Training for Water Quality Testing, RBSP after BLRPR 2019-04-27

After the BIG Little River Paddle Race this Saturday morning, also at Reed Bingham State Park, you can get trained to do water quality testing, at 2PM Saturday afternoon. This is both chemical and bacterial training.

When: 2PM, Saturday, April 27, 2019

Where: Shelter #3, Reed Bingham State Park, 542 Reed Bingham Rd, Adel, GA 31620

Event: facebook, meetup

Sign up: Please use the google form to sign up so we’ll know how many are coming, Continue reading

Georgia Beer Company Sponsors Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

Welcome, Georgia Beer Co.!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (PDF)

Georgia Beer Company Sponsors Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

Hahira, Georgia, April 22, 2019  The first brewery in the Suwannee River Basin is the top-level sponsor of the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest. When the finalists compete for the judges and music lovers at The Salty Snapper on August 24, 2019, at the top of the sponsor banner will be Georgia Beer Company. This maker of brews, such as Cypress Knee – Single Hop Mosaic, understands clean water is essential to every beer. So Georgia Beer Company, as the Aria level sponsor, supports Suwannee Riverkeeper for fishable, swimmable, drinkable water.

[Sponsor package]
Left to right: Bartender, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman receiving sponsor merchandise and check from Jack “J. Ryce Martin” and Chris Jones, founders of Georgia Beer Co.

“When I was a reporter in Madison, Florida, I wrote about Valdosta sewage frequently,” said Georgia Beer Co. co-founder Chris Jones. “Unfortunately, that is still a story. We support Suwannee Riverkeeper to help stop that problem, and to clean up other things getting into our rivers.”

“I’m thrilled for this support of our water quality testing program by Georgia Beer Company,” said WWALS lead tester Sara Jay. “We can buy more testing materials and Continue reading

Rescheduled: Banks Lake Full Pink Moon Paddle, 2019-04-20

Rescheduled from Friday to Saturday due to weather.

Chair, Blown over
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, of windstorm damage, 2019-04-19

Outings leader Dan Phillips decided, due to another line of weather coming in this evening, that it would be safest to reschedule to the next day, so he did.

Join us on a leisurely sunset paddle to watch the sun set and the full moon rise over the Banks Lake, a mini-Okefenokee near Lakeland, Georgia.

When: Gather 7:00 PM, launch 7:30 PM, Saturday, April 20, 2019

Put In: Banks Lake Boat Ramp, 307 Georgia 122, Lakeland, GA 31635, in Lanier County.

GPS: 31.034824, -83.096725

Take Out: Banks Lake Boat Ramp

Bring: the a light for your boat or some type of light to have on yourself (glow stick, head lamp, or flashlight), and bring a rope for your boat. You must wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD). A whistle is not required, but it’s a good idea in the dark. Dress for cold weather, the temperature drops quickly after the sun sets. Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!

Event: facebook, meetup Continue reading

Cypress Creek South (CR 6) to Cone Bridge, Suwannee River, 2019-05-04

Rescheduled due to low water. Now we’re starting at Cypress Creek Launch on CR 6, and paddling to Cone Bridge Ramp.

A quiet, tranquil 9.4 mile section of the Suwannee River on a paddle appropriate for paddlers of any level.

When: Gather 9:00 AM, Launch 9:30 AM, Saturday, May 4, 2019

Put In: Cypress Creek South Launch @ CR 6. From White Springs, Travel north on CR 135 to SR 6, turn right; travel east to the bridge. At the foot of the bridge, turn left onto road shoulder and follow the road to the river.

GPS: 30.50737, -82.71711

Take Out: Cone Bridge Ramp. From Lake City, travel north on US 441 to NW Cone Bridge Road; turn left and follow road to ramp.

Bring: a rope to drag your boat, the usual personal flotation device, boat paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit.

Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!

Event: facebook, meetup

Photo: John S. Quarterman, Cypress Creek South Launch, 2016-09-05
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Cypress Creek South Launch, 2016-09-05.

This paddle is on the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail (SRWT). Continue reading

Better bacterial levels in Valdosta WQ data 2019-04-02

All of Valdosta’s water quality sampling stations were below the Georgia state limit for E. coli for the first week of April. Valdosta no longer samples weekly, only once a month. It also no longer samples at the state line.

Graph, Withlacoochee River Basin, Withlacoochee

We got this monthly Valdosta WQ data via open records request, as usual. As I said at the April 10, 2019 meeting between Valdosta and the dozen Florida counties, I also filed the next day open records requests for Valdosta’s permit-required spill-followup test data, and for the engineering study they said they had related to how big the new catch basin needs to be. Yesterday I got the latest monthly data a day late, but only a “working on it” about the other two requests. I will now Continue reading

Excluding groundwater makes no sense above the Florida Aquifer –WWALS to EPA 2019-04-15

Approved at the Sunday WWALS board meeting and filed last night via regulations.gov as PDF.


