Tag Archives: Floridan Aquifer

U.S. Army Corps abdicates at Okefenokee Swamp, but titanium miners still need Georgia permits 2020-10-19

Monday morning I heard from a mining source that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will soon announce that, due to federal rollback of the Waters of the U.S., the Corps no longer considers the streams next to the proposed mining site to be under Corps jurisdiction, even though they are far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Alligator
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp

Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) lost no time announcing the next day that they intended to plow ahead. Molly Samuel, WABE, 20 October 2020, Proposed Mine Near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp Gets A Major Hurdle Removed.

But TPM admits they still need five Georgia permits. So let’s try to stop those.

As we’ve been saying for a long time, please write to state and federal regulators, to the Georgia governor and the Georgia DNR board, and to state and federal elected officials. See below for how.

Also, there’s an election going on. As an IRS 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit, WWALS can’t tell you what candidate or party to vote for. But we can ask you to vote for the environment.

If the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers, is not protected, what is? If you live in south Georgia or north Florida, your drinking water probably comes from the Floridan Aquifer or groundwater above it, all of which can be adversely affected by strip mining or other pollution.

Please vote for the environment.

Georgians, don’t forget to vote for Amendment 1 while you’re voting.

Russ Bynum, Associated Press, 21 October 2020, Trump environmental rollback spurs mining near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp.

The Army Corps reassessed certain wetlands at Twin Pines’ request after Trump’s new clean-water rules took effect in June. The agency confirmed Tuesday that, under the rules change, the tract would no longer require a federal permit.

“This property now has Continue reading

The real trash problem: the companies that make it

People shouldn’t litter, but individuals are not the real litter problem. The companies that make all those throwaway items are the problem. There are fixes, which we can implement. One fix Georgians can vote on right now: vote Yes on Amendment 1 please!

There was no lack of trash on the Alapaha River in September, at Berrien Beach Boat Ramp in Berrien County and at Berrien Beach in Lanier County. We found the usual cigarette butts, shotgun shells, and yes, a few used diapers.

Plus tires. To help stop tires being dumped by rivers, please vote Yes on Georgia Constitutional Amendment 1 to stop fee diversions.

We found fewer shotgun shells and tires but more of everything else at Twomile Branch in Valdosta, Sugar Creek, and the Withlacoochee River in August.

Come to the big cleanup this Saturday on the Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers in Lowndes County and on Sugar Creek, Onemile Branch, and Twomile Branch in Valdosta October 10, 2020!

We expect as usual the most numerous items will be plastic and glass bottles and cans.

[Bottles]
Bottles

Sure people shouldn’t litter, but Anheuser-Busch and other beer makers, as well as Nestlé, Coca Cola, and Walmart, should stop making and selling disposable bottles and cans.

Fifty years ago those things had deposits on them, and people would collect them for the cash. In economic downturns such as right now, that could be useful to a lot of people, and a lot more cleanups would happen. Sure, there was still trash back then, but not as much.

People still do in Hawaii and nine other states: California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Vermont, plus Guam. They don’t have nearly as big of a litter problem.

But Georgia or Florida do not have such container deposits. Maybe we should change that.

No, recycling will not solve this problem. There’s no market for plastic to recycle, and recycling has been pushed by big oil for years as an excuse to make more plastic throw-away containers. Laura Sullivan, NPR, 11 September 2020, How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled.

You’ve probably seen the famous ‘Crying Indian’ ad from 1971: Continue reading

Register to comment: Nestle water withdrawal on SRWMD agenda; staff in favor 2020-08-11

You must register for the webinar and separately register to speak at the SRWMD board meeting 9AM tomorrow morning. And for sound you must call a telephone conferencing number. It’s worth all that to oppose Nestlé’s permit request for more water from the Floridan Aquifer at Ginnie Springs next to the Santa Fe River.

When you register for the webinar:
https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/3310540859352809487

You will see this:

Request Public Comment

Submit a request on the District website: www.srwmd.org/Comments

That takes you here:
https://www.srwmd.org/FormCenter/District-7/Public-Comment-Request-Form-74

That comment registration form asks you for “Agenda Item/Topic*”.

You may want to enter this:

22. Modification of Water Use Permit Application 2-041-218202-3, Seven Springs Water Company Project, Gilchrist County

That’s the agenda item for the Nestlé water withdrawal from Ginnie Springs next to the Santa Fe River.

