Tag Archives: Brooks County

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

WWALS testers Jacob and Michael Bachrach also got good results from their Thursday samples: 66 cfu/100 mL E. coli at State Line Boat Ramp and zero (0) at Nankin and Knights Ferry Boat Ramps. Can’t get much better than that!

WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall did remark that the Petrifilms for State Line showed quite a bit of other Fecal coliforms. But we can’t quantify those with the Petrifilm method, and we go by E. coli.

Of course, something else could have gotten into the river since Thursday. All of these results are always merely advisory.

But as far as we can tell, it’s a great weekend for boating on the Withlacoochee River!

[Good WWALS results, Knights Ferry, Nankin, State Line]
Good WWALS results, Knights Ferry, Nankin, State Line
For context and the complete WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida results, see: http://wwals.net/issues/testing/

As you can see, the WWALS 66 at State Line was quite similar to the Madison Health 10. The Florida agencies use laboratories with more precision in their results than WWALS can get with Petrifilms: 66 is the lowest WWALS can show before zero.

These Thursday WWALS results at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line corroborate what Valdosta got Wednesday at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line, shifted downstream somewhat due to water flow and a day later. Note Valdosta got slightly higher results at Nankin Wednesday, and WWALS got slightly higher at State Line, which is about what we would expect from water flow.

Until the next big rain (or dumping or, we sure hope not, sewage spill), water quality will probably remain good.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

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

Twomile Branch and Withlacoochee River 2020-07-28

Update 2020-07-31: Just when you think it’s safe, nope, Withlacoochee River to GA-FL line 2020-07-29.

For Monday, July 27, 2020, Valdosta reports still slightly elevated bacterial counts at GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River, but nothing like the alert level of Friday. Yet counts at US 41 upstream and US 84 downstream remain completely normal. We can guess that rainwater coming down the Little River into the Withlacoochee diluted the contamination.

[Towmile Branch, Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River]
Towmile Branch, Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River

We don’t know where that Friday GA 133 contamination came from. Both Valdosta and Lowndes County say they did not spill any sewage, and the state of Georgia still reports no sewage spills in the Suwannee River Basin (ditto for Florida).

[Downstream, 16:25:10, 30.8661346, -83.3102568]
Downstream, 16:25:10, 30.8661346, -83.3102568

I even tested Tuesday on Twomile Branch just below Joree Millpond and behind the last house on Lake Drive (thanks to the landowner). Results there were higher than are good for longterm average, but below the single test limit.

[Upstream again, 16:12:23, 30.864, -83.3158]
Upstream, Twomile Branch, Lake Drive, Valdosta, GA, 2020-07-28, 16:12:23, 30.8640000, -83.3158000

We have no Valdosta results downstream of US 84 since Wednesday a week ago, and nothing from Florida since Tuesday a week ago. Continue reading

Alert bacteria level at GA 133, Withlacoochee River, Friday 2020-07-24

Update 2020-07-30: Twomile Branch and Withlacoochee River 2020-07-28.

Valdosta reports very high fecal bacterial results for Friday at GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River: 1,410 cfu/100 mL E. coli and even higher for Fecal coliform. We don’t know what caused that: GA-EPD did not report any spills that day, and has not yet put up a new Sewage Spills Report for today. I am checking with the obvious suspects.

[GA 133 west of Valdosta, east of Troupville Boat Ramp]
GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River west of Valdosta, east of Troupville Boat Ramp on the Little River.
On the Withlacoochee River, GA 133 is marked by the white circle, with the US 41 bridge at top right and the US 84 bridge towards the lower left, in this WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

Here is a chart of the data and recent rainfall. Note not much rain upstream on the Withlacoochee River. If the contamination came from upstream, it should have shown up first at US 41. Although conceivably it might have passed by US 41 on Thursday between samples. Continue reading

Excellent water quality, Withlacoochee River, but raining now 2020-07-22

Update 2020-07-27: Alert bacteria level at GA 133, Withlacoochee River, Friday 2020-07-24.

Valdosta already reported downstream Withlacoochee River results for Wednesday! They are excellent: 30 cfu/100 mL E. coli for Okapilco Creek @ US 84, same for Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps, and 40 for State Line: all well below the 126 longterm average limit. Valdosta results for Friday and Monday were similar, so the longterm average is in fact excellent. Plus we have Thursday and Tuesday Florida results, none higher than 10 for any of GA 31 (State Line), CR 150 (Sullivan Launch), or FL 6 (Madison Blue Spring). All that backs up the zero WWALS tester Suzy Hall got at State Line Boat Ramp Saturday.

Upstream, the most recent results from Valdosta are 30 for US 41, 140 for GA 133, and 0 (zero) for US 84, which is as good as it gets.

However, the UGA station for Dixie, GA, on the west side of Brooks County, already reported more than an inch of rain. Not so much rain anywhere else, so we don’t know what that rain will wash to the waterways. WWALS will be testing this weekend.

[Accuweather Radar]
Accuweather Radar Map.

Here’s the data: Continue reading

All green to go, Withlacoochee River 2020-07-18

Update 2020-07-23: Excellent water quality, Withlacoochee River, but raining now 2020-07-22.

We don’t always get zero E. coli on the Withlacoochee River, but when we do, we like it!

That’s zero cfu/100 mL at State Line Boat Ramp Saturday, by WWALS tester Suzy Hall, and zero at FL 6 just above Madison Blue Spring Tuesday by Madison Health. With below 410 (that’s good) everywhere upstream in Valdosta Monday, Wednesday, and Friday results.

