Tag Archives: Kimberly Godden Tanner

Dirty Withlacoochee and Alapaha River and creeks 2024-05-15

Update 2024-05-24: Clean Withlacoochee, Santa Fe, and Ichetucknee Rivers 2024-05-22.

After the big rains Monday and Tuesday, the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers tested dirty this Wednesday, as did almost every creek location in Valdosta’s followup testing, including Sugar Creek at Gornto Road, just above Valdosta’s Sugar Creek WaterGoat trash trap, and the last test site before the Withlacoochee River.

If I were you, I’d avoid the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers this weekend. Maybe try the Suwannee River upstream from the Alapaha River, or the Santa Fe River upstream from the Ichetucknee River. Also, rain is predicted.

WWALS has cancelled the Suwannee River paddle for tomorrow, due to predicted thunderstorms. It will be rescheduled later.

[Dirty Alapaha and Withlacoochee Rivers and creeks 2024-05-15;
Dirty Alapaha and Withlacoochee Rivers and creeks 2024-05-15;

The river tested too high in E. coli at all three of Valdosta’s test sites, North Valdosta Road (NVR), GA 133, and US 84, and way too high at Russ Tatum’s WWALS test site at Holly Point, below Allen Ramp in Florida. NVR (US 48) is upstream from all of Valdosta’s creek test sites for this week. There are a couple more creeks upstream from there that come out of Valdosta, but we also know something comes down Cat Creek after big rains. We have a grant application in to fund more testing up there.

[Chart: Dirty Rivers and Creeks 2024-05-15]
Chart: Dirty Rivers and Creeks 2024-05-15
For context, see: https://wwals.net/issues/testing

The numbers in the chart boxes indicate E. coli levels as colony-forming units per 100 mililiters (cfu/100 mL), according to Georgia Adopt-A-Stream bacterial monitoring protocols:
Zero (0) is what we want to see, and often we do, on the Alapaha and upstream on the Suwannee Rivers.
From 1-125 is within long-term average limits according to U.S. EPA and Georgia and Florida state agencies.
From 126-409 long-term is not good, and is likely to make some people sick.
From 410-999 is likely to make some people sick; try not to get that water on you.
From 1,000 and up: high alert; best not to get close to that water without gloves; wash clothes afterward.

The letters before the numbers indicate the source of the datapoint, as in W100 means 100 cfu/100 mL found by a WWALS tester.

W: WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS), Suwannee Riverkeeper
V: Valdosta, GA
L: Lowndes County, GA
Q: Quitman, GA
SGRC: Southern Georgia Regional Commission
SRWMD: Suwannee River Water Management District
FDOH: Florida Department of Health
FDEP: Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Rain: From USGS and UGA and other gauges.

No new sewage spills were reported in the Suwannee River Basin in the past week, in Georgia or Florida.

All the spills from last month rolled off that GA-EPD report Tuesday because that was 30 days after they started.

[Spills rolled off GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report 2024-05-14]
Spills rolled off GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report 2024-05-14

Valdosta, Lowndes County, and Quitman all told me they did not have any sewage spills in the recent rains. Of course, that doesn’t mean that sewage already in detention ponds or creek beds might not have washed downstream. Or Quitman’s settling ponds very close to Okapilco Creek may have washed over. Or cattle manure. Or some of the sources upstream on Cat Creek north of Valdosta that we’re trying to get a grant to explore further. The causes could be all of the above. Seems like it is really getting time to buy some more DNA test kits.

[Map: river levels --NOAA 2024-05-17]
Map: river levelswater.noaa.gov 2024-05-17

Some of the rivers are back down to good paddling levels. The Little River at Folsom Bridge (GA 122 west of Hahira) is in Action Stage, predicted to reach Minor Flood, which means it will continue rising downstream, too. The Withlacoochee River is in Minor Flood at Skipper Bridge and US 41, and at Action Stage at US 84 and Pinetta. The Ichetucknee River at US 27 and the Santa Fe River at Three Rivers Estates are still in Action Stage. The Suwannee River from Branford to Manatee Springs is in Action Stage. Even the Alapaha River at Statenville is predicted to rise to Action Stage.

