Tag Archives: history

Last day to comment against M-CORES, and NRTR publishes analysis of comments 2020-10-14

Florida has a billion-dollar budget shortfall, yet the toll road task forces are still reporting go-aheads while finding no need for their destructive projects. Today is the last comment day to tell the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) what you think about that. Plus today you can listen to the No Roads to Ruin Coalition spell out the overwhelming public opposition to this toll roads boondoggle.

How to comment to FDOT about M-CORES:

  1. FDOT.Listens@dot.state.fl.us
  2. or use this comment form:
    https://floridamcores.com/#contact-us

Just like SH 130 in Texas, these Florida toll roads would be broke from the start, while sucking up funds that should go to pandemic relief and to conserving Florida’s natural environment, including regular, frequent, closely-spaced water quality testing on all of Florida’s rivers. Florida should be doing those things, not risking the Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers, their springs, agriculture, forests, swamps, and the Floridan Aquifer for unnecessary toll roads.

[Florida Suncoast Conector and Texas SH 130: broke from the start]
Florida Suncoast Conector and Texas SH 130: broke from the start

Also today, the No Roads To Ruin (NRTR) coalition, of which Suwannee Riverkeeper is a charter member, will release an analysis of public comments.

After 15 months of public meetings and collecting public comment in multiple formats for the three M-CORES task forces, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has yet to provide, to the task force members or the public, a complete record and accounting of public comment submissions.

To rectify this situation, the No Roads to Ruin Coalition has gathered, categorized, and will share and summarize those public comments, along with the obvious probable reasons for FDOT’s lack of transparency.

WHAT: No Roads to Ruin Coalition Zoom press conference and Facebook Live event

WHEN: October 14, 2020 at 10:30 to 11:00 a.m.

WHO: Jon Bleyer, Progress Florida Online Communications Specialist, Ryan Smart, Florida Springs Council Executive Director, and volunteer “comment counters” from across the state

WHERE: Facebook Live: www.facebook.com/noroadstoruin

Suwannee Riverkeeper has signed on to an NRTR letter against M-CORES, as has Waterkeepers Florida on behalf of all 14 Waterkeepers of Florida.

For why, you need go no farther than The Suncoast Corridor Task Force’s own Study Area Overview:

[SCC MCORES-Draft-Task-Force-Report-Sections-9.28.20-0009]
SCC MCORES-Draft-Task-Force-Report-Sections-9.28.20-0009
PDF

The predominately rural counties located within the Suncoast Corridor study area contain natural resources, landscapes, and public lands that have been highly attractive to residents and year-round visitors for decades. This area has many unique features and natural resources including rivers, springs, wetlands, aquifer recharge areas, coastal areas, conservation areas, state parks, and agricultural lands. Some notable resources include the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve, the Flint Rock and Aucilla Wildlife Management Areas, the Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers, Blue Springs, Fanning Springs, Crystal River, and the Goethe State Forest. The study area also contains numerous large acreage conservation easements. These areas support significant fish, wildlife, and plant populations including threatened and endangered species such as the West Indian manatee, the Florida scrub-jay, and the gopher tortoise. The study area also includes an abundance of prime farmlands and agricultural properties that serve both economic and environmental functions in addition to Spring Protection and Recharge Areas, prospective Florida Forever Lands on the current priority lists for acquisition, and Florida Ecological Greenways Network critical linkages.

Why would we want to risk all that for an unnecessary toll road?

Even the Suncoast Connector Task Force’s own report admits that the public comments were overwhelmingly against that toll road:

A summary of the most common comments/themes received from the public are included below.

  • Concern for impacts to wildlife habitat (946 comments)
  • Concern for impacts to property and rural quality of life (783 comments)
  • Support to expand, improve, and maintain existing roads (421 comments)
  • Need to improve and protect water resources and the aquifer (421 comments)
  • Concern over project cost (367 comments)
  • Need for protection and enhancement of conservation lands (356 comments)
  • Support the need for jobs, economic development and business enhancements; but concern over potential negative economic impacts (269 comments)
  • Concern over the cost of tolls (256 comments)
  • Concern for impacts to wetlands (169 comments)
  • Concern for increased water, ground, and air pollution (147 comments)
  • Need for hurricane evacuation (144 comments)
  • Concern over location/project alignment or route (137 comments)
  • Support for multi-modal/mass transit (144 comments)
  • Need for broadband (117 comments)

As many of us have pointed out, you don’t need a toll road to distribute broadband to rural areas.

