Monthly Archives: January 2020

Cleaner at Okapilco and Piscola Creeks and Withlacoochee River 2020-01-29

Update 2020-02-03: Rivers maybe finally clean after Valdosta sewage: but Okapilco Creek and need weekly testing 2020-01-31

Good news: the Withlacoochee River tested clean Wednesday. Still puzzling: Okapilco Creek did not. Where is the contamination coming from? What about Valdosta? How can you help?

[Ducks with reference human]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Ducks with reference human, Josh Tison, at Piscola Creek under the Old Madison Road bridge in Brooks County, Georgia, 2020-01-29.

We have results from Lowndes County and from WWALS for January 29, 2020. Lowndes County still shows an elevated count of 378.4 cfu/100 mL E. coli on Okapilco Creek at the (old) Bray property, downstream of US 84, but upstream of Piscola Creek.

[2020-01-22 -- 2020-01-29]
2020-01-22 — 2020-01-29 testing results from Lowndes County and WWALS.
The entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of testing results is on the WWALS website.
So are the Lowndes County results.

At US 84 on Okapilco Creek I got 66, and at GA 76 farther upstream Lowndes County got 95.9. As also indicated by previous results, whatever is getting into Okapilco Creek seems to be occuring downstream of US 84.

I even tested a new site on Piscola Creek at Old Madison Road, for 100 cfu/100 mL, despite gathering water downstream of Continue reading

Florida Counties Task Force in Valdosta about sewage 2020-01-08

Update 2020-01-31: Cleaner at Okapilco and Piscola Creeks and Withlacoochee River 2020-01-29.

There was good news, but actual responsibility or accountability by Valdosta was hard to find, at the January 8, 2020, evening meeting of the Florida counties Task Force with the Valdosta City Council. It was attended by a record number of citizens from Florida and Georgia, many of whom were quite vocal. You can see it all in these WWALS videos.

The good news included stormwater infiltration into the sewer system reduced by 25%, faster remediation of manholes, and the long-awaited catch basin for the WWTP is permitted. Yes, Valdosta has battery or generator backup for its lift stations and the two Wastewater Treatment Plants.

Per incoming Mayor Scott James Matheson’s request, I repeatedly described the Mayor’s Paddle organized by WWALS, then upcoming on January 18th. It went well, and we got a lot of good press out of it. Yet not a single person from Valdosta Utilities, nor the City Manager, paddled with WWALS and the Mayor. Valdosta even refused to test the Withlacoochee River before their own Mayor paddled: “We did what we were required to do.”

The new Mayor, at this meeting one day before being inaugurated, said he had met with the city staff and was impressed, but expected to hold them accountable. Many of us look forward to that.

In response to a question by Valdosta resident Tom Potter about whether legal liability was tied to the contractor, Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber said Valdosta takes “full responsibility.” But practically in the same breath he added, “but not full financial responsibility,” passing that off to the contractor.

Even about who is on the list to be notified of a spill, Continue reading

Banks Lake Full Storm Moon Paddle, 2020-02-09

Update 2020-02-16: Pictures.

Leisurely sunset paddle and watch the full moon rise over the lake. Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge is in the Grand Bay–Banks Lake ecosystem. We usually see birds, bats and alligators. Sunsets are usually spectacular, and the full moon rising over the tree tops reflected in the lake is a sight to see.

When: Gather 4:45 PM, launch 5:15 PM, Sunday, February 9, 2020

Moon and sun: Sunset 6:15 PM, Moonrise 6:53 PM

Put In: Banks Lake Boat Ramp, 307 Georgia 122, Lakeland, GA 31635, in Lanier County.

GPS: 31.035097, -83.097045

Take Out: Banks Lake Boat Ramp

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.

Boats: Kayaks are available to borrow but please let us know at least 2 days prior to the event. Bring your own if you have it.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!

