Tag Archives: Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Cleaner downstream with no rain 2020-03-24

Update 2020-03-26: Hamilton, Madison Counties Health Lift Advisory for the Withlacoochee River 2020-03-26.

Suzy Hall’s Sunday testing at State Line Boat Ramp started the good news this week.

So WWALS can continue testing, WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman just bought another case of Petrifilm, to the tune of $753.25. That’s a big buy for a tiny nonprofit such as WWALS. You can help.

[Suzy Hall retrieving test bucket at State Line Ramp 2020-03-22]
Suzy Hall retrieving test bucket at State Line Ramp 2020-03-22

The Withlacoochee River is clean this week, and even Okapilco Creek is cleaner than it sometimes is.

[Clean Sunday through Tuesday]
Clean Sunday through Tuesday
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida data, see wwals.net/issues/testing/.

At State Line Boat Ramp, Suzy Hall for WWALS, the City of Valdosta, and Madison Health all got Continue reading

Filthy Crooked Creek, clean Okapilco Creek upstream 2020-03-20

Update 2020-03-26: Cleaner downstream with no rain 2020-03-24.

Two days after rain, Crooked Creek was still filthy Friday. Some of that probably got into the Withlacoochee River. WWALS continues testing. You can help.

[Too high]
Too high
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of all known data sources see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

This is in Brooks County, Georgia.

[Crooked Creek @ Monument Church Road]
Crooked Creek @ Monument Church Road

Crooked Creek at Monument Church Road was bad enough, 1,366 cfu/100 mL E. coli, which is above the Georgia Adopt-A Stream alert level of 1,000. See also what do these numbers mean?

[Crooked Cr @ MCR]
Crooked Cr @ MCR

The stench was mostly coming from Continue reading

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

Gainesville Sun, 12:01 AM, Monday, March 16, 2020, John S. Quarterman: More testing needed to track river pollution (see also PDF),

Fecal bacterial contamination from Georgia probably reached the Gulf of Mexico about March 3, 2020, according to the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD).

[Tifton to the Gulf]
Tifton to the Gulf
In the WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

The good news: we know about that, because of much more water quality monitoring being done since I wrote a column about the issue last year for The Sun.

This recent testing was provoked by a spill of 7.5 million gallons of raw sewage into Sugar Creek near Valdosta, Ga., in December. With no rain, the sewage sat there for a week, and then moved down the Withlacoochee River in about three weekly globs, at least once reaching the Suwannee.

This Valentine’s Day, Valdosta exceeded our request, testing not one but Continue reading

Suwannee River contamination running downstream to the Gulf 2020-03-01

Update 2020-03-05: Cleaner Withlacoochee Monday, Tuesday; Suwannee unknown 2020-03-03

Whatever the Saturday contamination is, by Monday it had apparently moved downstream from FL 51 (Hal W. Adams bridge between Mayo and Luraville). Unfortunately, it is not expected to dilute or dissipate. More likely it will be unhealthy all the way to the Gulf. You can help.

[2020-03-01 Suwannee river downstream]
2020-03-01 Suwannee river downstream
The entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of all known data sources is on the WWALS google drive.
For context, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Katelyn Potter of SRWMD forwarded a message from SRWMD Water Resources Chief Darlene Velez, saying “results below from samples collected Sunday 3/1/2020.”

Suwannee at US90: Fecal – 98 mpn/100ml; E. coli – 172 mpn/100ml
Suwannee at CR250: Fecal – 131 mpn/100ml; E. coli – 116 mpn/100ml
Suwannee at SR51: Fecal – 187 mpn/100ml; E. coli – 114 mpn/100ml

She depicted all those numbers as green. By our color scheme, the 172 E. coli is orange, because it’s higher than the 126 cfu/100 mL that is what longterm averages should be below. See also what do these numbers mean?

She continued:

I also ran some calculations:

From Withlacoochee (Pinetta) to Suwannee (Ellaville) the dilution factor is 0.49

From Suwannee above Santa Fe River (Luraville) to Suwannee below Santa Fe River (Rock Bluff) the dilution factor is 0.78

We have several springs backflowing now with river levels up, and we are losing approximately 1000cfs to the aquifer between Ellaville and Luraville gages.

On the Suwannee the water velocities are between 1 and 1.5 mph, so the high bacteria we got at SR51 on Saturday morning should be near Manatee Springs tomorrow (Tuesday 3/3) morning and to the Gulf of Mexico sometime Wed (3/4). Based on the dilution factors above the 980 E. coli we got at SR51 is unlikely to be diluted below health threshold below the Santa Fe River.

