Tag Archives: livestock

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

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:

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!


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


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


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


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


[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!

Bad water quality at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee River 2020-04-11

Update 2020-04-14: Cleaner at State Line, Withlacoochee River 2020-04-12.

The Withlacoochee River looks good, but it’s got E. coli, 17,833 cfu/100 mL at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, results for Saturday, April 11, 2020.

How bad? Horrible, since 410 is bad and 1,000 is alert level. See also what do these numbers mean. Suzy drew water downstream at Nankin State Line Boat Ramp Sunday, and I’m going to collect some elsewhere today. You can help.

Photo: Suzy Hall, Withlacoochee River at Knights Ferry, Upstream Shoals

Suzy Hall said, “I really thought they were not going to be purple, but they are.” Continue reading

Much cleaner at Knights Ferry and State Line in Georgia; Valdosta Sewage is in Florida 2019-12-30

Suzy Hall’s results from Monday samples at Knights Ferry and Nankin are now within Georgia state limits, lower than when I tested there three days earlier, indicating Valdosta’s record-largest sewage spills has indeed moved on to Florida.

[Look what we bagged!]
Photo: Suzy Hall, who wrote, “Did a clean up at KF. Probably 40-50 lbs collected by 2 adults and 2 very involved little girls.”

Suzy’s E. coli results for Monday, December 30, 2019: Continue reading

Valdosta sewage in Florida 2019-12-26

Update 2020-01-01: Much cleaner at Knights Ferry and State Line in Georgia; Valdosta Sewage is in Florida 2019-12-30

Apparently the biggest slug of Valdosta sewage passed the state line on December 26, 2019.

[Testing locations]
Testing locations

Thanks to Chris Mericle for forwarding the December 25 and 26 data from the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD), which I think is getting from from the Florida Department of Health (FDOH). I’ve combined those data in a table with the numbers from December 24, and ordered them from north (upstream) to south (downstream).

Here are the preliminary Continue reading

Water Quality: Hagan Bridge to State Line, Withlacoochee River 2019-12-27

Update 2019-12-30: Valdosta sewage in Florida 2019-12-26.

Maybe the two inches of rain last weekend are finally flushing the Withlacoochee River and diluting Valdosta’s record-largest sewage spill. E. coli counts from Friday’s testing are down from previous tests. Looks like the contamination is probably mostly in Florida now, so dilution would be good.

[SL, Nankin, KF, SB, US84, HB, Control, 19:48:15]
SL, Nankin, KF, SB, US84, HB, Control, 19:48:15

If E. coli counts continue to drop, and river levels stay up, we will paddle from Troupville Boat Ramp to Spook Bridge on January 18, 2020. You are invited to join us.

Only Knights Ferry Boat Ramp still showed an E. coli count at a worrisome level. Here are the results, followed by some commentary on each site.

Hagan Bridge at GA 122 133 cfu/100 mL
U.S. 84 Bridge 0 cfu/100 mL
Spook Bridge 33 cfu/100 mL
Knights Ferry Boat Ramp 300 cfu/100 mL
Nankin Boat Ramp 133 cfu/100 mL
State Line Boat Ramp 100 cfu/100 mL

[Hagan Bridge to State Line]
Hagan Bridge to State Line on the
WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

This is not the whole story, because I did not collect test water at the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River, at GA 133, nor at Sugar Creek. A neighboring landowner tells me the Withlacoochee River just below Sugar Creek still smells like sewage. If there are still pockets of sewage there, they could flush loose in later rains and run downstream. We will investigate.

133 cfu/100 mL Hagan Bridge

Continue reading

Raise no limits, sample more water, publish timely –WWALS to FDEP Triennial Review 2019-05-31

Dear FDEP, please raise no pollutant limits, do more water quality monitoring, and publish all testing results in days, not months.

[More water quality monitoring]
More water quality monitoring

Continue reading

Sign up for Water Quality Testing Training

You can help find out what is getting into our rivers, springs, and wells beyond sewage spills: fertilizer nitrates, livestock, wildlife, septic tanks, other. We also want to follow up after sewage spills, because the limited testing required by states doesn’t tell us how far the spill went.

Please sign up to volunteer to do Water Quality Testing, in either Florida or Georgia, using this google form.


WWALS testing trainer Gretchen Quarterman does trainings as trainees sign up. See the main Water Quality Testing web page for the next scheduled testing trainings.

Be sure to fill out the google form above so we will know how many. Be ready to test regularly after you get trained.


Anybody can take the training, which is free. But to test for WWALS requires being a WWALS member:


Remember to post your results in Georgia Adopt-A-Stream, and we can use them in Swim Guide.

Sign up, get trained, and then test and report. Continue reading