[Map legend, water.noaa.gov]
Map legend, water.noaa.gov

Kimberly Godden Tanner tested the Alapaha River and was alarmed by the results, “Something is amiss with the Alapaha. This is very uncharacteristic. Everything looked and smelled fine.”

At Lakeland Boat Ramp at GA 122 east of Lakeland, GA, she got a result above the 410 one-time test limit:
5 + 5 + 13 = 23/3 = 7.66 x 100 = 766 cfu/100 mL.

At Naylor Park Beach just upstream from US 84, she got a result above the 1,000 alert limit:
12 + 10 + 12 = 34/3 = 11.33 x 100 = 1,133 cfu/100 mL.

Gretchen Quarterman tested Bland Pond on a branch of Spring Branch, which reaches the Withlacoochee River downstream from GA 133 and upstream from US 84. She noted, “The pond look much better than previous visits.”

Her result was below the 126 three-test average limit:
1 + 0 + 2 = 3 / 3 =1 *100 = 100 cfu/100 mL.

Russ Tatum tested at Holly Point, downstream from Allen Ramp on the Withlacoochee River. He said, “Nasty! The river has come up some but it has not crested upstream so expecting higher levels in a few days. The color is dark silty brown. These results are disappointing!”
17 + 20 + 18 = 55 / 3 = 18 * 100 = 1,800 cfu/100 mL

Joanne Tremblay tested the Ichetucknee River at TREPO Point Park (just above the Ichetucknee Confluence with the Santa Fe River). “The river has dropped considerably. The numbers are higher too.”
4 + 3 + 2 = 9/3=3*100=300 cfu/100 mL

WWALS Testing Trainer Gretchen Quarterman also delivered materials to testers.

If you want to get trained to be a WWALS water quality tester, please fill out the form:
https://wwals.net/?p=47084

Here’s a live Swim Guide Map.

Thanks to Joe Brownlee and Georgia Power for another generous grant for water quality testing equipment and materials.

You or your organization could also donate to the WWALS volunteer water quality testing program.

There are more images below.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can help with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable, water in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/

LBR

[Downstream, Lakeland Boat Ramp, Alapaha River @ GA 122 2024-05-15]
Downstream, Lakeland Boat Ramp, Alapaha River @ GA 122 2024-05-15

NPB

[Naylor Park Beach, Alapaha River @ US 84 2024-05-15]
Naylor Park Beach, Alapaha River @ US 84 2024-05-15

BP

[Plates, Bland Pond, Spring Branch, Withlacoochee River 2024-05-15]
Plates, Bland Pond, Spring Branch, Withlacoochee River 2024-05-15

HP

[Holly Point, Withlacoochee River @ NE Withla Bluffs Way 2024-05-15]
Holly Point, Withlacoochee River @ NE Withla Bluffs Way 2024-05-15

PP

[Point Park, Ichetucknee River @ SW Riverside Ave. 2024-05-15]
Point Park, Ichetucknee River @ SW Riverside Ave. 2024-05-15

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can help with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable, water in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/

Clean rivers 2024-03-20

Update 2024-03-29: Rain and river contamination 2024-03-28.

We got good results for Wednesday for the Withlacoochee River and Alapaha Rivers. and for Thursday for the Alapaha River.

Valdosta’s recent upstream Withlacoochee River results for Wednesday are good, all two sites.

[Chart, Clean Rivers, Map 2024-03-20]
Chart, Clean Rivers, Map 2024-03-20

There are no Valdosta Monday results, because, as we learned last week from Acting Utilities Director Jason Barnes, “we are collecting once a week.”

As previously noted, Valdosta’s last downstream tests were September 1, 2023. Since for two weeks now Valdosta has reported “No Sample” for North Valdosta Road, we guess they’re not collecting there any more, either.

