Tag Archives: Georgia

Eighth Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race 2020-04-25

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Race or paddle, fun for the whole family: the Eighth Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race

Adel, Georgia, February 18, 2020 — You could win in any of a dozen categories. But you are not required to race: it’s a nice spring paddle anyway! On Saturday, April 25, 2020, in Reed Bingham State Park, between Adel and Moultrie, Georgia, it’s the eighth annual BIG Little River Paddle Race. There will be lunch, a kayak raffle, and a silent auction afterwards. You can just paddle along this scenic stretch of tea-colored river on the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail among cypress, turtles, birds, and yes, alligators. (Don’t pet them and they won’t bother you.) This three-mile race also has fierce competitors, with last year’s winner finishing in barely more than half an hour.

BLRPR mastermind Bret Wagenhorst, an eye doctor in Tifton, GA, and a charter board member of WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS), said, “You can win in any of a dozen categories: one- or two-person canoe or kayak, male or female or mixed, as well as oldest, youngest, and from farthest away.”

[Tandem female canoe, orange (BW)]
Photo: Bret Wagenhorst, of 2019 First female tandem kayak:

Dianne Walters, president of Friends of Reed Bingham State Park (FORB), said, “This is a great community event, with volunteers from all around helping paddlers from everywhere.”

Wagenhorst added, “Last year, the first woman across the finish in a solo kayak was Nikki York, of Adel, GA. And for the first time, a canoe finished first to win the $100 cash prize. It was a two-person canoe of gentlemen from Gray, GA: Continue reading

Withlacoochee still not clean Thursday but not alarming in Florida results 2020-02-13

In Florida water quality results for Monday through Thursday last week, the high numbers Monday had already died down somewhat from the state line downstream, by the time Lowndes County saw high numbers at the state line and upstream on Tuesday, on the Withlacoochee River and Okapilco Creek.

WWALS collected water samples yesterday (it rained all day Sunday), so we should have some results later today or tomorrow. You can help. Sure would be nice if Valdosta would help.

[2020-02-13--fl-loco-wq-results]
WWALS composite results from Lowndes County and Florida, February 10-13, 2020.
See also the entire of WWALS composite spreadsheet going back to December 10, 2020.

According to Darlene Velez, Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) Water Resources Chief, Continue reading

EPA passes the buck to GA-EPD for Valdosta raw sewage spill 2020-01-31

The EPA took weeks to write to WWALS to confirm less than what it said in the January 8, 2019 meeting in Madison, Florida:


      220 years to fix? Need better oversight --Brannan, EPA
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, still from WWALS Video, Madison, Florida, of Carol L. Kemker, Director, Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division, and others.

In Georgia, the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has authority for establishing procedures for how permitted utilities are to respond during a major spill event. The EPA has delegated permitting authority to the state under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Program (NPDES). However, the EPA does maintain a state oversight role. After the sewage spill into the Withlacoochee, the EPA reached out to EPD to ensure the spill’s cause was properly addressed and notification procedures were followed. The EPA continues to work with EPD to reduce the possibility of future spills from Valdosta into the Withlacoochee River.

No detail was included in the EPA Region 4 letter to WWALS as to how the spill’s cause was to be addressed, or why notification procedures were the only other topic worth mentioning. EPA Region 4’s response says nothing about water quality testing, tracking procedures, alternative water supply, water well testing cost reimbursement, wildlife on land and water, underground plumes of contamination, or an educational campaign; all topics listed in the WWALS letter to which EPA is replying.

Apparently it took a week for the email I forwarded to EPA Region 4 on December 17th to get there on December 23, 2019. Then it took another month for EPA to send a paper reply letter in fancy packaging.

EPA also recommended: Continue reading

Proposed AGL settlement for Homerville Explosion –GA-PSC 2020-02-13

More than the $250,000 proposed last September, but still only 15% of the $2,305,000 previously proposed by GA-PSC staff: that’s the proposed settlement that Atlanta Gas Light will have to pay for the explosion that blew up a coffeeshop in August 2018 and sent three women to hospital with third-degree burns. The incident for which even PHMSA asked for clarification of how serious it was.