Local solar panels with battery backup and more hurricane shelters make a lot more sense and would be far less expensive than a toll road encouraging mass evacuation.

Also remember the Northern Turnpike Connector toll road boondoggle overlaps the Suwannee River Basin in Levy County.

Please comment today!

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

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

Tabled by SRWMD: Seven Rivers permit until Nestle co-applicant 2020-08-11

On a motion (by Don Quincey) seconded (I think by Virginia Sanchez), with only one dissenting vote (Richard Schwab), the SRWMD board voted to table the Seven Springs permit application for six months, because they want Nestlé to be a co-applicant.

They do not want the permit to go back to DOAH; they want it to come back to SRWMD.

[SRWMD Board and Nestle (Seven Springs) permit map]
SRWMD Board and Nestle (Seven Springs) permit map
SRWMD Governing Board, l-r, Donald J. Quincey, Jr. Vice Chair; Virginia Sanchez; Richard Schwab, Treasurer (voted nay); Gary F. Jones; Charles Keith; Virginia H. Johns, Chair.

Before they voted, they discussed that they were not in any way disparaging the efforts of SRWMD staff. The lack of Nestlé as co-applicant was the primary reason. A secondary reason was the lack of transparency. For example, there had been no public hearing, and while there were supposedly hundreds of people listening, nobody could see them.

Speaking of transparency, I had to ask to find out who made the motion, who seconded, and who voted nay. Fortunately, the staffer taking names during the fifteen minute recess for people to have sign up for public comment knew 2 out of 3. It’s not a very transparent process when the public doesn’t know who did what. Somebody else also asked could each SRWMD board member say who they were, or maybe the chair could.

Plus, the point of the WWALS letter to SRWMD this morning remains: without a SRWMD board member for the Santa Fe River, approval of this permit would be taxation without representation.

It is odd that Nestlé is not already a co-applicant, since in the board packet for today’s meeting there are 12 pages of Nestlé documents, starting with NWNA Water Consumption Estimates. Continue reading

No water taxation without representation: WWALS to SRWMD against Nestle permit 2020-08-11

Suwannee Riverkeeper wrote to SRWMD this morning about the proposed water withdrawal permit for Nestlé near Ginnie Springs on the Santa Fe River, “This permit would be taxation without representation of river, spring, and aquifer water.

“The SRWMD board should refuse to hear any water withdrawal permit requests in the Santa Fe River Basin, or in the Upper Suwannee Basin (including the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers) until the governor fills the corresponding vacant SRWMD Board seats.”

You can still attend this morning’s 9AM SRWMD board meeting in which the Seven Rivers water withdrawal permit for Nestlé will be heard.

[WWALS to SRWMD: no water taxation without representation]
WWALS to SRWMD: no water taxation without representation
PDF

The Letter

Continue reading

Suwannee Riverkeeper asks Georgia EPD to require Valdosta to do better about its record sewage spill 2019-12-17

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, December 19, 2019 — Compelled by the severity of Valdosta’s record raw sewage spill and the expenses and stigma incurred nearby and downstream, Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition has sent a letter requesting ten enforcment actions to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD). WWALS member Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Florida, summed it up: “As a person living downstream on the Withlacoochee River in Florida, I feel shat upon by Valdosta over and over. I cannot drink the water from my well. I worry about the health of the river itself and the animals that live in it and drink from it. We in Florida were patient while Valdosta was improving their wastewater plant, which apparently was not adequate since we still have spills when it rains heavily. But this time it was not a rain event. It was gross negligence. I am out of patience. I believe it is time for legal action.”

The Suwannee Riverkeeper letter notes GA-EPD already has a legal action against Valdosta, a Consent Order. WWALS asks GA-EPD to use its enforcement power to require notification, water quality testing, education, and plans and procedures not only for preventing such spills but also for tracking them as they travel down our creeks and rivers and for remediation of effects on wells and reputation.

[2019-12-17--WWALS-GA-EPD-Valdosta-sewage-0001]
2019-12-17–WWALS-GA-EPD-Valdosta-sewage-0001

“Valdosta says it does what GA-EPD tells it to do, so we’re asking GA-EPD to tell them,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Today we’re forwarding the letter to Continue reading

Please deny and review Nestlé water withdrawal permits –WWALS to SRWMD 2019-12-09

Sent via email and filed online today. See also PDF.

You can still send in your own comment or come to the SRWMD Board meeting tomorrow morning, 9 AM, Tuesday, December 10, 2019.


