Category Archives: History

Pictures: Berrien Beach Boat Ramp Cleanup 2020-09-12

Nine people collected 304 pounds of trash at Berrien Beach Boat Ramp in Berrien County, Georgia, and at Berrien Beach in Lanier County, downstream across the river.

[Boat Ramp, Berrien Beach, bags of trash, bottles]
Boat Ramp, Berrien Beach, bags of trash, bottles

We got a picture with banners early before anybody left, and more later, with the trash and the beautiful Alapaha River. See also the real trash problem, the companies that make it.

[Before]
Before
Photo: John S. Quarterman, L-r: Dan Phillips, Dylan Phillips, Bret Wagenhorst, Bobby McKenzie, Shirley Kokidko, Cindy Leighton, Becky Garber, Donald Roberson.

WWALS charter board member Bret Wagenhorst handed out t-shirts from the Georgia statewide Rivers Alive program, from our last cleanup near this location, Continue reading

Why would Florida toll roads be different? Broke from the start: Texas SH 130 toll road

Why would we expect the Florida M-CORES toll roads would be any different, since they were foisted on the public by a questionable process, just like the Texas SH 130 toll road?

“The original estimates for this job were terribly overstated,” SH 130 Concession Company’s current CEO, Andy Bailey, told KXAN. “The original traffic projections were wildly overstated. The company did a couple of additional traffic projections and still missed.”…

The bankruptcy filing accused SH 130’s management of knowingly paying CTHC for work the company “had not properly completed” and work that “would cause systematic problems” to the highway in the future….

Known cracking and heaving problems not fixed

One of the main elements of the September 2018 bankruptcy filing is accusations that “Ferrovial and Zachry-controlled managers caused the SH 130 Concession Company to pay Central Texas Highway Constructors, known as CTHC, more than $329 million in payments the lawsuit characterizes as ‘fraudulent.’”…

[Cracked dirt and SH 130 construction]
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, Cracked dirt and SH 130 construction, 2006-08-11.

Key words in this story: “fraudulent,” “improperly completed,” “insolvent,” “bankruptcy,” and more.

How can the Suncoast Connector possibly have enough traffic to pay for itself, when, as Tall Timbers points out, “US Highway 19, a four-lane divided roadway, runs throughout the length of the eight-county Suncoast Connector planning area and is substantially underutilized. In fact, for much of its route through the toll road planning area, US 19 functions at between 16 and 20 percent of its maximum service volume.”

SH 130 was touted as traffic relief around Austin for I-35. Actually, it carries mostly truck traffic, and it’s not clear it will ever pay for itself.

What are Suncoast Connector and the other M-CORES toll roads really good for? Nothing but pork for their proponents, as near as I can tell.

No build!

Jody Barr, KXAN, 14 November 2018, Former SH 130 executives accused of hiding road defects from lenders, Continue reading

Tabled by SRWMD: Seven Rivers permit until Nestle co-applicant 2020-08-11

On a motion (by Don Quincey) seconded (I think by Virginia Sanchez), with only one dissenting vote (Richard Schwab), the SRWMD board voted to table the Seven Springs permit application for six months, because they want Nestlé to be a co-applicant.

They do not want the permit to go back to DOAH; they want it to come back to SRWMD.

[SRWMD Board and Nestle (Seven Springs) permit map]
SRWMD Board and Nestle (Seven Springs) permit map
SRWMD Governing Board, l-r, Donald J. Quincey, Jr. Vice Chair; Virginia Sanchez; Richard Schwab, Treasurer (voted nay); Gary F. Jones; Charles Keith; Virginia H. Johns, Chair.

Before they voted, they discussed that they were not in any way disparaging the efforts of SRWMD staff. The lack of Nestlé as co-applicant was the primary reason. A secondary reason was the lack of transparency. For example, there had been no public hearing, and while there were supposedly hundreds of people listening, nobody could see them.

Speaking of transparency, I had to ask to find out who made the motion, who seconded, and who voted nay. Fortunately, the staffer taking names during the fifteen minute recess for people to have sign up for public comment knew 2 out of 3. It’s not a very transparent process when the public doesn’t know who did what. Somebody else also asked could each SRWMD board member say who they were, or maybe the chair could.

Plus, the point of the WWALS letter to SRWMD this morning remains: without a SRWMD board member for the Santa Fe River, approval of this permit would be taxation without representation.

It is odd that Nestlé is not already a co-applicant, since in the board packet for today’s meeting there are 12 pages of Nestlé documents, starting with NWNA Water Consumption Estimates. Continue reading

No water taxation without representation: WWALS to SRWMD against Nestle permit 2020-08-11

Suwannee Riverkeeper wrote to SRWMD this morning about the proposed water withdrawal permit for Nestlé near Ginnie Springs on the Santa Fe River, “This permit would be taxation without representation of river, spring, and aquifer water.

“The SRWMD board should refuse to hear any water withdrawal permit requests in the Santa Fe River Basin, or in the Upper Suwannee Basin (including the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers) until the governor fills the corresponding vacant SRWMD Board seats.”

