Category Archives: FDEP

GA 133 Friday bad again? But good everywhere else, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-06

Update 2020-08-08: WWALS concurs, good to boat, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-06.

The good news: all green for boating, fishing, swimming, etc. from Cook County Boat Ramp on the Little River @ GA 76 and on the Withlacoochee River from US 41 through the GA-FL line past Madison Blue Spring. Thanks to Madison Health and the City of Valdosta for testing, and to WWALS testers Trudy and Conn Cole for finding zero E. coli on the Little River @ GA 76 (Cook County Boat Ramp).

The bad news: last Friday, again there was massive fecal bacterial contamination in the Withlacoochee River @ GA 133, far higher than the 410 cfu/100 mL single-test limit and twice the 1,000 alert limit. See also What do these numbers mean?.

The better news: a usually reliable source tells me that GA-EPD has found the culprit and is dealing with it. And the culprit was not governmental; it was a private company. More on that when I know more.

[Map: All green on Swim Guide]
Map: All green on Swim Guide.

It’s really strange that such a high concentration of fecal bacteria at GA 133 did not show up downstream. Where did it come from? It’s not runoff: there was no rain, except way up at Skipper Bridge, which should have showed runoff contamination at US 41 before GA 133 if that was the source.

It’s not Valdosta or Lowndes County: they had no spills.

It’s almost like somebody dumped some septic tank or RV liquids into the river. Continue reading

Current Situation of Water Quality Testing, Suwannee River Basin 2020-08-02

People mostly don’t know about all the additional testing, nor the cows, nor the new Consent Order on Valdosta.

Even if you’ve been following the Withlacoochee River water quality situation, some of what has happened and has been discovered is probably not obvious. Here is an attempt to describe the current situation, many of the people and organizations involved, and some things you can do to help. See also printable PDF.

[Page 01]

August 2, 2020

To: Potential Partners in helping clean up the Withlacoochee River

Re: Current Situation of Water Quality Testing, Suwannee River Basin

Dear Potential Partner,

Trudy Cole wrote about water quality testing for WWALS:

“We do this so not just our grandchildren,
but your grandchildren have clean water to drink, fish, and swim in.

“Clean water, it’s not just important,
it is vital.”

We’ve never found anyone who wants to swim, boat, or fish in dirty water, much less drink it. Continue reading

Florida clean? Withlacoochee River 2020-07-30

Update 2020-08-07: GA 133 Friday bad again? But good everywhere else, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-06.

Where is that E. coli going once it crosses the state line on the Withlacoochee River?

We don’t know, but at 4:39 PM Friday FDEP updated its online spreadsheet to contain very good results for Thursday at GA 31 (State Line), CR 150 (Sullivan Launch), and FL 6 (just above Madison Blue Spring).

[Swim Guide green for Florida]
Swim Guide green for Florida

Accordingly, we have set all the Florida “beaches” green on Swim Guide.

Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps remain red.

[How green in Florida?]
How green in Florida?
For the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida results, and further context, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Thanks to Madison Health for continuing to test downstream in Florida.

What’s happening farther downstream on the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers? We don’t know: nobody is testing down there.

Floridians: maybe you’d like to ask your statehouse elected officials to fund FDEP to implement regular river testing all the way from the state line to the Gulf. If Valdosta can do it, the great state of Florida can do it. For that matter, FDEP told us last November that they already had money for that and were allocating it regionally. Maybe you’d like to ask FDEP to allocate some of it to the Suwannee River Basin.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Suwannee Springs work in progress 2020-07-22

The Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) is removing the debris from Suwannee Springs that was left by recent flooding of the Suwannee River.

[Four views of Suwannee Springs]
Four views of Suwannee Springs

When I spoke to Edwin McCook, SRWMD Sr. Land Management Specialist, yesterday, he mentioned that SRWMD is looking into further improvements beyond just the debris removal and fixing the staircase mentioned in the SRWMD PR below. It will probably take a few weeks to decide what more can be done. When we know more, I’ll post more. Continue reading

Vacant board slots and mining reclamation: SRWMD Board Packet 2020-07-14

Nothing about Nestlé on a pretty routine Suwannee River Water Management District Board Meeting, this morning at 9AM.

There is an offer to donate previously-mined land to the state, near the Alapaha River.

And three board seats are still vacant.

[Alapaha CE (Bearden) Property Offer, Springs Protection]
Alapaha CE (Bearden) Property Offer, Springs Protection
PDF

Packet with agenda: PDF

The Meeting will be conducted via GoTo Webinar for Presentations Only

GoTo Webinar Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/178251034013180939

Separate Call-In Number for Audio
Audio: Toll Free 1-888-585-9008 – Conference Room Number: 704-019-452 #

[Three Vacant Board Slots]
Three Vacant Board Slots

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Florida lifts Withlacoochee River advisory; more rain could mean more contamination 2020-06-11

Update 2020-06-16: All eight Withlacoochee River landings green 2020-06-14

Valdosta’s Wednesday Knights Ferry result is not pretty: 2,300 cfu/100 mL E. coli, far over the 1,000 alert limit. Previously, I said we wouldn’t turn Swim Guide green until we saw that result. Plus, much more rain fell Friday on Lowndes and Brooks Counties, Georgia. Also, Valdosta got 1,500 on Okapilco Creek at US 84, even worse than the 833 I got there that same Wednesday (see yellow highlighted area).

