Tag Archives: Ashlyn Johnson

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

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

Valdosta holds ground-breaking on WWTP catch basin 2020-07-21

Long-awaited, since December 2018, with GA-EPD permit in hand since December 2019, today was the groundbreaking for the new catch basin at the entrance to Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP).

[Ground breaking]
Photo: City of Valdosta, Ground breaking

The catch basin probably would have stopped 2/3 of the December 2018 spills. *The other 1/3 in December 2018 was from city infrastructure not acting as designed, unless 2 million gallons of raw sewage spilling from manholes was in that design.

It would not have done anything to stop the record December 2019 raw sewage spill, which resulted from the Remer Lane Pump Station being left offline and disconnected from the SCADA system.

However, some of the other projects mentioned in the below Valdosta press release may help with both those 2018 and 2019 other problems. It’s good to see Valdosta moving ahead to fix its chronic sewer system infrastructure problems.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 21, 2020
Release #07-21-104

City Breaks Ground on 7.26 Million-Gallon Equalization Basin at Withlacoochee WWTP

On Tuesday, July 21, 2020, The City of Valdosta broke ground on the new Equalization (EG) Basin located at the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The new secondary basin will provide more than double the available storage for extended periods of operation at the peak hourly flow thereby reducing the potential for overflows at the Plant. The Project includes a lined 7.26 MG excavated Basin, a new pump station, and an associated gravity pipe and force main.

Since its start-up in 2016, 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

Withlacoochee River contamination –WCTV 2020-07-13

2020-07-15: Lifted: Florida Withlacoochee River Bacterial Advisory 2020-07-15

WCTV covered the recent bad water quality results in the Withlacoochee River.

We have no new Withlacoochee River data from Georgia or Florida.

Update 2020-07-14 11:30 AM: Valdosta has updated with Friday downstream results: Knights Ferry, 270 cfu/100 mL E. coli; Nankin, 250; State Line, 280. FDEP just updated at 10:57 AM with these much better Monday results: GA 31, 10; CR 150, 20; FL 6, 60. So maybe those WWALS Saturday bad results at Knights Ferry and Nankin already washed downstream.

But we do have a datapoint on the Alapaha River.

[Naylor Beach, 2020:01:11 14:06:32, 30.9253083, -83.0384972]
Photo: Tasha Ekman LaFace, of Naylor Beach, 2020:01:11 14:06:32, 30.9253083, -83.0384972

Amber Spradley, WCTV, 13 July 2020, Withlacoochee River contaminated in parts of South Georgia and North Florida,

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV)—The Florida Health Department issued an advisory last Friday for parts of North Florida near the Withlacoochee River regarding alarming rates of E. coli.

“Right now, the results are not good,” Suwannee [Riverkeeper] John [S.] Quarterman said.

For counts of E. coli, Quarterman says anything less than 410 is okay, but zero is always ideal.

On Saturday, his team discovered numbers as high as 5,233 just west of Clyattville at the Knights Ferry Boat Ramp in Lowndes County.

“Every time this happens, they immediately point and say it’s Valdosta,” Quarterman said. “Well, this time it’s almost certainly not Valdosta.”

The high data was collected just below the city from Knights Ferry Boat Ramp to Madison Blue Spring in Florida.

“You know it’s something that we’re continuing to keep an eye on, but as far as the numbers around the city of Valdosta, those have all stayed relatively low,” the City of Valdosta’s PIO Ashlyn Johnson said.

City crews test the river three times a week for 40 river miles down to the Georgia-Florida line. Since Valdosta’s major sewage spill last December, they’ve seen no alarming contamination rates in the area.

Well, they found nothing alarming Friday down to US 84, but we haven’t yet seen Valdosta’s results for the lower three stations on the Withlacoochee River, and they certainly have seen alarming contamination previously.

[Dirty Knights Ferry, Nankin, FL 6]
Dirty Knights Ferry, Nankin, FL 6
For the complete WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida results and other context, see wwals.net/issues/testing/.

The rest of the article is about the 7.26 million gallon catch basin at the entrance of Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). Continue reading

Bad Friday and Saturday water quality results, Withlacoochee River 2020-07-11

Update 2020-07-14: Bad Friday and Saturday water quality results, Withlacoochee River 2020-07-11.

Not looking good downstream on the Withlacoochee River. Madison Health unusually tested on a Friday, and found too-high E. coli results at Florida 6, just above Madison Blue Spring: 414 cfu/100 mL. Saturday, WWALS results at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp were horrible: 5,233. Nankin Boat Ramp results were merely too high: 600. State Line Boat Ramp was within acceptable limits Saturday, but that contamination probably washed down that far by Sunday and well into Florida by this morning.

