and fishing this weekend.

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

The Folsom Bridge Gauge on the Little River at GA 122 showed very heavy rain Wednesday, 2.74 inches. Probably the same storm also rained on or above GA 122 on the Withlacoochee River at Hagan Bridge. Something washed into both rivers. Continue reading

Good upstream and downstream, Withlacoochee, Little, Alapaha Rivers 2021-07-29

Update 2021-08-06: Clean up and down: Withlacoochee, Little, Alapaha Rivers 2021-08-05.

All the E. coli test results we have for the Little, Alapaha, and Withlacoochee Rivers are good, all the way down below Allen Ramp almost to the Suwannee River. We don’t test for Fecal coliform, so we don’t know what happened with that sky-high Fecal coliform result Madison Health got for Tuesday. However, from the WWALS test results we have for Wednesday and Thursday, all these rivers seem clean, with two sites tested on each of the Little and Alapaha Rivers, and six on the Withlacoochee.

[Chart, Franks Creek, Alapaha River, Little River, Withlacoochee River, Swim Guide]
Chart, Franks Creek, Alapaha River, Little River, Withlacoochee River, Swim Guide

We have no new results from Valdosta or Madison Health since yesterday’s post. Apparently Valdosta does have some new results, but they’re having some sort of website problem. Madison Health seems to only test Tuesdays, and only at the state line anymore. That’s too bad, because they both test Fecal coliform, and we do not.

This is yet another example of how the state of Florida needs to step up, fund, and implement regular testing of all the rivers from the state line to the Gulf. Then we might know how far which contamination blob got. We’d also have a better chance tracking it back to its source. Floridians, please ask your statehouse delegation to make it so. Continue reading

Clean Rivers after Tuesday blip and before Thursday rains 2021-07-01

Update 2021-07-06: Bad Upstream, Withlacoochee River 2021-07-02.

The Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers are remarkably clean by samples Thursday, July 1, 2021. No sewage spills have been reported for Georgia.

Some bad news: something caused high E. coli in the Withlacoochee River at GA 133 on Tuesday. And Starke, Florida, had two more small spills above the Santa Fe River, but nothing like the big one that Florida city had a week ago.

The good news: according to those Tuesday tests, whatever was in the Withlacoochee River at GA 133 was not coming from Valdosta’s Mulch Yard off of Val-Tech Road. And by Thursday samples, whatever it was was gone by then.

So by the results we have right now, it’s clear for swimming, diving, fishing, and boating.

And still more good news: Madison Health has lifted its former Bacterial Advisory for the Withlacoochee River.

But beware: many inches of rain fell later Thursday and today. That usually washes more contamination into the rivers. See Cattle and hogs: Withlacoochee River water quality status 2021-06-27 https://wwals.net/?p=55966

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

Just don’t say we didn’t mention those rains yesterday and today, which in Brooks County started even earlier, and have been very heavy. If we’re all lucky, most of what manure would wash off has already washed off. We shall see.

With a dozen tests this week, we’re burning through testing materials. Thanks to Joe Brownlee, Southwest Director, Georgia Power, for another generous water quality testing grant that helps make this possible. Continue reading

Upgrade Suwannee River Basin rivers to Recreational –WWALS to GA-EPD 2021-06-30

There are a couple of new things in what I sent on the deadline day, yesterday. (PDF)

  1. Funds are now available to buy the private land at the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River, which was the main impediment to plans for the Troupville River Camp and Troupville River Park.
  2. Stakeholders in the One Valdosta-Lowndes initiative met and decided their number one community and economic development priority is: Troupville River Camp.

For what this is all about, see Calling for pictures of swimming, diving, rapids, tubing, water skiing, or surfing, Suwannee River Basin, Georgia.

[Rivers, Letter]
Rivers, Letter


June 30, 2021

To: EPD.Comments@dnr.ga.gov
Elizabeth Booth, Environmental Protection Division
Watershed Protection Branch,
Watershed Planning & Monitoring Program,
Suite 1152 East, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr., Atlanta, GA 30334

Re: Georgia Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards

Dear Ms. Booth,

Once again I would like to commend you and all the GA-EPD staff for your diligence in this Triennial Review process. I thank you for your consideration of the request by WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) to upgrade GA EPD’s designated use of the Little, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Suwannee Rivers, as well as Grand Bay WMA, Banks Lake NWR, and the Okefenokee NWR, from Fishing to Recreational, to set higher water quality standards for these bodies of water.

