Tag Archives: GWC

WCTV at Hagan Bridge on Withlacoochee sewage spills downstream into Florida 2018-10-02

WCTV came to Hagan Bridge Landing at GA 122 on the Withlacoochee River to interview Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman about what Madison County and 10 more Florida counties are doing about Valdosta sewage spills into local rivers. Don’t forget the Tour of Valdosta wastewater treatment plants 9:30 AM this morning, Wednesday, October 3, 2018.

Enough is enough when it comes to sewage spills in local rivers, Hagan Bridge

Emma Wheeler, WCTV, 2 October 2018, North Florida communities look to solve sewage spills in Valdosta, Continue reading

Request GA-EPD to timely publish spill reports 2018-10-02

Update 2018-10-17: Fourteen signers so far. And here are the forty spills since last time. You can still sign here to ask GA-EPD to tell us so we’ll know when they happen.

Update 2018-09-03: The WCTV report and the text of the letter establishing the Middle and Lower Suwannee River and Withlacoochee River Task Force.

On WCTV tonight, Emma Wheeler will report about wastewater, Valdosta, and how at least eight downstream counties in Florida are organizing about it. She asked me for suggestions. My suggestions start with: sign a resolution asking GA-EPD to timely publish spill reports, and help WWALS with its new water quality testing program. And the Florida Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) could have more effect on the Suwannee River Basin than sewage.

Plus let’s not forget the Tour of Valdosta wastewater treatment plants 9AM tomorrow morning, October 3, the WWALS Troupville Boat Ramp Cleanup October 13, the WWALS Boomerang paddle race November 3 from Langdale Park Boat Ramp to Sugar Creek and back, and 300 of our closest friends coming to the Withlacoochee River mid-June 2019 in Paddle Georgia.

printed, Resolution

The resolution asks the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) to do what Florida and Alabama already do: publish pollution spill reports online the same day they receive them, with signup for email notices. The first step in fixing pollution is Continue reading

GA coal ash committee might consider more safeguards

Georgia Power (and Florida Power & Light and Jacksonville Electric Authority) created the coal ash; they can find ways to dispose of it safely on their own land. And if FPL is shutting down coal plants, how about shutting down its Unit 4 at Plant Scherer, which sends mercury into our Alapaha River. FPL bought into that unit decades ago with the same excuses it’s using for the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline now: shutting down a different generating plant, and alleged (now admitted false) need for more electricity.

Georgia Power coal ash pond at Plant Scherer
The Georgia Power coal ash pond at Plant Scherer, seen here in this undated company photo, will be closed over the next three years. Fabian, Liz – Macon Special to The [Macon] Telegraph

Kristina Torres, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, More safeguards could be considered for coal ash ponds in Georgia, Continue reading

Videos: Coal ash at Valdosta City Council and Lowndes County Commission 2017-03-09-14

Continuing after the recent public meetings, WWALS and others talked about coal ash at the Valdosta City Council March 9th, with a puzzling response from the Mayor, and at the Lowndes County Commission March 14th, with an interruption by the Chairman and no other response. Both city and county have had the same members on the board of the Deep South Solid Waste Management Authority (WMA) since 2005, so presumably they have more control than they want to admit over the local privatized landfill with its coal ash, PCBs, and Superfund wastewater. Remember, that landfill is a quarter mile uphill from the Withlacoochee River and in a Floridan Aquifer recharge zone.

WWALS Executive Directory Gretchen Quarterman spoke at both meetings. WWALS member Bill Worstell spoke at the Valdosta City Council meeting, as did J.D. Rice. (Meanwhile, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman and one other spoke to the Valdosta City Council about sewage.)

Here are LAKE videos of each speaker, with a few notes, followed by a video playlist. Continue reading

Groups want coal ash regulation –VDT 2017-03-07

The VDT article never said “landfill” even though landfills were one of the main topics of the bills and of the discussion, including specifically the active landfill in Lowndes County, which has already received coal ash from Tennessee and Florida. Maybe you’d like to come mention that to Valdosta City Council Thursday evening.

Daniel DeMersseman, Valdosta Daily Times, 7 March 2017, Groups want coal ash regulation,

VALDOSTA — Georgia Interfaith Power & Light recently sponsored a presentation on the dangers of improperly stored coal ash.

