Tag Archives: creeks

Good Withlacoochee River water quality 2020-05-20

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

Clean Withlacoochee River 2020-05-13

Update 2020-05-20: Clean weekend 2020-05-17.

Something was in the water in Okapilco Creek Monday, and at Nankin Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River. But that was gone Wednesday, according to Valdosta test results. So all eight “beaches” on the Withlacoochee River that WWALS has so far listed in Swim Guide are green again.

Join us this morning upstream at Cook County Boat Ramp on the Little River, where we will paddle upstream to Stone Bridge and back, keeping 6 feet apart on land and 10 feet on water.

Yes, WWALS will be testing water this weekend. You can help.

[Nankin in Swim Guide]
Nankin Boat Ramp in Swim Guide

Don’t forget to send in your comment on the GA-EPD Valdosta Consent Order. But remember, Valdosta is not the source of the recent contamination. WWALS is talking to some of the agricultural sources. Please be patient: agriculture takes months or years to fix.

Something came out of Okapilco Creek Monday. Continue reading

A clean week, Withlacoochee River 2020-05-08

Update 2020-05-16: Clean Withlacoochee River 2020-05-13.

Update 2020-05-14: Withlacoochee River Landings on Swim Guide 2020-05-14.

Last week was clean for the Withlacoochee River, and with no rain predicted, probably this weekend and the coming week, too.

Don’t forget to send in your comment on the GA-EPD Valdosta Consent Order.

But remember, Valdosta is not the source of the recent contamination. WWALS is talking to some of the agricultural sources. Please be patient: agriculture takes months or years to fix.

You can help.

[Approaching State Line Ramp --Bobby McKenzie]
Approaching State Line RampBobby McKenzie, 2020-05-10

We’ve seldom seen a week this clean. Continue reading

Vickers Branch and Hahira LAS 2020-05-11

How is the mysterious Vickers Branch south of Hahira related to the Hahira Land Application Site? What is that creek the rest of that LAS is on? And what does all this have to do with Lowndes County’s new IMPAIRED WATERS MONITORING AND IMPLEMENTATION PLAN? Why do we care about all this for the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail?

About six weeks ago, the bridge on Old US 41 North just south of Hahira broke and Lowndes County fixed it. Revealing that nobody knew a name for it. Except Phillip Williams, who says, “Some maps show it as Vickers Branch. The Vickers family were the ones who owned most of the land in the area back in the 1800s.”

[Map: Vickers Branch, Hahira LAS]
Map: Vickers Branch, Hahira LAS
in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

The Vickers Branch Bridge marker south of Hahira looks slightly too far south, but it’s where google street view and aerials show the bridge. It seems that the USGS stream trace I used in this map is not quite right.

[Photo: Lowndes EMA, of broken Vickers Branch Bridge]
Photo: Lowndes EMA, of broken Vickers Branch Bridge

Upstream of that Vickers Branch US 41 bridge, several branches or runs that drain quite an area. I have named them after Continue reading

Send your comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order –Albany Herald

In the Albany Herald, May 9, 2020, Deadline set to comment on Valdosta EPD Enforcement Order,

The Enforcement Order includes a fine, plus many requirements for management and technology.

“Well, I’m glad they are doing the enforcement order, requiring them to get the fixes in place,” said Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Fla., who was among the WWALS members who met with the city of Valdosta back in 2015 about these same sewage issues. “I’m not sure what the $122,000 will be used for, but the fine seems small. I just want the problem fixed for good if possible.”

The rest of the article is from the WWALS press release.

Send your comments by Wednesday, May 27, 2020, to:
   Mr. Lewis Hays
   Manager, Watershed Compliance
   Environmental Protection Division
   2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Suite 1152 East
   Atlanta, GA 30334
   Lewis.Hays@dnr.ga.gov
   404-463-4953

This is not the kind of black water we want:

[Photo 4: Confluence of Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River.]
Photo 4: Confluence of Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River. By Tim Bonvechio.

The entire 93-page Order is on the WWALS website, here:
http://wwals.net/pictures/2020-04-13–ga-epd-vld-enforcement-order

“This Order has been a long time coming. It includes an outline of a sad history of mistakes and neglect. I hope the Order Continue reading

Clean Withlacoochee River until next big rain 2020-05-05

2020-05-13: A clean week, Withlacoochee River 2020-05-08.

More good news! The Withlacoochee River is still clean. Of course, all these posts are advisory, because conditions can change at any time, it takes 24 hours to process a sample, and everyone’s reactions are different to E. coli and other pollution.

We can guess the Suwannee River is clean, although nobody is testing it, and it seems to have its own sources of contamination.

This clean spell will probably last until the next big rain, which may be some weeks away. So now’s a good time to get out there on our rivers, where you can easily stay 50 feet apart on the water and six feet on land.

WWALS continues water quality testing, and you can help.

[State Line Boat Ramp]
State Line Boat Ramp Photos: Suzy Hall, downstream, John S. Quarterman of 2019 WWALS Boomerang paddle race, and of Waterkeepers Florida toast to Earth Day, all at State Line Boat Ramp.

We’re even thinking of taking down our yellow diamond Caution signs for now.

[Clean with no rain]
Clean with no rain
For context see wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Thanks to Madison Health for the most recent results, from Continue reading

Comments open on Georgia call for Valdosta to pay six-figure fine for spilling sewage in river –Georgia Recorder

‘“I commend EPD for doing an order that’s better than I expected, better than a lot of people expected” [Suwannee Riverkeeper John S.] Quarterman said. “There’s still room for improvement.”’

