Tag Archives: testing

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

Clean downstream Friday Withlacoochee River 2021-02-19

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. Continue reading

Not looking good, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-16

Update 2021-02-21: Clean downstream Friday Withlacoochee River 2021-02-19.

As usual, heavy rains washed contamination into the Withlacoochee River, first detected by Madison Health Tuesday at State Line and FL 6, although oddly Sullivan Launch @ CR 150 was within the one-time sample limit for E. coli.

[Chart, Gauges, Swim Guide map]
Chart, Gauges, Swim Guide map

The good news: with so much rain, the contamination will probably be diluted and washed downstream rapidly.

The bad news: more rain likely coming. And there’s more cattle manure that can wash down Okapilco Creek into the Withlacoochee River. Plus with the Withlacoochee River rising in Valdosta, and more rain falling on Valdosta and Quitman, will we see manhole sewage spills?

We hope to have WWALS results for today ready by tomorrow (Friday), and most likely FDEP will publish Madison Health results, as well. Possibly even Valdosta will publish their Wednesday results by Friday.

We also have a surprising spot check in Drexel Park, and Valdosta’s last week results, which fit with the Madison Health and WWALS results. Continue reading

WWALS Training for water quality testing, Drexel Park, Onemile Branch, Valdosta, GA 2021-02-13

Most of the testing training last Saturday was online via videos and zoom, but there was a practice segment on Onemile Branch in Drexel Park in Valdosta. WWALS trainer Gretchen Quarterman plated a sample from that creek and found it surprisingly good, unlike what we usually get there.

All pictures by Gretchen Quarterman. Click on any small image to see a larger one.

At the creek

[Onemile Branch]
Onemile Branch

Bobby McKenzie was among those getting recertified, as is required by Georgia Adopt-A-Stream (AAS) each year. Continue reading

Better, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-12

Update 2021-02-18: Not looking good, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-16.

WWALS samples Friday for Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps were all well below the 410 one-time E. coli limit. So State Line was way below what Madison Health got for Thursday. I’m happy to have guessed wrong. So far as the most recent data we have, the Withlacoochee River is good to boat, swim, and fish at least as far as the GA-FL line.

[Plates, Chart, Map]
Plates, Chart, Map

But remember, it rained again today upstream. And there’s probably more manure that can be washed down Okapilco Creek into the Withlacoochee River. Continue reading

Very bad, GA-FL line and downstream, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-11

Update 2021-02-13: Better, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-12.

I’d avoid the Withlacoochee River for a few days if I were you. Apparently the Tuesday rains did wash more manure out of Brooks and Colquitt Counties down Okapilco Creek into the Withlacoochee River.

Valdosta’s Wednesday results upstream of Okapilco Creek were only slightly elevated, but Madison Health’s Thursday downstream results were very high. The WWALS Thursday samples had a technical glitch, so we don’t know about Knights Ferry or Nankin Boat Ramps, but they were probably pretty bad. We hope to have Friday results soon.

Meanwhile, I would not want to get that river water on me until the upstream rainwater dilutes and washes down the contamination, which will probably take a few days. Unless, of course, it rains harder and washes more in.

[Chart, Swim Guide map]
Chart, Swim Guide map

Yesterday afternoon FDEP posted Madison Health results for Thursday, February 11, 2021, and they were very bad: Continue reading

Advisory lifted, Withlacoochee River, but big rains Tuesday 2021-02-09

Update 2021-02-13: Very bad, GA-FL line and downstream, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-11.

Madison and Hamilton Health on February 10th lifted their bacterial advisory of January 18th for the Withlacoochee River, due to good Florida water quality results for Tuesday. But there were big rains Tuesday, so conditions may have already changed, and not for the better.

[Chart, Lifted, Swim Guide]
Chart, Lifted, Swim Guide

This was after Madison Health got clean results Tuesday (yellow highlights), matching clean results last Thursday, at the GA-FL line, Sullivan Launch, and FL 6. Continue reading

Clean Forty Miles, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-04

Update 2021-02-11: Advisory lifted, Withlacoochee River, but big rains Tuesday 2021-02-09.

The Withlacoochee River tested clean at sites forty miles from US 41 to the state line on Thursday, February 4, 2021, in WWALS tests. We have no new data downstream, but chances are it was clean there, too. Plus the Little River at Troupville Boat Ramp was clean. The rains predicted for yesterday and today have been underwhelming, so chances are the Withlacoochee was clean into Florida, too. So according to the data we have, the Withlacoochee River is good for boating, swimming, and fishing at least from US 41 in Valdosta, Georgia, to CR 15 in Florida. Which serves us right, after we rescheduled the big paddle for today until February 27. It’s cold out there, though, and rain is still predicted.

[Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide]
Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide

However, the bacterial advisory by Madison and Hamilton Health has not been lifted. We now have four clean test results at State Line: WWALS, Valdosta, Madison Health, and WWALS again. But they probably won’t lift the Florida advisory until they get two successive clean test results themselves. Since more rain is predicted most of the coming week, don’t be surprised if they either don’t lift it for more than another week, or lift it and then issue another a few days later.

Thanks to WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach, who got zero E. coli at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, 33 at Nankin, and 133 at State Line Boat Ramp. Only that last one is above the 126 average test limit, and still well below the 410 one-time test limit. 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