Tag Archives: river

Year in review: water quality testing, February 2020-2021

Suzy Hall, WWALS Testing Committee Chair, pointed out that bacterial water quality results a year ago were generally worse than recently.

Results were awful for Monday, February 17, 2020 on the Withlacoochee.

[Awful KF, Nankin, SL 2020-02-17]
Awful KF, Nankin, SL, 2020-02-17

Suzy Hall filed Nankin Boat Ramp for Monday, February 17, 2020, as TNTC: Too Many To Count. Yes, that is a technical term, and you can see why: how many blue colonies with bubbles would you count?

Knights Ferry Boat Ramp wasn’t much better, at 8,933 cfu/100 mL. The Georgia Adopt-A-Stream high alert level is 1,000; see What do these numbers mean?. We have seen worse, namely the 39,000 Valdosta result at GA 133 on December 10, 2019.

But that was plenty bad enough.

Also, Valdosta later reported an even higher result for Knights Ferry for that same Feb 17, 2020, and Madison Health got horrible for the next day at State Line, Sullivan Launch, and FL 6.

For Wednesday, FDOH found a hot spot Continue reading

Water level reschedule: Mayor’s paddle, Withlacoochee River 2021-03-27

Valdosta, Georgia, February 25, 2021 — “We’re rescheduling four weeks later, for 8AM, Saturday, March 27, 2021,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Right now, where we usually park the boats at the end of the paddle is under water. The Withlacoochee River is spread out in the flood plain, increasing possibility of people getting tipped over by overhanging branches. So a month later makes a lot more sense for attracting novice paddlers.”

[Spook Bridge this week and last year]
Spook Bridge this week and last year
Spook Bridge almost 20 feet different.
Photos: John S. Quarterman 2021-02-23 at 107.5′ NAVD88 or above sea level (24′ above the riverbed),
Gretchen Quarterman 2020-01-18 at 88′ NAVD88 (4.5′).

“With the Withlacoochee River still hovering around flood stage, myself and WWALS, in consultation with Lowndes County Emergency Management Director Ashley Tye, have decided to postpone the Mayor’s Paddle ’till Saturday, March 27, at 8AM. We again ask everyone with a love for our area blueways to mark that date and join us for a great day of fellowship on the river!”

“As always, I will give a good safety briefing, ” said expedition leader Bobby McKenzie. “Wear your PFD and stick with the group. But conditions should be much better for novice paddlers in a few weeks.”

“Better safe than sorry!” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. “This Saturday you can still come to our Banks Lake Full Moon Paddle, to see the sun set and the moon rise, and maybe see bats fly out. Gather at 5:45 PM at Banks Lake Boat Ramp, 307 Georgia 122, Lakeland, GA 31635, in Lanier County. We do those every full moon, plus at least one daytime river paddle a month, in Florida or Georgia. At all outings during this pandemic, we’ll be testing temperatures with an infrared thermometer as people arrive. If you’re ill in any way, please stay home.”

When: Gather 8 AM, launch 10 AM, end 4 PM, Saturday, March 27, 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

Directions: Head west from Valdosta on GA 133 (St. Augustine Road), cross I-75 and the Withlacoochee River, and at the light for Val Tech Road turn left into the park around Troupville Boat Ramp.

Come as early as 8 AM to Troupville Boat Ramp, drop off your boats, and drive to Spook Bridge. Two 15-seat vans provided by the Boys & Girls Club will shuttle you back to Troupville. “We’re happy to do this,” said Bill Holt, VP of Operations, Boys & Girls Club of Valdosta. “Just remember to wear your mask and sit with social distancing.”

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 and to a midway lunch stop for this outing, and for water quality testing.

“Speaking of river access, some of you are aware that it’s a long walk up from the Withlacoochee River below Spook Bridge to Old Quitman Highway. Not to worry: when we do this paddle, WWALS will have a 16-foot trailer to haul boats and a golf cart for people who don’t want to walk the quarter mile up to the road. At the midpoint, we will also have a truck and trailer waiting to haul out the (few, we hope) people who want to get out there. Thanks again to The Langdale Company for access to both places,” said WWALS member Steve Miller, who is supplying the golf cart.

