Tag Archives: Quitman

Location of Quitman sewage spill 2022-03-20

Update 2022-04-08: All rivers bad water quality 2022-04-07.

Quitman’s 48,000 gallon sewage spill on Sunday, March 20, 2022, was from the Quitman settling ponds, which are slightly uphill from Okapilco Creek. Which explains why Valdosta got too-high E. coli at US 84 on Okapilco Creek, and at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps downstream on the Withlacoochee River.

We know this location because of the response to the WWALS open records request to Quitman asking where is this “Influent Liftstation”:

GPS 30.793581, -83.544316
800 North Highland Dr

This has been going on for years. For example, the April 24, 2022 spill from the same location contaminated the Withlacoochee River and the Suwannee River probably as far as Running Springs, if not all the way to the Gulf.

The form Quitman’s contractor sent GA-EPD says the spill was not preventable. Well, according to Quitman’s permit from GA-EPD, “Power failure” is not an excuse, because the permitee is supposed to have backup power. It’s time for Quitman to find a way to prevent these spills from contaminating Okapilco Creek and the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers. This is a public health hazard.

What will the Georgia Environment Protection Division (GA-EPD) do to stop these spills from Quitman, and meanwhile to get much more timely reporting by Quitman to GA-EPD and to the public?

[Map and doc: location of Quitman sewage spill]
Map and doc: location of Quitman sewage spill

It’s only 1.10 creek miles to US 84, and 5 creek miles all the way down Okapilco Creek to the Withlacoochee River. Then 3.68 river miles more to Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, for 8.68 water miles total. At even two miles per hour, that’s less than five hours for contamination to travel. Continue reading

Surprisingly Clean Withlacoochee River 2022-04-01

Update 2022-04-06: Location of Quitman sewage spill 2022-03-20.

Surprisingly after significant rain, all tested locations were pretty clean, including Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps on the Withlacoochee River. So as far as we know, this weekend is good for boating, fishing, and swimming. Me, I’d prefer the Alapaha over the Withlacoochee this weekend.

Oh, last Tuesday Quitman got around to reporting a sewage spill that happened nine days later. It’s long gone now.

[Chart, river, Swim Guide]
Chart, river, Swim Guide

Tests Wednesday downstream by WWALS and upstream by Valdosta were pretty clean. Samples Thursday upstream by WWALS were pretty clean. And samples Friday at Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps were also pretty clean. All were below the 126 cfu/100 mL E. coli average sample limit.

We also saw four Wednesday samples by the Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC), at Reedy Creek and Cow Creek on GA 129 (both enter the Alapaha River downstream from US 84 and Naylor Boat Ramp), and J. Frank Culpepper Road and GA 135 on the Alapahoochee River (which enters the Alapaha River downstream from Statenville Boat Ramp and slightly upstream of Sasser Landing @ CR 150 in Hamilton County, Florida. All those were well below 126, as well. Continue reading

History of Alapaha River Bridges, US 41 to Nobles Ferry –Ken Sulak 2021-12-08

Dr. Ken Sulak, USGS, Retired, sent us some things to look for as we paddle the last stretch of the Alapaha River on February 5, 2022.

[Pictures and Maps, Lower Alapaha River Bridges]
Pictures and Maps, Lower Alapaha River Bridges

For your upcoming [5] Feb Alapaha adventure, some of your folks might be interested in the history of three crossing sites you will encounter. So, here you go very briefly: Continue reading

WWALS at Brooks County Skillet Festival 2021-10-16

Get some fresh-fried food at the Skillet Festival, and come by the WWALS booth, in Quitman, Georgia, this Saturday. Yes, we will have the raffle kayak, the $950 value Vibe Yellowfin 120. And what will NextEra be up to this year?

When: 9AM-5PM, Saturday, October 16, 2021

Where: Brooks County Courthouse, 100 Screven Street, Quitman, Georgia 31643

What: Brooks County Skillet Festival is an artisan craft fair, food festival and vintage market, all tied up in a pretty burlap bow.

Volunteer: You can help at the WWALS booth. Send us email to contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org.

Event: facebook

Froggy toss was very popular, WWALS booth
WWALS at the Skillet Festival in 2018.

Continue reading

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