Tag Archives: Weather

GA 133 Friday bad again? But good everywhere else, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-06

The good news: all green for boating, fishing, swimming, etc. from Cook County Boat Ramp on the Little River @ GA 76 and on the Withlacoochee River from US 41 through the GA-FL line past Madison Blue Spring. Thanks to Madison Health and the City of Valdosta for testing, and to WWALS testers Trudy and Conn Cole for finding zero E. coli on the Little River @ GA 76 (Cook County Boat Ramp).

The bad news: last Friday, again there was massive fecal bacterial contamination in the Withlacoochee River @ GA 133, far higher than the 410 cfu/100 mL single-test limit and twice the 1,000 alert limit. See also What do these numbers mean?.

The better news: a usually reliable source tells me that GA-EPD has found the culprit and is dealing with it. And the culprit was not governmental; it was a private company. More on that when I know more.

[Map: All green on Swim Guide]
Map: All green on Swim Guide.

It’s really strange that such a high concentration of fecal bacteria at GA 133 did not show up downstream. Where did it come from? It’s not runoff: there was no rain, except way up at Skipper Bridge, which should have showed runoff contamination at US 41 before GA 133 if that was the source.

It’s not Valdosta or Lowndes County: they had no spills.

It’s almost like somebody dumped some septic tank or RV liquids into the river. 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

Suwannee Springs work in progress 2020-07-22

The Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) is removing the debris from Suwannee Springs that was left by recent flooding of the Suwannee River.

[Four views of Suwannee Springs]
Four views of Suwannee Springs

When I spoke to Edwin McCook, SRWMD Sr. Land Management Specialist, yesterday, he mentioned that SRWMD is looking into further improvements beyond just the debris removal and fixing the staircase mentioned in the SRWMD PR below. It will probably take a few weeks to decide what more can be done. When we know more, I’ll post more. Continue reading

Excellent water quality, Withlacoochee River, but raining now 2020-07-22

Update 2020-07-27: Alert bacteria level at GA 133, Withlacoochee River, Friday 2020-07-24.

Valdosta already reported downstream Withlacoochee River results for Wednesday! They are excellent: 30 cfu/100 mL E. coli for Okapilco Creek @ US 84, same for Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps, and 40 for State Line: all well below the 126 longterm average limit. Valdosta results for Friday and Monday were similar, so the longterm average is in fact excellent. Plus we have Thursday and Tuesday Florida results, none higher than 10 for any of GA 31 (State Line), CR 150 (Sullivan Launch), or FL 6 (Madison Blue Spring). All that backs up the zero WWALS tester Suzy Hall got at State Line Boat Ramp Saturday.

Upstream, the most recent results from Valdosta are 30 for US 41, 140 for GA 133, and 0 (zero) for US 84, which is as good as it gets.

However, the UGA station for Dixie, GA, on the west side of Brooks County, already reported more than an inch of rain. Not so much rain anywhere else, so we don’t know what that rain will wash to the waterways. WWALS will be testing this weekend.

[Accuweather Radar]
Accuweather Radar Map.

Here’s the data: 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

The illusion of pipeline invincibility is shattered –WWALS Brief to FERC in Sabal Trail Rehearing

Let’s cut to the chase in the letter we filed with FERC yesterday:

11. Historic new circumstances add up

The sun never set on the British Empire. Until it did.

No one circumstance ended that Empire, but it is easy to point at major events that accelerated its demise, such as the independence of India and the Suez Incident. Its fall started after the illusion of its invincibility was shattered by Gandhi’s campaign of civil disobedience and other events such as World War II.

The illusion of invincibility of the inland colonial empire of pipelines has been shattered by recent court orders about the ACP, DAPL, and others, and especially by the shut down of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the shuttering of the Constitution Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. All of those pipelines were expected to be built, and DAPL actually was built before being ordered to shut down and empty. Now the world knows that pipelines are not inevitable.

All these pipeline projects, like Sabal Trail, were opposed by nonviolent protests and political and legal actions. All those methods of opposition, combined with the sea-change in progress to renewable energy, eventually added up to a new and significantly different world than that in which Sabal Trail was permitted or re-permitted.

The shut down of DAPL and the abandonment of ACP as well as the court rejection of tolling orders make it a new world even since FERC’s June 19, 2020, Order granting a rehearing on Sierra Club’s motion.