Most of the larger proposed fine was apparently because of lack of investigation or reporting even after the event.

Photo: Georgia State Insurance Commission Office, of aftermath of Homerville Coffeeshop explosion
Photo: State Insurance Commission Office, via WALB

Edan Schultz, WALB TV, 14 February 2020, Settlement proposed in Homerville coffee shop gas explosion,

“Last year was staff’s estimate of the top penalty, should all infractions be fined at the maximum rate. In this proposed agreement, rather than simply fine AGL at the maximum rate, the PSC and AGL came up with a solution that will help prevent an accident like this from happening again,” said PSC spokesman Tom Krause.

[Commissioner Jason Shaw (on right)]
Commissioner Jason Shaw (on right)

Commissioner Jason Shaw said AGL’s “voluntary contributions” totaling $347,000 would help prevent further such incidents. The phrase he and Krause used was Continue reading

Reject or EIS: Twin Pines Minerals mine near Okefenokee –U.S. Rep. Al Lawson 2020-02-13

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson Jr, Twitter, 2PM, 14 February 2020, @RepAlLawsonJr,

I sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers to express my concerns about Twin Pines Minerals, LLC’s plan to mine for titanium near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. These actions could have detrimental effects on the area’s biodiversity and natural resources.

[U.S. Rep. Al Lawson to USACE]
U.S. Rep. Al Lawson to USACE


AL LAWSON
5TH DISTRICT, FLORIDA
ASSISTANT MAJORITY WHIP
COMMITTEE ON
FINANCIAL SERVICES
COMMITTEE ON
AGRICULTURE

Congress of the United States
 
House of Representatives
 
Washington, DC 20515-0905

February 13, 2020

Col. Daniel Hibner
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Savannah District
100 W. Oglethorpe Avenue
Savannah, Georgia 31401

Dear Hearing Officer:

I am writing to express my concerns about Twin Pines Minerals, LLC’s application for a clean water (CWA) permit to mine for titanium near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Osceola National Forest, and Osceola Wildlife Management Area. I urge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to carefully consider the significant environmental, social, and economic costs that could occur if the permit is granted. It is crucial that the Corps require an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Furthermore, the Corps should reject the permit application if it appears the mine will harm the environment.

Trail Ridge and Okefenokee NWR

If approved, the project would destroy portions of Trail Ridge, which acts as Continue reading

Not good: Withlacoochee River & Okapilco Creek 2020-02-11

Update 2020-02-18: Withlacoochee still not clean Thursday but not alarming in Florida results 2020-02-13.

Update 2020-02-14: Fixed typo; apparently FDOH tests were collected Monday, February 10, 2020.

Lowndes County’s upstream results for Tuesday, February 11, 2020, are as bad at US 84 as FDOH’s result at CR 150 (Sullivan Launch) the previous day.

Yes, Okapilco Creek downstream of US 84 is especially bad. But Okapilco Creek has more E. coli than anyone would like upstream at GA 76, too. And no, Valdosta is still not off the hook.

We still need to find out where all this contamination is coming from. You can help.

[Not Good Results 2020-02-11]
Not Good Results 2020-02-11
Thanks to Lowndes County Chairman Bill SLaughter for these Tuesday results, which are on the WWALS website, along with the full WWALS composite result table going back to December 10, 2019.

These results are much different from Lowndes County’s tests of Wednesday, February 5. There’s been no rain to speak of since last Thursday, February 6, five days before these recent Tuesday tests, so what’s going on?

[Quitman Gauge (US 84)]
Quitman Gauge (US 84)

Rain upstream is washing something downstream.

