Tag Archives: Valdosta

WWALS booth at Azalea Festival, Valdosta, GA 2021-03-13-14

Come back to Drexel Park to help WWALS celebrate spring with 30,000 of our south Georgia and north Florida friends, at the Azalea Festival in Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia. We will have information about our outings and advocacy (yes, including Valdosta wastewater), the new Water Trail brochures, and pictures for sale Gretchen took of our rivers, plus a kayak raffle.

Things will be a little different this year: “The Azalea Festival is a 100% all outdoor event. Patrons are encouraged to socially distance and wear masks.”

When: 10AM-6PM Saturday 13 March 2021
10AM-3:30PM Sunday 14 March 2021

Volunteer: If you are a WWALS member and you have had both vaccinations against COVID-19, we could use some help at the WWALS booth.

Where: Drexel Park, 1401 North Patterson Street, Valdosta, GA, 31601
30.846771, -83.285066
That’s east across Patterson from VSU and north of Brookwood Drive.
It is on One Mile Branch, which flows into Sugar Creek, then the Withlacoochee River, the Suwannee River, to the Gulf of Mexico.
Drexel Park is upstream of Wainwright Drive, where WWALS did a cleanup in November 2017, and Valdosta spilled 218,075 gallons of raw sewage in 2019, as well as other years. You can help with cleanups or water quality testing.

Event: facebook, meetup

[Booth, children, kayak]
Booth, children, kayak
Photos: John S. Quarterman, of WWALS at Azalea Festival 2019.

Schedule: Continue reading

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

Very clean Thursday, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-25

The Bachrachs got something we haven’t seen for a long while on the Withlacoochee River: zero E. coli in their water samples at Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps, for Thursday, February 25, 2021. Madison Health got almost as low numbers for the same day at State Line, Sullivan Launch, and FL 6. Madison Health got almost as low numbers for Tuesday, and new WWALS testers Gus Cleary got even lower at NE Withla Bluffs Way downstream from Allen Ramp.

[Clean chart, clean plates, State Line, Nankin, Swim Guide]
Clean chart, clean plates, State Line, Nankin, Swim Guide
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality results, rainfall, and spills, see:
https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

Valdosta got clean upstream for last Monday and Friday a week ago, and Michael and Jacob Bachrach and Gus got clean downstream for that Friday.

So this has been a clean week, the cleanest we’ve seen in a long while. Apparently all that rainwater has finally diluted and washed downstream any previous contamination.

Happy boating, fishing, and swimming!

But beware: with the rivers in flood stage, if you’re not an expert, avoid them still. Even if you are an expert, wear your PFD and don’t go alone. 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

Clean downstream Friday Withlacoochee River 2021-02-19

Update 2021-02-26: Very clean Thursday, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-25.

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

WWALS water trail signs on WALB TV about river levels 2021-02-18

Update 2021-02-21: Water levels discussed in Clean downstream Friday Withlacoochee River 2021-02-19.

Hat tip to Suzy Hall for spotting the WWALS water trail signs at Troupville Boat Ramp on TV yesterday.

[Left: Troupville Boat Ramp; Right: YMCA, Statenville Boat Ramp]
Left: Troupville Boat Ramp; Right: YMCA, Statenville Boat Ramp

Yes, that’s the WWALS Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT) sign at Troupville Boat Ramp. Jennifer Morejon, WALB TV, February 18, 2021, Heavy rain causing river level concerns for South Georgia.

Water levels and rainfall are indeed a concern, especially as they affect water quality. See for example this week’s Tifton Sewage Spills 2021-02-16. 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