Tag Archives: Madison County

Filthy at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2021-06-24

Update 2021-06-27: Cattle and hogs: Withlacoochee River water quality status 2021-06-27.

Going by WWALS water quality testing results for Thursday, it’s best to stay off the Withlacoochee River, and maybe the Alapaha River, for a few more days.

[Bad Knights Ferry and Willacoochee Landing]
Bad Knights Ferry and Willacoochee Landing

Very unusual: too-high E. coli on the Alapaha River, at Willacoochee Landing on GA 135 in Atkinson County, Georgia. Thanks to WWALS tester Valerie Folsom. There was a lot of rain upstream in the previous few days, which make me wonder about the city of Alapaha’s wastewater treatment plant.

Unfortunately expected: way-high E. coli on the Withlacoochee River, at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, downstream of Okapilco Creek, with many thousand cattle in Brooks County, Georgia. Thanks to WWALS tester Michael Bachrach. Don’t be surprised if Quitman had a spill and gets around to reporting it about a week later.

Somewhat puzzling: downstream on the Withlacoochee results range from acceptable to clean as a whistle at Cleary Bluff, between Allen Ramp and the Suwannee River. Thaks to WWALS tester Gus Cleary. Even with the river high and fast after the recent rains, it takes a little while for the contamination to wash downstream. Three inches of rain fell in Brooks County Thursday, so don’t be surprised if things get dirty downstream.

We have no new data upstream of Knights Ferry, because we had a technical glitch with upstream WWALS tests.

Meanwhile, Valdosta has posted nothing newer than for Monday. They did catch up to last week with the downstream data, which corroborated what we already knew from WWALS tests.

The Tuesday too-high Madison Health result for the state line still has not appeared on the FDEP website. Continue reading

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

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

Florida needs water quality testing and sign posting

Florida needs to test our rivers all the way to the Gulf, several times every week, instead of depending on Madison County and the city of Valdosta and WWALS.

Jim Tatum caught me and Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson collaborating, probably about getting FDEP to do the DNA marker and chemical tracer tests that have been instrumental in showing most of the recent Withlacoochee River contamination has come from ruminants, of which the most numerous are cattle.

Photo: Jim Tatum, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman and OSFR Founder Merillee Malwitz-Jipson
Photo: Jim Tatum

Calusa Riverkeeper John Cassani knows I bring up the need for statewide Florida testing at almost every weekly Waterkeepers Florida meeting, after he mentions testing where he is.

Jim Tatum, Our Santa Fe River, Guest opinion: Floridians have the right to know if our waters are safe, Continue reading

Year in review: water quality testing, February 2020-2021

Suzy Hall, WWALS Testing Committee Chair, pointed out that bacterial water quality results a year ago were generally worse than recently.

Results were awful for Monday, February 17, 2020 on the Withlacoochee.

[Awful KF, Nankin, SL 2020-02-17]
Awful KF, Nankin, SL, 2020-02-17

Suzy Hall filed Nankin Boat Ramp for Monday, February 17, 2020, as TNTC: Too Many To Count. Yes, that is a technical term, and you can see why: how many blue colonies with bubbles would you count?

Knights Ferry Boat Ramp wasn’t much better, at 8,933 cfu/100 mL. The Georgia Adopt-A-Stream high alert level is 1,000; see What do these numbers mean?. We have seen worse, namely the 39,000 Valdosta result at GA 133 on December 10, 2019.

But that was plenty bad enough.

Also, Valdosta later reported an even higher result for Knights Ferry for that same Feb 17, 2020, and Madison Health got horrible for the next day at State Line, Sullivan Launch, and FL 6.

