Category Archives: FDEP

Good since Thursday, Withlacoochee River Water Quality 2020-11-17

Update 2020-11-20: Bad at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2020-11-19.

Water quality is still looking good in the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers after the big mess last Wednesday. WWALS tested Sunday, and got good quality all the way from Cook County Boat Ramp on the Little River down to Knights Ferry on the Withlacoochee River. Madison Health tested Tuesday, and got good quality from the state line down to FL 6, just above Madison Blue Spring. That continues good results since Thursday. If we have more results today, we will report those tonight or tomorrow morning.

[Maps and Chart]
Maps and Chart

There’s been no rain, so unless the mystery dumper strikes again, so I’ve set all the WWALS “beaches” to green on Swim Guide, and happy swimming, fishing, and boating this weekend!

Valdosta says the Wednesday contamination did not come from the city, and they are looking into a number of ways to find the source. Lowndes County assures us it did not come from them, plus the new force main they are installing does not have anything in it yet, and does not cross any existing sewage mains. The county has asked its installation contractor to keep an eye out. I have even enlisted Waste Management, the new owner of Advanced Disposal Services, which owns the Lowndes County landfill, to keep an eye out for trucks that look like they might be hauling fecal matter. More calls are going out.

Suzy Hall got Continue reading

Horrid quality at GA 133 Friday, but good downstream and Saturday 2020-11-07

2020-11-13: Horrendous water quality at GA 133 & US 84 Wednesday, clean downstream 2020-11-12

Something bad got in the Withlacoochee River between US 41 and GA 133 on Friday: very bad, eleven times the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream alert limit for E. coli. But downstream water quality results by Valdosta Friday at US 84 and by WWALS down to the State Line show nothing unusual. Whatever it was maybe hadn’t gotten that far. Valdosta downstream results for Monday (today) and FDOH results for Tuesday may be interesting.

Once again, nothing at US 41 or GA 133 can be due to last Tuesday’s Tifton spill, because Tifton is on the Little River, and those places are on the Withlacoochee River upstream of the Little River Confluence.

So what caused those very bad GA 133 Valdosta results? It’s hard to avoid thinking somebody dumped into the river. When this phenomenon just started, rumor had it that GA-EPD had found the culprit, which was a private company. If so, there must be more than one, or whoever it was is back at it.

[Many locations]
Many locations

We also have Friday WWALS datapoints for Naylor Beach on the Alapaha River and for Royal Spring on the Suwannee River, both good. Continue reading

Videos: vote for clean water 2020-11-03

From four locations on the Withlacoochee River, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman and WWALS Science Committee Chair Dr. Tom Potter urge you to go vote today for clean water.

[US 41, NSRR, US 84, Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River]
US 41, NSRR, US 84, Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River

At US 41 (North Valdosta Road), at the Norfolk Southern Railroad bridge just downstream from the notorious Sugar Creek, at US 84, downstream from GA 133 where Valdosta often sees high E. coli, and at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, downstream of Okapilco Creek with all those Brooks County dairy cows, we sampled for bacteria and DNA Friday.

Vote for people who will fully fund the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) so they can do some river sampling themselves, and watch over not only Valdosta, but also Quitman, Adel, Tifton, Rochelle, and Ashburn, all of which have spilled sewage into the Suwannee River Basin this year. Maybe then FDEP will be able to do its job, instead of trying to take more tasks from the Army Corps.

Vote for people who will protect the Okefenokee Swamp from strip mining and other threats.

Pick your most important water issue: https://wwals.net/blog/issues/. They could all use elected officials who will support clean water.

We’ve never met anyone who wants to drink dirty water. So please vote for clean water! Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida Against FDEP Assumption of Army Corps CWA 404 permitting 2020-11-02

Waterkeepers Florida, representing all fourteen Waterkeepers of Florida, wrote to U.S. EPA and FDEP yesterday objecting to FDEP’s plan to take over water permitting from the Army Corps of Engineers. FDEP hasn’t even kept up with the responsibilities it has, and is in no way prepared to take on a much heavier load. Suwannee Riverkeeper voted for this letter, which was also signed by many other organizations, including OSFR and Paddle Florida.

Please vote today for people who will support clean water.

[Opposition and Addendum Letters]
Opposition and Addendum Letters

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP)’s list of waterways it plans to assume (see FDEP’s Appendix A) omits numerous navigable waterways previously listed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Checking all the Florida rivers that empty into the Gulf of Mexico, I found that most of them were included by FDEP, except not the Suwannee River or its tributaries (many creeks, Lake Santa Fe, and the Santa Fe, New, Ichetucknee, Alapaha, Alapahoochee, and Withlacoochee (north) Rivers), not the Withlacoochee (south) River nor its tributaries such as the Rainbow River, and not the Ochlockonee River nor its tributaries, such as Lake Talquin. I added 30 Suwannee River Basin waterways and 24 others to the Waterkeepers Florida list of missing waterways, which is the main subject of the Addendum letter (see PDF). The Addendum also contains copies of several letters previously sent to FDEP: an opposition letter similar to the one to EPA, a request for Public Hearings, and a request that online rulemaking hearings be discontinued until the pandemic allows holding them in person.

Opposition Letter

Here is a transcription of the letter to EPA. See also the PDF.

Don’t forget to vote for clean water. Continue reading

Water quality sampling and vote for clean water 2020-10-30

Please vote for clean water!

Vote for clean water

Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman and WWALS Science Committee Chair Dr. Tom Potter took a moment from water quality sampling at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River to make these videos to ask everyone to vote for clean water.

