Tag Archives: Madison Health

Withlacoochee advisory lifted; more FDEP DNA marker and chemical tracer data 2021-01-12

Update 2021-01-21: Clean Withlacoochee 2020-01-14 and Suwannee River tests 2021-01-18.

It’s lifted: the bacterial advisory from Madison and Hamilton Health Departments, because of two successive good sets of results from Madison Health on the Withlacoochee River, the lastest for Tuesday. And Valdosta got good results upstream for Monday. All of which corroborates the Thursday Madison Health, Friday Valdosta, and Saturday WWALS results.

[Lifted, Chart, Markers, Map]
Lifted, Chart, Markers, Map

We also have more DNA marker data from FDEP, for Wednesday, January 6, 2021, which shows continued high ruminant DNA marker results on the Withlacoochee River, this time for Horn Bridge at the State Line, plus CR 150 at Sullivan Launch, and FL 6 just above Madison Blue Spring. Plus some clarifications of what I wrote in the previous blog post.

Before we get into all that, happy boating, swimming, and fishing on the Withlacoochee River! Continue reading

Contaminated Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Suwannee Rivers 2021-01-04; cleaner 2021-01-09

Update 2021-01-14: see clarifications and updates in Withlacoochee advisory lifted; more FDEP DNA marker and chemical tracer data 2021-01-12.

The Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Suwannee Rivers were contaminated with E. coli Monday, January 4, 2021, all the way from US 41 at North Valdosta Road to US 90 below the Withlacoochee River Confluence, and probably farther downstream, according to Valdosta, Madison Health, and FDEP data for that day. We also have preliminary DNA marker results from FDEP.

The culprit? Ruminants. The only ruminants numerous enough to cause the sky-high DNA marker results for the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers? Cattle.

This is a good example of how when testing happens upstream and down, we can all tell what is going on. Florida needs to fund frequent, regular, closely-spaced water quality testing from the state line to the Gulf. Continue reading

Much better Withlacoochee River water quality 2021-01-09

Update 2021-01-12: Contaminated Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Suwannee Rivers 2021-01-04; cleaner 2021-01-09.

Friday results by Madison Health and Saturday results by WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach show much improved Withlacoochee River Water Quality, from Nankin Boat Ramp through State Line Boat Ramp and Sullivan Launch down to FL 6.

Madison and Hamilton County Health Departments will probably wait until they get another good result of their own, probably for today or tomorrow, before they lift their health advisory.

However, WWALS already sees two good results in a row, so happy boating, swimming, and fishing on the Withlacoochee River!

We have no new Alapaha River results since the clean WWALS result for Sasser Landing Wednesday, but since there’s been no significant rain since then, the Alapaha is also probably clean for swimming, fishing, and boating.

[Ramps, Plates, Chart, Map]
Ramps, Plates, Chart, Map

We have no new results from Valdosta since Monday a week ago, when all of three upstream locations were still bad. Chances are those locations have also cleared up, but we don’t know. Continue reading

Bad Withlacoochee, OK Alapaha 2021-01-07

Update 2021-01-11: Much better Withlacoochee River water quality 2021-01-09.

The latest Withlacoochee River results still show mostly bad water quality, surprisingly good at the State Line on Wednesday, but bad downstream. The Madison and Hamilton County Health advisory for the Withlacoochee River is still in place.

However, Sasser Landing on the Alapaha River tested OK for Wednesday.

[Bad Withlacoochee, good Alapaha]
Bad Withlacoochee, good Alapaha

The Madison Health Wednesday tests were not as horrible as for Tuesday, but they still got too high at Sullivan Launch (CR 150) and FL 6. Some of that could be from the Quitman or Tifton sewage spills, but probably most of it is from Continue reading

Bad up and down: Withlacoochee River 2021-01-05

Update 2021-01-08: Bad Withlacoochee, OK Alapaha 2021-01-07.

Now with Madison and Hamilton Health advisory.

Monday Valdosta upstream water quality results are bad, and Tuesday Madison Health downstream results are worse. If I were you I would not swim, fish, or boat the Withlacoochee River until better results come in. Plus we have reports that Running Spring on the Suwannee River is brown like it usually is after contamination comes down the Withlacoochee River.

[Bad water quality, bad map on Swim Guide, Withlacoochee River]
Bad water quality, bad map on Swim Guide, Withlacoochee River

Madison and Hamilton Health have issued a joint health advisory.

[Health Advisory, Withlacoochee River]
Health Advisory, Withlacoochee River
PDF

It’s not clear how much of this is due to Tifton’s three weekend sewage spills into the New River and how much is from cattle, pig, and horse manure runoff. Probably mostly the latter. We have ordered some new DNA test kits, but they’re not here yet.

The slightly good news about this sitution is that before the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report and all the new testing by Valdosta, Madison Health, WWALS, and others, this kind of thing may have been going on after every big rain for years, and nobody knew. Also, as Valdosta was quick to point out, at least their Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant did not spill. Maybe the new catch basin helped.

However, it seems like Valdosta could at least fix the potholes in the middle of Mildred Street, where the Saturday spill apparently was. Continue reading

Clean downstream, Withlacoochee River 2020-12-10; odd Gibson Park, Suwannee River 2020-12-05

Update 2020-12-14: Still clean Withlacoochee River 2020-12-12.

