Monthly Archives: July 2020

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

Update 2020-08-01: Florida clean? Withlacoochee River 2020-07-30.

Subtitle: lack of data doesn’t mean good water quality.

Valdosta finally came through with downstream results for Friday, Monday, and Wednesday, at 1:21 PM today, and they ain’t pretty.

[Map: Bad Knights Ferry and Nankin in Swim Guide]
Map: Bad Knights Ferry and Nankin in Swim Guide

Valdosta got results way above the 1,000 cfu/100 mL E. coli alert level at Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps Friday, at Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps Monday, and again at Nankin on Wednesday, with a too-high single-sample count of 510 at Knights Ferry for Wednesday. See What do these numbers mean?

So we have set Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps red in Swim Guide.

We can’t set State Line Boat Ramp red because, even though that contamination has probably reached there by now, we have no data for yesterday or today. Similarly, we can’t set anything new for Florida stations, because we have no Florida data since Tuesday a week ago.

Floridians: maybe you’d like to ask your statehouse elected officials to fund FDEP to implement regular river testing all the way from the state line to the Gulf. If Valdosta can do it, the great state of Florida can do it. For that matter, FDEP told us last November that they already had money for that and were allocating it regionally. Maybe you’d like to ask FDEP to allocate some of it to the Suwannee River Basin.

[Bad downstream]
Bad downstream
For the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of results from Georgia and Florida, as well as other context, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Valdosta’s Friday 3,900 E. coli for Okapilco Creek @ US 84 shows something did wash down Okapilco Creek from the upstream rains. That testing station is upstream from where Crooked Creek joins Okapilco, so that E. coli did not come from Crooked Creek. And maybe some of this downstream contamination did come down from GA 133 over the weekend.

[Map: Devane Road to State Line]
Map: Devane Road to State Line, in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

You may wonder: how can the WWALS Wednesday results for Knights Ferry and State Line Boat Ramps be so different from Valdosta’s results? Usually, because Continue reading

Still green to go, Withlacoochee River to GA-FL line 2020-07-29

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

Pot Spring still closed 2020-07-29

Still closed yesterday: land entrance to Pot Spring.

[Trucks Entering Roadway, 12:12:12, 30.4796780, -83.2201059]
Trucks Entering Roadway, 12:12:12, 30.4796780, -83.2201059

Indeed, a large truck was coming out right then. I had to move on up the road to let him out. Not carrying logs, though; seemed to be empty.

[Vehicular Traffic Prohibited, 12:15:03, 30.4795594, -83.2204892]
Vehicular Traffic Prohibited, 12:15:03, 30.4795594, -83.2204892

I didn’t feel like walking a couple of miles right then, so I turned back.

Sabal Trail Pipeline

Also on SW 28th Lane, a Sabal Trail Pipeline crossing. Continue reading

Kayak Raffle Emotion Stealth 11 with paddle 2020-12-12

Kayak raffle tickets available!

[Kayak Raffle Poster, drawing 2020-12-12]
Kayak Raffle Poster, drawing 2020-12-12
PDF

Tickets: Get tickets anytime online, or at a WWALS paddle outing, or from a WWALS board member or staff, or at a WWALS festival booth (whenever festivals start happening again).
Suggested Donation $5.00 for one ticket; $20.00 for five tickets

Kayak Raffle Tickets

Drawing: December 12, 2020; you do not have to be present to win.

What: Emotion Stealth 11 Sit-On-Top Kayak with Carlisle Paddle, $600.00 value

Why: Support WWALS Advocacy and programs (water trails, water quality testing, Troupville River Camp, etc.), events (paddle races, songwriting contest, light parade), and outings.
And you could always use another kayak.

You may wonder: Continue reading

Suwannee Springs work in progress 2020-07-22

The Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) is removing the debris from Suwannee Springs that was left by recent flooding of the Suwannee River.

[Four views of Suwannee Springs]
Four views of Suwannee Springs

When I spoke to Edwin McCook, SRWMD Sr. Land Management Specialist, yesterday, he mentioned that SRWMD is looking into further improvements beyond just the debris removal and fixing the staircase mentioned in the SRWMD PR below. It will probably take a few weeks to decide what more can be done. When we know more, I’ll post more. Continue reading

Why Pot Spring is closed 2020-07-20

Update 2020-07-30 Pot Spring still closed 2020-07-29.

WWALS member Scotti Jay wanted to know why Pot Spring Tract is closed, after he saw a closed sign a week ago.