Perhaps it is not coincidental that it is now three years (minus one month) since the March, 2020, GA-EPD Consent Order on Valdosta that required downstream testing as a way to reduce the amount of the fine.

It rained today, and more is predicted for tomorrow. That may wash some contamination into the rivers. I’d recommend the Suwannee, Alapaha, or Santa Fe Rivers for this weekend.

For example, join Shirley Kokidko and others Sunday, Suwannee River Wilderness Paddle, Griffis Fish Camp to Fargo 2024-03-24.

The rivers are at pretty good paddling levels, and it’s not cold. So watch the weather, bring rain gear, and happy paddling, fishing, and maybe swimming this weekend. Continue reading

Banks Lake Full Worm Moon Paddle 2024-03-25

Join us for a leisurely paddle on our watery living room, to see the sun set and the moon rise. The bats may be out, at Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge, just west of Lakeland, Georgia.

When: Gather 6:45 PM, launch 7:15 PM, Sunset 7:48 PM, Moonrise 8:21 PM, End 9:00 PM, Monday, March 25, 2024

Put In:: Banks Lake Boat Ramp, 307 Georgia 122, Lakeland, GA 31635, in Lanier County, just west of Lakeland.

GPS: 31.0350593, -83.0964848

[Banks Lake Paddle, 2024-03-25, Full Worm Moon, Banks Lake NWR, Lakeland, GA]
Banks Lake Paddle, 2024-03-25, Full Worm Moon, Banks Lake NWR, Lakeland, GA

Continue reading

Clean rivers and creek 2024-02-14

Update 2024-02-24: Clean Withlacoochee, Santa Fe, and Suwannee Rivers and Franks Creek 2024-02-21.

Update 2024-02-22: Valdosta Boone Drive and Knob Hill small sewage spills 2024-02-20.

We got good results for Wednesday for the Alapaha, Santa Fe, and Suwannee Rivers, and Franks Creek.

Valdosta’s recent upstream Withlacoochee River results through Wednesday are good.

Rain is predicted for this weekend, through Saturday. But if there is not much rain, paddling Sunday should be OK. If you like high water, since the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers are up from previous upstream rains. The Santa Fe River is coming back down. The Suwannee was never especially high.

WWALS has two outings coming up on Saturday, February 24, 2024: the morning paddle from Knights Ferry to Nankin on the Withlacoochee River, and the evening Full Snow Moon paddle on Banks Lake.

And of course don’t forget that Saturday, March 2, is the Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle from Langdale Park to Troupville on the Withlacoochee River. That one is free, thanks to a generous grant from Georgia Power.

[Chart, Clean Franks Creek and Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Santa Fe, and Suwannee Rivers 2024-02-14, Map]
Chart, Clean Franks Creek and Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Santa Fe, and Suwannee Rivers 2024-02-14, Map

No sewage spills were reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Florida in the past week.

But one was reported in Georgia. Ashburn had a spill of 3,000 gallons of raw sewage into Ashburn Branch, which flows into the Little River. Continue reading

Three clean rivers 2024-02-07

Update 2024-02-16: Clean rivers and creek 2024-02-14.

We got good results for Wednesday for the Alapaha, Withlacoochee, and Santa Fe Rivers.

Valdosta’s Monday upstream Withlacoochee River and Three Mile Branch results were too high after the Sunday rain. Thanks to Valdosta Acting Utilities Director Jason Barnes for the Valdosta Wednesday results at GA 133 (OK) and US 84 (bad). He promises those and the US 41 (North Valdosta Road) Wednesday results will be on valdostacity.com website next week.

No rain is predicted for this weekend.

In the past week, no sewage spills were reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia or Florida.

So I’d avoid the Withlacoochee River from US 84 to the state line, but other than that, happy fishing, paddling, and swimming this weekend.

[Chart, Three Clean Rivers, Map 2024-02-07]
Chart, Three Clean Rivers, Map 2024-02-07

Or join us tomorrow (Saturday) for Ichetucknee Polar Plunge and Paddle or Sunday for Sugar Creek to Troupville Chainsaw Cleanup. Continue reading

Five clean rivers and a clean creek 2024-01-25

Update 2024-01-28: Four more Valdosta sewage spills 2023-12-17.