Despite Adel’s Monday spill and a Valdosta water main burst Wednesday, all Withlacoochee River water quality results through Thursday are clean. Happy boating, swimming, and fishing this weekend! Of course, there could be rain and something washed in then, but none is currently predicted. All the WWALS “beaches” are green on Swim Guide.

We did get an odd result at Gibson Park on the Suwannee River last Saturday, though.

[Clean Withlacoochee River, odd Gibson Park, Suwannee River]
Clean Withlacoochee River, odd Gibson Park, Suwannee River

Josh and Angela Duncan got pretty clean results at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps Thursday, December 10, 2020. Madison Health got clean at State Line, Sullivan Launch, and FL 6 Tuesday, and Valdosta got clean results at US 41, GA 133, and US 84 Monday and Wednesday. Continue reading

Bad GA 133 for a week, yet good downstream, Withlacoochee River 2020-12-03

Update 2020-12-12: Clean downstream, Withlacoochee River 2020-12-10; odd Gibson Park, Suwannee River 2020-12-05.

Thanks to Madison Health and WWALS testers Josh and Angela Duncan, we have good bacterial water quality results for Thursday at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps, as well as at Sullivan Launch and FL 6.

This is mysterious, since Valdosta has gotten very high bacterial results at GA 133 for Friday, Monday, and Wednesday. Yet Valdosta got acceptable results downstream at US 84 those same days.

It appears that somebody is still dumping into the Withlacoochee River at or upstream from GA 133. Valdosta says it’s on the case and they’re encouraging everybody else to help find the culprits. Yes, please help.

[Chart and KF Plates]
Chart and KF Plates

Despite all that, according to the water quality results from US 84 downstream all the way to FL 6, I’ve marked all the WWALS “beaches” on Swim Guide Continue reading

Good since Thursday, Withlacoochee River Water Quality 2020-11-17

Update 2020-11-20: Bad at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2020-11-19.

Water quality is still looking good in the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers after the big mess last Wednesday. WWALS tested Sunday, and got good quality all the way from Cook County Boat Ramp on the Little River down to Knights Ferry on the Withlacoochee River. Madison Health tested Tuesday, and got good quality from the state line down to FL 6, just above Madison Blue Spring. That continues good results since Thursday. If we have more results today, we will report those tonight or tomorrow morning.

[Maps and Chart]
Maps and Chart

There’s been no rain, so unless the mystery dumper strikes again, so I’ve set all the WWALS “beaches” to green on Swim Guide, and happy swimming, fishing, and boating this weekend!

Valdosta says the Wednesday contamination did not come from the city, and they are looking into a number of ways to find the source. Lowndes County assures us it did not come from them, plus the new force main they are installing does not have anything in it yet, and does not cross any existing sewage mains. The county has asked its installation contractor to keep an eye out. I have even enlisted Waste Management, the new owner of Advanced Disposal Services, which owns the Lowndes County landfill, to keep an eye out for trucks that look like they might be hauling fecal matter. More calls are going out.

Suzy Hall got Continue reading

Horrendous water quality at GA 133 & US 84 Wednesday, clean downstream 2020-11-12

Update 2020-11-16: Better now, Withlacoochee River water quality 2020-11-14.

We’ve never seen anything quite like this.

Valdosta got 137,600 cfu/100 mL E. coli for Wednesday at GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River. That’s 137 times the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream alert limit of 1,000.

That’s far higher than the highest E. coli reading we’ve ever seen for the Withlacoochee River, which was the 39,000 Valdosta got on December 10, 2019, just after its infamous record spill. Which at least makes it unlikely that this contamination is coming from Valdosta.

Even the 85,600 Valdosta got for US 84 Wednesday is higher than that previous record at GA 133, and far above unprecedented for US 84. The previous US 84 record was 1,505 on April 1, after a big rain.

GA 133 is the same place Valdosta keeps finding very high E. coli and Fecal coliform, including 11,600 E. coli Friday a week ago. There has not been any rain. Which makes it very unlikely that this is runoff from farm animals.

[Horrendous upstream, clean downstream]
Horrendous upstream, clean downstream
Photos: Michael and Jacob Bachrach at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps, Thursday, November 12, 2020.

Yet Valdosta’s Wednesday downstream water quality results were all good, as were those by WWALS and Madison Health for Thursday.

According to the latest water quality results downstream of US 84, things look great for the Withlacoochee River this weekend. But I have to tell you I wouldn’t get in that water without more sampling.

I wish I could tell you what caused this, but so far I can only say a few things it’s not, and then speculate. Continue reading

Letter: WWALS to FDEP and SRWMD: acquisitions, invitations, withdrawals, water quality testing 2020-11-10

Sent yesterday afternoon after the morning SRWMD board meeting.


November 10, 2020

To: Noah Valenstein
Secretary, FDEP
Noah.Valenstein@floridadep.gov

Hugh Thomas
Executive Director, SRWMD
Hugh.Thomas@srwmd.org

Sen. Keith Perry
Perry.Keith@flsenate.gov

Cc: Scott R. Koons
E.D., Rivers Task Force
koons@ncfrpc.org

Re: land acquisitions, event invitations, water withdrawals, and water quality testing

Dear Secretary Valenstein, Director Thomas, and Sen. Perry,

This morning I spoke via gotowebinar in the SRWMD Board Meeting. This letter expands on what I said.

[WWALS letter to FDEP and SRWMD]
WWALS letter to FDEP and SRWMD
PDF

I offered compliments, a suggestion, and a recommendation on the FDEP press release of yesterday: Continue reading