In the interests of saving you and me time, I will try to merely summarize the arguments I have already made, while adding some material you may not have previously seen.

Year-Round

As you know WWALS would prefer that redesignation applied uniformly, year-round. As you mentioned in the recent EPD zoom meeting on this subject, perhaps one reason Florida has all its rivers as Recreational by default is its climate. South Georgia, like north Florida (and unlike north Georgia) has a subtropical climate in which we are not surprised by 80-degree weather in January. People swim, dive, fish, and boat on our rivers year-round. Some people even prefer to be on and in the water in the winter because there are fewer insects. I have recently been reminded that local churches also use them for immersion baptisms, which can happen in any season of the year.

Recreational Data Spreadsheet

Per request of EPD, please find attached a Recreational Data Spreadsheet, which is also online here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1g9gLcNnbRx4H9djZAlKd1ZaB7zrlmDbz/view?usp=sharing

In that spreadsheet are examples of swimming and diving locations, including almost every boat ramp or landing, plus selected sandbars, beaches, and springs. Also included are a few examples of rapids. None of them are Class III, but at least two are Class II+, and as Gwyneth Moody pointed out on the recent zoom, people frequently capsize in those.

Included for every location in that spreadsheet is a link to further information, mostly to one of our three river trails (“blue trails”):

Continue reading

Georgia Power Grants Again to WWALS for Water Quality Testing 2021-06-21

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (PDF)

Another Generous Water Quality Testing Grant from Georgia Power to WWALS

Valdosta, GA, June 23, 2021 — “It’s really exciting to receive another generous grant from Georgia Power to help us continue with as well as increase our testing base,” said WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall. “This is huge towards helping to keep tabs on the water health for this watershed.”

[Presentation and Play, Alapaha River, Naylor Beach]
WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman receives the envelope from Mary Beth and Elizabeth Brownlee via Hazel, Elleanor and Lindsey Williams; back: Suzy and Abbie Hall, at Naylor Beach on the Alapaha River in Naylor Boat Ramp Park, Lowndes County, Georgia. More pictures here:
https://wwals.net/pictures/gretchen/2021-06-21–wwals-naylor-ga-power/

“The Georgia Power Foundation is committed to environmental stewardship and supports efforts focused on improving waterways, lakes and streams across Georgia,” said Georgia Power Southwest Director Joe Brownlee, “We’ve learned that we can do more when we work together with local organizations where we serve, so we felt that supporting the WWALS efforts to perform quality testing in our local watershed fit perfectly with our goals. I think it goes without saying that we all want clean water to drink, bathe, and occasionally even play in. At Georgia Power, we have an employee volunteer organization called the ‘Citizens of Georgia Power’; one of the projects that they chose to work on this year was a clean-up on the Alapaha River landing in Lakeland. So when WWALS reached out and said they had a clean-up in Naylor it seemed like a great project, and thanks to the testing kits we knew the water was clean, which allowed our treasures (our children) to play a little while we cleaned up.”

“Clean water is a benefit to everyone,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. “The grant presentation by Elizabeth Brownlee was non-traditional, but most exceptional. The envelope got a little wet as it passed through little hands and got dropped in the water, however, the result was excellent. Funding for a second year for the WWALS water quality testing program is greatly appreciated. Thank you, Georgia Power!”

“We are thrilled that, Continue reading

WWALS Honored at Georgia DNR Confluence Conference as Volunteers of the Year 2020-08-29

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, GA, August 31, 2020 — WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman zoomed into the annual Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Confluence conference on Saturday, August 29, 2020, so WWALS could receive the statewide Volunteer of the Year award while we were finishing the Twomile Branch Cleanup.

