Tag Archives: Madison County

Valdosta test results: filthy Withlacoochee River after big spill, many creeks still filthy after smaller spills 2024-04-11

Update 2024-05-04: Clean rivers and some creeks, but rain 2024-05-02.

Valdosta knew the Withlacoochee River was filthy on that Friday and Saturday before it issued its press release on Monday, April 15, about its 6.7-million-gallon spill into Spring Branch to that river. We know this because Valdosta, unlike the other cities that spilled during the big rains of April 11, Valdosta puts its followup test results on the city’s website. Those results also show the river is clean, and has been since the Sunday after the spill. But some creeks are still filthy; see below.

[Valdosta test results: filthy Withlacoochee River after big spill, many creeks still filthy after smaller spills]
Valdosta test results: filthy Withlacoochee River after big spill, many creeks still filthy after smaller spills

For people going to festivals at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park: that location is upstream on the Suwannee River from the Withlacoochee River, and thus is not affected by any of the sewage spills that went into the Withlacoochee. I wouldn’t be surprised if the big rains washed some contamination into the Suwannee River. But that was three weeks ago, and most likely that E. coli was diluted and washed downstream long ago. The biggest thing you have to worry about in the Suwannee River at that park is probably contamination from people on the beach there. Continue reading

Valdosta sewage on Madison County Commission agenda 2024-04-24

It’s the last item, under NEW BUSINESS:

  1. Discussion Regarding Valdosta Sewage Spill and Compliance with Consent Order — Commissioner Waldrep.

That’s at the Madison County Commission Regular Meeting, Wednesday, April 24, 2024, at 6:00 PM in the Courthouse Annex, 229 SW Pinckney St., Room 107, Madison, Florida.

[Valdosta sewage at Madison County Commission, Commissioner Donnie Waldrep 2024-04-24]
Valdosta sewage at Madison County Commission, Commissioner Donnie Waldrep 2024-04-24

According to Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson just now, “Wastewater, Engineering and City Manager meeting is 9:15 Tuesday morning to discuss increased capacity options.”

I asked if the public is invited. He answered, “No, I will report results to you….”

Valdosta is working hard on upgrading its dilapidated sewer system infrastructure, using local taxes and a Georgia state loan. They’ve spent more than $100 million dollars already.

Valdosta was pretty timely in telling the public about its nine other recent sewage spills.

But Continue reading

Madison County, Florida, Health advisory for Withlacoochee River about Valdosta sewage spill 2024-04-17

Update 2024-04-18: Dirty creeks, but clean rivers 2024-04-17.

Update 2024-04-18: Updates on Homerville, Quitman, Tifton, and Valdosta in GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report 2024-04-11.

It’s been a long time since the last Health Advisory from the Madison County, Florida, Health Department.

But Valdosta took the risk of guessing how big to make its sewage catch basin, and found out last weekend it was too small.

[Valdosta sewage spill gets Madison Health Advisory 2024-04-17; 1.67 million gallons into Withlacoochee River 2024-04-12]
Valdosta sewage spill gets Madison Health Advisory 2024-04-17; 1.67 million gallons into Withlacoochee River 2024-04-12

WWALS has already been testing the waters. Results soon.

And now FDEP and SRWMD are joining in with Madison DOH.

Received this afternoon.

DOH-MADISON ISSUES HEALTH ADVISORY NEAR WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER

Contact:
Lisa Hayes
Lisa. Hayes@flhealth.gov
850-879-0683

Madison, Fla.— The Florida Department of Health in Madison County (DOH-Madison) has issued a health advisory to residents and visitors near the Withlacoochee River in North Florida due to a wastewater overflow in the City of Valdosta, Georgia, from a recent weather event with excessive rain amounts. Drinking water is not affected by this advisory.

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Ockolocoochee, Little River 1889-01-29

Who knows the Ockolocoochee River? No, not the Ochlockonee River; that’s a bit to the west.

[Withlacoochee River labeled Suwanee R. in 1823 Irwin and 1834 Lowndes County maps; current WWALS Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail map]
Withlacoochee River labeled Suwanee R. in 1823 Irwin and 1834 Lowndes County maps; current WWALS Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail map

You do know the Ockolocoochee River as the Little River, of the Withlacoochee, of the Suwannee.

Here is news from 1889 that also includes the boat that didn’t survive from Troupville to Ellaville, which was apparently not a paddlewheel steamer. Continue reading

Hurricane Idalia damage in Suwannee County, FL 2023-09-21

There is little financial recourse for the extensive Hurricane Idalia damage to hoop houses, buildings, row crops, elevators, grain bins, irrigation systems, fences, and tree crops. Most of the insurers had already pulled out. FEMA will help with farmhouses, but not the rest. Many farmers will never recover.

[Collage, Suwannee County Agriculture Meeting 2023-09-21]
Collage, Suwannee County Agriculture Meeting 2023-09-21

County Administrator Gregg Scott noted that almost $900 million revenue that comes to the county because of agriculture, and $60 million of tax revenue “that goes through you”. 97% of Suwannee County farms are owned by local farmers; family farms are important.

Wesley Wainwright, owner of Wainwright Farms, explained much of the damage. Continue reading

Pictures: Withlacoochee Springs, Shoals, Slough, Sullivan Launch 2023-07-15

Update 2024-05-04: Videos: Chitty Bend East Distributary, Withlacoochee River, 2023-07-15

Seven shoals, one with a boat, Coffee Spring, second magnitude Hardee Spring, and several islands, and Chitty Bend East Distributary, where some of the Withlacoochee River runs into the woods into some swallets: we saw all of those on our Withlacoochee River paddle from Sullivan Launch to Florida Campsites on a fine July day.