Event: facebook, meetup

[Better exposure, 18:08:57, 31.0229025, -83.1065178]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Banks Lake, Better exposure, 18:08:57, 31.0229025, -83.1065178, 2018-12-22

Continue reading

Fourth wave: plus Lowndes County on Okapilco Creek and Withlacoochee River 2020-01-22

Update 2020-01-30: Florida Counties Task Force in Valdosta about sewage 2020-01-08.

We do already have Lowndes County’s results, and they show somewhat elevated E. coli counts at both Okapilco Creek south of US 84 and the Withlacoochee River at US 84, for Wednesday of last week, January 22, 2020. Both those sites are upstream of Knights Ferry and State Line (GA 31), where WWALS found too-high counts on Sunday, January 26. Below: what these numbers mean, and how you can help.

[Elevated at both Okapilco Creek and US 84 Withlacoochee 2020-01-22]
Elevated at both Okapilco Creek and US 84 Withlacoochee 2020-01-22
The entire WWALS composite spreadsheet is on the WWALS website.

Sara Jay pulled some upstream river samples yesterday, so her results should be ready later today or early tomorrow. I’m going to get some downstream ones and at Okapilco Creek at US 84 today. Lowndes County is also pulling samples today, so my results should be ready tomorrow or very early Friday. Lowndes County is pulling samples today, so their results should be available tomorrow or Friday. We also hope to get updates from Florida.

What do these numbers mean?

Continue reading

Fourth wave: bad water quality at State Line and Knights Ferry 2020-01-26

Updated 2020-01-29: Plus Lowndes County data and what these numbers mean.

Updated 2020-01-28: Florida results added to the WWALS composite table, but the most recent from Florida was for Thursday, three days before the WWALS high Sunday results at the state line.

Bad news. WWALS found these results for Sunday, January 26, 2020:

[WWALS and County warning signs]
Photo: Suzy Hall for WWALS, of WWALS and County warning signs at State Line Boat Ramp 2020-01-26

cfu/100 mL E. coli Where
500Knights Ferry Boat Ramp
1233State Line Boat Ramp (GA 31)

Those stations are 15.55 river miles apart on the Withlacoochee River, with Nankin Boat Ramp in between. We are leaving our WWALS CAUTION signs up at all three locations. Continue reading

FL state Sen. Montford in Madison about Valdosta sewage 2020-01-08

Update 2019-01-28: Fourth wave: bad water quality at State Line and Knights Ferry 2020-01-26

Update 2020-01-24: Emma Wheeler, WCTV, January 24, 2020, Wells test positive for e-coli in Madison County,

If you weren’t at the Madison County meeting about Valdosta sewage, 1PM, Wednesday, January 8, 2020, you can see the whole thing in these videos I took for WWALS.

[Movie: Fines? Lawsuits? EPA answer questions? (331M)]
Movie: Fines? Lawsuits? EPA answer questions? (331M)

If you want a shorter version, try Stew Lilker, Columbia County Observer, January 11, 2020, 7.5 Mil Gal of Raw Sewage Headed Into N. FL From Valdosta – FL Sen. Bill Montford Wants Answers. See Stew ask his very perceptive question, Continue reading

Training: water quality testing by Georgia Adopt-A-Stream standards 2020-02-08

Chemical and Bacteriological water testing training for Georgia Adopt-A-Stream standards by our local trainers. Yes, we will also be scheduling a training for Florida methods.

Before attending either, please sign up using this google form. Be prepared to start testing soon afterwards in our water quality testing program.

Obviously E. coli from Valdosta’s December 2019 worst-ever raw sewage spill is motivation for testing, but that’s not all that gets into our waterways. The only way to tell when our rivers are clean and when they are not is regular testing.

When: 9 AM, Saturday, February 8, 2020

Location: SGRC, 327 W Savannah Ave, Valdosta, GA 31601, for the indoor classroom part.
The outdoor practicing part will be at Onemile Branch in Drexel Park, Valdosta. Please be dressed appropriately for the weather and wear boots for potential contact with the water.

Free: No charge to anyone. But be prepared to start testing soon after the training. We also recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!

