Monthly Archives: January 2019

John S. Quarterman: Sewage spills in Georgia affecting Suwannee River basin, Gainesville Sun, 2019-01-31

Online today and in the paper Gainesville Sun this coming Sunday. To paddle the most-affected stretch of the Withlacoochee River, join us this Saturday morning.


A December upsurge of raw sewage spills from the city of Valdosta, Georgia, has a dozen downstream counties organized into a task force, demanding action from Florida state legislators. But what action?

I recommend first getting a grip on the extent of the problem, keeping that picture up to date and then funding fixes.

[Water]
Photo: John S. Quarterman of Sara Jay, Water Temperature, TGroupville Boat Ramp, Little River, 2019-01-06

Valdosta spilled not just twice, but two dozen times in December, totaling more than 6 million gallons of raw sewage. Spills also happened in Tifton, Quitman and Lowndes County, Georgia.

We know this because Continue reading

Troupville to Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River, 2019-02-0203

Update 2019-02-02: Delayed a day until Sunday morning.

Water levels look good, so unless it rains, looks like Saturday morning we will paddle Little River from Troupville Boat Ramp, then the Withlacoochee River to Spook Bridge. We will probably encounter deadfalls and shoals, so bring a rope and be prepared.

That’s right, Spook Bridge, thanks to The Langdale Company, which has arranged for us to take out just below the bridge.

[Access and river, 14:47:36, 30.78981, -83.45175]
Access and river, 14:47:36, 30.7898100, -83.4517500

This is not public access. Langdale is making it available to WWALS for this February outing and for Paddle Georgia in June 2019. This takeout, while still up a steep riverbank, is much easier than climbing up those loose highway abutment rocks between the US 84 highway bridges. So I hope everyone will thank The Langdale Company.

See previous post for outing details. Continue reading

Wastewater at Valdosta City Council, Winter 2018-2019

While the Rivers Task Force of the dozen downstream Florida counties is looking for something to do to help, Valdosta clearly hasn’t yet done enough to stop its sewage spills, but they are doing more. Here’s some context that may indicate what might help. Spoiler: water quality monitoring, funding for further fixes, and enforcement if necessary. Unless raw sewage spills really are what Valdosta wants to be known for in Tallahassee and Atlanta.

Totals, Table
See Valdosta December 2018 sewage and Hamilton County, FL legislative delegation 2019-01-16″>

Also: come on up and talk to the Valdosta City Council. Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson did, and it got their attention. They keep hearing from me for years now, and it helps to see somebody directly affected downstream come up and speak.

This post is mostly about two Valdosta City Council meetings, that included much discussion of the recent Valdosta wastewater spills, on on Continue reading

Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest Committee Meeting 2019-02-03

Come on over to Live Oak this Sunday to help organize the Second Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest! We’re aiming at August 2019. You can help us decide on date, venue, format, and find songwriters!

When: 6PM, Sunday, February 3, 2019

Where: China Town Chinese Restaurant, 1546 Ohio Ave South, Live Oak, FL 32064-4514

Event: facebook, meetup

Dave Pharr
Photo: Bret Wagenhorst, of Dave Pharr performing at the First Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest at the Salty Snapper, Valdosta, GA, June 23, 2018.

The First Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting contest was a success! We will be asking some of the winners to play at Paddle Georgia in June 2019, which will be good publicity for the Second Annual Contest in August 2019.

The WWALS Board at its January 13, 2019 Quarterly Board Meeting reconstituted Continue reading

Valdosta December 2018 sewage and Hamilton County, FL legislative delegation 2019-01-16

Water quality testing of drinking wells and rivers is needed, and not just when there is a spill. Maybe the state of Florida will help fund it. Or maybe Valdosta should. It doesn’t seem right that Hamilton County should have to pay for it.

Valdosta, Tifton, Quitman, and Lowndes County, December 2018, Table
For the WWALS automated updates on GA-EPD Sewage Spills Reports, see wwals.net/issues/vww/ga-spills/.

