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Happily today we can report on something uplifting instead of some egregious grievance due to abuse of our water resources. That happy event is the award going to sister organization in Georgia WWALS for its hard work for the environment in Georgia, which also affects us because water runs downhill. Plus the fact that OSFR member John Quarterman is Suwannee RiverKeeper and that includes the Santa Fe River which is the largest tributary of the Suwannee.
A considerable part of the reason the award was given is because of the water testing done by the group. This testing was kicked up a notch because of the many unnecessary spills by the City of Valdosta over a period of years. It was determined that before all this started, little testing had been done by government agencies so no one knew what the norm was.
We must toot our own horn here a bit as OSFR board member, ex-founder, and ex-president Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson along with Quarterman also spearheaded the drive for state testing and made several trips to Valdosta.
Quarterman and WWALS has continued the testing, doing much work for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the Florida DEP, and we could include state health agencies.
Be sure to click on the video of WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman who explains the testing program.
Thanks for the untiring work of all the volunteers at WWALS.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum
Hahira, GA, August 31, 2020 — WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman zoomed into the annual Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Confluence conference on Saturday, August 29, 2020, so WWALS could receive the statewide Volunteer of the Year award while we were finishing the Twomile Branch Cleanup.
The award is for “Individual has gone beyond the call of duty to improve water quality and meet AAS goals.” We emphasized it was not just one volunteer, but many, in our one-minute award acceptance video. We also thanked Georgia Power again for a grant. We didn’t have time to mention we’re getting testing kits to WWALS testers in Florida, upcoming WWALS water quality testing training, and branching out to the Santa Fe River, but all that is in this post.
Testers shown in the video include Sara Jay, Scotti Jay, Suzy Hall, Alex Chesna, Bobby McKenzie, Jacob Bachrach, and Trudy Cole.
Let’s not forget Michael Bachrach, Conn Cole, Tasha LaFace, Renee Kirkland, and Laura Bauer.
Adopt-A-Stream is a program of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA-DNR).
WWALS tester Scotti Jay also organized the Twomile Branch Cleanup. In this picture he is accepting a bottle from WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall, with tester Sara Jay in between.
The video also thanks again Georgia Power for the grant, and thanks Joe Brownlee, Georgia Power Southwest District Director, for arranging the grant.
If you want to get trained to become a WWALS water quality tester, Gretchen is holding a training 9AM to 1PM, Saturday, September 12, 2020. It will be mostly online, watching videos and through zoom. Due to that Georgia Power grant, we have bought enough kits for trainees to have one for practice. Follow the above link to sign up in advance for the training. Be sure to include in the form where you can test. There is no charge for the training, and you don’t have to test for WWALS after you’re trained. But we would greatly appreciate it if you would. Also, to test for WWALS, you must be a WWALS member, which you can easily do online.
We test frequently on the Withlacoochee River, and also on the Little River and Alapaha River, Okapilco Creek, Onemile Branch, Twomile Branch, and Crooked Creek, among others, and sometimes on the Suwannee River.
For all our results, see http://wwals.net//issues/testing/. We’ve seen mostly good results for the Withlacoochee River lately, except GA 133 has high numbers on random weekdays; we are checking on that. The Alapaha River has always tested good for water quality, so E. coli in the Withlacoochee is not from deer.
Science Committee Chair Dr. Tom Potter is also on the Testing Committee to keep an eye on how it’s going. With Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, Dr. Potter wrote “Current Situation of Water Quality Testing, Suwannee River Basin 2020-08-02.” Please read that twelve-page document, which shows how more water quality testing discovered that it’s not just Valdosta: most of the recent Withlacoochee River contamination has come from cattle manure. We know this due to water quality testing by WWALS, the City of Valdosta, Lowndes County, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), and the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD). Dr. Potter also authored “WWALS Summary of FDEP chemical and biological tracer measurements on Withlacoochee and Suwannee River samples”.For more details, including the WWALS acceptance video, see: http://wwals.net/?p=53474
About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.