“All elected officials present, both from Florida and Georgia, will have three minutes each to speak, both at the put-in and at the midway point,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Don’t worry: only a few of them will. But you can paddle up to them and ask questions. Just remember to stay six feet apart. Wear a mask if you get any closer to anybody not in your party, either on land or water.” added Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Take a look at the signs by the boat ramp for the WWALS Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail. They show the whole trail and what you can expect to see near Troupville Boat Ramp.”

The paddle starts at the site of historic Troupville, the Lowndes County seat before Valdosta. The entrance road is the old north-south Broad Street of Troupville, which continues into the woods. That greatly simplifies planning for the future Troupville River Park. Paddling a few thousand feet, we come to the Little River Confluence with the WIthlacoochee, with its view of rivers in three directions. The Confluence is in the private Land Between the Rivers (LBTR), which you can help become part of Troupville River Park. Just upstream on the Withlacoochee is the future site of a paddle boat take-out for Troupville River Camp, with screened-in sleeping platforms and bathrooms with hot and cold running water and air conditioning. Paddle on down the Withlacoochee River and see the turtles, birds, fish, and cypress and pine trees.

The clean water outfall from Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) makes an impressive waterfall. Valdosta now tests three times a week on forty river miles from US 41 to the state line, which is one big way we know the river is clean from E. coli most of the time, along with twice-weekly downstream testing by Madison Health in Florida, and tests by WWALS, plus occasional bacterial tests and DNA marker and chemical tracer data from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. WWALS will also test the water quality from the river the Thursday before the paddle. See https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

We will pass several creeks, and the notorious Sabal Trail methane pipeline. If the river stays up somewhat, we will float right over County Line Shoals, just upstream from US 84. Just below US 84 is a railroad bridge, and around the last bend is Spook Bridge, so famous it has its own movie. We take out on the left bank just below the bridge.

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 Continue reading

Help SRWMD reject Nestle permit 2021-02-23

You can help the Suwannee River Water Management District Board uphold the public interest and reject Nestlé’s water withdrawal permit application.

[Agenda, Board, No Permit]
Agenda, Board, No Permit

Even SRWMD’s legal counsel only recommends approving the Seven Springs permit “under protest.” The DOAH judge’s Order is actually only a RECOMMENDATION, and the District filed eighteen pages of exceptions to that Order. The judge disallowed most of those exceptions, but SRWMD is still holding open the possibility of appeal with that “under protest”.

The Judge’s Order dances around the basic question: is putting water in plastic bottles after taking it from the Floridan Aquifer next to a depleted river and springs, all for profit of a Swiss company, in the public interest? Florida law and the judge attempt to narrow what can be considered down what can be considered for the public interest to what is in Florida rules or a handbook, even though none of those adequately address the real issues. The plain fact is that a contract to sell water does not determine any public interst in cleaning up plastic bottles from our springs and rivers, nor does it determine any public interest in lower springs and rivers, with bad effects on wildlife, public use of those waters, and eventually on drinking water.

The SRWMD board can deny this permit because it is not in the public interest. You can help them do so.

It almost looks like the SRWMD counsel is asking people to come protest, since he repeatedly mentions that Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) filed legal motions and both Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson and Michael Roth spoke in the legal hearing. Disclosure: WWALS has provided some financial support for OSFR’s legal actions in this matter.

If you’re going to attend this Special Meeting in person, get there early to get a spot. To attend online, be sure to sign up for both the webinar and cal in for audio. If you want to comment, you must also sign up for that separately. Don’t wait for the second day: if that happens at all, there will be no public comment.

So come early on the first day, in person or online, Tuesday, February 23, 2021.

The entire SRWMD Special Meeting Board packet is on the WWALS website: https://www.wwals.net/pictures/2021-02-23–srwmd-nestle-special-meeting-packet/

Here is the agenda, with how to attend online: Continue reading

Tifton Sewage Spills 2021-02-16

Update 2021-02-26: And more Tifton spills, two days later; Tifton Spills, Little River, New River 2021-02-18.

Update 2021-02-21: Nothing obvious related to the Tifton spills in downstream testing; see Clean downstream Friday Withlacoochee River 2021-02-19.

