Tag Archives: Quitman

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

Update 2021-06-28: Filthy GA-FL Line, Withlacoochee River 2021-06-26.

Most Withlacoochee River contamination comes from cattle manure runoff, according to extensive testing. Yet there is the myth that every problem with the Withlacoochee River comes from Valdosta sewage. Actually, Valdosta has not had a spill that got into the river in more than a year and a half.

Other cities do have sewage spills (especially Quitman), which do cause problems. But when the rivers have E. coli after big rains, it usually comes from cattle manure runoff.

Most of the time our rivers are clean, and here’s how we know that.

[Map: Quitman, Valdosta, Okapilco Creek, Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee-River]
Map: Quitman, Valdosta, Okapilco Creek, Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee-River in the WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

These questions from a year ago still reflect many we get to this day: Continue reading

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

Much cleaner: Withlacoochee River 2021-04-29

Update 2021-05-03: Still clean Friday: Withlacoochee River 2021-04-30.

Despite a Quitman sewage spill last weekend, the Withlacoochee River was already much cleaner Wednesday, as found by WWALS tester Gus Cleary at Cleary Bluff below Allen Ramp. He got similar results for Thursday, confirmed by Valdosta’s upstream results for Wednesday, and Madison Health’s Florida results for Thursday.

How can this be? The massive upstream rains Saturday are coming down the rivers now, washing the contamination downstream and diluting it.

While Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida, will probably leave their health alert in place until they get a second clean set of Florida results, I’d feel comfortable now with boating, swimming, or fishing in the Withlacoochee River.

I’d still wait a day or so for the Suwannee River downstream of the Withlacoochee.

[Results, Plates, Swim Guide]
Results, Plates, Swim Guide

We don’t have any new data for Knights Ferry or Nankin Boat Ramps (our usual testers are off this week, after discovering this problem Monday). So those two locations still show Continue reading

Very bad, GA-FL line and downstream, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-11

Update 2021-02-13: Better, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-12.

I’d avoid the Withlacoochee River for a few days if I were you. Apparently the Tuesday rains did wash more manure out of Brooks and Colquitt Counties down Okapilco Creek into the Withlacoochee River.

Valdosta’s Wednesday results upstream of Okapilco Creek were only slightly elevated, but Madison Health’s Thursday downstream results were very high. The WWALS Thursday samples had a technical glitch, so we don’t know about Knights Ferry or Nankin Boat Ramps, but they were probably pretty bad. We hope to have Friday results soon.

Meanwhile, I would not want to get that river water on me until the upstream rainwater dilutes and washes down the contamination, which will probably take a few days. Unless, of course, it rains harder and washes more in.

[Chart, Swim Guide map]
Chart, Swim Guide map

Yesterday afternoon FDEP posted Madison Health results for Thursday, February 11, 2021, and they were very bad: 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

Sewage Spills: Quitman, Valdosta, Tifton 2021-01-03

Update 2021-01-06: Bad up and down: Withlacoochee River 2021-01-05.

Tifton spilled raw sewage three times over the weekend, all into the New River, upstream of the Withlacoochee River. As already reported, Valdosta spilled into Knights Creek, which goes into Mud Swamp Creek, the Alapahoochee River, and the Alapaha River just above Sasser Landing. We have no water quality data downstream of any of those spills.

Plus Quitman finally reported a spill from more than a week ago, but downstream water quality on the Withlacoochee River the next day was actually better than the day before.

However, the big rains in between drove plenty of contamination, probably mostly cow, pig, and horse manure, into the Withlacoochee, with even Madison Health showing too-high E. coli at State Line for December 29, 2020.

The even bigger rains this past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday probably have done the same.

So I’d recommend avoiding not just the Withlacoochee River, but also the Alapaha River for a few days, until better test results come in.

[Spills and little data]
Spills and little data

The one recent datapoint we have is WWALS tester Tasha Ekman LaFace’s record-high for that location 1,333 cfu/100 mL E. coli at Naylor Park Beach on the Alapaha River, just upstream from US 84. But that can’t be from the Valdosta sewage spill, since Naylor Beach is way upstream of the Alapahoochee River Confluence with the Alapaha River. However, Naylor Beach is not a long way downstream from Lakeland, so it will be interesting if we hear about any spills from there. Continue reading

Valdosta Mildred Street Sewage Spill, Alapaha River Basin 2021-01-02

Update 2021-01-05: Sewage Spills: Quitman, Valdosta, Tifton 2021-01-03.

Happy New Year from Valdosta, with a sewage spill at one of its chronic locations, although Valdosta was vague about exactly where and got the creek wrong. I wonder how they plan to fix this flooding that causes sewage spills if they don’t know where the water drains?

On January 2, 2021, the City of Valdosta Utilities Department responded to a call concerning a sanitary sewer overflow at a manhole in the 400 block of Mildred Street, an area that experiences localized flooding during rain events. The sanitary sewer spill was a result of excessive rainfall over a 24 hour period. This amount of rainfall over a short period of time resulted in storm water infiltration and inflow entering the collection system, and causing the manhole to exceed its capacity. Approximately 25,150 gallons of combined storm water and sewage discharged at this location, eventually entering into Dukes Bay.

…Warning signs have been posted at this location as well as downstream to advise the public to avoid any contact with this waterway for the next seven (7) days.

[Sewage Spill, Mildred Street, Valdosta, Alapaha River]
Sewage Spill, Mildred Street, Valdosta, Alapaha River

Although Valdosta’s press release is careful to point out that this spill did not come from the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treetment Plant (WWTP), which is good, the PR does not say where “downstream” is. Dukes Bay Canal goes to Mud Swamp Creek, then the Alapahoochee River, and then reaches the Alapaha River slightly upstream of Sasser Landing, in Hamilton County, Florida. Continue reading

Valdosta data: Quitman sewage spill, Okapilco Creek, Withlacoochee River

Update 2020-12-19: Bad Knights Ferry Thursday, Withlacoochee River 2020-12-17.

Valdosta’s downstream test results show the Withlacoochee River still clean on the day of the Quitman sewage spill, Wednesday, December 9, and on that Friday and Monday, just as Madison Health and WWALS results showed for the Friday.

[Clean downstream, and likely spill sites]
Clean downstream, and likely spill sites

Valdosta did show quite high E. coli on Okapilco Creek at US 84 for the Friday, higher than WWALS saw on the Saturday.

If the spill location really was the South Highland Road Lift Station, maybe it took a few days for the contamination to ooze Okapilco Creek. Continue reading

Big sewage spill, Quitman, GA, also bad downstream previous week, Withlacoochee River 2020-12-09

Update 2020-12-16: Valdosta data: Quitman sewage spill, Okapilco Creek, Withlacoochee River

Quitman had a 125,000-gallon raw sewage spell Wednesday, December 9, 2020, appearing five days leter in yesterday’s GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report. That’s larger than the 87,000-gallon Quitman spill of 2020-04-24, when Valdosta’s downstream results that same day showed 6,000 cfu/100 mL E. coli on Okapilco Creek, KF 15,000, Nankin 5,200, State Line 1,000; remember the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream alert limit is 1,000. We have reason to believe that April spill travelled all the way to the Gulf.

In the data we have at the moment, astonishingly this recent Wednesday spill does not seem to have affected the Withlacoochee River, much less the Suwannee River. However, we are still awaiting Wednesday and Friday data from Valdosta.

[Quitman, lift station, Okapilco Creek, Withlacoochee River]
Quitman, lift station, Okapilco Creek, Withlacoochee River

Here’s the report, as highlighted by WWALS automated software: 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