[Pot Spring on WWALS WLRWT map]
Pot Spring on WWALS Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT) map

So I called Edwin McCook, Sr. Land Management Specialist, at the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD). He said it’s just routine thinning of planted pines. Since the entrance road is narrow and dirt, it’s difficult for vehicles to get in and out past logging trucks, so the road is closed for safety. The thinning should be done in a few days.

[Closed sign]
Photo: Scotti Jay, Closed sign

He also volunteered that SRWMD has hired security through Labor Day, due to recent episodes of vandalism. People have been arrested and charged for that lately, so please don’t tear up things. Continue reading

Water quality testing grant from Georgia Power 2020-06-27

July 27, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Georgia Power grants funds to WWALS for Water Quality Testing

Hahira, GA, July 27, 2020 — Aiding our attempts to clean up the Withlacoochee River, Georgia Power Foundation has provided a substantial grant to WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (“WWALS”). WWALS will buy more water quality testing kits and supplies with the funds, as well as other expenses related to our volunteer water quality testing program.

“Please accept our most sincere thanks for your recognition and support of WWALS Watershed Coalition and our work for clean, fishable, swimmable, boatable water,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. “We look forward to a productive water quality testing program this year.”

“We’re honored to get to help,” said Joe Brownlee, Georgia Power Southwest Region Director. “One of our goals is to make sure the people of Georgia know about our great natural resources. And also that they’re safe. And y’all help do that by making awareness around water testing. And you build strong relationships I know now, coordinating with the City of Valdosta, making sure they publish their test results. Everything seems to be working and getting better. We’re on a sharp upward curve of getting better with what we do with water and getting to enjoy it. And my little girl, I’m working for her future, and Georgia Power is. Thank y’all, thank you to the volunteer testers, and the Riverkeeper.”

[Joe Brownlee, Georgia Power Southwest District Director]
Photo: WWALS, of Georgia Power Southwest District Director Joe Brownlee, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman, and WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall, at Troupville Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River, near Valdosta, Georgia.

“The response of the Georgia Power grant and Mr. Brownlee’s comments are quite touching (to me) due to the recognition of how difficult it is for a volunteer organization to do biological water testing over a huge area. The grant enables regular testing that can pinpoint multi-source pollution, which requires a varied response. It’s quite gratifying that both individuals and large companies realize this is a complex situation,” said WWALS President Tom H. Johnson, Jr.

“We have several testers already trained, waiting for testing kits. Thanks to Georgia Power, we can buy them kits and get them started testing!” said WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall. “Plus we can buy enough kits to train new testers with physical distancing even during the virus pandemic.”

“We like to think WWALS water quality testing has already done some good, helping warn people when the waterways are contaminated, helping find contamination sources, and encouraging several governmental organizations in Georgia and Florida to test more,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “With these funds from Georgia Power we can do much more. Also thanks to Valdosta Mayor Scott James for introducing us to Joe Brownlee.”

“The more testing, the more we can also check to see whether fixes such as fencing cattle away from waterways are actually working to improve the situation,” said WWALS Science Committee Chair Dr. Tom Potter. “Interested governmental, educational, or agricultural organizations please contact us about that.”

About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.

WWALS Water Quality Testing is summarized here: http://wwals.net/issues/testing/ Here is a video about this grant: https://youtu.be/zy0N_kRhPfI

Contact: Gretchen Quarterman, Executive Director
WWALS Watershed Coalition
wwalswatershed@gmail.com
850-290-2350
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632

===
(See also PDF.)

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

Excellent water quality, Withlacoochee River, but raining now 2020-07-22

Update 2020-07-27: Alert bacteria level at GA 133, Withlacoochee River, Friday 2020-07-24.

Valdosta already reported downstream Withlacoochee River results for Wednesday! They are excellent: 30 cfu/100 mL E. coli for Okapilco Creek @ US 84, same for Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps, and 40 for State Line: all well below the 126 longterm average limit. Valdosta results for Friday and Monday were similar, so the longterm average is in fact excellent. Plus we have Thursday and Tuesday Florida results, none higher than 10 for any of GA 31 (State Line), CR 150 (Sullivan Launch), or FL 6 (Madison Blue Spring). All that backs up the zero WWALS tester Suzy Hall got at State Line Boat Ramp Saturday.

Upstream, the most recent results from Valdosta are 30 for US 41, 140 for GA 133, and 0 (zero) for US 84, which is as good as it gets.

However, the UGA station for Dixie, GA, on the west side of Brooks County, already reported more than an inch of rain. Not so much rain anywhere else, so we don’t know what that rain will wash to the waterways. WWALS will be testing this weekend.

[Accuweather Radar]
Accuweather Radar Map.

Here’s the data: Continue reading