Tag Archives: GA 133

All eight Withlacoochee River landings green 2020-06-14

Update 2020-06-25: Good water quality, Withlacoochee and Alapaha, but recent rains may change that 2020-06-22.

Good news from Suzy Hall’s Sunday sampling for WWALS at Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps, and Valdosta’s Friday results for US 41, GA 133, and US 84: all green, below the average sample limit of 126 cfu/100 mL E. coli! So I’ve set the rest of the eight Withlacoochee River Swim Guide “beaches” to green, after the Florida beaches already went green Saturday.

[Swim Guide Withlacoochee green]
Swim Guide Withlacoochee green
For context and links to the WWALS composite spreadsheet and all its sources, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Maybe we should take the WWALS yellow diamond Caution signs back down at Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps.

[Nankin Boat Ramp signs]
Nankin Boat Ramp signs

Here is a picture of Suzy’s water samples. Continue reading

Florida lifts Withlacoochee River advisory; more rain could mean more contamination 2020-06-11

Update 2020-06-16: All eight Withlacoochee River landings green 2020-06-14

Valdosta’s Wednesday Knights Ferry result is not pretty: 2,300 cfu/100 mL E. coli, far over the 1,000 alert limit. Previously, I said we wouldn’t turn Swim Guide green until we saw that result. Plus, much more rain fell Friday on Lowndes and Brooks Counties, Georgia. Also, Valdosta got 1,500 on Okapilco Creek at US 84, even worse than the 833 I got there that same Wednesday (see yellow highlighted area).

So, Swim Guide stays red for the Withlacoochee River in Georgia. But Swim Guide goes green for Florida; see below. See also below for the Little and Alapaha Rivers.

WWALS will test tomorrow. You can help.

[More rain means...?]
More rain means…?
For context and links to the WWALS composite spreadsheet and all its sources, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

After two consecutive days of good results from the state line downstream (see green highlighted area), the Florida Department of Health lifted yesterday, June 12, 2020, the Advisory they issued June 9, 2020. Continue reading

Florida, and Upstream water quality tests for Lowndes and Brooks Counties, GA 2020-06-10

Update 2020-06-13: Florida lifts Withlacoochee River advisory; more rain could mean more contamination 2020-06-11.

The Withlacoochee River from the state line to the Suwannee River looked much better Wednesday, according to FDEP results.

Upstream on the Withlacoochee and Little Rivers and two out of three creeks in Brooks County, not so good, according to samples I took Wednesday.

Valdosta’s Wednesday results fill in US 41 (North Valdosta Road), GA 133, and US 84 on the Withlacoochee River. We await Valdosta’s Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramp results.

Meanwhile, you can help.

[Withlacoochee R. @ GA 122 to Suwannee R. @ US 90]
Withlacoochee R. @ GA 122 to Suwannee R. @ US 90
For context and links to the WWALS composite spreadsheet and all its sources, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Thanks to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for testing from GA 31 as far downstream as US 90.

[Horn Bridge, GA 31, Withlacoochee River]
Horn Bridge, GA 31, Withlacoochee River

But where did the contamination go? Did it get diluted? Or did it just wash farther downstream? 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

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

Update 2020-06-10: Additional: Filthy Withlacoochee River Monday after Sunday rain 2020-06-08

Yes, again there’s a Withlacoochee River Advisory from the Hamilton and Madison County, Florida, Health Departments. But it’s not what many people automatically assume.

WWALS is putting its yellow diamond Caution signs back up. All eight Withlacoochee River Boat Ramps and Launces in Swim Guide should shortly show red for failed water quality.

[06.09.20-Withlacoochee-River-Advisory-Madison-Hamilton-0001]
06.09.20-Withlacoochee-River-Advisory-Madison-Hamilton-0001
PDF

Notice the high E. coli at US 41 (North Valdosta Road), twice the high alert limit of 1,000. That is north of almost all of Valdosta. The numbers are still above alert limit but somewhat lower at GA 133 and US 84.

The really high numbers start at GA 31, at State Line Boat Ramp. And 24,196 is extremely high. See What do these numbers mean?

So the main contamination seems to be coming into the Withlacoochee River downstream from US 84. That very likely means down Okapilco Creek from Brooks County, Georgia. Which fits with 4.75 inches of rain at Dixie, GA, in the west of Brooks County and 4.7 inches at the east edge of the county on the Withlacoochee River at US 84. Since that storm, as most do, moved from east to west west to east, we can guess similar amounts of rain fell right across Brooks County. What does that spell? Cows.

Not just from one location; probably from cow pastures all over Brooks County. And maybe upstream, since more than two inches of rain fell on Moultrie.

And of course the higher-than-alert results from US 84 north are not from Brooks County. There are horse farms and cows and hogs up there, too, as well as septic tanks, domsetic pets, and wildlife in the woods. And yes, runoff from city streets. But no sewage spills have been reported. Continue reading

Three Little River Landings in Swim Guide 2020-05-21

WWALS has added three more “beaches” on Swim Guide, this time on the Little River.

Our 300 closest friends from #PaddleGA2019 will recognize one of these, where they all put in for seven days on the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers last summer: Cook County Boat Ramp (GA 76), Folsom Bridge Landing (GA 122), and Troupville Boat Ramp (GA 133).

[Laptop]
Laptop
In the app, these beaches will appear if you are near.
In the web interface, search for: georgia little river withlacoochee.

All are marked green for “Meets water quality standards” due to the zero (0) E. coli result I got at Cook County Boat Ramp Saturday, which is upstream on the Little River from the other two, combined with the zero result Suzy Hall got downstream on the Withlacoochee River at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, and very low results a few days earlier from 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

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

High, fast, and dirty: Withlacoochee River, Okapilco and Crooked Creeks 2020-04-25

WWALS testers Conn and Trudy Cole noted for these four Saturday test stations: “All of these were high and flowing fast.” Also dirty. You can help WWALS buy supplies for water quality testing.

[All four dirty]
All four dirty

You don’t even have to be a trained tester to tell none of those Petrifilms looks good, and that bottom row is by far the worst.

cfu/100 mL
E. coli
Where
444 Little River @ GA 76 (Cook County Boat Ramp)
1,200 Withlacoochee River @ US 84
900 Okapilco Creek @ US 84
TNTC Crooked Creek @ Devane Road

All four locations were above the 410 single-sample limit, and two were above the 1,000 alert limit.

As expected, every location tested was filthy. Crooked Creek at Devane Road was so much higher that it could only be recorded as Too Many To Count (TNTC). That’s in the left middle of this map, where Continue reading