Clean downstream Friday Withlacoochee River 2021-02-19

Update 2021-02-26: Very clean Thursday, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-25.

Good news downstream on the Withlacoochee River!

Madison Health reported good downstream numbers for Thursday, February 18, 2021, despite more than an inch of rain at every gauge we follow. WWALS testers confirmed that for Friday, with good results from Nankin Boat Ramp to below Allen Ramp. It looks like rainwater from upstream is finally diluting and washing down the contamination downstream rain put into the river.

[Good downstream, shoals now underwater, Swim Guide red and green]
Good downstream, shoals now underwater, Swim Guide red and green

We also see no obvious signs of contamination from the last Sunday and Monday Tifton sewage spills, which is not unexpected since they were so far upstream. We don’t know what effect the one upstream of the Little River might have had on Reed Bingham State Park, because we have no volunteers to test that stretch.

The weather is looking good for the Mayor’s Paddle from Troupville Boat Ramp to Spook Bridge on Saturday, February 27, 2021. It didn’t rain yesterday, and the only rain predicted for the next week is for Monday. So risks of contamination are low. However, the rivers are very high, still expected to be ten feet higher than we’ve ever paddled that stretch before. That’s not necessarily a problem for paddling, because it’s a long wide stretch with no real risks of getting lost in the floodplain, no deadfalls, and few overhanging branches. However, we will have to check to see if we can even get in by land at Spook Bridge and the midpoint, not to mention at Troupville Boat Ramp. The US 84 gauge prediction is 107 feet NAVD 88 for Thursday, which is about 27 feet higher than when we rescheduled Thursday three weeks ago. We will go look and let you all know.

[Much better Withlacoochee River 2021-02-19]
Much better Withlacoochee River 2021-02-19
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality results, rainfall, and spills, see:
https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

Valdosta did get a too-high E. coli result for US 84 for Wednesday, February 17, which could conceivably be Tifton sewage washed down the New River and the Withlacoochee River, but without further evidence we don’t know.

But on Friday Michael and Jacob Bachrach got good results at Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps (Knights Ferry Boat Ramp was underwater and inaccessible). That matches the good results Madison Health got at State Line, Sullivan Launch, and FL 6 for Thursday.

Downstream, new WWALS tester Gus Cleary got a very good result on NE Withla Bluffs Way, which is downstream of Allen Ramp, the last put-in before the Suwannee River. That testing location is near Battery Shoals, which must be completely underwater now, unlike summer a couple years ago.

[Battery Shoals, by Gretchen Quarterman, 2019-06-01, 30.420531, -83.218757]
Battery Shoals, by Gretchen Quarterman, 2019-06-01, 30.4205310, -83.2187570

And that NE Withla Bluffs Way location is upstream of the notorious Melvin Shoals, where 1/3 of our paddlers went under that same summer. I’m proud to say I was the first to capsize, which is why I look wet in this picture taken afterwards. Even Melvin Shoals must be underwater now.

[Melvin Shoals, by Gretchen Quarterman, 2019-06-01, 30.4135722, -83.1893778]
Melvin Shoals, by Gretchen Quarterman, 2019-06-01, 30.4135722, -83.1893778

Since I added Allen Ramp to Swim Guide, you can’t see any of the four downstream “beaches” at a scale that will also show the most upstream one at Langdale Park. So this time I added inset maps to the map. You can see that everything is green except US 84 and Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, both probably because we just don’t have any more recent test results.

[Swim Guide, 2021-02-19]
Swim Guide, 2021-02-19

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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