Tag Archives: spill

Madison Co., FL Withlacoochee River Bacterial Advisory 2020-02-11

Update 2020-02-15: EPA passes the buck to GA-EPD for Valdosta raw sewage spill 2020-01-31.

This unusually-worded Florida bacterial advisory for the Withlacoochee River probably has nothing to do with yesterday’s Valdosta 200 gallon sewage spill into two-mile branch:

[02.11.20-Withlacoochee-River-Advisory-Hamilton-Madison-003-0001]
02.11.20-Withlacoochee-River-Advisory-Hamilton-Madison-003-0001
PDF

The unusual wording is that the advisory gives no hint of the source of the contamination:

Jasper, FL — The Florida Department of Health in Hamilton and Madison counties today issued a joint health advisory to residents and visitors near the Withlacoochee River in North Florida.

Until further information is known regarding possible bacterial contamination of the river, people in the area are urged to take precautions when in contact with the Withlacoochee River. The Florida Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protection are conducting water sampling.

We got the advisory at 4:42 PM today. At 5:10 PM Nathan Dean, reporter for WCTV, called to ask why the advisory. The best I could do was to say that tiny amount of Valdosta sewage could not possibly have made its way to Florida by today, and probably never would, because it was so small it would get diluted long before that.

At 7:48 PM I got forwarded through two intermediaries an explanation from SRWMD’s Darlene Velez that she orginally sent at 5:20 PM. She said Madison County Health Department had decided to do weekly sampling. I quote in part: Continue reading

Clean Withlacoochee, Okapilco Creek (mostly), and Little River 2020-02-02

Update 2020-02-08: Clean Withlacoochee River; dubious Okapilco Creek; and rain 2020-02-05.

Even better news: clean everywhere WWALS tested Sunday on the Withlacoochee River, Little River, and Okapilco Creek. If this keeps up, eventually we, and presumbably Lowndes County, will remove our warning signs. We’ll make some inquiries in Quitman while waiting for Lowndes County’s data upcoming this Wednesday.

At least weekly ongoing testing is still needed. What Lowndes County keeps seeing in Okapilco Creek illustrates that while Valdosta is chronically the biggest problem, and Valdosta has some remediation to do, it’s not the only source of contamination. The only way to tell when our rivers are clean or not, so we can market eco-tourism and gradually lift the reputational stigma on our rivers, is regular, weekly, water quality testing.

You can help.

[With reference dog]
Photo: Suzy Hall, of the Withlacoochee RIver downstream of Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, With reference dog.

Suzy Hall tested the 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

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

Report on Activities, next steps, citizen comments @ FL Rivers Task Force 2020-01-23

Received today, a notice that the Middle and Lower Suwannee River and Withlacoochee River Task Force will be meeting next Thursday:

When: 4PM, Thursday, January 23, 2020

Where: Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites, 213 Southwest Commerce Boulevard, Lake City, Florida

[Agenda]
Agenda

How to get there: Continue reading

SRWMD slides and water quality data after Valdosta raw sewage spill, Withlacoochee River 2020-01-14

Update 2020-01-17: Mostly clean in Georgia, not in Florida, Withlacoochee River 2020-01-15

Here’s why we keep sampling.

Suwannee Riverkeeper sampling water at Troupville Boat Ramp
Suwannee Riverkeeper sampling water at Troupville Boat Ramp, Emma Wheeler, WCTV, January 15, 2020, Withlacoochee River tested ahead of Mayor’s Paddle.

SRWMD reports high bacterial counts for the third time at State Line (GA 31), and again at CR 150 (Sullivan Launch).

[SRWMD 2020-01-14 (WWALS composite spreadsheet)]
SRWMD 2020-01-14 (WWALS composite spreadsheet)

Will the Mayor’s Paddle happen as scheduled this Saturday, January 18, upstream (See Albany Herald, January 15, 2020)on the Withlacoochee River?

That depends on Continue reading

Georgia Department of Health can’t or won’t do as much as FDOH 2020-01-07

Georgia Department of Public Health (GA-DPH) was not informed by Valdosta of the December 2019 raw sewage spill; so far as I know, I was the first to tell DPH, as Suwannee Riverkeeper. Lowndes County Environmental Health did then offer free water well testing, for both Lowndes and Brooks Counties, Georgia.

However, DPH itself does not test river water, and was not asked by Valdosta to help advise the public of river contamination. DPH does not have authority to compell Valdosta to test or plant warning signs. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) does have such authority.

This is all in marked contrast to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), which was informed by Valdosta, did put out three sequential warnings, and has been testing the Withlacoochee River. Seems like we need to get some policies or laws changed in Georgia.

[DPH was not notified of Valdosta sewage spill]
DPH was not notified of Valdosta sewage spill

For his speedy and informative response, I’d like to thank Continue reading

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

Update 2020-01-15: Georgia Department of Health can’t or won’t do as much as FDOH 2020-01-07.

The Withlacoochee River still looks clean for the Mayor’s Paddle from Troupville Boat Ramp to Spook Bridge this Saturday.

SRWMD actually tested upstream from there last Wednesday at GA 133. SRWMD’s and FDEP’s test at US 84, Knights Ferry, and State Line Boat Ramp (GA 31) were also clean that day, and the next day FDOH tested at GA 31 and still found it clean. Suzy Hall tested for WWALS this Saturday, and found Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps clean.

[Most recent contamination]
Most recent contamination

The not so good news is that the most recent FDOH tests in Florida, Continue reading