And for audio, you will need to call 1-888-585-9008, and when prompted enter:
Conference room number: 704-019-452 #

If you think Nestlé’s planned doubling of bottling lines using that water from the already-depleted Florida Aquifer near the too-low Santa Fe River, please sign up for the webinar and to comment, and then call in tomorrow morning!

[Figure 4.2 -- High SPrings Buildout Space Allocation]
Figure 4.2 — High Springs Buildout Space Allocation

See previous post for more information and more ways you can take action.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Nestle water withdrawal on SRWMD agenda; staff in favor 2020-08-11

Update 2020-08-10: Register to comment: Nestle water withdrawal on SRWMD agenda; staff in favor 2020-08-11

Nestlé water withdrawal from Ginnie Springs next to the Santa Fe River is back on the SRWMD agenda for Tuesday morning, with staff in favor this time. Please speak up now!

[Seven Springs Water Company Project, 2-041-218202-3, August 2020]
Seven Springs Water Company Project, 2-041-218202-3, August 2020
PDF

That’s 9AM, Tuesday, August 11, 2020, online only; see below for how. As near as I can tell, the main difference is the withdrawal request is reduced by 14.58% from 1.1520 million gallons/day to 0.9840 MGD. I still don’t see why a Swiss company should profit from sucking up Floridan Aquifer water to sell us back plastic bottles that we then have to clean up from springs and rivers.

If you don’t think a 14.58% reduction is enough, you can still Continue reading

More than 30 groups organize to save Okefenokee Swamp 2020-07-14

See also Suwannee Riverkeeper’s call last month for people to contact the Georgia governor and other elected officials.

[Okefenokee Protection Alliance (OPA)]
Okefenokee Protection Alliance (OPA)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (see also )

MORE THAN 30 GROUPS ORGANIZE TO SAVE OKEFENOKEE SWAMP

[OPA Logo]
OPA Logo

GEORGIA (July 14, 2020) More than 30 national, state, and local organizations have joined forces in the fight to protect the Okefenokee Swamp. The new coalition, known as the Okefenokee Protection Alliance (OPA), recently formed in response to a new and alarming threat to the Okefenokee in the form of proposed heavy mineral sands mining adjacent to the swamp.

In July 2019, Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, submitted a permit application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) seeking authorization to mine the first phase of what would eventually become a 12,000-acre project abutting the southeast corner of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

After the Corps was deluged with letters opposing the project, Twin Pines withdrew that application and submitted a second application to excavate a roughly 900-acre first phase of the mine. The Corps is now weighing whether to approve that second application. Twin Pines must also secure permission from the state of Georgia.

“The new Okefenokee Protection Alliance is the first collaborative effort to have an exclusive focus on the protection of what is arguably our country’s healthiest remaining wetland of significance,” says Christian Hunt, Southeast Program Representative for Defenders of Wildlife. “Everyone came together because of Twin Pines’ permit application, but by design we intend to be active over the long-term and address the present threat that we are dealing with today, as well as future threats that stand to compromise the Okefenokee.”

This week, the Okefenokee Protection Alliance introduced a new website and began urging citizens to write Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, asking him to protect Southeast Georgia’s international natural treasure.

“Just as we have reached out to folks to call on the Corps, we are reaching out to folks to call on Governor Kemp because it is not just the Corps that has a say,” says Rena Peck, Executive Director of the Georgia River Network. “We want Governor Kemp to stand with his constituents and all the citizens in Georgia who are concerned about the mine and ask the Corps for an Environmental Impact Statement.”

The Okefenokee has a long history of support from Georgia leaders. A similar proposal to mine near the Swamp in the 1990s was stopped when Gov. Zell Miller and others spoke out against it; in the 1970s, W.S. “Bill” Stuckey, Jr. who represented the 8th District of Georgia in Congress, successfully fought to designate portions of the swamp as a National Wilderness Area.

Stuckey, now a resident of the Georgia coast, said recently, “I’m hopeful that Governor Kemp will step in to protect the Okefenokee Wilderness and stop the mine.”

OPA member organizations and federal agencies have expressed concerns that the mine could alter the hydrology of the area and impair the movement and storage of water within the swamp, the St. Marys and Suwannee rivers and the Floridan Aquifer.

This could lead to an increased risk of uncontrollable wildfires and impact access to the swamp for boating, fishing, birding, hunting and photography. Pollution from the mining operation could also impact the health of groundwater and surface water.