The City of Tifton spilled three places, for a total of 35,500 gallons of raw sewage, Sunday and Tuesday, February 14 and 16, 2021. Why? “Wet weather.” It’s true that an inch of rain fell on Tifton Saturday, an inch and a half Sunday, and almost another inch Tuesday.

Any spill is too many. However, these were all so far upstream that probably will not show up in any of the downstream water quality testing currently going on. It would be good to get some testing on the Little River between Tifton and Reed Bingham State Park to see if Tifton Spills reach that park.

[Spills, Locations]
Spills, Locations

One spill location was repeated: Agrirama Lake, which drains into the Little River. Tifton previously spilled there in 2015, 2016, and 2018. See Continue reading

Little River Road acre, Lowndes County, GA 2021-02-06

Our rivers are different every time. Especially summer mid-day and winter sunset.

[Summer, Winter]
Summer, Winter

This is the Little River, at the end of Little River Road, where Lowndes County owns an acre.

That acre is 17.24 river miles downstream from Folsom Bridge @ GA 122. That’s long but doable if the river is high.

It’s 7.7 more miles downstream to Troupville Boat Ramp @ GA 133. That’s a normal day’s paddling.

So this acre is about 2/3 of the 25 river miles between Folsom Bridge and Troupville Boat Ramp. 25 miles is too long or almost anybody to paddle in a day. So public access at the Little River Road acre would be a good thing. Continue reading

Back to Live Oak and online: SRWMD Nestle Special Meeting 2021-02-23

The Suwannee River Water Management District has moved its Special Meeting, to decide the Nestlé permit for Ginnie Springs on the Santa Fe River, back to Live Oak, with online participation, February 23, 2021, plus possible continuation the next day.

[No Nestle permit, 2021-02-23 or any other date]
No Nestle permit, 2021-02-23 or any other date

That didn’t take long, due to complaints by OSFR, Ichetucknee Alliance, and others. Meeting only in-person during a pandemic, and far from both the usual meeting site and the site of the problem, was never a good idea. The tradition SRWMD has established with their regular board meetings, such as the one this morning, of meeting at their headquarters with online participation, is a much better idea.

An even better idea: deny the permit.

At the bottom of the SRWMD press release:

The mission of the Suwannee River Water Management District is to protect and manage water resources using science-based solutions to support natural systems and the needs of the public. The District holds true to the belief of water for nature, water for people.

There won’t be enough water for people or nature unless SRWMD stops issuing permits for frivolous uses such as plastic bottles for a Swiss company. The “needs of the public” include the public interest, which includes not having to pick up plastic bottles from springs and rivers, having enough water in the springs and rivers and the Floridan Aquifer, and not subsidizing a foreign company at the expense of our waters. Besides, people are part of nature, last time I looked, and pretending they are not is how you damage both.


[No to Nestle!]
No to Nestle! 2019-12-10

Remember back in December 2019, when 32 people spoke against the same Nestlé permit, and delivered 384,000 petition signatures?

It’s not a good idea to crowd together people during a pandemic, but you can still send a postcard to SRWMD:

SRWMD Board Members
9225 CR 49
Live Oak, FL 32060

NO Nestlé PERMIT

[Landscape Postcard]
Landscape Postcard
PDF

Or contact SRWMD by other means: NO Nestlé PERMIT.

LOCATION UPDATED FOR DISTRICT SPECIAL MEETING

Continue reading

Rescheduled: Mayor’s Paddle, Troupville to Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-27

Valdosta, Georgia, February 5, 2021 — “Out of an abundance of caution, all the organizers agree on rescheduling the Mayor’s Paddle because of thunderstorms predicted for this Saturday, February 6, 2021,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman.

“We don’t want to risk inexperienced paddlers in this kind of weather,” said expedition leader Bobby McKenzie, who made the decision to postpone. He added, “The new date is Saturday, February 27, 2021.“

“We want to send a positive message about paddling, and the weather this weekend does not work for that, so we’re going for three weeks from now. I am still excited to partner with WWALS to hold the Mayors Paddle,”said Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson. “In the past year we have made huge improvements to our sewer system infrastructure, showing our commitment to preventing any issues that may impact our Withlacoochee River. I invite everyone to come out and join us for a day of fellowship on the river!”

