August 17, 2022

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Georgia HABs/Beach Advisories for the week of July 18-24, 2022

The Department of Natural Resources – Coastal Resources Division tests water samples on beaches throughout the year. The tests screen for enterococcus (pronounced: en·ter·o·coc·cus) bacteria, which are found in humans and some wildlife.

When a beach is under advisory, it means the level of bacteria found in the water is above the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended standards.
This does NOT mean the beach is closed. These beach water advisories alert the public of a possible risk of illness associated with water contact in the advisory areas.
The Health Department recommends you do not swim or wade in the water in the areas under advisory.
Fish and other seafood caught from these areas should be thoroughly washed with fresh water and thoroughly cooked before eating, as should fish or seafood caught from any waters.
Areas under advisory are re-tested weekly as needed, and the advisories will be lifted when the bacteria levels meet the EPA’s recommended standards.

Source: Georgia Department of Natural Resources

1 Gulf North

1a Tennessee River Watershed

The Tennessee River collects rainfall and runoff for the Ohio River system, which joins the Mississippi and empties out into the Gulf of Mexico. While no part of the Tennessee River itself passes through Georgia, there are tributary creeks originating in north Georgia that cross the state line and join up with Tennessee waters.

Tennessee Valley Authority manages Lake Blue Ridge, including water releases from the dam, water quality testing, fish testing, and assessment of lake health. WTGA has inquired for bacteria testing and algae blooms. 

1b Coosa River Watershed

The Coosa River is a collection of several tributary rivers gathered from northwest Georgia. At the beginning of this system, the Conasauga River and Coosawattee Rivers join up to form the Oostanaula River. The Oostanaula in turn joins flow with the Etowah River system to form the Coosa River. 

Allatoona Lake and dam are located in this watershed. TVA has been contacted for more information on the reservoir water quality.

1c Tallapoosa River Watershed

The Tallapoosa River originates in northwest Georgia, draining an area of Paulding and Haralson counties before crossing the state line and joining the Coosa River, forming the Alabama River.

2 Gulf West

2a Chattahoochee River Watershed

The Chattahoochee headwaters form up near Helen, in northeast Georgia in the Appalachian Mountains. From Union County, the Chattahoochee flowing southwest, through the capital and then south, forming the state border with Alabama, terminating in Lake Seminole.

2b Flint River Watershed

The Flint River originates south of Atlanta and gathers run-off from 7570 sq miles of Georgia as it traverses the course north to south, flowing west through Alabama to empty in the Gulf of Mexico.

3 Gulf Southwest

3a Ochlockonee River Basin

Ochlockonee River originates in Worth County in southwest Georgia. The Ochlockonee catchment area drains a combined 1400 plus square miles of Georgia landscape before exiting into Florida and emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. Main use is for fishing. Two smaller and separate watersheds within the Ochlockonee basin, the Aucilla and Wards Creek each have their separate channels directly dumping into the Gulf of Mexico (not monitored). The main tributary rivers and creeks are the Little Ochlockonee River, Tired Creek, Telogia Creek and Crooked River (not monitored).

3b Suwannee River Watershed

The Suwanee River originates in the Okefenokee Wilderness, between State Hwy 122 and Valdosta Highway. The blackwater Suwannee and its major tributaries, the Willacoochee, Withlacoochee, Alapaha and Little Rivers channel run off from more than 5000 sq miles from parts of twenty counties in Georgia before crossing over into Florida to empty into the Gulf of Mexico.

4 Atlantic Central

4a Oconee River Watershed

The Oconee headwaters form in Hall County, flowing southeast through Middle and North Oconee Channels to form the Oconee River below Athens. From here the system flows into Lake Oconee, formed by the Wallace Dam and Sinclair Lake formed by the Sinclair Dam. The Oconee flows down from the dams to its confluence Ocmulgee River, eventually emptying into the Atlantic.

4b Ocmulgee River Watershed

Ocmulgee River originates at Jackson Lake, straddling Jasper, Newton and Butts Counties. The Ocmulgee flows south to join the Oconee River, forming the Altamaha River. Jackson Lake is fed by three rivers: South, Yellow and Alcovy Rivers originating in Central Georgia, all part of the Ocmulgee Watershed area.

4c Altamaha River Watershed

The combined flows of the Oconee River system and the Ocmulgee River system form the Altamaha, “the largest free-flowing river on the East coast”, according to the Georgia River Network.

4d Satilla River Watershed

The Satilla River forms in Ben Hill County and flows south 200 miles to the Atlantic Ocean.

4e St. Marys River Watershed

St. Marys is a blackwater river originating in the Okefenokee Wilderness area, south-central Georgia. The river flows 130 miles and empties into Cumberland Sound in the Atlantic.

Atlantic East

5a Savannah River Watershed

The Savannah River originates in South Carolina, formed with the combined flows of the Tugaloo (which was formed by the joining of Chattooga and Tallulah Rivers) and the Seneca River. The Savannah flows through east Georgia to its outlet at the Atlantic Ocean, taking run-off from an area of 5800 square miles in Eastern Georgia.

Updated July 14, 2022, Beach Advisory Lifted at Tybee Island’s North Beach

◆ The Chatham County Health Department has lifted the beach water advisory for North Beach at Gulick Street, which extends from the north jetty to Lovell Street on Tybee Island. Water samples show the bacteria levels are again below Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limits.

◆ July 12, 2022, Beach Water Advisory issued for North Beach at Gulick St, Tybee Island. Routine water quality tests showed a high level of enterococci bacteria, associated with increased risk of gastrointestinal illness in swimmers.

5b Ogeechee River Watershed

The Ogeechee is a free-flowing blackwater river draining an area of 5540 sq miles entirely inside the state of Georgia. The North and South Fork Ogeechee Rivers (not monitored) come together to form the Ogeechee, which flows 245 miles and empties in the Atlantic. 

◆ Permanent Beach Water Advisory: updated July 14, 2022, at King’s Ferry County Park – this inland beach area is off Highway 17 on the Ogeechee River at the Chatham/Bryan County line.

◆ Permanent Beach Water Advisory: updated July 14, 2022 Clam Creek Beach on Jekyll Island – this area is on the back side of the island at the end of Clam Creek Road, high bacteria levels

◆ Permanent Beach Water Advisory: updated July 14, 2022, St. Andrews Beach on Jekyll Island – this area is also on the back side of the island, around the St. Andrews Picnic area, testing above the EPA limits for bacteria. Avoid swimming and wading in this area.

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