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LIVE OAK — The Florida Department of Health has re-issued health advisories for the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers following recent water testing.

Recent samples from the Withlacoochee River shows the wastewater spill from the City of Valdosta, Georgia, in early December has finally made its way into Florida.

This contaminated water will soon enter the Suwannee River with the advisory for the Suwannee running from where it connects with the Withlacoochee to County Road 250 in Dowling Park.

“While all sampling results on the Suwannee River are within water quality standards, this advisory is being issued as a precautionary matter in anticipation we will see limited impacts in the next 5-7 days,” said Kerry Waldron, the administrator/health officer for the DOH - Suwannee County. “DOH, DEP,  and SRWMD continue to sample daily.”

The advisory will be in place for an indefinite period of time until the sampling conducted by the Department of Health, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Suwannee River Water Management District indicates the water is clear of the contaminants.

Water contaminated with wastewater overflow presents several health risks to humans, according to the DOH release, as untreated human sewage with microbes could cause gastrointestinal issues and other conditions.

DOH urges anyone that comes into contact with the river water to wash thoroughly, especially before eating or drinking. Children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to disease and should take every precaution if they come into contact with the river, according to DOH.

A health advisory was previously issued Dec. 9 following a spill of 7.5 million gallons of untreated sewage in Valdosta that began Dec. 3. That spill impacted Sugar Creek, which runs into the Withlacoochee 30 miles north of the Florida border.

However, due to the low amount of rain, the river flow has been slower than expected and that advisory had been lifted due to river samples showing no contamination.

For more information on the spill, contact the Valdosta Utilities Department Environmental Manager Scott Fowler at 229-259-3592 or sfowler@valdostacity.com.

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