Tag Archives: Health

Georgia Department of Health can’t or won’t do as much as FDOH 2020-01-07

Georgia Department of Public Health (GA-DPH) was not informed by Valdosta of the December 2019 raw sewage spill; so far as I know, I was the first to tell DPH, as Suwannee Riverkeeper. Lowndes County Environmental Health did then offer free water well testing, for both Lowndes and Brooks Counties, Georgia.

However, DPH itself does not test river water, and was not asked by Valdosta to help advise the public of river contamination. DPH does not have authority to compell Valdosta to test or plant warning signs. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) does have such authority.

This is all in marked contrast to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), which was informed by Valdosta, did put out three sequential warnings, and has been testing the Withlacoochee River. Seems like we need to get some policies or laws changed in Georgia.

[DPH was not notified of Valdosta sewage spill]
DPH was not notified of Valdosta sewage spill

For his speedy and informative response, I’d like to thank Continue reading

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

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

Even filthier E. coli counts at Knights Ferry on Withlacoochee River 2019-12-24

Update 2019-12-28: Contamination apparently spread to Nankin Boat Ramp by December 26, and still no warning signs.

Suzy still saw no Valdosta warning signs yesterday at Knights Ferry or State Line, despite even higher E. coli counts at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River. There were still no warning signs there or at State Line Boat Ramp, even though the only source of contamination this bad that seems plausible is Valdosta’s record-largest raw sewaage spill. Why does Valdosta not put up warning signs for the public health situation it has apparently caused?

[Knights Ferry Boat Ramp]
Photo: Suzy Hall, of Petrifilms of water from Knights Ferry Boat Ramp 2019-12-24.

“I kinda want to call Knights TNTC (Too Many To Count), but I did my best and count 6,767/100 mL.” reports Suzy Hall on test results from a sample she took at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp yesterday, Tuesday, December 24, 2019.

That’s more than six times the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream alert level for E. coli. And we thought 4,966.67 from three days earlier was ridiculously high.

Please don’t let your children play in that water with these readings. Continue reading

E. coli at Troupville, Little River Confluence, and Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River 2019-12-21

2019-12-25: Even filthier E. coli counts at Knights Ferry on Withlacoochee River 2019-12-24.

The Withlacoochee River is still filthy with Valdosta’s record-largest raw sewage spill. Please don’t even touch the river water from Sugar Creek in Valdosta all the way to the Florida state line and beyond into Hamilton and Madison Counties, Florida. If you have a well near the Withlacoochee River in that area, there is free well testing available from Lowndes County (and maybe Brooks County), Georgia, and Hamilton and Madison Counties, Florida.

[Green at the Confluence]
Photo: Scotti Jay, Green at the Confluence, with Sara Jay preparing to test, 2019-12-21.

Slightly upstream from the Little River Confluence, Sara Jay tested Saturday and got 533 cfu/100 ml E. coli. This is in between the numbers she got a bit upstream at the GA 133 Withlacoochee Bridge, 633 last Tuesday and 433 on Thursday.

[Sugar Creek via Ga 133 to US 84]
Sugar Creek via Ga 133 to US 84, Withlacoochee River with the GA 133 bridge highlighted,
on the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

As reported yesterday, Saturday Suzy Hall saw 4,966 cfu/100 ml at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, which is up in the ranges of Continue reading

E. coli at Little River Confluence, Spook Bridge, and Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2019-12-21

2019-12-24: E. coli at Troupville, Little River Confluence, and Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River 2019-12-21.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, GA, Monday, December 23, 2019 — At Knights Ferry Boat Ramp Saturday Suzy Hall tested 4,966.67 cfu/100 ml E. coli, far higher than anything previously recorded there, and almost five times the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream alert level. There were still no warning signs, not at Knights Ferry, and not at State Line Boat Ramp, where Suzy Hall got 100 cfu/100 ml, when all our previous readings were zero (0).

“It appears that Valdosta’s record-largest wastewater has caused a public health emergency in the Withlacoochee River and Valdosta is not even warning people about it at river access locations,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Florida is being proactive; what is Valdosta doing? How about Lowndes Health? Lowndes County (didn’t cause this problem, but needs to help deal with it). GA-EPD? EPA? Statehouse and Congressional delegations? This report will go to all of them today.”

[Knights Ferry & State Line Ramps]
Photo: Suzy Hall, of her Petrifilms of water samples taken from the Withlacoochee River at Knights Ferry & State Line Boat Ramps.
Method: count blue dots with bubbles (E. coli colonies) on each plate.
Add the counts, divide by three, and multiply by 100, to get colony forming units (cfu) per 100 mililiter of water.

The Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Bacterial Monitoring manual says: Continue reading

Urge your Georgia state legislators to stop coal ash pollution: HB 93, 94 and SB 123

Crossover day is this Thursday, by which bills have to pass one part of the Georgia legislature to be considered in the other. Please contact your state legislators today to stop coal ash pollution!

Coal ash from the infamous Kingston, Tennessee coal ash pond dam break in 2008 was shipped to at least five landfills in south Georgia, including the old landfill in Lowndes County, which is in an aquifer recharge zone and a quarter mile uphill from the Withlacoochee River. That landfill also has coal ash from Jacksonville, Florida. We don’t need any more coal ash in any landfills in Georgia. The power companies that produced it need to store it safely on their own land.

TVA aerial image of Kingston Ash Slide 2008-12-23
TVA aerial image of Kingston Ash Slide 2008-12-23.

Please call your Georgia state legislators today, to support:

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