FERC should initiate a new [Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement] EIS that should take into account Sabal Trail’s own track record of leaks and sinkholes, as well as leaks and accidents from [Liquid Natural Gas] LNG export and LNG transport in rail cars, the speeding demise of fossil fuels as evidenced by record low LNG export prices and bankruptcies of frackers, the court rejections of DAPL, ACP, and tolling orders and how much of Sabal Trail could never have been built through environmental justice communities without tolling orders, the coronavirus pandemic, and the rapid rise of renewable solar, wind, and battery power as evidenced by FPL and Sabal Trail partners Duke and NextEra, as well as by FERC’s own numbers. All of those new and significant circumstances make pipelines such as Sabal Trail toxic stranded assets, dangerous to the bank accounts of their investors, as well as to the environment, justice, and human health.

Conclusion

For the reasons stated above, WWALS asks FERC to grant Sierra Club’s motion for stay of the Commission’s letter order of April 22, 2020, to halt Sabal Trail Phase II, and to commence a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) taking into account all of the above new and significant circumstances.

[Third-party inspection, recission, stay, SEIS]
Third-party inspection, recission, stay, SEIS

For those who are not familiar with tolling orders, they are basically how, after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gives federal eminent domain to a private pipeline company, FERC lets that pipeline company take land before any payment to the landowner or even any agreement is reached. Without tolling orders, it’s not clear the FERC will ever get another pipeline built.

Here’s a longer explanation. Continue reading

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

Update 2020-07-20: All green to go, Withlacoochee River 2020-07-18.

Going by the good downstream Florida results FDEP posted yesterday for Monday, July 13, shortly before Tom Mirti announced those results in the SRWMD Board meeting yesterday, as he predicted, Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida, Health Departments today lifted the bacterial advisory they posted last Thursday. Not much rain has fallen lately, so results will probably stay good downstream until the next big rain.

[Florida Withlacoochee River Advisory lifted]
Florida Withlacoochee River Advisory lifted
PDF

So I’ve marked State Line Boat Ramp and the Florida “beaches” green on Swim Guide.

[Green State Line and Florida in Swim Guide]
Green State Line and Florida in Swim Guide

We have good Valdosta Monday results for US 84 and upstream, but nothing downstream yet, so Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps remain red. Since there’s been no significant rain lately, and results are good upstream and downstream, chances are Knights Ferry and Nankin are also good, but we can’t change Swim Guide for them until we get new test results. 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

Data behind and after Florida bacterial advisory for Withlacoochee River 2020-07-09

Update 2020-07-10: Bad Knights Ferry in Valdosta data down to state line, Monday and Wednesday 2020-07-08.

Update 2020-07-10 13:00: FDEP Thursday data has been posted, with results back within normal bounds.

Today FDEP posted FDOH data from Tuesday, which shows 471 cfu/100 mL E. coli at CR 150 (Sullivan Launch). Presumably this is what provoked yesterday’s bacterial advisory for the Withlacoochee River from Madison and Hamilton County Health Departments.

[Bad at CR 150, increasing upstream]
Bad at CR 150, increasing upstream
For the complete WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida results and other context, see wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson, Valdosta also published Wednesday data, which shows higher E. coli readings than usual, higher than the 126 geometric average limit, although still below the 410 single-test limit. See What do these numbers mean?

Update 2020-07-10 13:00: Actually, with the FDEP Thursday data, Swim Guide is all green again for the Withlacoochee River in both Georgia and Florida. And the Little River, too, since we have no updated data yet. We’ll have at least one datapoint collected today or tomorrow on that.

[Green map in Swim Guide]
Green map in Swim Guide

I was mistaken about the WWALS samples for Crooked Creek: those are being collected today, along with some others today and tomorrow. I still won’t be surprised if they’re high in E. coli, although since the rains seem to have died down, I also won’t be surprised if the contamination has already flushed downstream and maybe even been diluted.

But we don’t know. Especially that part about downstream of FL 6: nobody is testing down there.

Floridians, you may want to ask your statehouse delegation and FDEP and other appointed officials to fund and implement regular, frequent, water quality testing all the way to the Gulf. If Valdoosta, GA, can do it on forty river miles to the state line, the great state of Florida can do it.

Oh, and it would help if Valdosta would post its results to the state line a bit more speedily.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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