November 29, 2023

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Chattahoochee flowing below normal to Muscogee County
Upper Coosa River drought escalates to severe status

Friday, November 17, 2023 - last updated 1 pm EST

Streamflows, flood and drought from USGS Waterwatch
As of Friday noon, we see some relief in the drought picture for Georgia. The Lower Chattahoochee River watershed beginning from Clay County down to the south state line has down-shifted from severe to moderate drought Friday morning. The Ochlockonee River watershed's southwest corner of Thomas County, rated severe for weeks has down-shifted to moderate drought. The east side of Lower Flint River watershed is no longer appearing on the drought map of Friday at 1pm.

Upper Coosa River watershed Whitfield and Murray Counties remain in severe drought by the noon hour Friday. Upper Savannah River watershed is still rated severe drought Friday afternoon from the north Georgia line down to Hart County. Most of Georgia surface area north of the state divide is rated below normal with an area of severe drought in each basin, Mississippi and the Atlantic.

For the Mississippi River basin, the Tennessee River northwest GA watershed area is below normal today, including Dade, Walker and Catoosa Counties. The lower Coosa River watershed is rated below normal, including Chatooga, Floyd, Polk, Haralson Counties. Tallapoosa River watershed is included in the below normal area today, including all of Carroll County. Upper Chattahoochee below normal status extends from the headwaters down past Harris County and into northwest Muscogee, picking up at Clay County with a moderate rating to the south border. The west side of Lower Flint River watershed remains rated below normal from Randolph and Terrell Counties south to Florida. East side Flint River watershed is no longer rated on the drought map, a bit of relief for the Mississippi basin. Ochlockonee watershed is rated below normal with the southwest corner of Thomas county rated moderate.

In the Atlantic basin, the Savannah watershed is rated below normal from Hart County to the central Screven County shoreline. The Altamaha River watershed is rated below normal from south Montgomery and south Toombs Counties, south Appling, south Tatnall, Long and Wayne Counties to the Atlantic Coast in south McIntosh - north Glynn Counties.
A low flow rating appears on the Chattahoochee River above Roswell, a site that has been low earlier in the week. See the map for details. No monitors register flood or high flows in the state today.

USGS seven-day average streamflows at each monitoring location are rated against the historic average flow volume for this date.

HABs update
from Georgia Department of Natural Resources - Coastal Resources Division Shellfish and Water Quality Unit

According to the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, 2021 presented the first animal death suspected linked to a HAB on the main stem of the Chattahoochee River. The location of the HAB is reported as "Bull Sluice Lake along the Gold Branch Trail near trail marker GB-7". Confirmed reports of HABs on Lake Harding in the Middle Chattahoochee region in July and August 2021 and again at the end of August 2023.
From the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper description of harmful algal blooms, "HABs, are created when high amounts of naturally occurring cyanobacteria (also called blue-green algae) grow out of control and produce cyanotoxins that can be harmful to animal and human health. Cyanotoxins can cause human and animal illness through skin contact, ingestion, or inhalation. Different species of cyanobacteria produce different toxins that impact the nervous system, liver, skin, or stomach."

Public notification of the location of harmful algal blooms helps to protect pets, swimmers and waders from venturing into areas with known HABs and helps recreational water users find clear access points on state water bodies. Observations of HABs can be reported here by email, for public notification on our map and through SMS alerts. The identity of the reporting party is not included in our notifications. Include a photo and location geo-tag so that the bloom can be accurately placed on the map and confirmed by local authorities.

Two permanent beach advisories remain in effect on Jekyll Island including Jekyll Clam Creek Beach on the north end and St Andrews Beach on the south end. Lab tests on October 16 samples show the enterococcus bacteria levels below the health advisory threshold. Clam Creek Beach came in at 20 cfu per 100 ml and 7 cfu per 100 ml for St Andrews.

Hazardous Spills files released from Georgia Department of Environmental Conservation

Diesel was reported leaking from an overturned tractor trailer on State Route 257 North in Tennille last week. The Dodge County incident is within the Ocmulgee River watershed impact zone, no impact to water is noted with this report. More to follow.

Georgia Southern University Emergency Management reference information defines a hazardous spill as "an uncontrolled release of a hazardous substance" , including chemical, biological, or radiological materials.

Hazardous spills are further described:
  • Small Spill: generally equal to or less than 55 gallons, 200 pounds, or 200 cubic feet of a gas
  • Large spill: generally greater than 55 gallons, 200 pounds, or 200 cubic. feet of a gas

See the Spills button to the right of the map for a list of spill incidents reported to EPD in Georgia this year.

USGS Provisional Data Statement
Data are provisional and subject to revision until they have been thoroughly reviewed and received final approval. Current condition data relayed by satellite or other telemetry are automatically screened to not display improbable values until they can be verified.
Provisional data may be inaccurate due to instrument malfunctions or physical changes at the measurement site. Subsequent review based on field inspections and measurements may result in significant revisions to the data.
Data users are cautioned to consider carefully the provisional nature of the information before using it for decisions that concern personal or public safety or the conduct of business that involves substantial monetary or operational consequences. Information concerning the accuracy and appropriate uses of these data or concerning other hydrologic data may be obtained from the USGS.

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