Please let me know if you have questions. Continue reading

Still bad Saturday: Withlacoochee and Suwannee River to Mayo and Luraville 2020-02-29

Update 2020-03-02: Suwannee River contamination running downstream to the Gulf 2020-03-01.

Still bad water quality all the way to Luraville and Mayo, according to FDOH Friday for the Withlacoochee River and SRWMD Saturday for the Suwannee River.

A catalog of WWALS, Valdosta, Lowndes County, FDEP, FDOH, and SRWMD results is at wwals.net/issues/testing/. You can help.

[2020-02-29--excerpt-WWALS-composite-wq-results]
2020-02-29–excerpt-WWALS-composite-wq-results
Extract from WWALS composite water quality test results from Georgia and Florida.

A couple days ago I remarked that nobody knew the water quality of the Suwannee River downstream from Dowling Park, because nobody had tested that. Saturday SRWMD did test down at the Hal W. Adams Bridge on FL 51, between Mayo and Luraville, and the result was above the alert level of 1,000, while at Dowling Park it was back below the too-high level of 410. Apparently something was moving down the Suwannee River.

We still don’t know what’s going on downstream of FL 51, for example at US 27 (Branford) or CR 340 (Rock Bluff Ramp). This is more evidence that we need regular, frequent, testing at all these locations, not just after a spill or other upstream alert.

Thanks to Katelyn Potter of the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) for forwarding the Florida updates late Sunday evening. Thanks to SRWMD and Madison Health for testing on a weekend, and to Florida Department of Health (FDOH) for helping. Thanks to Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and Julie Espy for posting results on an FDEP web page. No update on Valdosta’s results website for Friday yet.

WWALS testers Conn and Trudy Cole got Continue reading

Avoid Withlacoochee River Knights Ferry to Suwannee River Dowling Park 2020-02-27

The good news: both Valdosta and FDEP are posting testing results on their websites. There’s a catalog of those and WWALS’ results at wwals.net/issues/testing/.

The better news: Valdosta is testing three times a week, FDOH once a week, and FDEP is testing again, after saying it wouldn’t.

The really bad news: Thursday test results say stay off the Withlacoochee River at least from Knights Ferry on down, and the Suwannee River from the Withlacoochee Confluence at least down to Dowling Park.

The WWALS results from my Monday samples may help explain this contamination, and it looks like you can see it flow from Crooked Creek through Okapilco Creek to the Withlacoochee and the Suwannee. You can help.

[Rain driving contamination down 2020-02-27]
Rain driving contamination down 2020-02-27.
Extract from WWALS composite water quality test results from Georgia and Florida.

But Valdosta’s Wednesday results also show contamination at US 41, upstream of Valdosta. And FDEP shows a spike at Dowling Park again. So there are multiple sources, not only in Brooks County, Georgia, but also elsewhere. The good news for Valdosta is it doesn’t seem to be coming from Valdosta.

WWALS continues to work on locating sources of contamination. For example, two of us visited the Quitman Land Application Site Wednesday. More on that in another blog post. WWALS testers will be sampling this weekend.

I took samples on Crooked Creek again Continue reading

Better: Valdosta and Quitman, Withlacoochee River, Suwanneee River past Santa Fe River 2020-02-22

Something is still getting into Okapilco Creek, and even more into its tributary Crooked Creek. For last week, we could follow it downstream way into Florida, using data from WWALS, Valdosta, and Florida Departments of Health. Fortunately, Friday the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers were within health limits from US 41 above Valdosta down past Branford. You can help.

[State Line Boat Ramp]
State Line Boat Ramp
Photo: Suzy Hall. Somebody stole all our signs from Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, but we will reprint and replant. If you want a sign to hang on your wall, you can just buy it from WWALS; prices are reasonable.

Possible sources of contamination getting into Okapilco Creek and then into the Withlacoochee River from Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on down include (but are not limited to) the Quitman Land Application Site (LAS), a sewage settling pond and another sewage pond, and lots of cows. We continue testing to find out.