April 15, 2019

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Docket Center
Office of Water Docket
Mail Code 28221T
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Re: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149,
       Revised Definition of Waters of United States

To Whom it May Concern:

WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS), also known as Suwannee Riverkeeper, submits the following comments on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) proposed rule entitled “Revised Definition of Waters of United States,” 84 Federal Register 4154-01 (February 14, 2019) (hereinafter “Proposed Rule”).

In addition to supporting the comments of Waterkeeper Alliance and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), WWALS adds these comments on groundwater.

The Proposed Rule’s categorical exclusion of groundwater makes no sense here above the Floridan Aquifer where surface water and groundwater constantly interchange, and pollutants travelling through groundwater are a frequent source of health, environmental, and economic problems.

[2019-04-15--WWALS-to-EPA-0001]
2019-04-15–WWALS-to-EPA-0001

This proposed exclusion of groundwater is called out repeatedly in the Proposed Rule, starting with this:

Continue reading

The limpkin likes the BIG Little River Paddle Race

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tifton, Georgia, April 16, 2019 — Bret Wagenhorst calls this limpkin, “One of the many local spectators along the upcoming BIG Little River PADDLE RACE on Saturday, April 27 at Reed Bingham State Park. Come experience the beauty of a south GA blackwater river. Come have fun with family and friends. Come see if you can paddle fast enough to win the $100 to the first boat across the finish line. Come help support our region’s state park and the WWALS Watershed Coalition.”

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Photo: Bret Wagenhorst

The event is entirely within Reed Bingham State Park, between Adel and Moultrie, Georgia, on the Little River in Cook and Colquitt Counties.

Dianne Walters, president of Friends of Reed Bingham State Park (FORB), said, Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida meets FDEP in Orlando: Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards 2019-04-15

This Monday, April 15, 2019, Waterkeepers Florida (WKFL) will meet with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) about the federally-required Triennial Review of state Water Quality Standards. As Suwannee Riverkeeper, I ask you our members of WWALS and the public what you think I should ask FDEP in that meeting.

[WKFL meets FDEP]
WKFL meets FDEP

FYI, so far I mainly plan to ask about water quality monitoring: the need for more of it, more frequently, and published more quickly, so as to find out Continue reading

Tank fire shortage of toxic PFAS firefighting foam at Houston Ship Channel

This “special foam”: yes, it’s probably the same toxic PFAS chemicals spilled at the Ocala, FL firefighting school and at Moody AFB near Valdosta, GA. Massive ammounts of it were used at the ITC tank farm, with its own docks on Buffalo Bayou into Burnet Bay, leading to Galveston and the Gulf. Then a massive storm hit, closing that Houston Ship Channel and stopping cleanup operations. It’s so bad even the state of Texas and Harris County are suing ITC. Meanwhile, whoever heard of a solar farm fire?

Photo: Click2Houston, 19 March 2019, Fire Grows
Photo: Click2Houston, 19 March 2019, “Fire Grows”.

Firefighters at Houston Chemical Disaster Scrambled for Foam, by Joe Carroll and Kevin Crowley, Bloomberg, March 29, 2019, 12:10 PM EDT Updated on March 29, 2019, 3:18 PM EDT,

Firefighters confronted with the worst Gulf Coast industrial disaster in 14 years had to call on outside sources to augment their supply of the special foam required to extinguish chemical blazes.

Intercontinental Terminal Co. confirmed it appealed to other companies for foam during the fire Continue reading

Videos: Florida Counties meet Valdosta about sewage in rivers and wells 2019-04-10

Update 2019-04-13: Added Task Force Resolution.

Everyone in the dozen downstream Florida counties wants to help Valdosta finish fixing its sewage problems, and all were impressed with the thoroughness of the presentations by Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse. There was even an offer to contact federal representatives and agencies from the elephant in the room, Ken Cornell of Alachua County, which contains half the population of the dozen Task Force Counties (and twice the population of Valdosta and Lowndes County),

[Ken Cornell, Alachua County, offers assistance]
Ken Cornell, Alachua County, offers assistance

Mayor John Gayle said “Valdosta is privileged to be a regional city”, serving eighteen counties and benefitting from sales taxes of all those who shop in Valdosta, and later offered assurances that Valdosta was doing everything it could.

[Assurances --Mayor John Gayle]
Assurances –Mayor John Gayle

They could answer the question from Beth Burnham of Hamilton County about reporting times: less than 24 hours to the state of Georgia.

[Hamilton County Commission District 1 Beth Burnham]
Hamilton County Commission District 1 Beth Burnham

Nonetheless Continue reading