[Rain the week before]
Rain the week before

Much of that rain fell upstream and is still coming downstream. More than an inch fell that Thursday at the Continue reading

Twin Pines Minerals mining equipment still on site near Okefenokee Swamp 2020-02-13

The miners didn’t go away from their site near the Okefenokee Swamp after they withdrew their permit application, so expect another application soon.

[Equipment zoom]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, Equipment zoom 2020-02-12.

The miners said they would be back, in Mining company withdraws permit application for project near Okefenokee by Nedra Rhone, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 9, 2020,

“In an effort to be even more conservative in our approach than we were in our initial application, we have agreed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reduce the size of the permit area and resubmit new documentation for Continue reading

Madison Co., FL Withlacoochee River Bacterial Advisory 2020-02-11

Update 2020-02-15: EPA passes the buck to GA-EPD for Valdosta raw sewage spill 2020-01-31.

This unusually-worded Florida bacterial advisory for the Withlacoochee River probably has nothing to do with yesterday’s Valdosta 200 gallon sewage spill into two-mile branch:

[02.11.20-Withlacoochee-River-Advisory-Hamilton-Madison-003-0001]
02.11.20-Withlacoochee-River-Advisory-Hamilton-Madison-003-0001
PDF

The unusual wording is that the advisory gives no hint of the source of the contamination:

Jasper, FL — The Florida Department of Health in Hamilton and Madison counties today issued a joint health advisory to residents and visitors near the Withlacoochee River in North Florida.

Until further information is known regarding possible bacterial contamination of the river, people in the area are urged to take precautions when in contact with the Withlacoochee River. The Florida Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protection are conducting water sampling.

We got the advisory at 4:42 PM today. At 5:10 PM Nathan Dean, reporter for WCTV, called to ask why the advisory. The best I could do was to say that tiny amount of Valdosta sewage could not possibly have made its way to Florida by today, and probably never would, because it was so small it would get diluted long before that.

At 7:48 PM I got forwarded through two intermediaries an explanation from SRWMD’s Darlene Velez that she orginally sent at 5:20 PM. She said Madison County Health Department had decided to do weekly sampling. I quote in part: Continue reading

200 gallons sewage into Twomile Branch, N. Patterson St., Valdosta 2020-02-10

Received via email a few minutes ago, confirming what our WWALS agents saw earlier today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 10, 2020
Release #02-10-20

Grease Blockage Leads to Manhole Overflow

On February 10, 2020, The City of Valdosta Utilities Department staff responded to a call concerning a manhole discharge at the 2400 block of Patterson Street.

[Twomile Branch, N. Patterson St., Valdosta, GA]
Twomile Branch, N. Patterson St., Valdosta, GA, on the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

The cause of the spill was determined to be a grease blockage resulting in approximately 200 gallons of sewage to enter a storm drain that discharges into Two Mile Branch. The blockage was caused by a buildup of fats, oils, and grease that accumulated inside the sewer line.

City staff were able to capture and recover a large portion of the discharge before it entered state waters. The blockage was cleared and the site and its discharge point were cleaned and disinfected.

Although the level of potential contamination to the area is minimal, the public is advised Continue reading

Twin Pines Minerals withdraws application to strip-mine near Okefenokee 2020-02-07

They could resubmit at any time. But for now, the Alabama mining company that is already under a Florida Consent Order along with Chemours for four mines in north Florida, Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) has withdrawn its application to mine in Georgia near 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 http://wwals.net/blog/?p=51549&preview=trueWWALS, Tribal Grounds west along GA 94 to TPM equipment, 12:38:38, 30.5257540, -82.0411100, on Southwings flight for Suwannee Riverkeeper, pilot Allen Nodorft, 2019-10-05.

Nedra Rhone, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 7, 2020, BREAKING: Mining company withdraws permit application for project near Okefenokee,

Twin Pines Minerals, the Alabama-based company that hopes to mine acres of land near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, has withdrawn its permit application, said Billy E. Birdwell, spokesman of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Savannah district.

Continue reading