[Award and Cleanup]
Award and Cleanup

The award is for “Individual has gone beyond the call of duty to improve water quality and meet AAS goals.” We emphasized it was not just one volunteer, but many, in our one-minute award acceptance video. We also thanked Georgia Power again for a grant. We didn’t have time to mention we’re getting testing kits to WWALS testers in Florida, upcoming WWALS water quality testing training, and branching out to the Santa Fe River, but all that is in this post.

Testers shown in the video include Sara Jay, Scotti Jay, Suzy Hall, Alex Chesna, Bobby McKenzie, Jacob Bachrach, and Trudy Cole. Continue reading

Winners: Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2020-08-22

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Winners and excellent music from the judges and headliner, too, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

Hahira, GA, August 24, 2020 — Everyone went away happy. The finalists got prizes, and the audience was impressed with the song each judge played, and with the headliner. The audience was impressed that one contestant, who couldn’t come due to the virus pandemic, was projected on the bandstand via zoom anyway.

[Winners*: Brian Barker* via zoom, accepting for, Scott Perkins*, Laura D'Alisera, Kathy Lou Gilman*, John S. Quarterman, Billy Ennis*, Ronni Dillon (not present)]
Winners*: Brian Barker via zoom*, accepting for him, Scott Perkins*, Laura D’Alisera, Kathy Lou Gilman*, John S. Quarterman, Sweet William Billy Ennis*, Ronni Dillon (not present)

The winners are: Continue reading

Water quality testing grant from Georgia Power 2020-06-27

July 27, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Georgia Power grants funds to WWALS for Water Quality Testing

Hahira, GA, July 27, 2020 — Aiding our attempts to clean up the Withlacoochee River, Georgia Power Foundation has provided a substantial grant to WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (“WWALS”). WWALS will buy more water quality testing kits and supplies with the funds, as well as other expenses related to our volunteer water quality testing program.

“Please accept our most sincere thanks for your recognition and support of WWALS Watershed Coalition and our work for clean, fishable, swimmable, boatable water,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. “We look forward to a productive water quality testing program this year.”

“We’re honored to get to help,” said Joe Brownlee, Georgia Power Southwest Region Director. “One of our goals is to make sure the people of Georgia know about our great natural resources. And also that they’re safe. And y’all help do that by making awareness around water testing. And you build strong relationships I know now, coordinating with the City of Valdosta, making sure they publish their test results. Everything seems to be working and getting better. We’re on a sharp upward curve of getting better with what we do with water and getting to enjoy it. And my little girl, I’m working for her future, and Georgia Power is. Thank y’all, thank you to the volunteer testers, and the Riverkeeper.”

[Joe Brownlee, Georgia Power Southwest District Director]
Photo: WWALS, of Georgia Power Southwest District Director Joe Brownlee, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman, and WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall, at Troupville Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River, near Valdosta, Georgia.

“The response of the Georgia Power grant and Mr. Brownlee’s comments are quite touching (to me) due to the recognition of how difficult it is for a volunteer organization to do biological water testing over a huge area. The grant enables regular testing that can pinpoint multi-source pollution, which requires a varied response. It’s quite gratifying that both individuals and large companies realize this is a complex situation,” said WWALS President Tom H. Johnson, Jr.

“We have several testers already trained, waiting for testing kits. Thanks to Georgia Power, we can buy them kits and get them started testing!” said WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall. “Plus we can buy enough kits to train new testers with physical distancing even during the virus pandemic.”

“We like to think WWALS water quality testing has already done some good, helping warn people when the waterways are contaminated, helping find contamination sources, and encouraging several governmental organizations in Georgia and Florida to test more,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “With these funds from Georgia Power we can do much more. Also thanks to Valdosta Mayor Scott James for introducing us to Joe Brownlee.”

“The more testing, the more we can also check to see whether fixes such as fencing cattle away from waterways are actually working to improve the situation,” said WWALS Science Committee Chair Dr. Tom Potter. “Interested governmental, educational, or agricultural organizations please contact us about that.”

About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.

WWALS Water Quality Testing is summarized here: https://wwals.net/issues/testing/ Here is a video about this grant: https://youtu.be/zy0N_kRhPfI

Contact: Gretchen Quarterman, Executive Director
WWALS Watershed Coalition
wwalswatershed@gmail.com
850-290-2350
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632

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(See also PDF.)