Category Archives: Quality

Jim Tatum reports on FL Rivers Task Force meeting 2019-04-25

Thanks to Jim Tatum of OSFR for reporting from the April 25th meeting of the twelve-Florida-county Rivers Task Force meeting in Lake City. His Task Force on Valdosta Spills says the Task Force is asking Florida Senator Rubio to speed permitting for Valdosta’s WWTP catch basin. It doesn’t say whether they get the point that the other third of Valdosta’s December spills would not be affected by that.

It says they’re still agonizing about direct notification of spills. Our experience with Valdosta and that of many others is that it’s not worth wasting time expecting Valdosta to notify anybody except the state of Georgia, which is why it’s so useful that GA-EPD publishes Sewage Spill Reports each business day. That’s been going on since December 20, 2018, after 30 organizations in Georgia and Florida, including OSFR, signed a resolution asking GA-EPD to do that.

Photo: Jim Tatum for OSFR; Darlene Velez of SRWMD explains the water quality missions of the state agencies.
Photo: Jim Tatum for OSFR; Darlene Velez of SRWMD explains the water quality missions of the state agencies.

The hot button at the moment is water quality monitoring and sampling. Thanks to OSFR’s Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson and WWALS ‘ John Quarterman, it was revealed some time ago that water sampling has been less than adequate by our (and Georgia’s) agencies, lacking even a baseline for comparison in places.

Once called out, the agencies have been scrambling and Ms. Velez’ PowerPoint covered this wonderfully. Your writer did not know that Continue reading

75 organizations oppose proposed Florida toll roads: HB 7113/SB 7068 2019-04-25

Floridians, please call your Florida statehouse representative today. SB 7068 passed the Florida Senate already, so we all need to head off HB 7113 in the Florida House.

For Immediate Release (PDF)

April 25, 2019

Contact: David Cullen, cullenasea@aol.com, 941-323-2404
Diana Umpierre, diana.umpierre@sierraclub.org, 954-829-7632
John S. Quarterman, contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org, 850-290-2350

75 ORGANIZATIONS, BUSINESSES URGE HOUSE TO STOP TOLL ROADS
Transportation Corridors bills are bad deal for Florida taxpayers


Legislature’s planned road project could benefit Florida’s richest man, by Julie Hauserman, Florida Phoenix,March 21, 2019.

Tallahassee — Today 75 conservation organizations, civic groups, and businesses representing every corner of the state sent a letter to the Florida House of Representatives urging a no vote on the Transportation Corridor bills (SB 7068/HB 7113).

The letter to the House follows a similar letter sent to the Senate on Monday and will be followed by a separate letter to Governor DeSantis urging a veto of the toll road plan if the House does not put the brakes on the legislation passed by the Senate on Wednesday.

The letter: Continue reading

Valdosta Water Quality Testing Data 2019-04-23

Fecal coliform in Onemile Branch was way above the Georgia state limit of 200, in Valdosta’s followup water quality monitoring after their spill of more than 100,000 gallons of raw sewage at Wainwright Drive, just downstream from Valdosta State University.

[2018-02-03 Wainwright Drive Onemile Branch]
2018-02-03 Wainwright Drive Onemile Branch

We know this because, in response to a Georgia Open Records Act request from WWALS, Alys Hannum of GA-EPD sent this data, on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. She wrote: Continue reading

Georgia Water Coalition Spring Partner Meeting 2019-04-24

Naturally, what happened in the Georgia legislature is the most prevalent topic at the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC) Spring Partner Meeting, such as about coal ash and trust funds. I provoked extended discussion of the value of Capitol Conservation Day: even if it’s hard to get to see a legislator when that many people are there, the mere fact that so many people are there affected legislation.

There are also breakout sessions on the Georgia Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards. (You can sign up to help upgrade our Suwannee River Basins.) All the Riverkeepers of Georgia are involved, and Water Trails are very relevant.

Speaking: Rena Peck Stricker, E.D., Georgia River Network, Attendees
Speaking: Rena Peck Stricker, E.D., Georgia River Network
WWALS Ambassador Dave Hetzel is second row from the back, second from the right.
My Georgia Beer Co. hat is on the left (have I mentioned they are the top-level sponsor of our Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest and a sponsor of our BIG Little River Paddle Race)), two rows in front of Gordon Rogers’ Save the Flint shirt.

After Continue reading

Rivers Task Force meeting, Lake City, Florida 2019-04-25

Agenda (PDF):

AGENDA
MIDDLE AND LOWER SUWANNEE RIVER AND
WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER TASK FORCE

April 25, 2019
4:00 p.m.

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites
213 Southwest Commerce Boulevard
Lake City, Florida

  1. INVOCATION
  2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
  3. INTRODUCTIONS
  4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – February 28, 2019*
  5. REPORT ON ACTIVITIES
    1. Florida Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee Testimony
    2. Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary and Governor’s Staff Meeting
    3. Joint Task Force and City of Valdosta City Council Workshop
  6. WATER SAMPLING SCHEDULE AND DATA
  7. NEXT STEPS

* See Attachments

Agenda, Meeting

See also:

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

Update 2019-05-02: Pictures.

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

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

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

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