No LNG by Rail Rule –WWALS to PHMSA 2020-01-13

One of seventeen reasons for PHMSA to reject its own proposed rule for LNG in rail tanker cars:

  • The solution to risks of leaks, wrecks, and explosions of LNG truck tankers is not to add another source of risk in LNG rail cars, no matter what design.

[FEC Timetable North from Miami to Jacksonville]
FEC Timetable North from Miami to Jacksonville

Many thanks to Maxine Connor and Cecile Scofield for comments, corrections, and additions of this WWALS comment, sent to the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) yesterday, which was the deadline for comment on PHMSA Notice of Proposed Rulemanking (NPRM HM-264) Hazardous Materials: Liquefied Natural Gas by Rail, PHMSA Docket No. PHMSA-2018-0025.

Cecile also had already filed her own excellent comment. Both hers and this WWALS comment draw on a fascinatingly wrong and inadequate document Cecile previously obtained via FOIA: Continue reading

Water quality permitting, paddle with Mayor of Valdosta this Saturday 2020-01-18

Update 2020-01-17: Mostly clean in Georgia, not in Florida, Withlacoochee River 2020-01-15

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, January 13, 2020 — Water quality tests since last Wednesday are looking good for the Withlacoochee River in Georgia, and if those continue this Monday and Wednesday, it will be all clear to paddle with the new Mayor of Valdosta, Scott James, this Saturday, January 18, 2020. “We’ll paddle by the site of the projected Troupville River Camp, supported by Valdosta and Lowndes County, Georgia, and Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “We’ll also pass the outflow from Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), which did not spill, although it is in a stretch of the river that was contaminated by Valdosta’s December 2019 record raw sewage spill.”

[Movie: WWTP Outfall, 11:23:17, 30.83622, -83.35924 (15M)]
WWTP Outfall, 2019-06-15 30.8362200, -83.3592400

Mayor Scott James was quoted in Valdosta Today:

“The paddle was requested by me and John was gracious enough to organize it and call it the ‘Mayor’s Paddle.’ It is to show my commitment to zero tolerance for future spills and to show my love for our natural resources.”

“The only way to dispell the stigma of sewage spills that affects the entire Suwannee River Basin, is frequent, regular, water quality sampling with published results,” added Quarterman. “The dozen-county Florida Rivers Task Force to deal with Valdosta sewage wants to promote cross-state-line eco-tourism. We should all be marketing our rivers. We are, with this paddle, and with Troupville River Camp. But we need a solid foundation of testing so we can say when the rivers are clean, and the few (we hope) times when they are not.”

WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc., parent organization of Suwannee Riverkeeper, will be collecting water quality samples this Wednesday at numerous points on the Withlacoochee River to have current results before the paddle. Lowndes County (which has its own sewer system, that did not spill) is sampling weekly. The Florida Department of Enviromental Protection (FDEP) and the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) are sampling downstream, and SRWMD has even sampled some sites well into Georgia. WWALS is publishing all this data, along with what data Valdosta has supplied in response to open records requests, online:
http://wwals.net/issues/vww/valdosta-spills/#vldrecord2019

On the paddle, WWALS will be sampling above and below the WWTP outfall and at other locations along the route.

Meanwhile, the recent rains have provided plenty of water in the river, several feet more than when we paddled the same route with 300 people in Paddle Georgia in June 2019, so we should have smooth sailing!

How To Paddle with the Mayor

Continue reading

Signs in Georgia on Withlacoochee River and new data; thanks Lowndes County and SRWMD 2020-01-10

Update 2020-01-14: Recent water quality test results, Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers 2020-01-11

There are two warning signs at each of Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps as of yesterday: by Lowndes County, and by WWALS. According to new data from Wednesday evening, those signs may not have been necessary, but at this point better safe than sorry. The new data did not come from Valdosta, nor did the signs.

[County and WWALS warning signs]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, County and WWALS warning signs at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, 2020-01-10

Thanks to Lowndes County and Chairman Bill Slaughter for testing at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps, and for making and planting those tall metal caution signs after the county numbers for Monday, January 6, 2020, were quite high. The county is now doing weekly testing, including at additional locations.

Just in case, WWALS also made signs and placed them. Continue reading

Redo: Ichetucknee and Sante Fe River Paddle 2020-01-20

Leisurely paddle on the newest river additions to WWALS and Suwannee Riverkeeper, round 2. It was such a great time, we had to do it again, on the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers. We will also paddle past the notorious Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline.

When: Gather 9 AM, launch 10:30 AM, Saturday, January 4, 2020

Put In: Ichetucknee S.P. North Entrance, 8294 SW Elim Church Rd, Fort White, FL 32038.

GPS: 29.9859, -82.7602

Take Out: Hwy 129 Boat Ramp, William Guy Lemmons Memorial Park Ramp @ 296th St. Ramp, From Branford, travel east on US 27; turn right on US 129; travel south to 296th Street; turn right and William Guy Lemons Memorial Park is on the left, in Suwannee County. 29.912717, -82.860514

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.

NOTE: The Ichetucknee is a non-disposable river; do not have any food or drinks in disposable packaging. All liquids and foods should be in reusable type containers. This helps keep litter out of our rivers.

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!

Fee: There is a $5.00 park fee.

Event: facebook, meetup

[Boards and boats]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Boards and boats, 2020-01-04.