We got good results for Wednesday and Thursday for five rivers: Alapaha, Withlacoochee, Ichetucknee, Santa Fe, and Suwannee, plus Mud Swamp Creek, a tributary of the Alapaha. Valdosta’s Wednesday upstream Withlacoochee River results concur.

There is a 50% chance of rain on Sunday, but you can get on the water before then.

So happy fishing, paddling, and swimming this weekend.

Or join us tomorrow (Saturday) for Try again: Langdale Park to Sugar Creek Chainsaw Cleanup, Withlacoochee River, 2024-01-27.

[Chart, Clean Rivers and Creek, Map 2024-01-25]
Chart, Clean Rivers and Creek, Map 2024-01-25

Sewage Spills

One sewage spill was reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia last Thusrday: Ashburn spilled 100,000 gallons of raw sewage into Ashburn Creek, which ends up in the Little River far above Reed Bingham State Park.

In Florida, Lake Butler reported a spill at its airport, which apparently wasn’t enough to get into any waterway, much less the New River of the Santa Fe. Continue reading

Dirty Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers 2024-01-11

Update 2024-01-19: Three Clean Rivers 2024-01-17.

We got bad results for Thursday for one Alapaha River site and horrible results for one Withlacoochee River site.

Russ Tatum’s Holly Point site went from zero E. coli for Wednesday to 5,000 for Thursday. We don’t know whether this is related to Valdosta’s Wednesday 100,000-gallon sewage spill into Three Mile Branch to the Withlacoochee River, but it could be. In the last week, no other pollution spills were reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia, and none at all in Florida.

The most recent City of Valdosta Withlacoochee River results we have are for Monday, and they are all too high after last Saturday’s rain. There was more rain Tuesday, and a bit more yesterday (Friday).

If I were you, I would avoid the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers this weekend. Maybe even the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers.

We shall see whether the Withlacoochee is clean enough and low enough Sunday week for the Langdale Park to Sugar Creek Chainsaw Cleanup, Withlacoochee River 2024-01-21.

[Chart, Rivers, Map 2024-01-11]
Chart, Rivers, Map 2024-01-11

WWALS tester Kimberly Godden Tanner tested the Alapaha River at Lakeland Boat Ramp @ GA 122 and at Naylor Park Beach @ US 84. She wrote, “Both locations were clean [of trash]. The only additional item of note was a couple a dead fish on the ground at the boat ramp in Lakeland. I am not a fisher, so I am unaware of why this might be.” Continue reading

Three Clean Rivers 2024-01-04

Update 2024-01-13: Valdosta sewage spill, Three Mile Branch, Withlacoochee River 2024-01-10.

We got excellent results for eleven sites on three rivers for Thursday: Alapaha, Withlacoochee, and Santa Fe. Valdosta’s Wednesday results on the Withlacoochee River in Georgia concurred. Even Valdosta’s weekly test results on Knights Creek concurred.

However, there was almost an inch of rain upstream this Saturday morning, so that may have washed E. coli into the rivers, but probably not a lot.

More rain is predicted starting tomorrow. Meanwhile, the rivers are back down to reasonable levels. So if you don’t mind being chilly, happy fishing, swimming, and boating this weekend, and once again Happy New Year!

Please join us on zoom this Thursday as Fannie Gibbs kicks off the new WWALS Webinar series.

Please join us in two weeks for a Sunday Langdale Park to Sugar Creek Chainsaw Cleanup, Withlacoochee River 2024-01-21.

[Chart, Rivers, Map 2024-01-04]
Chart, Rivers, Map 2024-01-04

In the last week, no pollution spills were reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Florida.

And no new ones in Georgia. But GA-EPD corrected the December 11 Valdosta major spill location on December 28 to 1850 E Park Ave. That’s better, since that is where the problem sewer line is. I still don’t know why latlong GPS coordinates cannot also be included. Florida requires them for every report.