So, Swim Guide stays red for the Withlacoochee River in Georgia. But Swim Guide goes green for Florida; see below. See also below for the Little and Alapaha Rivers.

WWALS will test tomorrow. You can help.

[More rain means...?]
More rain means…?
For context and links to the WWALS composite spreadsheet and all its sources, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

After two consecutive days of good results from the state line downstream (see green highlighted area), the Florida Department of Health lifted yesterday, June 12, 2020, the Advisory they issued June 9, 2020. Continue reading

Florida, and Upstream water quality tests for Lowndes and Brooks Counties, GA 2020-06-10

Update 2020-06-13: Florida lifts Withlacoochee River advisory; more rain could mean more contamination 2020-06-11.

The Withlacoochee River from the state line to the Suwannee River looked much better Wednesday, according to FDEP results.

Upstream on the Withlacoochee and Little Rivers and two out of three creeks in Brooks County, not so good, according to samples I took Wednesday.

Valdosta’s Wednesday results fill in US 41 (North Valdosta Road), GA 133, and US 84 on the Withlacoochee River. We await Valdosta’s Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramp results.

Meanwhile, you can help.

[Withlacoochee R. @ GA 122 to Suwannee R. @ US 90]
Withlacoochee R. @ GA 122 to Suwannee R. @ US 90
For context and links to the WWALS composite spreadsheet and all its sources, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Thanks to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for testing from GA 31 as far downstream as US 90.

[Horn Bridge, GA 31, Withlacoochee River]
Horn Bridge, GA 31, Withlacoochee River

But where did the contamination go? Did it get diluted? Or did it just wash farther downstream? Continue reading

Additional: Filthy Withlacoochee River Monday after Sunday rain 2020-06-08

Update 2020-06-11: Contamination moving downstream in Florida 2020-06-09.

The E. coli numbers jump up from US 84 to Knights Ferry in additional data from Valdosta for Monday. In between is Okapilco Creek coming out of Brooks County, with many beef and dairy cow pastures upstream.

[Additional Valdosta data]
Additional Valdosta data
For context and links to the WWALS composite spreadsheet and all its sources, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Valdosta’s 1,600 cfu/100 mL at the state line is nowhere near Madison Health’s 24,196, but still higher than the 1,000 alert limit.

It’s a good guess that Madison and Hamilton County Health Departments are putting up signs in Florida after their Withlacoochee River Advisory of yesterday.

I hope some Florida state agency is testing downstream from FL 6, because by now the contamination may well have moved down that way.

I am heading out to collect samples for WWALS and to put our yellow diamond Caution signs back up at State Line and Nankin Boat Ramps. The Knights Ferry access road is washed out so that one will have to go up later. You can help.

Yesterday I set all eight Withlacoochee River Boat Ramps and Launches in Swim Guide to show red for failed water quality.

[Swim Guide red from US 84 to Madison Boat Ramp]
Swim Guide red from US 84 to Madison Boat Ramp

Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for Continue reading

Filthy Withlacoochee River Monday after Sunday rain 2020-06-08

Update 2020-06-10: Additional: Filthy Withlacoochee River Monday after Sunday rain 2020-06-08

Yes, again there’s a Withlacoochee River Advisory from the Hamilton and Madison County, Florida, Health Departments. But it’s not what many people automatically assume.

WWALS is putting its yellow diamond Caution signs back up. All eight Withlacoochee River Boat Ramps and Launces in Swim Guide should shortly show red for failed water quality.

[06.09.20-Withlacoochee-River-Advisory-Madison-Hamilton-0001]
06.09.20-Withlacoochee-River-Advisory-Madison-Hamilton-0001
PDF

Notice the high E. coli at US 41 (North Valdosta Road), twice the high alert limit of 1,000. That is north of almost all of Valdosta. The numbers are still above alert limit but somewhat lower at GA 133 and US 84.

The really high numbers start at GA 31, at State Line Boat Ramp. And 24,196 is extremely high. See What do these numbers mean?

So the main contamination seems to be coming into the Withlacoochee River downstream from US 84. That very likely means down Okapilco Creek from Brooks County, Georgia. Which fits with 4.75 inches of rain at Dixie, GA, in the west of Brooks County and 4.7 inches at the east edge of the county on the Withlacoochee River at US 84. Since that storm, as most do, moved from east to west west to east, we can guess similar amounts of rain fell right across Brooks County. What does that spell? Cows.

Not just from one location; probably from cow pastures all over Brooks County. And maybe upstream, since more than two inches of rain fell on Moultrie.

And of course the higher-than-alert results from US 84 north are not from Brooks County. There are horse farms and cows and hogs up there, too, as well as septic tanks, domsetic pets, and wildlife in the woods. And yes, runoff from city streets. But no sewage spills have been reported. Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida to Army Corps and EPA against strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2020-04-10

On Friday, Waterkeepers Florida, a regional entity composed of all 13 Waterkeeper organizations working in the State of Florida to protect and restore our water resources across over 45,000 square miles of watershed, which is home to over 15 million Floridians, wrote to both the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. EPA asking for more third-party comment on the application by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, to strip mine for titanium near the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the St. Marys and Suwannee Rivers.

[WKFL logos]
WKFL logos

Today’s the comment deadline, and today you can also write such letters about Application Number SAS-2018-00554-SP-HAR. Here’s how:
http://wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining/#howtocomment

Waterkeepers Florida (WKFL) to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

See also Continue reading