Category Archives: River

Florida buys Hardee Spring on the Withlacoochee River

Florida bought second magnitude Hardee Spring, with its karst window and 1.6 miles of Withlacoochee River frontage!

Map: River Error Farms Inc., Hardee Spring, Hamilton County, FL
Map from SRWMD PARCEL ASSESSMENT SUMMARY.

The new Florida state administration has done some surprising things, such as revoking dozens of appointments by the previous governor, but this one is really surprising. I’m pretty sure I’ve recommended this purchase to the Suwannee River Water Management (SRWMD) Board. SRWMD had written up a property assessment on it years ago, but I thought the asking price of $8.5 million for River Error Farm was prohibitive. Apparently the state got Hardee Spring for less than a quarter of that price.

DeSantis, Florida Cabinet approve $2.54 million in Florida Forever land acquisition, Samantha J. Gross, Tampa Bay Times, 26 February 2019,

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Cabinet Tuesday voted to spend Continue reading

Resolution pending by Rivers Task Force in Lake City meeting 2019-02-28

Received Thursday. The Rivers Task Force of the dozen downstream Florida counties will be voting next Thursday on a resolution asking the State of Florida (FDEP, SRWMD, etc.) to do something about Valdosta’s sewage spills.

[4PM Thu 28 Feb 2019, Holiday Inn, Lake City, FL]
4PM Thu 28 Feb 2019, Holiday Inn, Lake City, FL

When: 4PM, Thursday, February 28, 2019

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

What: A meeting of the Middle and Lower Suwannee River and Withlacoochee River Task Force

Directions: From the intersection of Interstate 75 and U.S. Highway 90 (exit 427) in the City of Lake City turn, East onto U.S. Highway 90, travel approximately 450 feet to SW Commerce Blvd, turn right (South) onto SW Commerce Blvd, travel approximately 720 feet and the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites is on the left.

The agenda, after the customary introductory items, has only a resolution and Next Steps.

[Resolution and Next Steps]
Resolution and Next Steps

Not on the agenda, but mentioned in the minutes of the previous meeting:

The Task Force agreed that the next steps should be to request a meeting with the Governor and Commissioner of Agriculture. Chair Davis informed the Task Force that the next meeting will be held on Continue reading

Monthly Florida bacterial monitoring 2019-02-21

Two weeks ago, WWALS member Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson asked the state of Florida what baseline water quality testing had been done downstream of Valdota, and:

Please begin water samplings for the isotope for sucralose, fecal coliform testing and any other water testing establishing what or who is culpable of contamination in our protected, Outstanding Florida Waterways.

Yesterday she got an answer. She agrees with my assessment of the data supplied: “Sparse locations and only monthly, but better than nothing.”

[DEAR bacterial monthly sampling stations]
DEAR bacterial monthly sampling stations

However, how can the state of Florida be “committed to monitoring and stopping this recurring problem.” when they “do not allow for enforcement actions directed at the source of sanitary sewer overflows, nor for routine water quality surveillance for sources of river water contamination”?

Now it’s true that last restriction was only cited as applying to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), not the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration (DEAR), and not to the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD). But which of this alphabet soup of agencies should be doing “routine water quality surveillance for sources of river water contamination”?

The beginning of the final paragraph of the response does not indicate any intention Continue reading

Monthly Valdosta WQ Data 2019-02-07

Valdosta has fallen down to only monthly water quality testing, instead of their former weekly schedule.

Graph, Withlacoochee River Basin, Withlacoochee

They’ve also dropped their two state line stations, so the GA-FL Line trace on this graph ends in December 2018.

Wide Map, Stations

Readings have risen since their January sampling, with Valdosta’s US 84 sampling station above the Georgia state limit at 265 cfu/100 ml of E. coli. Continue reading

The rest of the Valdosta wastewater story at SRWMD 2019-02-12

Valdosta Utilities naturally painted as rosy a picture as possible, and newspapers have limited space, so here is the rest of the story about Valdosta wastewater at the Suwannee River Water Management District board meeting last Tuesday. SRWMD Chair Virginia H. Johns understands the stigma, and Board Member Virginia Sanchez spelled it out:

SRWMD Chair Virginia H. Johns

“You don’t want to swim in a little sewage versus a lot of sewage either. Both of them are bad. A spill is bad.”

Featured in this post, drawing from the WWALS videos of all the relevant speakers, are Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse, who talked about the catch basin Valdosta is digging, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, who filled in many pieces omitted by Valdosta and FDEP, and Hamilton County resident Jim McBrayer, who got the attention of the SRWMD board by saying there was E. coli in his well and SRWMD should know where it came from, plus especially the very participatory SRWMD board, who made it pretty clear to FDEP they wanted data by their next meeting, and they wanted Valdosta to move along in fixing their problems in less than a hundred years.