The entire paddle was in north Florida, between Madison County on the right (east) bank and Hamilton County on the left (west) bank, starting in Madison County, ending in Hamilton County.

[Rapids, Spring, Distributary, Withlacoochee River 2023-07-15]
Rapids, Spring, Distributary, Withlacoochee River 2023-07-15

Thanks to Gee Edwards for leading this paddle.

Thanks to Gretchen Quarterman, Karen Lehnart, and Shirley Kokidko for additional pictures.

Pictures are below. Click on any small picture for a bigger one. Latlong links go to the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

The pictures are also on facebook.

See also the facebook video, Seven shoals on the WWALS WIthlacoochee River paddle from Sullivan Shoals to Florida Campsites Ramp, 2023-07-15.

For more WWALS outings and events as they are posted, see Continue reading

WWALS Development Director Veronica Oakler 2023-03-01

Hahira, GA, March 2, 2023 — WWALS is pleased to announce the hiring of Veronica Oaker as Development Director, to help us with fundraising and community outreach. Veronica joined WWALS on March 1st, with a rich background in water advocacy. She has previously worked at Clean Water for North Carolina, the Florida Department of Transportation, the Executive Office of the Florida Governor, and the city of Tallahassee. She has degrees from the University of Florida and the Florida Coastal School of Law. Veronica lives in Madison, Florida. Plan on meeting Veronica at an upcoming outing or event. Or, she might even phone you up to chat.

[Veronica Oakler with huge bald cypress]
Veronica Oakler with huge bald cypress

“I’m excited to come back home to the Suwannee River watershed where my family and I live, work, and play,” said Veronica Oakler. “I have admired the fantastic work that WWALS has accomplished over the past 10 years to raise awareness of water quality issues downstream of polluting sources, especially sewage, pipelines, and trash.”

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Florida Campsites to Allen Ramp, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-04

Update 2022-08-08: Pictures: Florida Campsites to Allen Ramp, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-04.

Because of low water, we’re shifting downstream, to put in at Florida Campsites Ramp and take out at Allen Ramp. That’s a shorter paddle, 5.39 river miles. It still goes by Sullivan Slough and first-magnitude Madison Blue Spring, and there are more springs downstream from there, including second-magnitude Pot Spring, as well as some nice swimming and lunching beaches.

WWALS and Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida, invite you to paddle and to clean up the Withlacoochee River.

[River, Route]
River, Route

When: Gather 10 AM, launch 11 AM, moonrise 10:40 AM, sunset 8:34 PM, end 2 PM, Saturday, June 4, 2022

Put In: Florida Campsites Ramp, 2137 NW 47th St, Jasper, FL 32052, in Hamilton County, Florida. From Jasper, Hamilton County, FL, travel north on US 41 to SR 6; turn left; travel west on SR 6 to CR 143; turn right and travel north to NW 44 Street; turn left; follow road to NW 45 Street; turn right; follow road to NW 22 Avenue; turn left and follow road to NW 21 Place and ramp is on the right.

GPS: 30.501128, -83.242411 Continue reading

Withlacoochee Florida Paddle and Cleanup 2022-06-04

Update 2022-06-03: Because of low water, we’re shifting downstream: Florida Campsites to Allen Ramp, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-04.

Hahira, Georgia, March 30, 2022 — WWALS and Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida, invite you to join us for a summer paddle to see springs and sinks and to clean up the Withlacoochee River, on Saturday, June 4, 2022. It’s 12.5 miles from Sullivan Launch to Madison Ramp along this wooded blackwater river, with a lunch stop along the way. At lunch, Brett Hemphill of Karst Underwater Research will tell us about the many local caverns connected to the river and its creeks.

1311x676 Distributary, Boats, Withlacoochee River, Hardee Spring, Trash, M, in Withlacoochee Florida Paddle and Cleanup, by John S. Quarterman, for WWALS.net, 4 June 2022Distributary, Boats, Withlacoochee River, Hardee Spring, Trash, M, in Withlacoochee Florida Paddle and Cleanup, by John S. Quarterman, for WWALS.net, 4 June 2022

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Chervil Drive Distributary, Withlacoochee River 2022-01-13

Update 2022-01-21: Blue Sink, Sullivan Slough –Susan Liden 2021-01-18.

Another Withlacoochee River distributary to a sinkhole! This one revealed by WWALS member and archaeologist Tom Baird. I’m calling it Chervil Drive Distributary because we don’t know any more traditional or official name for it. It’s downstream from the Chitty Bend East Distributary and on the other side of the river.

[Chervil Distributary, Withlacoochee River, Madison County, FL]
Chervil Distributary, Withlacoochee River, Madison County, FL, in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

Another interesting feature is further down river on the right bank about a mile above Madison Blue Springs. At flood, water pours through a gap in the limestone bank and floods a large channel that goes back to a deep sink. The weight of water in the past broke through the ceiling of a cavern and created a beautiful, clear, good-sized swimming hole. It was evidently a popular swimming and picnic spot in the past. Don’t know the correct name of the feature; my wife and I call it “Thanksgiving Spring”, because we found it while hiking around one Thanksgiving Day. However, it’s not a spring (no water comes from it), but an opening to the water table. Nice and cool on a hot day. J

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