For Wednesday, FDOH found a hot spot Continue reading

Public Hearing: Biomass wastewater permit, Madison County, Georgia 2021-03-02

This public hearing for a wastewater permit far away from the Suwannee River Basin is of interest because apparently the instigator of this biomass plant is also the president of Twin Pines Minerals, which wants to strip mine for titanium far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

When: 7 PM, Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Where: https://gaepd.zoom.us/j/96881364173

[Property Location]
Property Location


PUBLIC NOTICE

Notice of Application for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit to Discharge Treated Wastewater Into Waters of the State of Georgia.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has received a new NPDES permit application for the issuance of a new NPDES permit. Having reviewed such application, the Environmental Protection Division proposes to issue for a maximum term of five years the following permit subject to specific pollutant limitations and special conditions:

GRP Madison Renewable Energy Facility, LLC, P.O. Box 909, Colbert, Georgia 30628, NPDES Permit No. GA0050283, for its steam electric facility located at 268 Office Drive, Colbert, Georgia 30628. A maximum of 3.55 MGD treated boiler blowdown, boiler feedwater, boiler area drains, reverse osmosis reject water, STG sump area drains, cooling tower blowdown, and stormwater is discharged to an unnamed tributary to Beaverdam Creek in the Savannah River Basin.

EPD will host a public hearing via Zoom software at 7:00 p.m. on March 2, 2021. Zoom is a free web conferencing platform that also allows participation by phone. In accordance with EPD’s safety precautions regarding the COVID-19 virus, EPD encourages members of the public to participate in the public hearing via Zoom. The purpose of the public hearing is to receive comments on the draft NPDES permit for GRP Madison Renewable Energy Facility, LLC.

To log into the public hearing on your computer, please click this link or copy and paste it into your browser to join the meeting: https://gaepd.zoom.us/j/96881364173

To ensure that you are ready to participate when the meeting begins, we recommend that you download Zoom in advance. Zoom can be found here: https://zoom.us/

To dial in by phone, please call this number: 1-470-381-2552

The meeting ID is 968 8136 4173

The passcode is 572750

Please note that if you choose to participate by phone, your number may be visible to other meeting attendees.

The public hearing is a formal process to Continue reading

Advisory lifted, Withlacoochee River, but big rains Tuesday 2021-02-09

Update 2021-02-13: Very bad, GA-FL line and downstream, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-11.

Madison and Hamilton Health on February 10th lifted their bacterial advisory of January 18th for the Withlacoochee River, due to good Florida water quality results for Tuesday. But there were big rains Tuesday, so conditions may have already changed, and not for the better.

[Chart, Lifted, Swim Guide]
Chart, Lifted, Swim Guide

This was after Madison Health got clean results Tuesday (yellow highlights), matching clean results last Thursday, at the GA-FL line, Sullivan Launch, and FL 6. Continue reading

Very bad, health advisory, Withlacoochee River 2021-01-28

Update 2021-02-01: Bad State Line, Withlacoochee River 2021-01-30.

Best avoid the Withlacoochee River for a few days. It rained more Wednesday than last Friday, and this time something definitely washed into the river, confirmed Thursday by both WWALS testers Josh and Angela Duncan and by Madison Health, published by FDEP. Madison and Hamilton Health have published a health advisory for the Withlacoochee River.

[Chart, plate, advisory, Swim Guide map]
Chart, plate, advisory, Swim Guide map

Given that more rain is expected Sunday, it might be prudent to stay off the river until sunny next week. Continue reading

This Saturday, with more sponsors and higher water: WWALS Boomerang paddle race into Florida and back to Georgia 2020-10-24

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, GA, September 4, 2020 — The water’s up, and we’ve added sponsors at State Line Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River 9 AM this Saturday, October 24, 2020. For the WWALS Boomerang paddle race you can choose 1, 2, or 3 miles downstream into Florida, and then back up. There will be food, drink, prizes, and an online silent auction.

[WWALS Boomerang 2020]
WWALS Boomerang 2020
PDF

Tickets are on sale now, $30 online or at the event.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wwals-boomerang-paddle-race-2020-tickets-118844038719

Boomerang mastermind Bobby McKenzie says, “There is plenty of room for distancing at the boat ramp, and even more room on the water. We will have someone at the one big shoals to direct you.”

WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman said, “Thanks to Bobby for getting Olympia Bend Shooting Range as a sponsor! There’s no need to be shooting up our water trail signs. And let’s not forget Life Outdoors, who are supplying two archery packages in the online auction, along SBMS Crossfit, NWXpeditions, and others.”
https://www.betterunite.com/WWALS-wwalsboomerang2020

Bobby McKenzie added, “With Madison Outpost Adventures we now have four outfitter sponsors, adding to VSU CORE, NWXpeditions, and Banks Lake Outdoors. Thanks to Carter & Sons for cooking barbecue that WWALS will serve for purchase. Drinks will be available from Kona Ice, and we will have water dispensers. In addition to the $100 First Prize, each of the many winners will get a Boomerang tumbler!”

Canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards are welcome to register starting at 9 AM, Saturday, October 24, 2020, with the race to begin at 11 AM.

Come early if you want to help clean up at the boat ramp. We’ll give you a spiffy Georgia Rivers Alive bandana facemask.

[Open containers of alcohol prohibited]
Open containers of alcohol prohibited

State Line Boat Ramp is at 6461 Madison Highway, Valdosta, GA 31601. If online maps misdirect you, try 6600 Madison Highway. You may also know it as Mozell Spells, or Madison Highway Boat Ramp; it’s at Horn Bridge on the Withlacoochee River, just north of the GA-FL line on Madison Highway, also known as GA 31 and Madison County CR 150.

Heading south down I-75, take Exit 11, turn west, and keep going until you see the boat ramp sign, then turn right. From Madison, Florida, head up CR 150 until you cross the river, make a U-turn, and head down to the ramp.

Everything about WWALS Boomerang 2020 is here:
wwals.net/pictures/2020-10-24–boomerang Continue reading

Very clean Withlacoochee River 2020-10-15

Update 2020-10-23: Clean Withlacoochee River Thursday for WWALS Boomerang Saturday 2020-10-22.

Update 2020-10-20: Adel spilled ten days ago; did not show up in downstream water quality data 2020-10-10.

Water quality results from WWALS and Madison Health for Thursday and from Valdosta for Wednesday concur: happy boating, swimming, and fishing on the Withlacoochee River this weekend!

While all such results are merely advisory, because conditions can change very quickly, also there has been very little rain to wash anything into the river, and no reported sewage spills.

[KF, Nankin, State Line, Results, Swim Guide, plate]
KF, Nankin, State Line, Results, Swim Guide, plate

WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach got 33 cfu/100 mL E. coli at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp for Thursday, October 15, 2020, and zero for Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps. Continue reading

Ashburn spilled sewage three times in September 2020-09-27

Update 2020-10-17: Very clean Withlacoochee River 2020-10-15.

Ashburn, Georgia, spilled 210,000 gallons of raw sewage spread over three times in September and the public only got notified Wednesday, four weeks after the first spill. There’s not enough water quality testing data downstream from those spills to know what effects they may have had for example on Reed Bingham State Park.

[Charts and Map: Ashburn spills to GA-FL line]
Charts and Map: Ashburn spills to GA-FL line

Ashburn spilled once into Hat Creek, which runs into the Alapaha River, and twice from its MLK Lift Station into a tributary of Ashburn Branch, which runs into the Little River. We don’t have any data downstream on the Alapaha for that time period, so we don’t know anything about downstream effects. We do have quite a bit of downstream data for the other two spills, but so far downstream and with so many other things going on that it’s hard to tell if there were any effects showing up in that data.

About the only thing we know for sure is it would be great for Ashburn to get a grip on its chronic sewage spill problem, starting by at least reporting spills in a timely manner. That and it would be great if the state of Georgia or the federal government would resume testing on the Little and Alapaha Rivers as they apparently used to do up until about 1998, so we would know, for example, did this spill affect Reed Bingham State Park.

These are the spills, as reported in the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) Sewage Spills Report. WWALS commends GA-EPD for those online reports. GA-EPD can’t publish spills until it receives reports from the spilling organizaiton. Maybe Ashburn could be a bit more timely in reporting. Continue reading