Members of GIPL, No Ash at All, and Suwanee Riverkeeper joined together to discuss proper coal ash storage.

Gretchen videoing and photographing
Picture by John S. Quarterman for WWALS Watershed Coalition, 2017-03-01.

“Coal ash contains Continue reading

Bad bill HB 316 SB 116 would take away stormwater permit revenue

If you want the Valdosta wastewater situation to be worse, let HB 316 SB 116 pass, taking away revenue for Valdosta or anybody upstream or down to control stormwater.

It turns out HB 316 was apparently from 2009.

The stormwater bill before the Georgia legislature this year (2017) is SB 116.

Here are the current GAWP talking points about SB 116, which you may notice also mention HB 316, which leads me to believe SB 116 is just HB 316 back again under another name.

Please Oppose Senate Bill 116
Georgia Association of Water Professionals

Senate Bill 116 would exempt “water-neutral sites”, defined as those properties designed to control runoff form a 25 year, 24-hour storm event in a manner consistent with the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual (GSMM), from paying stormwater user fees charged by local governments or authorities that have established stormwater utilities. Water-neutral sites, as defined in this bill, still discharge stormwater to the local drainage system, which the local government or authority is legally responsible for operating and maintaining.

Implications of HB 316: We ask you to consider the following far-reaching implications of the bill.

  1. Local Control. The State of Georgia should not interfere in how a local government operates a utility or charges its customers. This would be equivalent to the State saying how a local utility could charge (or not charge) for water or sewer services. If the General Assembly exempts “water-neutral properties” from paying fees for stormwater services, could they next exempt a defined class of customers from paying local water and sewer fees in the future?
  2. Economic Impact on Local Governments. This bill could have a devastating impact on local governments who are required to operate and maintain stormwater drainage systems for the public good and to protect the health, safety and welfare of their communities. “Water Neutral” properties are not actually water neutral because they still discharge stormwater runoff to the local drainage system thereby causing an impact. A local government still must bear the cost of maintaining the stormwater drainage system even if every property builds a detention pond to the 25 year, 24 hour storm event standard. The City of Griffin reports that the potential loss of revenue to their stormwater utility, should this bill pass, would be approximately 40% of their annual user fee revenue, thus crippling their stormwater utility and its ability to provide essential services.
  3. Public Safety. Stormwater utility revenues allow local governments to reduce flooding and replace failing infrastructure, including collapsing culverts under public roads. There is an unacceptable risk to public safety if local governments no longer have the ability to collect revenues to perform important and essential storm water management services.
  4. Existing Credits. Eligible properties with detention ponds are already offered user fee credits ranging from 30 — 50% from most stormwater utilities. This credit is offered in recognition of the reduced impact these properties have on the drainage system. However, the credit is not 100% because controlling the 25 year, 24-hour storm does not eliminate a property’s impact on the local drainage system; the customer still receives stormwater services.
  5. Customer Equity. Local governments are alone in their responsibility to manage stormwater drainage systems and operate stormwater management programs to protect life and property from flooding, and to protect local waterways from stormwater impacts so that the State’s waters remain fishable and swimmable for Georgians to enjoy. There is virtually no funding available from the State or Federal governments to assist local governments in carrying out this important charge. Thus, local governments have been forced to develop local financing mechanisms to provide sufficient revenue sources to carry out this responsibility. Allowing a contributor to the problem to be exempted from participating in paying a fair user fee for this service would be grossly unfair to the remainder of the paying customers and to the local government as well.

Here are all the Georgia state senators in WWALS watersheds.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

In addition to ACCG and GAWP, this bill is also opposed by the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC), including WWALS. Below are talking points from the ACCG website. Please contact your Georgia state legislators.

Please Oppose House Bill 316
Association County Commissioners of Georgia
Georgia Association of Water Professionals

House Bill 316 would exempt state government entities from paying local government stormwater utility charges. While specifically using the word “charges”, the proposed exemption appears to presume that the stormwater utility fee is a tax and not a fee for services. In presenting and promoting the bill, proponents may refer to these fees as a “rain tax”. However, in 2004, the Georgia Supreme Court specifically ruled in McLeod v. Columbia County that stormwater utility charges are, in fact, a fee for services, and not a tax. The State is exempt from taxes, but there is no legal or logical basis for the State to exempt itself from paying valid fees for actual services rendered.