You can still attend this morning’s 9AM SRWMD board meeting in which the Seven Rivers water withdrawal permit for Nestlé will be heard.

[WWALS to SRWMD: no water taxation without representation]
WWALS to SRWMD: no water taxation without representation
PDF

The Letter

Continue reading

Pictures: Stone Bridge paddle from Cook County Boat Ramp (GA 76) 2020-05-16

About thirty paddlers made it upstream to Stone Bridge and back, although few people could paddle up the current under it.

[Helen Chaney: Suwannee Riverkeeper under Stone Bridge]
Photo: Helen Chaney, Suwannee Riverkeeper under Stone Bridge

Starting out at Cook County Boat Ramp, there was plenty of room for everybody to stay six feet apart on land and ten feet apart on water. Continue reading

Suwannee Riverkeeper asks Georgia EPD to require Valdosta to do better about its record sewage spill 2019-12-17

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, December 19, 2019 — Compelled by the severity of Valdosta’s record raw sewage spill and the expenses and stigma incurred nearby and downstream, Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition has sent a letter requesting ten enforcment actions to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD). WWALS member Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Florida, summed it up: “As a person living downstream on the Withlacoochee River in Florida, I feel shat upon by Valdosta over and over. I cannot drink the water from my well. I worry about the health of the river itself and the animals that live in it and drink from it. We in Florida were patient while Valdosta was improving their wastewater plant, which apparently was not adequate since we still have spills when it rains heavily. But this time it was not a rain event. It was gross negligence. I am out of patience. I believe it is time for legal action.”

The Suwannee Riverkeeper letter notes GA-EPD already has a legal action against Valdosta, a Consent Order. WWALS asks GA-EPD to use its enforcement power to require notification, water quality testing, education, and plans and procedures not only for preventing such spills but also for tracking them as they travel down our creeks and rivers and for remediation of effects on wells and reputation.

[2019-12-17--WWALS-GA-EPD-Valdosta-sewage-0001]
2019-12-17–WWALS-GA-EPD-Valdosta-sewage-0001

“Valdosta says it does what GA-EPD tells it to do, so we’re asking GA-EPD to tell them,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Today we’re forwarding the letter to Continue reading

Oppose Nestle water from Ginnie Springs and Madison Blue Spring @ SRWMD 2019-12-10

You can help oppose Nestlé’s water withdrawals from the Floridan Aquifer, at the next Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) board meeting in Live Oak.

You can sign one of many petitions, such as one by SumOfUs.

Even better, you can come object to that extension. I ask people to come to every SRWMD board meeting, and maybe you can make this one.

Best, you can file a comment with SRWMD.

When: 9:00 AM, Tuesday, December 20 10, 2019

Where: SRWMD Headquarters, 9225 County Road 49, Live Oak, FL 32060-7056

What: SRWMD Board meeting

You can also ask SRWMD to review Nestlé’s withdrawal permit at Madison Blue Spring on the Withlacoochee River.

These are Nestlé’s landholdings next to Madison Blue Spring, according to the Madison County Property Appraiser:

[Nestle-madison-blue-spring]

For comparison, this little bit on the Withlacoochee River is Madison Blue Spring State Park, smaller than Nestlé’s main bottling plant. Continue reading

Georgia Power Rate Case this morning at PSC: no Hike, Solar instead 2019-11-25

Maybe you’d like to help stop Georgia Power’s connection rate hike. Hearings started 9AM this morning, all day today and tomorrow, Docket 42516 Georgia Power Company’s 2019 Rate Case (11/26/19).

There is a video livestream by GA-PSC.

[Livestream]

You can still send testimony, to Continue reading

Do not allow Twin Pines to wreak havoc on Okefenokee –Robert L. Nutter 2019-11-06

“Just imagine driving up to an entrance to the swamp and seeing nothing but a barren, parched, and arid dead zone,” wrote a local citizen in the Charlton County Chronicle.

You can still comment to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or write your own letter to the editor.

[WC6165, 22:38:58]
Chemours North Maxville Mine, Baker County, Florida.
Photo: Jim Tatum for WWALS on Southwings flight, pilot Allen Nodorft 2019-08-24.

Do not allow Twin Pines to wreak havoc on Okefenokee

Dear Editor, Continue reading

No mining guarantees, and leave the Okefenokee alone –Local citizens in Charlton County Herald 2019-10-30

Local citizens consider the full page ad by the miners to be fighting words. They see the miners can provide no guarantees, so they should leave the Okefenokee Swamp alone, and the rivers that run from it, too.

You can still comment to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or write your own letter to the editor.

[River Styx & Okefenokee NWR --Wayne Morgan 2019-10-05]
River Styx & Okefenokee NWR from above Twin Pines Minerals mine site Photo: Wayne Morgan for WWALS on Southwings flight, pilot Allen Nodorft 2019-10-05

Leave it this way and leave it alone

Dear Editor,

As a family with a long history in this area, it is imperative that Continue reading