Category Archives: Testing

Bad at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2020-11-19

Something bad was in the Withlacoochee River at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp Thursday, which is a big change since our post earlier today. And there is yet another possible source.

[Maps and Chart]
Maps and Chart

WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach got 933 cfu/100 mL E. coli at Knights Ferry, which is well above the 410 one-time limit.

[Bad at Knights Ferry]
Bad at Knights Ferry
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality results, see
https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

Yet downstream they got 0 and 33 at Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps, which is very good. And Monday and Wednesday Valdosta got good results at US 41, GA 133, and US 84.

So what caused that bad KF result?

[Knights Ferry PetriFilms]
Knights Ferry PetriFilms

It could be Continue reading

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

Better now, Withlacoochee River water quality 2020-11-14

Update 2020-11-20: Good since Thursday, Withlacoochee River Water Quality 2020-11-17

Whatever that was Wednesday at GA 133 and US 84, it did not reappear on Valdosta’s Friday results at the same locations, nor in the WWALS results upstream and down for Saturday on the Withlacoochee and Little Rivers.

[Maps, Chart]
Maps, Chart

Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for publishing the updated Valdosta upstream Friday results on a Saturday afternoon. She says the City of Valdosta has not had any spills. And according to Valdosta Assistant City Manager Richard Hardy, the city goverment is well aware of the problem and is working on ways to find the culprits. I have left a message with Lowndes County Utilities. I am also talking to law enforcement. A letter will go to GA-EPD today.

[Better now]
Better now
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality, see
https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

Thanks to WWALS testers Jacob and Michael Bachrach for testing at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps. Thanks to WWALS testers Angela and Josh Duncan for testing at US 41 and Troupville Boat Ramp. The point of that last one, on the Little River, is as a control: since Troupville Boat Ramp is about 2,000 feet upstream of the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River, it should be clean.

And it was. But so were all the other test locations. So whatever it was either moved so fast downstream it was below FL 6 when Madison Health tested Thursday, or it was small although toxic, and got diluted pretty quickly.

The chronic problem test station at the GA 133 Withlacoochee River bridge is highlighted Continue reading

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

Update 2020-11-16: Better now, Withlacoochee River water quality 2020-11-14.

We’ve never seen anything quite like this.

Valdosta got 137,600 cfu/100 mL E. coli for Wednesday at GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River. That’s 137 times the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream alert limit of 1,000.

That’s far higher than the highest E. coli reading we’ve ever seen for the Withlacoochee River, which was the 39,000 Valdosta got on December 10, 2019, just after its infamous record spill. Which at least makes it unlikely that this contamination is coming from Valdosta.

Even the 85,600 Valdosta got for US 84 Wednesday is higher than that previous record at GA 133, and far above unprecedented for US 84. The previous US 84 record was 1,505 on April 1, after a big rain.

GA 133 is the same place Valdosta keeps finding very high E. coli and Fecal coliform, including 11,600 E. coli Friday a week ago. There has not been any rain. Which makes it very unlikely that this is runoff from farm animals.

[Horrendous upstream, clean downstream]
Horrendous upstream, clean downstream
Photos: Michael and Jacob Bachrach at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps, Thursday, November 12, 2020.

Yet Valdosta’s Wednesday downstream water quality results were all good, as were those by WWALS and Madison Health for Thursday.

According to the latest water quality results downstream of US 84, things look great for the Withlacoochee River this weekend. But I have to tell you I wouldn’t get in that water without more sampling.

I wish I could tell you what caused this, but so far I can only say a few things it’s not, and then speculate. Continue reading

Troupville to Spook Bridge, Mayor’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-06

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, November 12, 2020 — Join the Mayor of Valdosta and a hundred of his closest friends for a leisurely paddle on the Withlacoochee River. Mayor Scott James says, “Over a year removed from a terrible spill into our area waterways, and right at a year of massive improvements to our infrastructure since our last ‘Mayors Paddle,’ I am again looking forward to fellowship on the river February 6.”

All elected officials present will have three minutes to speak. And you can paddle up to them and ask questions.

WWALS President Tom H. Johnson Jr. said, “This stretch of river extends from the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin past some suburbs and many rural woods. It is important for all the upstream city and county wastewater treatment plants to keep a grip on their sewage, because many people depend on the Withlacoochee River for swimming, fishing, and boating, plus water wells nearby may be affected by anything that goes into the river. It’s a joy that publicly elected officials are involved in this activity, and that the Mayor is helping organize it.”

It was fun last year, so let’s do it again! There is plenty of room to stay six feet apart, at Troupville Boat Ramp, the lunch stop, and at Spook Bridge, and of course on the water. We are still working out how the shuttle will work.

Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said, “Thanks again to The Langdale Company for riverside access at the mid-way lunch stop, and at the Spook Bridge takeout.”

[Pictures from last year]
Pictures from last year, 2020-01-18.

Attractions include Valdosta’s famous Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Outfall, which has not spilled since December 2019. Yes, we know some people in the Valdosta city government consider that not a spill, since the raw sewage never actually got into the WWTP. We hope Valdosta’s new catch basin prevents that. Most of the route is downstream from GA 133, where Valdosta has frequently gotten high E. coli results from nobody yet knows what source. The entire route is upstream of Okapilco Creek, which sometimes carries cattle manure runoff after big rains. We will once again test the water quality from the river.

When: Gather 9 AM, launch 10 AM, end 4 PM, Saturday, February 6, 2021

Put In: Troupville Boat Ramp, 19664 Valdosta Hwy, Valdosta, GA 31602: on GA 133 off I-75 exit 18. in Lowndes County.

GPS: 30.851842, -83.346536

Take Out: Spook Bridge, west from Valdosta on US 84, left onto Ousley Road, right onto Old Quitman Highway, stop at the gate.
Thanks to The Langdale Company for access through their private property to Spook Bridge for this outing and for water quality testing.

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat, paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. You can pay the $10 at the outing, or online:
https://wwals.net/donations/#outings

We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/#join

Event: facebook, meetup

[Troupville Boat Ramp (upper right) to Spook Bridge (lower left)]
Troupville Boat Ramp (upper right) to Spook Bridge (lower left) in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

Continue reading

Letter: WWALS to FDEP and SRWMD: acquisitions, invitations, withdrawals, water quality testing 2020-11-10

Sent yesterday afternoon after the morning SRWMD board meeting.


November 10, 2020

To: Noah Valenstein
Secretary, FDEP
Noah.Valenstein@floridadep.gov

Hugh Thomas
Executive Director, SRWMD
Hugh.Thomas@srwmd.org

Sen. Keith Perry
Perry.Keith@flsenate.gov

Cc: Scott R. Koons
E.D., Rivers Task Force
koons@ncfrpc.org

Re: land acquisitions, event invitations, water withdrawals, and water quality testing

Dear Secretary Valenstein, Director Thomas, and Sen. Perry,

This morning I spoke via gotowebinar in the SRWMD Board Meeting. This letter expands on what I said.

[WWALS letter to FDEP and SRWMD]
WWALS letter to FDEP and SRWMD
PDF

I offered compliments, a suggestion, and a recommendation on the FDEP press release of yesterday: 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

Odd water quality upstream, Withlacoochee River 2020-11-04

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

We don’t know what that contamination was upstream Wednesday on the Withlacoochee River at US 41 and GA 133. Rain didn’t cause it, because there was no rain.

We do know it was not the Tuesday Tifton spill, because that was into the Little River, which joins the Withlacoochee River downstream of GA 133.

We can speculate that whatever it was should be reaching the state line about now, or at least Knights Ferry. But we don’t know, because we have no downstream data: neither Valdosta nor Madison Health have reported anything below US 84 since last week, and our usual Thursday testers are out of commission this week.

[Chart and Map]
Chart and Map

So it’s hard to say what Withlacoochee River conditions might be right now.

[What's that?]
What’s that?
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida results, see
https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

Maybe FDEP will report Withlacoochee River results in the morning.

Meanwhile, we did get good news for the Alapaha River Sunday, November 1, 2020, from WWALS tester Renee Kirkland: good quality at Sheboggy (US 82) and Statenville.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

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

Bad Knights Ferry water quality, Withlacoochee River 2020-10-30

Before last weekend all the water quality results from Valdosta for Wednesday and Madison Health for Thursday seemed good. But then it rained late Thursday. I tested Friday, and while US 41, just below Sugar Creek, and US 84 were good on the Withlacoochee River, Knights Ferry Boat Ramp was not good at all.

That contamination must have washed downstream. It may have already passed State Line by Monday, and it may never show up in Valdosta or Madison Health results. We shall see what their results for this week say.

But it was there at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp Friday. This is a good illustration of why even more frequent testing is needed.

Oh, and vote for clean water.

[US 41, NSRR, US 84, KF]
US 41, NSRR, US 84, KF

At Knights Ferry, I counted 39 + 38 + 39 = 116 * 100 / 3 = 3,866 cfu/100 mL E. coli. I went with Gretchen’s slightly lower counts of 40 + 25 + 39 = 104 * 100 / 3 = 3,466, because there was some doubt whether some E. coli colonies were separate or not. Sara Jay got an even lower 2,633. Whichever, it’s clear they’re all well above the 1,000 Georgia Adopt-A-Stream alert limit. So we’re using the 2,633 3,466 middle number, which is plenty bad. Continue reading