On January 2, GA-EPD corrected the December 17 Quitman wastewater plant lift station spill to Quitman instead of DeKalb County.

Thanks, GA-EPD, for the corrections, after Suwannee Riverkeeper asked you to look into it. Continue reading

Three Clean Rivers 2023-12-14

Update 2023-12-22: Bad water quality, Withlacoochee and Santa Fe Rivers 2023-12-21.

Update 2023-12-15: Videos: Testing three sites in Florida and Georgia, Withlacoochee River 2023-12-14.

Update 2023-12-15: Yet another Valdosta E. Park Ave. sewage spill near Knights Creek 2023-12-11.

We got clean results for a dozen sites on three rivers in two states for Thursday: Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Suwannee.

Valdosta saw far too much E. coli in the Withlacoochee River for Mondayafter 2-4 inches of rain, but cleaner for Wednesday.

The rest of this week had little or no rain. The next rain is predicted for tomorrow (Saturday).

So if you want to avoid E. coli, best to go early Saturday and be off the river before noon, yet still expect to get wet.

You’ll probably find cleaner water on the Suwannee or Santa Fe than the Withlacoochee River.

Of course, if the rain is small, as in less than half an inch, there may be few ill effects. But if we get another 1- or 2-inch rain, beware.

[Chart, Clean Rivers, Map 2023-12-14]
Chart, Clean Rivers, Map 2023-12-14

In the last week, no pollution spills were reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Florida.

In Valdosta, Georgia, a major spill of 450,000 gallons happened at one of the usual locations, near 1800 E. Park Ave. and Knights Creek, which flows into Mud Creek, the Alapahoochee River, and the Alapaha River. The press release says Valdosta Utilities discovered the spill Monday, December 11. It doesn’t say the spill did not end until yesterday, December 14, the day before the press release of today. I will file an open records request with GA-EPD for the report Valdosta Utilities sent them, to get the rest of the details.

Kimberly Godden Tanner got good Thursday results for the Alapaha River at Lakeland Boat Ramp and Naylor Park Beach. She says, “Both locations looked great. They are doing a great job at trash collection these days.”

Cindy Vedas tested the Withlacoochee River at her usual sites of Franklinville, Crawford Branch at Skipper Bridge Road, Staten Road, and Langdale Park, and got good results at all of them.

John S. Quarterman tested the Withlacoochee River at Clyattville-Nankin Boat Ramp, State Line Boat Ramp, and Sullivan Launch, and got good results.

Russ Tatum tested the Withlacoochee River at Holly Point, between Allen Ramp and the Suwannee River, and got excellent results.

Reina Lingle got good results for the Suwannee River at Royal Springs and Ivey Memorial Park in Branford, Florida.

WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall reviewed all the results and some were recalibrated in the ensuing discussion.

WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman delivered testing supplies to several testers and trained several.

If you want to get trained to be a WWALS water quality tester, please fill out the form:
https://wwals.net/?p=47084

As previously noted, Valdosta’s last downstream tests were September 1, 2023. Continue reading

Winner of the VIBE Sea Ghost 130 kayak raffle 2023-11-27

Update 2023-12-13: Raffle kayak delivered to winner Janet Martin 2023-12-12.

Monday at Banks Lake before we paddled, we drew the winner of the Vibe Sea Ghost 130. It retails for $1,300, but was used only once by Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson before he gave it to WWALS. It comes with paddle, seat, and rudder.

We raffled it for $10 donation per ticket.

[Kayak, drawing, the winner]
Kayak, drawing, the winner

WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman had put all the tickets in a box, yes, including the online tickets, which she transcribed onto paper tickets.

WWALS Board Member Kimberly Godden Tanner took the tickets out of envelopes for the places they were donated, such as Alapaha Station Celebration, Florida Folk Festival, various outings, and the WWALS River Revue, plus two more got tickets minutes before. Continue reading