Vote for people who will fully fund the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division so they can do some river sampling themselves, and watch over not only Valdosta, but also Quitman, Adel, Tifton, Rochelle, and Ashburn, all of which have spilled sewage into the Suwannee River Basin this year.

Vote for people who will protect the Okefenokee Swamp from strip mining and other threats.

We could also mention Nestlé, phosphate mines, coal ash, and many other issues.

We’ve never met anyone who wants to drink dirty water. So please vote for clean water! Continue reading

Very clean Withlacoochee River 2020-10-15

Update 2020-10-23: Clean Withlacoochee River Thursday for WWALS Boomerang Saturday 2020-10-22.

Update 2020-10-20: Adel spilled ten days ago; did not show up in downstream water quality data 2020-10-10.

Water quality results from WWALS and Madison Health for Thursday and from Valdosta for Wednesday concur: happy boating, swimming, and fishing on the Withlacoochee River this weekend!

While all such results are merely advisory, because conditions can change very quickly, also there has been very little rain to wash anything into the river, and no reported sewage spills.

[KF, Nankin, State Line, Results, Swim Guide, plate]
KF, Nankin, State Line, Results, Swim Guide, plate

WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach got 33 cfu/100 mL E. coli at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp for Thursday, October 15, 2020, and zero for Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps. Continue reading

Ashburn spilled sewage three times in September 2020-09-27

Update 2020-10-17: Very clean Withlacoochee River 2020-10-15.

Ashburn, Georgia, spilled 210,000 gallons of raw sewage spread over three times in September and the public only got notified Wednesday, four weeks after the first spill. There’s not enough water quality testing data downstream from those spills to know what effects they may have had for example on Reed Bingham State Park.

[Charts and Map: Ashburn spills to GA-FL line]
Charts and Map: Ashburn spills to GA-FL line

Ashburn spilled once into Hat Creek, which runs into the Alapaha River, and twice from its MLK Lift Station into a tributary of Ashburn Branch, which runs into the Little River. We don’t have any data downstream on the Alapaha for that time period, so we don’t know anything about downstream effects. We do have quite a bit of downstream data for the other two spills, but so far downstream and with so many other things going on that it’s hard to tell if there were any effects showing up in that data.

About the only thing we know for sure is it would be great for Ashburn to get a grip on its chronic sewage spill problem, starting by at least reporting spills in a timely manner. That and it would be great if the state of Georgia or the federal government would resume testing on the Little and Alapaha Rivers as they apparently used to do up until about 1998, so we would know, for example, did this spill affect Reed Bingham State Park.

These are the spills, as reported in the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) Sewage Spills Report. WWALS commends GA-EPD for those online reports. GA-EPD can’t publish spills until it receives reports from the spilling organizaiton. Maybe Ashburn could be a bit more timely in reporting. Continue reading

Green to go, Little and Withlacoochee Rivers 2020-10-08

Happy boating, swimming, and fishing this weekend!

[Green Swim Guide and test results]
Green Swim Guide and test results

The opposite of last week’s advisory, this week all testers show quite clean results up and down the Withlacoochee River, and at Cook County Boat Ramp on the Little River, too. Continue reading

Two or more sources last Tuesday, advisory lifted Monday, Withlacoochee River 2020-10-05

Update 2020-10-16: Ashburn spilled sewage three times in September 2020-09-27

It was harsh, but it went by fast. Except there seem to have been at least two sources of contamination.

The Health Advisory has been lifted for the Withlacoochee River, and I’ve set all the Withlacoochee “beaches” green again on Swim Guide.

[Lifted, Green on Swim Guide, Sources]
Lifted, Green on Swim Guide, Sources

The contamination that reached the GA-FL line on October 1st appears to have started from Continue reading

Cleanups, Testing, WWALS Boomerang on Steve Nichols radio show 2020-10-06

Steve Nichols and Suwannee Riverkeeper will ask again: does anybody want to drink dirty water? That’s 8:30 AM tomorrow, October 6, 2020, on 105.9 FM WVGA. In addition to water quality testing, we’ll also discuss the big cleanup coming up this Saturday on three rivers and many creeks, and the Third Annual WWALS Boomerang paddle race from Georgia into Florida and back. Plus some other outings.

[Water Quality Testing]
Water Quality Testing 2020-08-18

WVGA FM says:

The top rated morning talk show in south Georgia, Steve Nichols offers both sides of every story from Berrien County to the Beltway, and everywhere in between.

You can listen at 105.9 FM, on the WVGA Live apps, through ValdostaToday.com (link on front page), on Alexa devices, or you can stream in-studio video at the official Morning Drive Facebook page.

When: 8:30 AM, Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Where: 105.9 FM WVGA (see above for how to listen)

Event: facebook

Thanks to Steve Nichols for helping promote the Third Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, which went very well.

On Saturday, October 10, 2020, in conjunction with Lowndes County, WWALS will be doing a three-location cleanup at Troupville Boat Ramp on the Little River, on Sugar Creek down to the Withlacoochee River, and at Naylor Boat Ramp on the Alapaha River, plus Valdosta is organizing several creek cleanups.
https://wwals.net/?p=53557

[Flyer: Cleanup on three rivers, many creeks]
Flyer: Cleanup on three rivers, many creeks

On Saturday, October 24, 2020, there’s the Third Annual WWALS Boomerang paddle race from Georgia into Florida and back.

Tickets to the WWALS Boomerang are $20 online through Ocotber 15, then $30 at the event.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wwals-boomerang-paddle-race-2020-tickets-118844038719?aff=efbeventtix

For much more, follow this link: wwals.net/pictures/2020-10-24–boomerang/ Continue reading