The main newspaper of Suwannee and Hamilton Counties, Florida, is getting into the act, but seems to only know part of the picture. Editorial: It’s time for support with sewage spills, The Suwannee Democrat, Jan 24, 2019, Continue reading

Rochelle, GA, spills again 2019-01-24

Back in 2015 and 2016, Rochelle, GA had some sewage spill problems, but they appeared fixed. Until March 2018, and then again in November 2018, and twice now in January 2019.

Table, Spills

The January 10, 2019, Rochelle spill seemed almost negligible at 300 gallons of raw sewage. It took GA-EPD several tries even to figure out Continue reading

Mayday Landing to Statenville Boat Ramp, Alapaha River, 2019-03-23

Let’s complete this missing link in the Alapaha Quest, a stretch of the Alapaha River never before done as a WWALS Outing!

When: Gather 8AM, Launch 9AM, Saturday, March 23, 2019

Put In: Mayday Landing, 49 Howell Road, Stockton, GA 31649, in Echols County, Georgia. South of Howell Road, east side of the Alapaha River, north of the railroad bridge.

GPS: 31.82827, -83.017179

Take Out: Statenville Boat Ramp, 206 GA 94 West, Statenville, GA 31648, in Echols County.

Bring: 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

[Sand bank, 14:22:12, 30.82846, -83.01862]
Sand bank, 14:22:12, 2016-05-07 30.8284600, -83.0186200

Continue reading

Sewage spills in the Suwannee River Basin 2015-2018

Update 2019-01-25: Added an HTML table of all spills in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia since the beginning of 2015.

WWALS Science Committee Chair Tom Potter made this committee report to the WWALS Quarterly Board Meeting of January 2019:

The Science Committee has focused on monitoring sewage spills from Municipalities in the region. The primary data is the online database provide by the GA EPD. The agency regularly compiles spill volume, date, and, location across the state and posts the information on-line.

2015-2018 Valdosta sewage spills, Spills

WWALS played a central role in convincing EPD to provide this data in a timely manner and has regularly posted spill data on the WWALS website, wwals.net/issues/vww/ga-spills/. This a substantial improvement over prior reporting systems and is contributing to timely reporting of conditions that may adversely impact water quality and recreational uses of streams and rivers.

The following graph summarizes reported spill data in Quitman, Tifton and Valdosta and Continue reading

Pictures: US 84 to Mayday, Alapaha River 2016-05-07

Waterfalls on the Alapaha River?

[Movie: Waterfall (786K), 30.87078, -83.02267]
Movie: Waterfall (786K), 30.8707800, -83.0226700

Two weeks after the WWALS outing from US 84 to Mayday, some of us who didn’t make that one paddled the same stretch. The earlier crew had smooth sailing. We had rapids and waterfalls, because the Alapaha River was feet lower on the Statenville USGS Gauge. Continue reading

Florida counties Task Force about Valdosta Sewage meeting in Lake City 2019-01-24

Received via email today. Most recipients got this notice Friday, but NCFRPC had a typo in my address. Yes, this is 4PM the same day as the 5:30 PM Valdosta City Council meeting. Each county has only one delegate to the Task Force, so maybe they can also send somebody to the City Council meeting.

MEETING NOTICE

MIDDLE AND LOWER SUWANNEE RIVER
AND WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER
TASK FORCE

There will be a meeting of the Middle and Lower Suwannee River and Withlacoochee River Task Force on January 24, 2019, The meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites, 213 Southwest Commerce Boulevard, Lake City, Florida, at 4:00 p.m.

[Holiday Inn, Lake City, FL]
Holiday Inn, Lake City, FL
PDF

A rather vague agenda is included, as well as minutes and slides from the previous meeting.

The only item I don’t recall from the previous meeting is this table, which appears to be Continue reading