The Floridan Aquifer, which lies beneath the swamp, is the water source for all of south Georgia and most of Florida, and feeds many springs in the region, which are already adversely affected by overpumping. Thus, anything that affects the swamp or the aquifer could have far-reaching consequences.

Continue reading

Sewer line repair between manholes, Bevel Creek Lift Station @ LCC 2020-06-22

Lowndes County is fixing the June 8, 2020, sinkhole at the Bevel Creek Lift Station in a Floridan Aquifer recharge zone, with $82,000.00 to replace two manholes, to discuss at its Work Session 8:30 AM Monday morning, with voting at its 5:30 PM Regular Session Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

The county’s agenda sheet says:

Due to extensive flooding and undermining, the manhole before Bevel Creek lift station collapsed on June 8, 2020 creating an emergency situation. After accessing the problem it was determined the most feasible and economical method of repair was to replace two manholes and redirect the flow. RPI Underground submitted a quote not to exceed $82,000 to make the repairs. Staff recommends approval of the Bevel Creek manhole emergency repair by RPI Underground not to exceed $82,000.00.

Photo: Terry Richards, The Valdosta Daily Times, Heavy rains cause problems in Lowndes 2020-06-08.
Photo: Terry Richards, The Valdosta Daily Times, Heavy rains cause problems in Lowndes 2020-06-08.

Continue reading

Statement on Environmental Justice –Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS 2020-06-08

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

[Statement on Environmental Justice]
Statement on Environmental Justice
PDF

June 8, 2020

Statement on Environmental Justice

Suwannee Riverkeeper and WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. protect the Suwannee River Basin for the sake of every person who visits or lives here. Clean water is essential to everyone, regardless of their ethnicity, beliefs, politics, or anything else. However, during the course of our work opposing the Sabal Trail methane pipeline and other advocacy, it became clear that minorities and economically disadvantaged people will disproportionately experience negative effects. We continue to work against such environmental injustice across the entire Suwannee River Basin in dozens of counties in Georgia and Florida. Valuing all the watershed’s inhabitants is entirely compatible with having added concern for those facing added danger.

The killing of George Floyd and many other recent tragedies suffered by people of color show that even if we strive to love our neighbors equally, the threats and injustices they face are not equal. As professionals and volunteers we fight for the human right of clean water. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from a Birmingham jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” It appears to us that the economic forces that drive unnecessary pipelines under rivers and through disadvantaged neighborhoods and that have made it so difficult to oppose pipelines and mines are the same forces that have resulted in so many recent tragedies with little justice. We have always stood for nonviolent advocacy, but we cannot condemn the few who have used other means without also pointing to the large corporations that benefit from subsidies, tax breaks, and legal advantages while so many get nothing.

We seek to listen and learn from our colleagues and neighbors. We do not pretend to be experts on racial issues. Nevertheless, we promote clean water to ensure healthy communities, and we are concerned about all members of those communities: especially the most vulnerable. We stand against racism and injustice in any form.

As one small step, we plan to offer swimming and boating lessons especially to minorities and economically disadvantaged people; please contact us about that.

Meanwhile, an election is in progress. Please look at what each candidate says about environmental issues. If a candidate will not stand up to protect rivers and swamps, you may want to look more closely at their promises about people.

Link to this statement: http://wwals.net/2020/06/08/statement-on-environmental-justice-suwannee-riverkeeper-for-wwals-2020-06-08

For the rivers and the aquifer,
John S. Quarterman
Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
229-242-0102
contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org

Unprecedented Army Corps virtual Public Meeting about strip mine application near Okefenokee Swamp 2020-05-13

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 7, 2020, Hahira, Georgia — In an apparently unprecedented move, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is holding a “virtual Public Meeting” about a mining application. Suwannee Riverkeeper calls on everyone who can to join this online Public Meeting, for at least a few minutes between 2 and 5 PM on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. This will help show there is substantial controversy about the proposed titanium mine on the doorstep of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. That could cause the Corps to at least require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), or maybe even to deny the permit.

“The Corps needs to know people consider the beauty of the Okefenokee Swamp, and the birding, boating, fishing, and hunting nearby that it provides, to be too important to risk with a strip mine far too close to the Swamp,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Everyone down to the Gulf of Mexico should be concerned about this strip mine at the headwaters of the the Suwannee River, and east on the St. Marys River to the Atlantic. Way west at Valdosta, Georgia, exits from I-75 say Okefenokee Swamp this way, so the economic benefits of the Swamp are widespread. People visit the Swamp and the Suwannee from all over the world, and the public outcry needs to be just as widespread.”