“WWALS is happy to welcome everyone to this one of our many paddles. We have at least one daytime river paddle a month, in Florida or Georgia, plus an evening Full Moon paddle at Banks Lake, near Lakeland, GA. We’ll be testing temperatures with an infrared thermometer as people arrive,” said WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman. “If you’re ill in any way, please stay home.”

[Troupville Boat Ramp, WWTP Outfall, midpoint, Spook Bridge]
Troupville Boat Ramp, WWTP Outfall, midpoint, Spook Bridge
Photos: Gretchen Quarterman for WWALS 2020-01-18

When: Gather 8 AM, launch 10 AM, end 4 PM, Saturday, February 27, 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

Directions: Head west from Valdosta on GA 133 (St. Augustine Road), cross I-75 and the Withlacoochee River, and at the light for Val Tech Road turn left into the park around Troupville Boat Ramp.

Come as early as 8 AM to Troupville Boat Ramp, drop off your boats, and drive to Spook Bridge. Two 15-seat vans provided by the Boys & Girls Club will shuttle you back to Troupville. “We’re happy to do this,” said Bill Holt, VP of Operations, Boys & Girls Club of Valdosta. “Just remember to wear your mask and sit with social distancing.”

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 and to a midway lunch stop for this outing, and for water quality testing.

“With the rains today, and 24-hour test incubation period, nobody can test the river again before a paddle this Saturday, but we’ll have plenty of time before the last Saturday of February,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “It was not even clear Outhouse Port-A-Potties could even get to the midpoint to deposit a potty, much less get it back out after rains tomorrow, but conditions should be better in three weeks.”

“Speaking of river access, it’s a long walk up from the Withlacoochee River below Spook Bridge to Old Quitman Highway. Not to worry: WWALS will have a 16-foot trailer to haul boats and a golf cart for people who don’t want to walk the quarter mile up to the road. At the midpoint, we will also have a truck and trailer waiting to haul out the (few, we hope) people who want to get out there.” said WWALS member Steve Miller, who is supplying the golf cart.

“All elected officials present, both from Florida and Georgia, will have three minutes each to speak, both at the put-in and at the midway point,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Don’t worry: only a few of them will. But you can paddle up to them and ask questions. Just remember to stay six feet apart. Wear a mask if you get any closer to anybody not in your party, either on land or water.”

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

Suwannee Riverkeeper added, “Take a look at the signs by the boat ramp for the WWALS Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail. They show the whole trail and what you can expect to see near Troupville Boat Ramp.”

The paddle starts at the site of historic Troupville, the Lowndes County seat before Valdosta. The entrance road is the old north-south Broad Street of Troupville, which continues into the woods. That greatly simplifies planning for the future Troupville River Park. Paddling a few thousand feet, we come to the Little River Confluence with the WIthlacoochee, with its view of rivers in three directions. The Confluence is in the private Land Between the Rivers (LBTR), which you can help become part of Troupville River Park. Just upstream on the Withlacoochee is the future site of a paddle boat take-out for Troupville River Camp, with screened-in sleeping platforms and bathrooms with hot and cold running water and air conditioning. Paddle on down the Withlacoochee River and see the turtles, birds, fish, and cypress and pine trees.

The clean water outfall from Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) makes an impressive waterfall. Valdosta now tests three times a week on forty river miles from US 41 to the state line, which is one big way we know the river is clean from E. coli most of the time, along with twice-weekly downstream testing by Madison Health in Florida, and tests by WWALS, plus occasional bacterial tests and DNA marker and chemical tracer data from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. WWALS will also test the water quality from the river the Thursday before the paddle. See
https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

We will pass several creeks, and the notorious Sabal Trail methane pipeline. If the river stays as high as seems likely, we will float right over County Line Shoals, just upstream from US 84. Just below US 84 is a railroad bridge, and around the last bend is Spook Bridge, so famous it has its own movie. We take out on the left bank just below the bridge.

Paddle distance: 11 river miles

Paddle duration: 6 hours; or much less, if the river is high and fast.

Expedition leader: Bobby McKenzie: do what he says for safety and enjoyment.

Backup: In case of weather or high or low water is Saturday, March 13, 2021.