[Withlacoochee River, Swim Guide]
Withlacoochee River, Swim Guide

Thanks to WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach for collecting those downstream Withlacoochee River samples, and to Suzy Hall for providing the results. See also What do these numbers mean?

[Dirty Knights Ferry, Nankin, FL 6]
Dirty Knights Ferry, Nankin, FL 6
For the complete WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida results and other context, see wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Friday Conn got 2,100 on Crooked Creek at Devane Road. Remember, Crooked Creek runs into Okapilco Creek downstream of US 84. That 2,100 is actually lower than many results we’ve seen at that location, and Crooked Creek has much less flow than Okapilco Creek. So that number is not enough to account for the 5,233 downstream of Okapilco Creek on the Withlacoochee River at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp the next day. Did it come from somewhere else, such as upstream on Okapilco Creek?

This map may help with understanding where all these places are.

[Landings, Suwannee River Basin, WWALS Map]
Landings in Suwannee River Basin, WWALS Map

However many places the E. coli came from, there is reason to believe that the most likely sources are cattle.

[Little River, Swim Guide]
Little River, Swim Guide

Meanwhile on Saturday, upstream WWALS testers Conn Cole and John S. Quarterman found good results on the Little River at GA 76 (Cook County Boat Ramp) and GA 122 (Folsom Bridge Landing), as well as at GA 122 on the Withlacoochee River (Hagan Bridge Landing). Friday Conn Cole aso got good results on Okapilco Creek at US 84.

Plus, Valdosta’s Friday results for US 41, GA 133, and US 84 are all good. Valdosta did get a high Fecal coliform result for US 41, but we go by E. coli. Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for getting these Valdosta Friday results published this morning.

Back downstream, you don’t even have to count the blue-with-bubbles colonies to see Continue reading

Bad Knights Ferry in Valdosta data down to state line, Monday and Wednesday 2020-07-08

This very high Valdosta Monday 1,600 E. coli data for Knights Ferry Boat Ramp and even higher 3,200 for Nankin Boat Ramp help explain the Florida high result downstream on Tuesday, which itself helped explain yesterday’s Florida bacterial alert for the Withlacoochee River.

[Valdosta Monday and Wednesday results]
Valdosta Monday and Wednesday results
For the complete WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida results and other context, see wwals.net/issues/testing/.

For how bad those numbers are, see What do these numbers mean?

Valdosta’s Wednesday Nankin result was better, and its Knights Ferry 570 result at least wasn’t as horrible, although that was still higher than the one-time sample 410 limit. Yet Okapilco Creek @ US 84 had actually gotten worse.

So we can hope the Florida downstream good results are a good indicator. But there could be more E. coli still coming down the Withlacoochee River.

WWALS testers are collecting samples today and tomorrow, so we shall see.

Meanwhile, we have to put Knights Ferry Boat Ramp back to red on Swim Guide, because that’s the most recent data we have for it. Nankin just barely squeaks by under 410, so it’s green like all the eight Withlacoochee River “beaches,” except Knights Ferry.

[Red Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee River, 2020-07-08]
Red Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee River, 2020-07-08

Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for getting this Valdosta downstream data published. Maybe that can become standard practice, so people will have a better idea of river conditions before the weekend. This is in Valdosta’s own interest, since it usually shows Continue reading

Additional: Filthy Withlacoochee River Monday after Sunday rain 2020-06-08

Update 2020-06-11: Contamination moving downstream in Florida 2020-06-09.

The E. coli numbers jump up from US 84 to Knights Ferry in additional data from Valdosta for Monday. In between is Okapilco Creek coming out of Brooks County, with many beef and dairy cow pastures upstream.

[Additional Valdosta data]
Additional Valdosta data
For context and links to the WWALS composite spreadsheet and all its sources, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Valdosta’s 1,600 cfu/100 mL at the state line is nowhere near Madison Health’s 24,196, but still higher than the 1,000 alert limit.

It’s a good guess that Madison and Hamilton County Health Departments are putting up signs in Florida after their Withlacoochee River Advisory of yesterday.

I hope some Florida state agency is testing downstream from FL 6, because by now the contamination may well have moved down that way.

I am heading out to collect samples for WWALS and to put our yellow diamond Caution signs back up at State Line and Nankin Boat Ramps. The Knights Ferry access road is washed out so that one will have to go up later. You can help.

Yesterday I set all eight Withlacoochee River Boat Ramps and Launches in Swim Guide to show red for failed water quality.

[Swim Guide red from US 84 to Madison Boat Ramp]
Swim Guide red from US 84 to Madison Boat Ramp

Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for Continue reading