[Mine to Gulf and Ocean]
Mine to Gulf and Ocean in the WWALS map of all public landings and boat ramps in the Suwannee River Basin.

Social media event: facebook, meetup. But remember to sign up for the actual Army Corps virtual Public Meeting (see below).

To attend the virtual Public Meeting, first you must RSVP by emailing:
To: CESAS-SpecialProjects@usace.army.mil
Subject: “RSVP for 13 MAY Public Meeting TPM”

Make sure that you include your full name, email address, and contact phone number with area code.

Before the meeting, you will receive the meeting link and security code. Just click the link and follow the prompts.

The meeting will use the WebEx platform, so go ahead and pick up an app for that, or try out the web interface on your laptop or desktop computer.

All participant lines will be muted in order to maintain audio quality. Moderators will direct questions to the appropriate person during the question and answer session.

Simply joining the meeting will be significant. You can ask your question the WebEx chat, by voice if they call on you. Please at least ask the Corps for an EIS, or to deny the permit application.

You can ask anything, or just say you oppose the mine. If you have a specific logistical or scientific question, please ask it, in such a way that it requires a specific answer. For example: Continue reading

Deadline extended to May 28 after virtual Public Meeting on May 13 for mining application near Okefenokee Swamp 2020-04-13

Six weeks more from the Army Corps, less than the two or four months requested by various parties. That’s still better than no extension for public comments on the re-application by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, to mine far too close to the Okefenokee Swamp, the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers, above the Floridan Aquifer.

Plus, before the new comment deadline of May 28, 2020:

[Suwannee River]
Twin Pines Minerals proposed mine site, Okefenokee NWR, and Suwannee River

The Savannah District will hold a virtual Public Meeting for the Twin Pines project on May 13, 2020 from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM EDT. The meeting will consist of a formal presentation followed by a question and answer session. The meeting will be recorded and published to the Savannah District public website.

Published by the Corps at 4:35 PM on the original deadline of today, here is the Public Notice of Extension on the Corps’ website, and here it is in PDF.

For far more about this bad mining proposal and the organizations that support the Okefenokee Swamp and oppose anything that would harm it, see:
wwals.net/issues/titanium-mining/

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Comment now: TPM mine drains to Okefenokee Swamp, Rivers Styx, St. Marys, Suwannee, Georgia and Florida 2020-04-10

Comment by this Monday, April 13, 2020, if you don’t want any of these creeks, rivers, or the Okefenokee Swamp affected by this strip mine, or the Floridan Aquifer, in Georgia or in Florida.

The Twin Pines Minerals strip mine site drains west from Trail Ridge into the River Styx, into the Okefenokee Swamp, and to the St. Marys River, which becomes the border between Georgia and Florida. On the east, it drains into Boone Creek and into the St. Marys River. If it affects the Swamp, it will affect the Suwannee River, which runs through Georgia and Florida to the Gulf of Mexico.

[River Styx]
River Styx

Please go ahead and tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers why you don’t want this strip mine near the Swamp.

You can also ask for an extension of the public comment deadline, and for public hearings in Georgia and Florida. Here is the Suwannee Riverkeeper extension and hearings request for WWALS.

The Rule the Corps is following for comments says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can require any other affected state to comment. So you can ask EPA to ask Florida to comment. Here is our request for that. Here’s a simple version you can use:

[Your Name or Your Organization Name] requests the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pursuant to 33 CFR § 325.2, (b), regarding permit application SAS-2018-0054 to determine that the mining activities of the subject Application may affect the quality of the waters of the state of Florida and to notify the state of Florida, the district engineer, and the applicant that Florida ‘has 60 days from receipt of EPA’s notice to determine if the proposed discharge will affect the quality of its waters so as to violate any water quality requirement in such state, to notify EPA and the district engineer in writing of its objection to permit issuance, and to request a public hearing.’

The inset map is from Figure 66 in the TPM application. TPM didn’t label the waterways, but that’s the River Styx where it says MSW-1, and Boone Creek where it says MSW-4. Both lead to the St. Marys River, which becomes the Georgia-Florida state line. The River Styx joins the St. Marys in the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee River. Continue reading