Tag Archives: Sugar Creek

Still clean in GA 2020-01-16

Yesterday Suwannee Riverkeeper decided to go ahead with the Mayor’s Paddle today. Come on down to Troupville Boat Ramp at 9AM this morning. That’s I-75 exit 18, St. Augustine Road, GA 133. Go west towards Moultrie. At the sign for Val Tech Road, turn left, down to the boat ramp. More detail here. You do not even have to paddle; you can just come and see us off.

[Sampled]
Sampled at US 84.

I made that decision, in conjunction with the WWALS Testing and Outings Committees, because of the water quality test results by Sara Jay and John S. Quarterman for WWALS, and the test results from Lowndes County. Valdosta did nothing to help test before their Mayor paddles today. Continue reading

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

The Mayor’s Paddle is still a go for tomorrow (Saturday), according to results from Lowndes County and WWALS for Wednesday, January 15, 2020.

[Valdosta caution sign gone]
Valdosta caution sign gone at Troupville Boat Ramp

From way up at US 41 (North Valdosta Road), all the way to Saturday’s takeout, Spook Bridge (thanks, Langdale Company), WWALS got results well within state water quality standards.

[2020-01-15 GA green, FL red]
2020-01-15 GA green, FL red
The entire spreadsheet is on the WWALS website.

For Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps, Lowndes County got 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

Water quality permitting, paddle with Mayor of Valdosta this Saturday 2020-01-18

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, January 13, 2020 — Water quality tests since last Wednesday are looking good for the Withlacoochee River in Georgia, and if those continue this Monday and Wednesday, it will be all clear to paddle with the new Mayor of Valdosta, Scott James, this Saturday, January 18, 2020. “We’ll paddle by the site of the projected Troupville River Camp, supported by Valdosta and Lowndes County, Georgia, and Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “We’ll also pass the outflow from Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), which did not spill, although it is in a stretch of the river that was contaminated by Valdosta’s December 2019 record raw sewage spill.”

[Movie: WWTP Outfall, 11:23:17, 30.83622, -83.35924 (15M)]
WWTP Outfall, 2019-06-15 30.8362200, -83.3592400

Mayor Scott James was quoted in Valdosta Today:

“The paddle was requested by me and John was gracious enough to organize it and call it the ‘Mayor’s Paddle.’ It is to show my commitment to zero tolerance for future spills and to show my love for our natural resources.”

“The only way to dispell the stigma of sewage spills that affects the entire Suwannee River Basin, is frequent, regular, water quality sampling with published results,” added Quarterman. “The dozen-county Florida Rivers Task Force to deal with Valdosta sewage wants to promote cross-state-line eco-tourism. We should all be marketing our rivers. We are, with this paddle, and with Troupville River Camp. But we need a solid foundation of testing so we can say when the rivers are clean, and the few (we hope) times when they are not.”

WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc., parent organization of Suwannee Riverkeeper, will be collecting water quality samples this Wednesday at numerous points on the Withlacoochee River to have current results before the paddle. Lowndes County (which has its own sewer system, that did not spill) is sampling weekly. The Florida Department of Enviromental Protection (FDEP) and the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) are sampling downstream, and SRWMD has even sampled some sites well into Georgia. WWALS is publishing all this data, along with what data Valdosta has supplied in response to open records requests, online:
http://wwals.net/issues/vww/valdosta-spills/#vldrecord2019

On the paddle, WWALS will be sampling above and below the WWTP outfall and at other locations along the route.

Meanwhile, the recent rains have provided plenty of water in the river, several feet more than when we paddled the same route with 300 people in Paddle Georgia in June 2019, so we should have smooth sailing!

How To Paddle with the Mayor

Continue reading

Florida Sen. Bill Montford hosting Valdosta sewage public meeting in Madison, FL 2020-01-08

Update 2020-01-06: Well testing results, Madison County, FL, after Valdosta sewage spill 2020-01-03.

Florida state Senator Bill Montford has scheduled “a meeting concerning the Valdosta sewage spill issue” this Wednesday afternoon, the same day and before the meeting of the Florida Counties Rivers Task Force with the Valdosta City Council. We have some questions (see below). You probably do too, and you can ask them at one or both of these Wednesday public meetings.

When: 1 PM, Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Where: Madison County University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Office
184 Northwest College Loop, Madison, FL 32340

Event: facebook

Table, Committee

I have confirmed that this Madison meeting is a public meeting. The venue is small, but that’s no reason for the public not to come.

Sen. Montford held a Continue reading

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

Update 2020-01-05: Earlier this same Wednesday: Florida Sen. Bill Montford hosting Valdosta sewage public meeting in Madison, FL 2020-01-08.

A Special Called Meeting of the Valdosta City Council, about Valdosta’s record-largest raw sewage spill in December 2019, and what to do going forward. Attendees will include the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council (presumably its Task Force on this subject), and apparently GA-EPD, EPA, FDEP, SRWMD, and of course Suwannee Riverkeeper. It is a public meeting, so anyone can attend. If it’s run like previous such meetings, anyone can ask questions. We have plenty. I hope you do, too.

When: 6 PM, Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Where: General Purpose Room, Valdosta City Hall Annex, 300 North Lee Street, Valdosta, GA 31601

Event: facebook


“What storm events keep you up at night?” Alachua County Commissioner Ken Cornell asked Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse, 2019-10-07.

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

Much cleaner at Knights Ferry and State Line in Georgia; Valdosta Sewage is in Florida 2019-12-30

Suzy Hall’s results from Monday samples at Knights Ferry and Nankin are now within Georgia state limits, lower than when I tested there three days earlier, indicating Valdosta’s record-largest sewage spills has indeed moved on to Florida.

[Look what we bagged!]
Photo: Suzy Hall, who wrote, “Did a clean up at KF. Probably 40-50 lbs collected by 2 adults and 2 very involved little girls.”

Suzy’s E. coli results for Monday, December 30, 2019: Continue reading

Valdosta sewage in Florida 2019-12-26

Update 2020-01-01: Much cleaner at Knights Ferry and State Line in Georgia; Valdosta Sewage is in Florida 2019-12-30

Apparently the biggest slug of Valdosta sewage passed the state line on December 26, 2019.

[Testing locations]
Testing locations

Thanks to Chris Mericle for forwarding the December 25 and 26 data from the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD), which I think is getting from from the Florida Department of Health (FDOH). I’ve combined those data in a table with the numbers from December 24, and ordered them from north (upstream) to south (downstream).

Here are the preliminary Continue reading