Tag Archives: Fecal Coliform

Clean weekend water quality, Withlacoochee River 2020-06-28

2020-07-04: Clean Little and Withlacoochee Rivers to GA-FL line 2020-07-03

More good news: the Little River at Troupville Boat Ramp tested good Saturday, and the Withlacoochee River tested good last week and Sunday.

[Troupville and State Line Boat Ramps (left)]
Photo: Suzy Hall, Troupville and State Line Boat Ramps

Thanks to Suzy Hall for the weekend testing. You can help by donating to the WWALS water quality testing program.

[Troupville Boat Ramp with foam]
Photo: Suzy Hall, Troupville Boat Ramp with foam 2020-06-27

Suzy Hall took samples both in the foam and in the main flow of the Little River at Troupville Boat Ramp Saturday, June 27, 2020. She got 33 cfu/100 mL in the flow and 66 in the foam, both well below the 126 long-term average limit for E. coli.

[State Line Boat Ramp (left)]
Photo: Suzy Hall, State Line Boat Ramp 2020-06-28

Results were even better at State Line Boat Ramp Sunday: Continue reading

Sunday and Monday creek and river water quality results 2020-06-01

Update 2020-06-09: Filthy Withlacoochee River Monday after Sunday rain 2020-06-08

Conn and Trudy Cole also tested for WWALS Sunday, except at Crooked Creek, which was almost dry under the Devane Road bridge, so it can’t be sending any contamination downstream. At US 84 they got 66 cfu/100 mL E. coli for Okapilco Creek and 33 for the Withlacoochee River. WWALS continues testing, and you can help.

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

On the Little River at GA 76 (Cook County Boat Ramp) they got 33, similar to the 0 (zero) I got there that same day.

[Rock Bridge]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Rock Bridge on the Little River @ GA 76, 2020-05-31.

Plus we have Valdosta data for Monday and last Wednesday and Friday, all showing pretty clean at US 84 on the Withlacoochee River and upstream. So it was a good weekend for boating, swimming, and fishing on the Withlacoochee and Little Rivers.

[Clean weekend]
Clean weekend
For context, including the entire WWALS composite water quality table of results from both Georgia and Florida, see wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Valdosta results upstream Friday, May 29, 2020, at GA 133 and US 41 on the Withlacoochee River were oddly higher than downstream, with 265 E. coli. That’s higher than the 126 long-term average limit, but still well below the 410 single-test limit. For Wednesday at Knights Ferry, Valdosta got a weirdly very high Fecal coliform result, 1,400, but a pretty normal 140 E. coli. See Continue reading

Clean Little and Withlacoochee Rivers 2020-05-31

Update 2020-06-04: Sunday and Monday creek and river water quality results.

I’ve posted green for “Meets water quality standards” on Swim Guide all the way from Cook County Boat Ramp (GA 76) on the Little River for last weekend, and the same past State Line Boat Ramp into Florida for late last week. With little rain lately and none forecast, this clean trend should continue.

[Folsom Bridge (GA 122) in Swim Guide]
Folsom Bridge (GA 122) in Swim Guide

These water samples look clean. And this time that water was clean. 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

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

Earth Day Cleanup Postponed due to pandemic: WWALS, Georgia Power, Valdosta, and Brooks County, GA, Madison County, FL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (PDF)

Earth Day Cleanup Postponed due to pandemic: WWALS, Georgia Power, Valdosta, and Brooks County, GA, Madison County, FL

Hahira, Georgia, March 4, 2020 — We are postponing the Earth Day Cleanup and Paddle previously scheduled for April 18, 2020, at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River. http://wwals.net/?p=51816 The organizers, WWALS, Georgia Power, Valdosta, and Brooks County, Georgia, remain committed to holding this event in the future, as does , and Madison County, Florida. Meanwhile, WWALS plans a virtual outing by livestreaming a few people at the site on the original day, six feet apart, of course.

