Tag Archives: Quitman

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

Quitman, GA, April 2020 spill cause of contamination in Withlacoochee River? 2020-04-24

The recent Georgia spills are now in the WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality data.

Other than the very large December 2019 Valdosta spill, none of the spills (except one) obviously correlate with high E. coli as tested.

Which one? The April 24, 2020, Quitman spill, which may have been seen four days later at Running Springs on the Suwannee River.

[Withlacoochee, Quitman spill, Running Springs, Suwannee]
Withlacoochee, Quitman spill, Running Springs, Suwannee

Continue reading

Sewage spills, Suwannee River Basin, Dec. 2019 – Sept. 2020

Rochelle, Ashburn, Tifton, Adel, Moody AFB, Valdosta, and Quitman all spilled sewage into the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia from December 2019 through September 2020. But only one of those spills since December is likely to explain any contamination we’ve been seeing on the Withlacoochee River.

[Little, New, Withlacoochee, Summary, Alapaha River]
Little, New, Withlacoochee, Summary, Alapaha River

Yes, there were also some spills in Florida in the Suwannee River Basin, but those are actually harder to interpret, and they were mostly small, so they will have to wait.

At least Florida lets people sign up for pollution notices by county as they happen. Georgia has no such signup. So I’ve modified the scripts WWALS uses to display changes in the Georgia Sewage Spills Report to also send me an email alert.

Here are the Georgia spills, where, what streams they went into, and how far upstream that was: Continue reading

GA 133 and Knights Ferry in 2.5 weeks of Valdosta and Florida water quality data 2020-09-24

Update 2020-10-02: Health Advisory, Withlacoochee River, State Line 2020-10-02.

Mostly all clear on the Withlacoochee River in a bunch of data Valdosta and FDEP posted recently, except a bad reading at Knights Ferry Friday a week ago, and yet again a problem at GA 133 this past Monday.

The latest (Wednesday by Valdosta and Thursday by Madison Health) indicates good quality for this weekend. Since there has been hardly any rain to wash anything into the river, all the WWALS Withlacoochee River “beaches” remain green on Swim Guide.

Happy boating, so far as we can see!

[Charts and map]
Charts and map

Valdosta’s new data goes back two and a half weeks downstream, and FDEP filled in Tuesday a week ago as well as this Tuesday and Thursday.

That long chart is hard to read, so let’s take it a week at a time. Continue reading

Twomile Branch and Withlacoochee River 2020-07-28

Update 2020-07-31: Just when you think it’s safe, nope, Withlacoochee River to GA-FL line 2020-07-29.

For Monday, July 27, 2020, Valdosta reports still slightly elevated bacterial counts at GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River, but nothing like the alert level of Friday. Yet counts at US 41 upstream and US 84 downstream remain completely normal. We can guess that rainwater coming down the Little River into the Withlacoochee diluted the contamination.

[Towmile Branch, Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River]
Towmile Branch, Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River

We don’t know where that Friday GA 133 contamination came from. Both Valdosta and Lowndes County say they did not spill any sewage, and the state of Georgia still reports no sewage spills in the Suwannee River Basin (ditto for Florida).

[Downstream, 16:25:10, 30.8661346, -83.3102568]
Downstream, 16:25:10, 30.8661346, -83.3102568

I even tested Tuesday on Twomile Branch just below Joree Millpond and behind the last house on Lake Drive (thanks to the landowner). Results there were higher than are good for longterm average, but below the single test limit.

[Upstream again, 16:12:23, 30.864, -83.3158]
Upstream, Twomile Branch, Lake Drive, Valdosta, GA, 2020-07-28, 16:12:23, 30.8640000, -83.3158000

We have no Valdosta results downstream of US 84 since Wednesday a week ago, and nothing from Florida since Tuesday a week ago. Continue reading

Alert bacteria level at GA 133, Withlacoochee River, Friday 2020-07-24

Update 2020-07-30: Twomile Branch and Withlacoochee River 2020-07-28.

Valdosta reports very high fecal bacterial results for Friday at GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River: 1,410 cfu/100 mL E. coli and even higher for Fecal coliform. We don’t know what caused that: GA-EPD did not report any spills that day, and has not yet put up a new Sewage Spills Report for today. I am checking with the obvious suspects.

[GA 133 west of Valdosta, east of Troupville Boat Ramp]
GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River west of Valdosta, east of Troupville Boat Ramp on the Little River.
On the Withlacoochee River, GA 133 is marked by the white circle, with the US 41 bridge at top right and the US 84 bridge towards the lower left, in this WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

Here is a chart of the data and recent rainfall. Note not much rain upstream on the Withlacoochee River. If the contamination came from upstream, it should have shown up first at US 41. Although conceivably it might have passed by US 41 on Thursday between samples. Continue reading

All green to go, Withlacoochee River 2020-07-18

Update 2020-07-23: Excellent water quality, Withlacoochee River, but raining now 2020-07-22.