Event: facebook

[Papers and chemicals]
Papers and chemicals at training in Drexel Park, 2019-09-14.
Kits, chemicals, and supplies such as Petrifilms are expensive, especially the more we test.
You can contribute to supplies at https://www.gagives.org/story/Wwals-Waterqualitykits.

Continue reading

Lifted: Florida Withlacoochee and Suwannee Wastewater Warning; WWALS signs stay up for now 2020-01-24

Received 4:19 PM yesterday, Florida has lifted its river warning advisory. But everyone should keep testing rivers, creeks, and wells, not just after this December 2019 record-largest Valdosta raw sewage spill, but ongoing, at least weekly, to eventually lift the stigma so we can all promote eco-tourism. You can help.

[01-24-2020 Wastewater Spill Valdosta Hamilton Madison LIFTED 0001]
01-24-2020 Wastewater Spill Valdosta Hamilton Madison LIFTED 0001
PDF

But WWALS will leave our warning signs up at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line (GA 31, Madison Highway, Mozell Spells, CR 145) Boat Ramps in Georgia for now.

This is because that 397 cfu/100 mL E. coli at Continue reading

Okapilco Creek better, Withlacoochee still clean 2020-01-22

Update 2020-01-25: Florida advisory lifted, but WWALS warning signs stay up, and keep testing rivers, creeks and wells.

Okapilco Creek is down from 2419.6 cfu/100 mL E. coli last Thursday to 365 yesterday, Wednesday, January 22, 2020, according to data from Lowndes County received during the Florida Rivers Task Force meeting in Lake City.

[Okapilco Creek in Brooks County]
Okapilco Creek in Brooks County in Brooks County Tax Appraiser map.

That’s still higher than we’d like to see, but not way up in don’t touch the water range like before.

[Lowndes County 2020-01-22]
Lowndes County 2020-01-22
Thanks to Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter for sending these results, which are on the WWALS website along with the entire entire updated WWALS composite spreadsheet of all results from all sources.

Where did that contamination go? Did it show up on Continue reading

Withlacoochee, Suwannee good, Okapilco Creek bad water quality 2020-01-18

Update 2020-01-23: Okapilco Creek better, Withlacoochee still clean 2020-01-22.

The good news: Gretchen Quarterman’s test results from the Mayor’s Paddle Saturday were clean.

[Gretchen Quarterman testing during Mayor's Paddle (Suzy Hall)]
Photo: Suzy Hall, of Gretchen Quarterman testing during Mayor’s Paddle 2020-01-18

The Withlacoochee River tested clean all the way from the state line to the Suwannee, and the Suwannee River clean all the way to US 250, on Friday, January 17, 2020, according to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH). But somebody (Valdosta?) needs to pay for the well and river testing incurred to date from that record-largest Valdosta raw sewage spill of December 2019. And we need ongoing regular, closely spaced, water quality testing, and sources of funding (Valdosta?) for that, for at least two reasons detailed below.

Maybe you’d like to come talk about that at the Florida Rivers Task Force meeting 4PM today at the Holiday Inn, 213 SW Commerce Blvd, Lake City, FL, or at the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council (NCFRPC) meeting at 7PM, same location.

Or you can speak in Citizens To Be Heard at the end of the Valdosta City Council meeting, 5:30 PM today, Valdosta City Hall, 216 E. Central Ave., Valdosta, GA.

[Clean rivers 2020-01-15-18]
Clean rivers 2020-01-15-18
The entire composite spreadsheet by WWALS is on the WWALS website, along with the recent data from Lowndes County and Florida.

The Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) projection reported by WCJB on Thursday that Valdosta sewage had reached the Suwannee River fortunately proved not to come to pass. Cleaner Friday than Thursday, by results from WWALS, Lowndes County (which has its own sewer system that did not spill), and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). Valdosta did not test on any weekdays last week, even though their Mayor was scheduled to paddle.

The difficulty of projecting river flows is one reason continual testing is the only way to be sure what’s in our rivers.

What’s in Okapilco Creek?

The interesting news: Lowndes County found high E. coli on Okapilco Creek south of Continue reading