By Robin Postell
LOWNDES CO., Ga. – In spite of fluctuating testing results from WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc., Lowndes County, and the City of Valdosta over the last few weeks, the “Mayor’s Paddle” will happen tomorrow morning.
City of Valdosta Mayor Matheson told Valdosta Today on Friday around 1:29 p.m., “Of course I’ll be there tomorrow. It wouldn’t be a Mayor’s Paddle if the Mayor wasn’t going along.”
At this point it is unclear if any other officials will be in attendance.
Here is everything you need to know about the paddle if you’re interested in participating:
To paddle, please arrive by 9AM, Saturday, January 18, 2020 so we can start paddling by 10AM. You can just show up. However, our expedition leader, Bobby McKenzie, likes to have some idea of how many people are coming. So if you can, please mark yourself as attending on the facebook event or the meetup. The put-in is Troupville Boat Ramp, 19664 Valdosta Hwy, Valdosta, GA 31602: on GA 133 off I-75 exit 18. in Lowndes County. Go west on GA 133 (St. Augustine Road) from Valdosta towards Moultrie. Soon you will see signs saying turn right for Val Del Road. Turn left instead, and that will take you to the boat ramp.
If you do not have a boat, please let us know in advance, and we can probably get you one. If you do have a boat, be sure to bring a personal flotation device and water and snacks for a day on the river.
This paddle is free to WWALS members and $10 for non-members. We will waive the fee for elected officials.
The paddle will take about six hours to go 11 river miles.
Due to the distinguished paddlers, WWALS has organized an intermediate takeout for those who do not wish to continue the entire distance. There will be Port-A-Potties there and at the takeout.
The takeout is Spook Bridge, slightly downstream from US 84. Thanks to the Langdale Company for access at both Spook Bridge and the intermediate location.
Before paddling, we will shuttle. This means we will drive most vehicles to the takeout, and pile into a few vehicles to return to the put-in. That way most people’s vehicles will be at the takeout when we paddle in.WWALS.net, “Water quality permitting, paddle with Mayor this Saturday”
Since making the pledge with John S. Quarterman, the Riverkeeper for WWALS, that a “Mayor’s Paddle” would be had from the Troupville Boat Ramp put-in to the take-out at Spook Bridge, the high E.coli and Fecal Coliform test results have made people wonder whether it would take place.
“See you tomorrow,” Mayor Matheson said. An avid kayaker and outdoorsman, the Mayor has a personal interest in the health of the rivers, not to mention the new helmsman for the City of Valdosta. This is now officially a part of his mayoral legacy.
“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 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.”
“As of January 15, for Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps, Lowndes County got high results, higher than I would like to paddle there, but Knights Ferry is about ten miles downstream from Spook Bridge,” Quarterman said.
At GA 31 (State Line Boat Ramp), Lowndes County got 517 cfu/100 mL E. coli, while Suwannee River Water Management Department (SRWMD) got 3,255. This is an unusual case of differing results. That could be due to sampling at different times of day.
“Lowndes County Utilities Director Steve Stalvey tells me the county sampled at 11 a.m.” Quarterman said. “Maybe SRWMD went early in the morning.
To see City of Valdosta and Lowndes County’s test results and how they compare to WWALS see link below:
Once the Mayor’s Paddle is complete, Valdosta Today will report the results and observations. If you or someone you know has concerns or specific questions you think need answering, please comment below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.