Let’s not forget Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, who pointed out something Valdosta doesn’t want to hear: it’s the stigma of sewage spills that is the big problem they are causing. For sure we need to find out what the specific health and other effects are of Valdosta sewage and other contamination on river water and nearby wells. But the stigma of Valdosta sewage goes far beyond that.

Darryl Muse, Utilities Director, Valdosta

In the WWALS video, Continue reading

EPA kicks PFAS regulation a year down the road

Yesterday’s EPA PFAS plan does nothing except to study for a year or more what has already been studied. Where are the limits on amounts of these firefighting chemicals in water that would enable EPA or GA-EPD to test private wells, for example for the PFAS that got into groundwater from Moody Air Force Base’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, causing Moody’s report to say be careful eating fish caught in Beatty Branch or Cat Creek, upstream from the Withlacoochee River? Where are the funds and methods to remediate the problem and to stop it getting worse?

[Figure 25 Waste Water Treatment Plant (AFFF Area 8) PFBS, PFOA, and PFOS in Soil and Sediment]
Figure 25 Waste Water Treatment Plant (AFFF Area 8) PFBS, PFOA, and PFOS in Soil and Sediment

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 14 February 2018, EPA’s Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan, Continue reading

Paddle Race, Paddle Georgia, and Songwriting Contest on Scott James Radio 8:00AM 2019-02-15 2019-02-22

Update 2019-02-15: Actually, Friday, February 22, 2019. Also, we’ll be broadcasting from Valdosta Airport.

Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman will be on the radio 8:00 AM this Friday, February 15, 22, 2019, with Scott James on his Talk 92.1 drive-time radio show, out of Valdosta, Georgia, talking about WWALS paddle outings and events, including the BIG Little River Paddle Race Saturday, April 27, 2019, Paddle Georgia, June 15-21, 2019, and the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, Saturday, August 24, 2019.

Scott James Talk 92.1 drive-time radio show

When: 8:00 AM, Friday, February 22, 2019

Where: You can listen on the air, or through the radio show’s own website, or through several online listening services.

Event: facebook.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Videos: Valdosta Wastewater at SRWMD Board 2019-02-12

Update 2019-02-18: The rest of the Valdosta wastewater story at SRWMD 2019-02-12.

The most direct interaction by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) Board that I’ve ever seen, yesterday, when Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse came to explain what Valdosta has done and is doing to stop its sewage spills. Neither the board nor the audience seemed satisfied.

[Movie: Darryl Muse, Utilities Director, Valdosta (1458M)]
Movie: Darryl Muse, Utilities Director, Valdosta (1458M)

Stay tuned for another post about some of what was said. Meanwhile, below are links to each WWALS video of each speaker or agenda item, with a few notes. These WWALS videos are under a Creative Commons Attribution license, which means you can use them, provide you cite the source, which is WWALS. There are a few more pictures on the WWALS website. See also the agenda. For background and data, see: Continue reading

Videos: All Georgia Riverkeepers speak to American Fisheries Society 2019-02-06

Possibly for the first time ever, all of the Riverkeepers of Georgia spoke at the same event.

[All Georgia Riverkeepers]
All Georgia Riverkeepers: Flint Riverkeeper Gordon Rogers, Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus, Ogeechee Riverkeeper Damon Mullis, Altamaha Riverkeeper Jen Hilburn, Upper Coosa Riverkeeper Jesse Demonbreun-Chapman, St Marys Riverkeeper Anna Laws, Satilla Riverkeeper Laura Early, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman (Chattahoochee had already left).

Below are links to the WWALS video of each talk, followed by a WWALS video playlist. See also the program, and a few more pictures.

Ashburn, GA, spilled at top of Little River Basin 2019-01-22

Another Georgia city at the top of the Alapaha River Basin seemed to have fixed its problems, yet it spilled again: Ashburn, in Turner County.

2015 through 2019-01-22, Spills
See also table.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) used to know that this Ashburn Airport WPCP and its Hat Creek are in the Alapaha River Basin in the Suwannee River Basin: PUBLIC NOTICE NO. 2017–02 ML JANUARY 20, 2017,

I. NOTICE OF APPLICATION FOR A NATIONAL POLLUTANT DISCHARGE ELIMINATION SYSTEM (NPDES) PERMIT TO DISCHARGE TREATED WASTEWATER INTO WATERS OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA

NPDES permits are valid for a maximum Continue reading