Bad upstream, too: Withlacoochee River water quality 2021-04-26

Update 2021-04-29: Health alert for Withlacoochee River 2021-04-27.

Valdosta results for Monday are just as bad upstream as the WWALS downstream results.

So indeed it’s best to stay off the Withlacoochee River for a few days, with bacterial counts this high for April 26, 2021. This is not a good time for boating, fishing, or swimming in the river.

The worse news is that since the Withlacoochee River was contaminated Monday at least as far upstream as US 41, that mess will keep running downstream for probably a day or so, as in it’s probably in Florida today.

The good news is that it’s not nearly as bad as a year ago under similar conditions.

[Bad upstream, water quality results and Swim Guide]
Bad upstream, water quality results and Swim Guide

Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for posting the Valdosta results.

We are still waiting for Madison Health’s downstream results from Tuesday.

One of our WWALS testers also drew a farther downstream sample today.

Until those or later tests show clear, better safe than sorry.

This time it can’t be just cattle manure coming down Okapilco Creek out of Brooks County, Georgia, because all three of Valdosta’s Monday results are for upstream of there. But there is a dairy and a hog farm on the Withlacoochee River upstream of Lowndes County, and at least three horse farms near the river in Lowndes County, plus many cats, dogs, chickens, deer, and septic tanks. Some of their manure was no doubt washed into the creeks and rivers by the Saturday rain. I also won’t be surprised if in a few days we start seeing sewage late reports on the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report.

This contamination is almost certainly not from the tiny FOG spill Valdosta had Friday. That one wasn’t anywhere near big enough, and US 41 is upstream of Sugar Creek, anyway.

[Bad upstream and down Monday 2021-04-26]
Bad upstream and down Monday 2021-04-26
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality results, rainfall, and spills, see:
https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

Now we show more locations red on Swim Guide. Others are still showing green, simply because we do not have new data for them. But I still wouldn’t trust the river water upstream or down right now.

[Map: Swim Guide red uptream and down 2021-04-26]
Map: Swim Guide red uptream and down 2021-04-26

Here’s the good news. A year ago, after similar rain, downstream contamination was much worse.

[Bad downstream March 5-9, 2020]
Bad downstream March 5-9, 2020

So I’m guessing that some of the Best Management Practices (BMPs) the dairies in Brooks County have been doing are working, such as fencing cattle back from waterways, and even shipping some to other states to reduce the ruminant population.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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