[Quitman Land Application Site]
Quitman Land Application Site
in WWALS map of Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

Whatever it was, it went way down the Suwannee mid-week last week, maybe even as far as Rock Bluff Ramp at CR 340 below Branford. Yet what I detected on Crooked Creek Friday didn’t even make much of a mark on Continue reading

Bad: Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River, to Dowling Park, Suwannee River 2020-02-19

Update 2020-02-21: Very high E. coli on Okapilco feeder creek 2020-02-19.

Florida testing shows the contamination Suzy Hall detected Monday at Knights Ferry on the Withlacoochee River appears to have reached the state line and into Florida the next day, at least as far as Florida 6, which is just upstream from Madison Blue Spring.

The day after, Wednesday, February 18, 2020, levels were above normal but not alarming that far down (other than at the state line), and there was a hot spot at CR 250 (Dowling Park Ramp).

[Downstream into Florida]
Downstream into Florida
The entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of data from three Florida agencies, WWALS, and Valdosta is on the WWALS website.

As usual, you can help.

Once again, upstream on the Withlacoochee, US 84 and above, Valdosta and WWALS testing Monday showed nothing remotely as high as these downstream results. And my spot check on the feeder creek at US 84 that runs into Okapilco Creek showed nothing out of the ordinary. Which leaves the prime suspect still the Quitman Land Application Site (LAS), which is near Okapilco Creek, south of US 84. And Okapilco Creek runs into the Withlacoochee River between US 84 and Knights Ferry. I have scheduled an appointment to go investigate the Quitman LAS.

Despite leaving messages at the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) the past two days, I’ve gotten no response from them. Ironically, the Florida agencies communicate with WWALS Continue reading

Okapilco Creek better, Withlacoochee still clean 2020-01-22

Update 2020-01-25: Florida advisory lifted, but WWALS warning signs stay up, and keep testing rivers, creeks and wells.

Okapilco Creek is down from 2419.6 cfu/100 mL E. coli last Thursday to 365 yesterday, Wednesday, January 22, 2020, according to data from Lowndes County received during the Florida Rivers Task Force meeting in Lake City.

[Okapilco Creek in Brooks County]
Okapilco Creek in Brooks County in Brooks County Tax Appraiser map.

That’s still higher than we’d like to see, but not way up in don’t touch the water range like before.

[Lowndes County 2020-01-22]
Lowndes County 2020-01-22
Thanks to Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter for sending these results, which are on the WWALS website along with the entire entire updated WWALS composite spreadsheet of all results from all sources.

Where did that contamination go? Did it show up on Continue reading

Withlacoochee, Suwannee good, Okapilco Creek bad water quality 2020-01-18

Update 2020-01-23: Okapilco Creek better, Withlacoochee still clean 2020-01-22.

The good news: Gretchen Quarterman’s test results from the Mayor’s Paddle Saturday were clean.

[Gretchen Quarterman testing during Mayor's Paddle (Suzy Hall)]
Photo: Suzy Hall, of Gretchen Quarterman testing during Mayor’s Paddle 2020-01-18

The Withlacoochee River tested clean all the way from the state line to the Suwannee, and the Suwannee River clean all the way to US 250, on Friday, January 17, 2020, according to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH). But somebody (Valdosta?) needs to pay for the well and river testing incurred to date from that record-largest Valdosta raw sewage spill of December 2019. And we need ongoing regular, closely spaced, water quality testing, and sources of funding (Valdosta?) for that, for at least two reasons detailed below.

Maybe you’d like to come talk about that at the Florida Rivers Task Force meeting 4PM today at the Holiday Inn, 213 SW Commerce Blvd, Lake City, FL, or at the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council (NCFRPC) meeting at 7PM, same location.

Or you can speak in Citizens To Be Heard at the end of the Valdosta City Council meeting, 5:30 PM today, Valdosta City Hall, 216 E. Central Ave., Valdosta, GA.

[Clean rivers 2020-01-15-18]
Clean rivers 2020-01-15-18
The entire composite spreadsheet by WWALS is on the WWALS website, along with the recent data from Lowndes County and Florida.

The Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) projection reported by WCJB on Thursday that Valdosta sewage had reached the Suwannee River fortunately proved not to come to pass. Cleaner Friday than Thursday, by results from WWALS, Lowndes County (which has its own sewer system that did not spill), and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). Valdosta did not test on any weekdays last week, even though their Mayor was scheduled to paddle.

The difficulty of projecting river flows is one reason continual testing is the only way to be sure what’s in our rivers.

What’s in Okapilco Creek?

The interesting news: Lowndes County found high E. coli on Okapilco Creek south of Continue reading