We don’t always get zero E. coli on the Withlacoochee River, but when we do, we like it!

That’s zero cfu/100 mL at State Line Boat Ramp Saturday, by WWALS tester Suzy Hall, and zero at FL 6 just above Madison Blue Spring Tuesday by Madison Health. With below 410 (that’s good) everywhere upstream in Valdosta Monday, Wednesday, and Friday results.

Plus, we have good results on the Alapaha River, thanks to WWALS testers Tasha Ekman LaFace and Suzy Hall.

[Green on Swim Guide, Withlacoochee River]
Green on Swim Guide, Withlacoochee River

Yes, even Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps showed good results all week. We didn’t know that until today, but now we do, thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson getting those numbers posted about 1PM today. Continue reading

Clean Little and Withlacoochee Rivers to GA-FL line 2020-07-03

Update 2020-07-10: Data behind Florida bacterial advisory for Withlacoochee River 2020-07-09.

Update 2020-07-09: Possible bacterial contamination, Withlacoochee River, Hamilton, Madison Co. FL 2020-07-09.

Thanks to new WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach assisting Suzy Hall, results for samples taken Friday, July 3, 2020, are all green for Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps on the Withlacoochee River. The samples I took upstream were also good: zero for Hagan Bridge Landing at GA 122 on the Withlacoochee River, and 333 for Folsom Bridge Landing at GA 122 on the Little River.

Suzy did remark, “The mosquitoes got a little annoying at Nankin!”

You can help by donating to the WWALS water quality testing program.

[Michael and Jacob Bachrach testing]
Michael and Jacob Bachrach testing

There was quite a bit of rain Friday, but almost all upstream on the Little River and upstream of Okapilco Creek at Moultrie (or Okapilco River, as Colquitt County calls it). While there was heavy rain at US 84 on the Withlacoochee River at the east side of Brooks County, meanwhile on the west side of Brooks at Dixie there was not much rain. So if we’re lucky, not much Continue reading

Watching over the Waters: WWALS paddles, songwriting contest –VDT 2020-06-27

Amanda M. Usher, Valdosta Daily Times, 27 June 2020, Watching over the Waters: WWALS sponsors paddles, songwriting contest,

[Paddle Georgia from Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River]
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, Paddle Georgia from Spook Bridge, between Quitman and Valdosta, GA, Withlacoochee River, June 15, 2019.

VALDOSTA — John Quarterman has been around the Suwannee River Basin since his childhood.

Living on land his [grand-]father purchased near rivers and swamps in 1921, he has always felt attracted to rivers and works to keep them clean.

Quarterman is the Suwannee [R]iverkeeper with WWALS Watershed Coalition. WWALS is an acronym for Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little[, Santa Fe,] and Suwannee.

The coalition was established in June 2012 to eliminate issues with rivers and creeks such as sewage spills, he said. Quarterman became the Suwannee [R]iverkeeper in 201[6].

WWALS Watershed Coalition serves a significant purpose of water quality testing, he said. The City of Valdosta tests waters three times a week from U.S. 41 North to the southern state line, he said.

Through the years, the group has hosted cleanups at the Troupville boat ramp and holds two or three paddles monthly.

[Lakeland cleanup, Alapaha River]
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, Rivers Alive Cleanup, Pafford’s Landing near Lakeland, GA, Alapaha River, October 12, 2019.

“We’re not just a paddling organization,” Quarterman said. “… We do paddles, but we’re also an advocacy organization. We want to do conservation of stewardship.”

Quarterman is about awareness. He strives to bring attention to the rivers’ existence and informing people they can make use of the recreational rivers by boating or fishing.

“Getting people out there on the rivers to see what it is they are trying to conserve and protect is really important because until you see it for yourself, you’re not really appreciating the beauty of these rivers,” he said.

The rest of the article is about the upcoming paddle outings at Banks Lake at 7:30 PM Sunday, July 5, and at Dowling Park River Camp; for that one please be at Dowling Park Boat Ramp a 11:30 AM, Saturday, July 18, with camping gear.

The article concludes with the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, 7-9 PM, Saturday, August 22, 2020, at Turner Center Art Park, 605 N. Patterson Street, Valdosta, GA.

Come on down!

Thanks Amanda M. Usher, for Continue reading

Good Withlacoochee River water quality 2020-05-20

Update 2020-05-27: Withlacoochee River still clean 2020-05-25.

Water quality test results through Wednesday are good, and rain has only been drizzles except way upstream. That’s probably not enough to wash any new E. coli into the rivers. So I’ve set the Swim Guide Withlacoochee River “beaches” to green for “Meets water quality standards”. This is all advisory, of course: conditions can change rapidly. But there’s no big rain in the forecast.

WWALS will be testing this weekend. You can help.

[Swim Guide]
Swim Guide

Since our last report, we’ve gotten data from Valdosta through Wednesday, May 20, and from Madison Health for Tuesday. That all confirms the WWALS results over the weekend. Continue reading