Continue reading

Avoid Withlacoochee River from Knights Ferry to Confluence with Suwannee River 2020-01-08

Update 2020-01-11: Signs in Georgia on Withlacoochee River and new data; thanks Lowndes County and SRWMD 2020-01-10.

It would be prudent to avoid contact with the Withlacoochee River from Knights Ferry Boat Ramp all the way to the Suwannee River, due to test results from Lowndes County, Georgia, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

[Avoid red area]
Avoid red area.
WWALS Map of Landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

The problem access points would seem to include Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, Nankin Boat Ramp, and State Line Boat Ramp in Georgia, and in Florida Sullivan Launch, Florida Campsites Ramp, Madison Blue Spring, Madison Boat Ramp, and Allen Ramp on the Withlacoochee River. I believe Hamilton County also has a warning sign upstream on the Suwannee River at Suwannee River Campsites. There’s a sign at Madison Blue Spring, and I’d bet there’s one at Suwannee River State Park Ramp. There will be signs in Georgia today, one way or another.

Here is an excerpt from the latest FDEP data, received this morning. The entire updated FDEP spreadsheet is Continue reading

High E. coli at State Line in FDEP data Monday 2020-01-06

Update 2020-01-10: Avoid Withlacoochee River from Knights Ferry to Confluence with Suwannee River 2020-01-08.

In data received yesterday evening from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), after testing safe for a week, FDEP got 7,576 MPN/100 mL E. coli at GA 31. There are no warning signs at State Line Boat Ramp.

[Dec. 30 - Jan 6]
Dec. 30 – Jan 6

Is that a pocket of Valdosta sewage finally crossing into Florida? Something else big enough to cause those numbers? It’s hard to tell without upstream data, or followup data.

[Sewage dates, Dec. 3 - Jan 6]
Sewage dates, Dec. 3 – Jan 6,
Valdosta to Madison Blue Springs, in WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin, these all on the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

Whatever it is, there should be a warning sign at State Line Ramp, which is in Georgia, and there is none. Should Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida, put up a third warning for the Withlacoochee River in Florida? Just like there should have been warning signs on the Withlacoochee River in Georgia at Continue reading

Valdosta Catch Basin Plans for WWTP 2019-09-01

Here are the plans for the new catch basin at the entrance of Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) (see also PDF), obtained via open records request from Valdosta. At least we finally know how big it is: 7.26 million gallons. But is that big enough?

[FORWARD FLOW SCHEMATIC]
FORWARD FLOW SCHEMATIC

The catch basin is a good idea, and I commend Valdosta on implementing it. However: Continue reading

Well testing results, Madison County, FL, after Valdosta sewage spill 2020-01-03

The Madison County, Florida, Board of County Commissioners is meeting again this Wednesday morning before the two other meetings about Valdosta wastewater that same day.

When: 9 AM, January 8, 2020

Where: Courthouse Annex – Commission Meeting Room,
229 SW Pinckney Street, Madison, FL 32340

What: Regular Meeting, Madison County Board of County Commissioners

Speaking: Sign in for Petitions from the Public, 5 minutes each, at the beginning of the meeting.

The Madison BOCC has had three special called meetings about Valdosta wastewater, in which it allocated $5,000 for water well testing, declared a State of Emergency, extended it twice, and received a report of results of testing of private wells. Madison BOCC also also distributed information from Madison County Health Department about testing water wells and when and how to disinfect a water well.

Hamilton County, Florida BOCC and Health Department implemented the same measures. Will Valdosta pay for these extraordinary expenditures of money and resources by downstream counties?

What did Valdosta, Lowndes County, or Brooks County, Georgia, do? It seems that there are fewer people living along the Withlacoochee River in those counties than in these Florida counties, but some concern for those that do would seem appropriate.

In the agenda packet, on page 12, are the one-page MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL MEETING, FRIDAY, JANUARY 3, 2020:

[Well testing results]
Well testing results
PDF

New Business #1: Discussion and Possible Approval of Extension of Declaration of State of Emergency in Response to the City of Valdosta Sewage Spill into the Withlachoochee River. 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

GA-EPD: Twin Pines massive submittals short on analysis, incomplete, not sufficient, and wetland impacts not temporary 2019-12-05

“We reiterate our concern and position that an appropriate project review for 401 water quality certification is not yet possible since complete substantive and important information about the proposed hydrogeologic effects of this project relative to the surrounding landscape has not yet been submitted by the applicant. …So substantial, so massive, so transformative is the effect to wetlands contemplated at the Twin Pines site that you no longer have in place the original wetland to be impacted.” The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) wrote that to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in response to the thousands of pages of low-level data but only a few pages of analysis that Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) has sent those agencies.

Twin Pines Minerals is still failing to hoist its burden of proof that its propsosed titanium strip mine would not jeopardize this national treasure, the Okefenokee Swamp, the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers.

[Tribal Grounds west along GA 94 to TPM equipment, 12:38:38, 30.5257540, -82.0411100]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, of Tribal Grounds west along GA 94 to TPM equipment, 12:38:38, 30.5257540, -82.0411100, on Southwings flight, pilot Allen Nodorft, 2019-10-05.
See also pictures from that flight by Wayne Morgan.

Maybe the City of Folkston and Charlton County Development Authority (CCDA) might want to rethink its assertion in the Charlton County Herald that “We would not support anything that would jeopardize this national treasure.” GA-EPD’s opinion is much like what U.S. EPA said, that the mine would have “substantial and unacceptable impact”.

CCDA wrote, Continue reading