[WWALS and Lowndes County]
WWALS and Lowndes County signs at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp.

“At Georgia Power our focus during this challenging time is to ensure uninterrupted power so you can keep your daily life running,” said Joe Brownlee, Southwest Region Director for Georgia Power. “We are currently taking preventive measures to keep our teams healthy as spring storm season approaches. Hopefully we’ll be past this soon and can again join in fun times on the river.” Continue reading

Much better water quality: Withlacoochee River, Okapilco Creek 2020-03-11

Update 2020-03-16: More testing needed to track river pollution –Suwannee Riverkeeper in Gainesville Sun 2020-03-16.

No rain for a week (since March 5th) meant not much E. coli washed into creeks and rivers.

WWALS is testing upstream this weekend. You can help.

[Composite table]
WWALS Composite table
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of data from Georgia and Florida sources, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Apparently the high numbers WWALS saw on Crooked Creek Saturday a week ago (March 7th) washed on down through Okapilco Creek and Brooks County to the Withlacoochee River by Monday. Apparently that contamination got diluted pretty quickly by all that rainwater coming down from as far north as Tifton.

The most recent numbers we have are Valdosta’s for Wednesday, March 11, 2020, with Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps only slightly above the longterm desired limit of 126 cfu/100 mL E. coli, and below that upstream.

Madison Health tested Tuesday, and got actually slightly lower (135.4) at State Line, and below 126 at CR 150 (Sullivan Launch) and FL 6 (upstream from Madison Blue Spring).

Nobody tested downstream from there in the past week. Nobody knows whether any of the most recent contamination reached the Suwannee River.

[Quitman and Valdosta to Suwannee River]
Quitman and Valdosta to Suwannee River
In the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

The USGS gauges upstream from US 84 peaked days ago, and the US 84 (Quitman) gauge is coming down now, soon to be Continue reading

Special meeting to approve an RFP for an environmental attorney –Madison BOCC 2020-03-06

Update 2020-03-07: Too Numerous To Count: E. coli, Madison County, Withlacoochee River 2020-03-05.

Tonight at 6PM in Madison, Florida. I’ll be there to discuss the recent water quality test results and to invite them to Earth Day cleanup at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River.

Madison County, Florida

NOTICE OF SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF
COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MADISON COUNTY, FLORIDA
,

NOTICE IS GIVEN that the Board of County Commissioners of Madison County, Florida will hold a special meeting, to which all persons are invited to attend, as follows:

March 6, 2020
6:00 p.m.
Madison County Courthouse Annex
229 SW Pinckney St., Room 107 Madison, Florida 32340

Review with Possible Approval of Draft Request for Proposals to Engage the Services of an Environmental Law Firm.

If you are Continue reading

WWALS, Georgia Power, and Valdosta: Knights Ferry Cleanup, optional Nankin Paddle, Withlacoochee River 2020-04-18

Update 2020-03-19: Earth Day Cleanup Postponed due to pandemic: WWALS, Georgia Power, Valdosta, and Brooks County, GA, Madison County, FL.

Update 2020-03-14: Radio TV, and unfortunately the novel Coronovirus may curtail the paddle, but the Cleanup is still on.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (PDF)

Earth Day Cleanup at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River: WWALS, Georgia Power, and Valdosta, April 18, 2020

Hahira, Georgia, March 4, 2020 — Celebrate the fiftieth Earth Day by helping clean up Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, Saturday morning, April 18, 2020. Afterwards, those who want to can paddle with us down the Withlacoochee River to Nankin Boat Ramp, cleaning up on the water and when we get to Nankin . This event is the first ever sponsored by WWALS, Georgia Power, the City of Valdosta, and Brooks County, Georgia.

[During Paddle Georgia 2019-06-16]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, During Paddle Georgia 2019-06-16.

“Through this clean up effort we think we’ve found a way to create synergy around environmental stewardship with groups such as Continue reading