Category Archives: Politics

How Florida can pick up slack from FERC shirking its LNG oversight duties –Cecile Scofield in TCPalm 2020-01-15

Longtime WWALS member Cecile Scofield in TCPalm, January 15, 2020, Liquified natural gas needs regulation in Florida,

You and a friend decide to go into business together. You draft your business plan and delineate each person’s responsibilities for the operation. But what happens if one of you decides to shirk your assigned duties? Your business venture will be doomed to failure.

[WWALS LNG Export Map]
WWALS LNG Export Map
PDF

This is exactly what has happened with regulating a new breed of inland Liquefied Natural Gas export facilities in Florida. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) outlines each agency’s role in exercising regulatory authority over the siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and expansion of LNG facilities. See https://tinyurl.com/tdhxazn.

LNG facilities are regulated, in part, by Continue reading

Florida Sen. Bill Montford hosting Valdosta sewage public meeting in Madison, FL 2020-01-08

Update 2020-01-06: Well testing results, Madison County, FL, after Valdosta sewage spill 2020-01-03.

Florida state Senator Bill Montford has scheduled “a meeting concerning the Valdosta sewage spill issue” this Wednesday afternoon, the same day and before the meeting of the Florida Counties Rivers Task Force with the Valdosta City Council. We have some questions (see below). You probably do too, and you can ask them at one or both of these Wednesday public meetings.

When: 1 PM, Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Where: Madison County University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Office
184 Northwest College Loop, Madison, FL 32340

Event: facebook

Table, Committee

I have confirmed that this Madison meeting is a public meeting. The venue is small, but that’s no reason for the public not to come.

Sen. Montford held a Continue reading

No Roads to Ruin at Florida State Capitol 2019-12-05

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

“We need less fertilizer leaching into our springs and rivers and more water quality monitoring, not more roads gouging through our watersheds,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman at the No Roads to Ruin press conference Thursday at the Florida Capitol Rotunda.

He and WWALS Science Committee Chair Tom Potter then visited the offices of FDACS Commissioner Nikki Fried, some state Senators and Representatives, and FDEP Secretary Noah Valenstein, with letters to each of them to follow.


NO BUILD! RURAL TOLL ROADS MUST BE STOPPED

New “No Roads to Ruin” Coalition sends clear message

[Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman beside banner; Mike Roth of OSFR speaking]
Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman beside banner; Mike Roth of OSFR speaking
Photo: Tom Potter, WWALS

Tallahassee — A new coalition of fifty-five (55) organizations and businesses, the No Roads to Ruin Coalition (NRTR) announced today a statewide campaign devoted to stopping Senate President Bill Galvano’s unneeded and costly plan for 300 plus miles of new toll roads.

Within sight of Governor Ron DeSantis’ office, Continue reading

Videos: Valdosta and Florida Counties about sewage 2019-07-10

Congenial yet sometimes testy, the Florida counties meeting Valdosta about sewage again last night.

The Valdosta catch basin many Floridians thought would be finished by now? Probably by December.

That report the Utilities Manager last time said explained why 8 or 10 million gallons was big enough for a catch basin? No, it doesn’t explain that. Fortunately, Georgia EPD wants to know how many gallons will be needed for how much rain, and apparently won’t issue a permit for the catch basin until there are answers, so maybe we’ll finally find out.

GA-EPD also wanted to know what if the catch basin fills up? Valdosta’s answer: tanker trucks to ship the sewage from the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant to the Mud Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Or the other direction, if needed. That sounds like a fine idea. Although it doesn’t address the question of what if the heavy rains fall directly on Valdosta and both WTPs fill up.

Meanwhile, the catch basin is just one of a combination of fixes, mostly intended to alleviate infiltration of stormwater into the sewer system, and about 25% of those are done, says Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber.

Will all these projects be finished this year? No.

Floridians offer to get national elected officials to help.

Floridians also emphasized Ecotourism, and asked me to talk about the 350 people who just came through on Paddle Georgia (#PaddleGA2019), the WWALS Boomerang paddle race from Florida to Georgia and back, and the proposed River Camp at the Little River Confluence west of Valdosta, like the ones on the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. Valdosta Mayor John Gayle wrote down the date of the WWALS Boomerang (October 26th), and afterwards both Hamilton and Madison Counties promised to help.

Tom Mirti of SRWMD described Florida water quality testing, but didn’t mention that FDEP’s monthly testing isn’t made public until four months later. He did mention that FDEP is now testing for sucralose. Merrillee Malwwitz-Jipson, who requested that, was sitting right there. Thanks to her and Jim Tatum for coming from Florida to this meeting.

Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber said Valdosta was still testing at the state line, which caused me to ask why I didn’t get any results for those locations this year in response to open records requests, then? Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse said that was because they haven’t actually tested at the state line this year. He also complained that he had staff working 100 hours a week. Which makes me wonder whether the city of Valdosta is really giving him what he needs, or whether he hasn’t asked for everything he needs.

Anyway, people were rightly impressed with how much Valdosta has done and with their current plans. However, there is still room for improvement.

Below are Continue reading

Agenda: Florida Counties meet Valdosta about sewage 2019-07-10

Here’s the agenda for tonight’s Special Called Meeting of the Valdosta City Council, with business of Valdosta Utilities presenting to the dozen Florida counties. You may wonder why you haven’t seen this City Council meeting on Valdosta’s website or in the Valdosta Daily Times. Well, Georgia Open Meetings law only requires one notice on the front of the venue and a notice to the newspaper of record 24 hours in advance.

When: 6PM, Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Where: General Purpose Room,
Valdosta City Hall Annex,
300 North Lee Street, Valdosta, GA 31601

Event: facebook

[071019-Special-Called-Meeting-Agenda-0001]
071019-Special-Called-Meeting-Agenda-0001
PDF

Maybe Valdosta should consider that elected official embarassment does not outweigh informing the public.

Thanks to Valdosta City Clerk Teresa Bolden for the agenda. See also Continue reading

Again: Florida Counties meet Valdosta about sewage in rivers and wells 2019-07-10

Update 2019-07-11: WWALS Videos.

Update 2019-07-10: The agenda.

Like three months ago, the dozen downstream Florida counties will meet with Valdosta again tomorrow. It’s a public meeting and anyone may attend. Presumably, like last time, anyone may ask questions.

When: 6PM, Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Where: General Purpose Room,
Valdosta City Hall Annex,
300 North Lee Street, Valdosta, GA 31601

Event: facebook

[Movie: 10% completion of 162 years? --Tom Mirti, SRWMD]
Movie: 10% completion of 162 years? –Tom Mirti, SRWMD

We already knew about this from Continue reading

Troupville, Little River Confluence, shoals, creeks, and Spook Bridge 2019-06-15

Update 2019-07-05:: Some WWALS videos on YouTube.

The first day of #PaddleGA2019 was a fun day, with a confluence, greetings by VIPs, creeks, small rapids, a limpkin, Valdosta’s notorious Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant Outfall, one bad water quality reading (not there), swimming, an even more notorious fracked methane pipeline, and Spook Bridge, with a pet deer across the river. Thanks to The Langdale Company for that takeout and the Port-A-Potty location, and thanks to the Battery Source for the loan of the golf cart to WWALS.

Here’s Gwyneth Moody, Georgia River Network Water Trail coordinator, getting her orange kayak in the water.

[Load 'em up, 07:51:54, 30.8515032, -83.3476099]
Load ’em up, 07:51:54, 30.8515032, -83.3476099

Somebody was flying a drone. Continue reading

Moms for Clean Water, Allen Ramp, Withlacoochee River, Hamilton Co., FL 2019-06-01

Five #MomsforCleanWater took pictures before paddling from Allen Ramp on the Withlacoochee River, past Powerline Spring, Fairy Spring, and Corbett Spring in Hamilton County, as well as four shoals, inclding the infamous Melvin Shoals, and second magnitude Suwannacoochee Spring in Madison County, all in Florida.

[Cathy and Debra #MomsforCleanWater]
Cathy and Debra #MomsforCleanWater

You can print the PDF of the form they’re holding and post your own selfie, hashtags #MomsforCleanWater #SuwanneeRiverkeeper. Waterkeepers Florida has a handy web form to send your picture on to the First Lady of Florida. Continue reading

Veto SB 7103 that would limit Florida local planning, urge 44 groups 2019-05-29

The Florida Governor should veto SB 7103, which would require local citizens to be stuck with big developers’ attorney bills, greatly limiting citizens’ ability to steer local comprehensive planning. This problem goes far beyond the Everglades, even though that’s the main subject of a letter WWALS co-signed, among 44 organizations. Governor DeSantis did not look much like Teddy Roosevelt when he signed the toll road boondoggle bill, but maybe he will veto this other egregious bill.

legal fees

Citing threat to Everglades, 44 groups ask Gov. DeSantis to veto bill, Julie Hauserman, Florida Phoenix, 29 May 2019. Continue reading

Naylor Boat Ramp, Water Trails, and Paddle Georgia: WWALS to Lowndes County Commission 2019-05-13

Thanks and invitations from WWALS to the Lowndes County Commission, delivered in a letter via email and on paper Monday morning and in Citizens Wishing To Be Heard Tuesday evening.

WWALS to Lowndes County Commission 2019-05-14

I thanked

I invited the Commissioners to pass Water Trail resolutions (see below).

And I invited them to Paddle Georgia and the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

Letter

Continue reading