Implications of HB 316: Continue reading

Coal ash protection legislation pending in Georgia legislature

The Georgia Water Coalition (of which WWALS is a partner) notes the city of Brunswick, Georgia passed a resolution agaionst coal ash 21 September 2016, and legislation is about to appear in the Georgia House of Representatives. There is already TVA and JEA coal ash in the Pecan Row Landfill in Lowndes County, just outside Valdosta, and in WWALS watersheds other landfills likely to be targetted are in Cook, Tift, Atkinson, Ben Hill, and Crisp Counties (see GWC map), all upstream of the Withlacoochee or Alapaha Rivers, and all upstream of the Suwannee River, all above the Floridan Aquifer from which we all drink. We don’t want the utility company coal ash problem exported to our landfills. The companies that produced this toxic pollutant should be responsible for disposing of it safely at their expense without foisting it on the rest of us.

Landfills Map
Coal Ash in Your District — Ash Ponds & Municipal Solid Waste, Published by the GA Water Coalition
See also the GWC position on coal ash.

WWALS recommends all Georgia legislators, especially those in WWALS watersheds, join in to prevent further coal ash contamination. See as an example the PR below by Rep. Jeff Jones of Brunswick, which concludes: Continue reading

WWALS receives grant for water conservation outreach to farmers and community

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WWALS receives grant for water conservation outreach to farmers and community (PDF)

Hahira, Georgia; December 27, 2016 — Local water conservation group WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) has received a grant of Just enough water here, 31.0016918, -83.4573364 $6,000 from the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC) to help groups in towns, counties, and countryside to draw the big picture of watershed conservation, as well as to help organize at least one grant from a different source to assist at least one farmer in erosion control.

The award contract of November 11, 2016, says Continue reading

WWALS against Sabal Trail in VDT 2016-11-18

“Demonstrators gathered to protest the Sabal Trail pipeline and participate in the “Dirty Dozen” waterways conference call.” VDT front page That was on the front page of the newspaper of record of the biggest city in the Suwannee RIver Basin. There’s a petition for Georgians to sign, lots of protests in Florida to assist with, and you can help us all watch Sabal Trail to catch their next violation.

Online last night, Derrek Vaughn, Valdosta Daily Times, 17 November 2016, WWALS Watershed Coalition hold demonstration,

WWALS Watershed Coalition sponsored the demonstration.

Members and demonstrators met in the median of Highway 84 at the Withlacoochee River Bridge to listen to the Georgia Water Coalition’s “Dirty Dozen 2016” conference call.

The “Dirty Dozen” list is an attempt to “put a spotlight on ongoing pollution problems, pending threats to Georgia’s water as well as state and federal policies and failures that ultimately harm — or could harm — Georgia property owners, downstream communities, fish and wildlife, hunters and anglers, and boaters and swimmers,’ according to organizers. Continue reading

GWC Dirty Dozen and Sabal Trail pipeline drilling mud leak on WALB 2016-11-16

People and news media turned out from Florida and Georgia at the Withlacoochee River US 84 bridge in cross-state-line solidarity about the Sabal Trail pipeline and its recent drilling mud leak. They heard the Georgia Water Coalition announce that Sabal Trail is, for the third year running, on the Dirty Dozen 2016.

Ashlyn Becton, WALB, 16 November 2016, Environmentalist raise awareness about Sabal Trail Pipeline,

Folks from North Florida and South Georgia held a protest at the Withlacoochee River Wednesday and listened to a news conference announcing the Georgia Water Coalition’s Dirty Dozen.

The report highlights the worst offenses and greatest threats to Georgia’s bodies of water.

And the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline is on the GWC Dirty Dozen 2016, as Chattahoochee, Flint, Withlacoochee Rivers and Floridan Aquifer: Gas pipeline company, federal agency run roughshod over state, local residents property rights, with this What Must Be Done: Continue reading