Plus, we have good results on the Alapaha River, thanks to WWALS testers Tasha Ekman LaFace and Suzy Hall.

[Green on Swim Guide, Withlacoochee River]
Green on Swim Guide, Withlacoochee River

Yes, even Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps showed good results all week. We didn’t know that until today, but now we do, thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson getting those numbers posted about 1PM today. Continue reading

Lifted: Florida Withlacoochee River Bacterial Advisory 2020-07-15

Update 2020-07-20: All green to go, Withlacoochee River 2020-07-18.

Going by the good downstream Florida results FDEP posted yesterday for Monday, July 13, shortly before Tom Mirti announced those results in the SRWMD Board meeting yesterday, as he predicted, Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida, Health Departments today lifted the bacterial advisory they posted last Thursday. Not much rain has fallen lately, so results will probably stay good downstream until the next big rain.

[Florida Withlacoochee River Advisory lifted]
Florida Withlacoochee River Advisory lifted
PDF

So I’ve marked State Line Boat Ramp and the Florida “beaches” green on Swim Guide.

[Green State Line and Florida in Swim Guide]
Green State Line and Florida in Swim Guide

We have good Valdosta Monday results for US 84 and upstream, but nothing downstream yet, so Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps remain red. Since there’s been no significant rain lately, and results are good upstream and downstream, chances are Knights Ferry and Nankin are also good, but we can’t change Swim Guide for them until we get new test results. Continue reading

Bad Friday and Saturday water quality results, Withlacoochee River 2020-07-11

Update 2020-07-14: Bad Friday and Saturday water quality results, Withlacoochee River 2020-07-11.

Not looking good downstream on the Withlacoochee River. Madison Health unusually tested on a Friday, and found too-high E. coli results at Florida 6, just above Madison Blue Spring: 414 cfu/100 mL. Saturday, WWALS results at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp were horrible: 5,233. Nankin Boat Ramp results were merely too high: 600. State Line Boat Ramp was within acceptable limits Saturday, but that contamination probably washed down that far by Sunday and well into Florida by this morning.

[Withlacoochee River, Swim Guide]
Withlacoochee River, Swim Guide

Thanks to WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach for collecting those downstream Withlacoochee River samples, and to Suzy Hall for providing the results. See also What do these numbers mean?

[Dirty Knights Ferry, Nankin, FL 6]
Dirty Knights Ferry, Nankin, FL 6
For the complete WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida results and other context, see wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Friday Conn got 2,100 on Crooked Creek at Devane Road. Remember, Crooked Creek runs into Okapilco Creek downstream of US 84. That 2,100 is actually lower than many results we’ve seen at that location, and Crooked Creek has much less flow than Okapilco Creek. So that number is not enough to account for the 5,233 downstream of Okapilco Creek on the Withlacoochee River at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp the next day. Did it come from somewhere else, such as upstream on Okapilco Creek?

This map may help with understanding where all these places are.

[Landings, Suwannee River Basin, WWALS Map]
Landings in Suwannee River Basin, WWALS Map

However many places the E. coli came from, there is reason to believe that the most likely sources are cattle.

[Little River, Swim Guide]
Little River, Swim Guide

Meanwhile on Saturday, upstream WWALS testers Conn Cole and John S. Quarterman found good results on the Little River at GA 76 (Cook County Boat Ramp) and GA 122 (Folsom Bridge Landing), as well as at GA 122 on the Withlacoochee River (Hagan Bridge Landing). Friday Conn Cole aso got good results on Okapilco Creek at US 84.

Plus, Valdosta’s Friday results for US 41, GA 133, and US 84 are all good. Valdosta did get a high Fecal coliform result for US 41, but we go by E. coli. Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for getting these Valdosta Friday results published this morning.

Back downstream, you don’t even have to count the blue-with-bubbles colonies to see Continue reading

Bad Knights Ferry in Valdosta data down to state line, Monday and Wednesday 2020-07-08

This very high Valdosta Monday 1,600 E. coli data for Knights Ferry Boat Ramp and even higher 3,200 for Nankin Boat Ramp help explain the Florida high result downstream on Tuesday, which itself helped explain yesterday’s Florida bacterial alert for the Withlacoochee River.

[Valdosta Monday and Wednesday results]
Valdosta Monday and Wednesday results
For the complete WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida results and other context, see wwals.net/issues/testing/.

For how bad those numbers are, see What do these numbers mean?

Valdosta’s Wednesday Nankin result was better, and its Knights Ferry 570 result at least wasn’t as horrible, although that was still higher than the one-time sample 410 limit. Yet Okapilco Creek @ US 84 had actually gotten worse.

So we can hope the Florida downstream good results are a good indicator. But there could be more E. coli still coming down the Withlacoochee River.

WWALS testers are collecting samples today and tomorrow, so we shall see.

Meanwhile, we have to put Knights Ferry Boat Ramp back to red on Swim Guide, because that’s the most recent data we have for it. Nankin just barely squeaks by under 410, so it’s green like all the eight Withlacoochee River “beaches,” except Knights Ferry.

[Red Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee River, 2020-07-08]
Red Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, Withlacoochee River, 2020-07-08

Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for getting this Valdosta downstream data published. Maybe that can become standard practice, so people will have a better idea of river conditions before the weekend. This is in Valdosta’s own interest, since it usually shows Continue reading