You can comment on the consent order by Wednesday, May 27, 2020, to:
Mr. Lewis Hays, Manager, Watershed Compliance,
Georgia Environmental Protection Division
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Suite 1152 East
Atlanta, GA 30334
Lewis.Hays@dnr.ga.gov
404-463-4953

[Green at the Confluence]
Sara Jones with the Suwannee Riverkeeper prepares to test the water at the Withlacoochee River following a December sewage spill. A Georgia Environmental Protection Division consent order calls for the city of Valdosta to pay a $122,000 fine for sewage spills and permit violations. Scotti Jones

Stanley Dunlap, Georgia Recorder, 5 May 2020, State calls for Valdosta to pay six-figure fine for spilling sewage in river,

The city of Valdosta is facing a $122,000 fine for spilling raw sewage into a creek that flows into a south Georgia river that runs downstream into Florida’s Suwannee River and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico.

The proposed settlement with the state’s Environmental Protection Division is for Continue reading

Clean Withlacoochee River, less bad Crooked Creek 2020-05-02

Update 2020-05-08: Clean Withlacoochee River until next big rain 2020-05-05.

Good news! WWALS testers found the Withlacoochee River clean Saturday from US 84 (33 cfu/100 mL E. coli) to the state line (zero), and the Little River at GA 76 (also zero) and Okapilco Creek at US 84 (33), too.

Conn and Trudy Cole remarked, “Things were much better this week! We could actually count Crooked Creek. ”

WWALS keeps testing, and you can help.

[Suzy Hall: State Line Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee River 2020-05-02]
Photo: Suzy Hall, State Line Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee River 2020-05-02

The Coles counted 3,100 at Devane Road.

[Crooked Creek @ Devane Road]
Crooked Creek @ Devane Road

That’s way above the Continue reading

Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (see also PDF)

Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order

Hahira, GA, May 4, 2020 — May 27th is the deadline to comment on the Enforcement Order the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) finally issued on Valdosta for sewage spills. For decades, Valdosta has spilled wastewater into the Withlacoochee River. People downstream, even on the Suwannee River all the way to the Gulf, worry about fishing, swimming, or even boating and some even say their wells are contaminated by fecal bacteria from these spills. Many had hoped that Valdosta’s big spills were over in 2016 with the new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant uphill out of the flood plain, plus a Force Main with two Pump Stations. Valdosta says it has spent about $80 million on water system improvements. Yet the spills continued. The Order also reveals a massive fish kill.

[Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.]
Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.

“The December 2019 spill was the biggest yet, with no rain, and nothing actually broke. It was a massive failure of supervision,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Citizens and elected and appointed officials in Georgia and a dozen counties in Florida demanded something be done.”

This Enforcement Order includes the most popular request, a fine, plus many requirements for management and technology.

“Well, I’m glad they are doing the enforcement order, requiring them to get the fixes in place,” said Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Florida, who was among the WWALS members who met with the City of Valdosta back in 2015 about these same sewage issues. She added, “I’m not sure what the $122,000 will be used for, but the fine seems small. I just want the problem fixed for good if possible.”

The Order addresses much (but not all) of what Suwannee Riverkeeper asked GA-EPD to do: http://wwals.net/?p=50979 For example, it requires the City to test water quality all the way down to the state line. One thing it does not include is any requirements for reimbursing downstream well and river testing expenses.

“It’s good to see that the EPD is FINALLY taking this issue seriously!” said Suzy Hall, WWALS Testing Committee Chair. “I can’t help but feel WWALS’ diligence in testing has been a big part of this action, and must continue regardless of any order for the City to conduct testing.”

The entire 93-page Order is on the WWALS website, here:
http://wwals.net/pictures/2020-04-13–ga-epd-vld-enforcement-order

“This Order has been a long time coming. It includes an outline of a sad history of mistakes and neglect. I hope the Order will finally get the City’s attention,” said Dr. Tom Potter, WWALS Science Committee Chair and taxpayer of the City of Valdosta.

Send your comments by Wednesday, May 27, 2020, to:
   Mr. Lewis Hays
   Manager, Watershed Compliance
   Environmental Protection Division
   2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Suite 1152 East
   Atlanta, GA 30334
   Lewis.Hays@dnr.ga.gov
   404-463-4953

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.

Contact: John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org
WWALS Watershed Coalition
850-290-2350, 229-242-0102
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632

===

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

GA-EPD Enforcement Order for Valdosta wastewater with fine 2020-04-13

Update 2020-05-04: Press Release, Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order.

Much of what many people requested is in this Enforcement Order EPD-WP-8904 of the Public Notice of April 27, 2020.

[Photo 1: Site where sewage flowed out of manhole into Sugar Creek.]
Photo 1: Site where sewage flowed out of manhole into Sugar Creek.

Perhaps the most popular request, a fine, is included. As a Project In-Lieu of Penalty (PIP) stream testing is required, three times a week, down to the state line. Plus: “The Respondent shall post all the results of biological monitoring required after major spills to its website and to the Georgia EPD Adopt-A-Stream website within one business day of receipt of the results.”

All 250 sewer line creek crossings must be inspected by drone crews.

Valdosta must notify many Florida agencies, plus in Georgia Lowndes Health and Brooks EMA.

Other things are missing. WWALS is not on that notification list, for example.

[Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.]
Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.

And the Order reveals some Valdosta violations the public never knew about, such as a massive fish kill in December 2019. The cost of that calculated by GA-DNR Wildlife Division seems inadequate, since it doesn’t take into account people being unwilling to fish on the Withlacoochee River, for example.

If you think there should be more or changed requirements, the Public Comment period ends May 27, 2020.

Send comments to: Continue reading