For more WWALS outings and events as they are posted, see the WWALS calendar or the WWALS outings and events web page. WWALS members also get an upcoming list in the Tannin Times newsletter.

About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.

Contact: John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper
WWALS Watershed Coalition

[WWALS Logo]

contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org
850-290-2350
229-242-0102
https://wwals.net/
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632
Ashlyn Johnson, Public Information Officer
City of Valdosta

Logo, City of Valdosta

ajohnson@valdostacity.com
229-259-3548
www.valdostacity.com

===

Postponed: Second Annual Mayor’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-06

Update 2021-02-05 Rescheduled: Mayor’s Paddle, Troupville to Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-27.

Valdosta, Georgia, February 5, 2021 — “Out of an abundance of caution, all the organizers are agreed that we are postponing the Mayor’s Paddle due to predicted thunderstorms for tomorrow, Saturday, February 6, 2021,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman.

“We don’t want to risk inexperienced paddlers in this kind of weather,” said expedition leader Bobby McKenzie, who made the decision to postpone. He added, “The reschedule dates we are considering are Saturday, February 27, and Saturday, March 13. Stay tuned for more on that.“

“We want to send a positive message about paddling, and the weather this weekend does not work for that,” said Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, who had already reached the same conclusion. Bill Holt of Valdosta Boys & Girls Club concurs.

“Plus with rain today and 24-hour test incubation period, nobody can test the river again before a Saturday paddle,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. WWALS President Tom H. Johnson Jr. agreed.

“Yes, we may all look silly if the weather clears tomorrow, but we’d rather look silly than risk people paddling in a thunderstorm,” added WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman.

“There’s also a river access issue. With the rains today, it was not clear Outhouse Port-A-Potties could even get to the midpoint to deposit a potty, much less get it back out after rains tomorrow,” added Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

[Boats on trailer]
Boats on trailer

“Speaking of river access, some of you are aware that it’s a long walk up from the Withlacoochee River below Spook Bridge to Old Quitman Highway. Not to worry: Continue reading

Special Nestle permit meeting 2019-02-23; Regular SRWMD business 2021-02-09

Update 2021-02-09: Back to Live Oak and online: SRWMD Nestle Special Meeting 2021-02-23.

This time the judge recommended accepting the permit, as the Nestlé case bounced back to SRWMD from DOAH for a second time.

So the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) has scheduled a special meeting at 9AM on Tuesday, February 23, 2021, at the Suwannee River Fair Pavilion in Fanning Springs. I wonder if all those postcards had any effect on scheduling a special meeting?

SRWMD will not accept any comments on this subject at their regular board meeting next Tuesday.

[Special SRWMD Meeting, Suwannee River Fair Pavilion, 2021-02-23]
Special SRWMD Meeting, Suwannee River Fair Pavilion, 2021-02-23

This time, SRWMD should take the public interest into consideration.

Which would mean a Swiss company profiting on plastic bottles, at the expense of the Floridan Aquifer, Ginnie Springs, and the Santa Fe River levels, is not in the public interest.

You can still send a postcard to SRWMD:

SRWMD Board Members
9225 CR 49
Live Oak, FL 32060

NO Nestlé PERMIT

Here’s the announcement of the special meeting in the current SRWMD Board packet: Continue reading

Spook Bridge, Knights Ferry, Nankin, State Line: all good, Withlacoochee River 2021-01-31

Update 2020-02-06: Clean Forty Miles, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-04.

All my Sunday tests, from Spook Bridge (just below US 84) to State Line, were good, well below the 410 cfu/100 mL one-time E. coli limit. Spook Bridge and State Line were below the 126 average limit. But there are two catches: rain and downstream. So I wouldn’t go boating, swimming, or fishing until I see more test results. The Madison and Hamilton Health bacterial advisory is still in effect, and will probably remain so until they see two sets of clean Florida tests.

[Chart, Plates, River, Swim Guide]
Chart, Plates, River, Swim Guide

The catch: the contamination Suzy Hall’s Sunday WWALS test still showed Saturday at State Line must have washed downstream. We have no new tests from Madison Health yet. They probably tested today (Tuesday), so maybe we’ll get those tomorrow. Continue reading