Tag Archives: Gretchen Quarterman

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

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

News coverage, Mayor’s Paddle, and Task Force meeting Thursday in Lake City

People from Brooks County, Lowndes County, Valdosta, Madison County, and SRWMD paddled with new Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson down the Withlacoochee River. For the first time, we got not one but two reporters in a boat. The media got most of the point of that stretch at least was cleaner, the Withlacoochee is well worth protecting, and there is much more to be done. The Florida counties Task Force about Valdosta wastewater meets tomorrow, Thursday, at 4PM in Lake City; its Chair, Rick Davis of Madison County, paddled and was quoted in news stories.

Photo: Robin Postell, Valdosta Today, of Valdosta Mayor Scott James and Florida Task Force Chair Rick Davis on the Withlacoochee River with WWALS
Photo: Robin Postell, Valdosta Today, of Valdosta Mayor Scott James and Florida Task Force Chair Rick Davis on the Withlacoochee River with WWALS.

Good and rather extensive coverage of the Mayor’s Paddle WWALS organized Saturday, January 18, 2020, is linked into the WWALS Valdosta Spills web page (scroll down), and the WWALS News web page. Here are some highlights. Continue reading

Signs in Georgia on Withlacoochee River and new data; thanks Lowndes County and SRWMD 2020-01-10

Update 2020-01-14: Recent water quality test results, Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers 2020-01-11

There are two warning signs at each of Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps as of yesterday: by Lowndes County, and by WWALS. According to new data from Wednesday evening, those signs may not have been necessary, but at this point better safe than sorry. The new data did not come from Valdosta, nor did the signs.

[County and WWALS warning signs]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, County and WWALS warning signs at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, 2020-01-10

Thanks to Lowndes County and Chairman Bill Slaughter for testing at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps, and for making and planting those tall metal caution signs after the county numbers for Monday, January 6, 2020, were quite high. The county is now doing weekly testing, including at additional locations.

Just in case, WWALS also made signs and placed them. Continue reading

Valdosta sewage from Sugar Creek to Florida 2019-01-01

Update 2020-01-03 Valdosta Sewage Public Meeting, Valdosta City Hall Annex, 2020-01-08.

You can see Valdosta’s sewage going down the Withlacoochee River as the high red numbers in these composite tables WWALS has cobbled together from various data sources (all acknowledged below).

Early on, the sewage apparently mostly sat in Sugar Creek downstream from the spill site, due to low water and no rain.

[Early (12/10-12/18)]
Early (12/10-12/18)

Most of the Georgia numbers in above table are from Valdosta Utilities data. The ones marked with a W are WWALS data using the Georgia Adopt-a-Stream 3M Petrifilms method.

Fecal coliform numbers started dropping in Sugar Creek at Gornto Road on December 14, and were much more acceptable by December 15 and 16th. Where did the sewage go? Continue reading

Rhonda Kelly with the WWALS raffle kayak she won 2019-12-10

After she called the WWALS kayak raffle winner, Rhonda Kelly, from Griffis Fish Camp on the Suwannee River, WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman delivered the kayak to Rhonda’s place of business in Valdosta.

[Rhonda Kelly with the kayak she won in the WWALS raffle]
Rhonda Kelly with the kayak she won in the WWALS raffle

It’s a Perception Swifty Deluxe 95 Angler Sit Inside Kayak. Thanks again to Eileen Box for donating the kayak for the raffle.

We hope to see Rhonda on upcoming paddles. Thank you to everyone who supported this fundraiser. Your contribution makes a difference for our programs and advocacy.

So, anybody got a kayak to donate for the next raffle?

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Videos: Troupville River Camp at Valdosta City Council 2019-12-05

Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber described the Troupville River Camp project and the letters received at that time (more have since come in). After brief discussion, the Council approved unanimously the Mayor sending a letter of support.


      7b. Request for letter of support by WWALS
LAKE Video.

In Citizens To Be Heard (CBTH), WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman thanked Council for approving the letter.


      10. CTBH. - Gretchen Quarterman - WWALS ED
LAKE Video.

All the letters received thus far, including Continue reading

Letter: Lowndes County, GA, Commission supports Troupville River Camp 2019-12-30

The county of the site of the proposed Troupville River Camp supports the project.

[Lowndes County’s support for the “Troupville River Camp” project.]
Lowndes County’s support for the “Troupville River Camp” project.
PDF

On behalf of the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners, thank you for the opportunity to express Lowndes County’s support for the “Troupville River Camp” project.

Quality of life amenities are an integral component of economic development initiatives. The ability to provide a river park for citizens that could also serve as a destination for others is an amazing opportunity for our community. Further, programs proposed that will continue to protect one of South Georgia/North Florida’s most valuable natural resources should not be overlooked in the consideration of this application.

Lowndes County appreciates and admires the initiative demonstrated by WWALS Watershed Coalition. Those associated with the organization are both knowledgeable with regards to preservation and passionate about their mission.

Thank you again for the opportunity to express Lowndes County’s support of their efforts.

I had requested this letter at the last Lowndes County Commission meeting of 2019. As I mentioned, Chairman Bill Slaughter was already familiar with the site. Continue reading

Troupville River Camp at Lowndes County, GA, Commission 2019-12-10

At the last Lowndes County Commission meeting of 2019, as Suwannee Riverkeeper, I complimented Code Enforcement and asked for support for the Troupville River Camp project. 
      8. CWTBH - John S. Quarterman - Troupville River Camp
Video.

A WWALS member had called in a complaint to Lowndes County Code Enforcement back in August, about trash at the bottom of the Flying J parking lot at I-75 Exit 2.. It was a big job, involving removing many truckloads of tires, and completely rebuilding the fence, but it was almost finished when I went by there that same Tuesday morning.

About Troupville River Camp, I summarized the WWALS pre-application to the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program (GOSP) for a river camp like those on the Suwannee River, but this one at the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River, just west of Valdosta.

This method of asking had been requested Continue reading

Even filthier E. coli counts at Knights Ferry on Withlacoochee River 2019-12-24

Update 2019-12-28: Contamination apparently spread to Nankin Boat Ramp by December 26, and still no warning signs.

Suzy still saw no Valdosta warning signs yesterday at Knights Ferry or State Line, despite even higher E. coli counts at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River. There were still no warning signs there or at State Line Boat Ramp, even though the only source of contamination this bad that seems plausible is Valdosta’s record-largest raw sewaage spill. Why does Valdosta not put up warning signs for the public health situation it has apparently caused?

[Knights Ferry Boat Ramp]
Photo: Suzy Hall, of Petrifilms of water from Knights Ferry Boat Ramp 2019-12-24.

“I kinda want to call Knights TNTC (Too Many To Count), but I did my best and count 6,767/100 mL.” reports Suzy Hall on test results from a sample she took at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp yesterday, Tuesday, December 24, 2019.

That’s more than six times the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream alert level for E. coli. And we thought 4,966.67 from three days earlier was ridiculously high.

Please don’t let your children play in that water with these readings. Continue reading