December 9, 2019

To: Hugh Thomas, Executive Director
   Suwannee River Water Management District
   9225 Co Rd 49, Live Oak, FL 32060
   Hugh.Thomas@srwmd.org
   386-362-1001

Cc: Lindsey Garland
   Public Communications Coordinator
   SRWMD
   Lindsey.Garland@srwmd.org
   

[Please Deny Seven Springs permit renewal, Ginnie Springs, Santa Fe River]
Please Deny Seven Springs permit renewal, Ginnie Springs, Santa Fe River

Re: Please deny and review Nestlé water withdrawal permits

Director Thomas,

Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition asks the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) to act for the public good by denying the Seven Springs Water Company permit renewal request at Ginnie Springs on the Santa Fe River, and by reviewing the Nestlé permit for Madison Blue Springs on the Withlacoochee River, among others.

Please Deny Seven Springs permit renewal, Ginnie Springs, Santa Fe River

Continue reading

Oppose Nestle water from Ginnie Springs and Madison Blue Spring @ SRWMD 2019-12-10

You can help oppose Nestlé’s water withdrawals from the Floridan Aquifer, at the next Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) board meeting in Live Oak.

You can sign one of many petitions, such as one by SumOfUs.

Even better, you can come object to that extension. I ask people to come to every SRWMD board meeting, and maybe you can make this one.

Best, you can file a comment with SRWMD.

When: 9:00 AM, Tuesday, December 20 10, 2019

Where: SRWMD Headquarters, 9225 County Road 49, Live Oak, FL 32060-7056

What: SRWMD Board meeting

You can also ask SRWMD to review Nestlé’s withdrawal permit at Madison Blue Spring on the Withlacoochee River.

These are Nestlé’s landholdings next to Madison Blue Spring, according to the Madison County Property Appraiser:

[Nestle-madison-blue-spring]

For comparison, this little bit on the Withlacoochee River is Madison Blue Spring State Park, smaller than Nestlé’s main bottling plant. Continue reading

Do not allow Twin Pines to wreak havoc on Okefenokee –Robert L. Nutter 2019-11-06

“Just imagine driving up to an entrance to the swamp and seeing nothing but a barren, parched, and arid dead zone,” wrote a local citizen in the Charlton County Chronicle.

You can still comment to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or write your own letter to the editor.

[WC6165, 22:38:58]
Chemours North Maxville Mine, Baker County, Florida.
Photo: Jim Tatum for WWALS on Southwings flight, pilot Allen Nodorft 2019-08-24.

Do not allow Twin Pines to wreak havoc on Okefenokee

Dear Editor, Continue reading

No mining guarantees, and leave the Okefenokee alone –Local citizens in Charlton County Herald 2019-10-30

Local citizens consider the full page ad by the miners to be fighting words. They see the miners can provide no guarantees, so they should leave the Okefenokee Swamp alone, and the rivers that run from it, too.

You can still comment to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or write your own letter to the editor.

[River Styx & Okefenokee NWR --Wayne Morgan 2019-10-05]
River Styx & Okefenokee NWR from above Twin Pines Minerals mine site Photo: Wayne Morgan for WWALS on Southwings flight, pilot Allen Nodorft 2019-10-05

Leave it this way and leave it alone

Dear Editor,

As a family with a long history in this area, it is imperative that Continue reading

Please deny Georgia Power rate, signal get on with renewable energy –WWALS to GA-PSC 2019-11-05

Testimony sent as PDF yesterday, for the Georgia Power rate hike Public Hearings continuing today at GA-PSC.

[2016 Peak Day Marginal Costs]
2016 Peak Day Marginal Costs


November 5, 2019

To:

Jason Shaw, Commissioner, District 1

Georgia Public Service Commission

244 Washington Street, SW

Atlanta GA, 30334-9052

jshaw@psc.ga.gov

Re: Docket 42516 Georgia Power Company’s 2019 Rate Case

Commissioner Shaw,

It was good to meet with you Thursday.

I have not met anyone unaffiliated with the electric power industry who supports a rate hike for Georgia Power, especially not a mandatory connection fee. Many people around here are already struggling to balance electric bills, grocery bills, and gas bills. A mandatory connection fee would most greatly affect those least able to afford it. Despite Georgia Power’s arguments, the beneficiaries of such a rate hike would not be its customers, rather its investors, following a playbook spelled out by the electric utility industry think tank Edison Electricity Institute back in 2013.

I urge the Georgia Public Service Commission to reject Georgia Power’s request for a connection fee raise, or at the least to make it as minimal as possible. Georgia Power as a regulated public utility should be “A Citizen Wherever We Serve,” not an agent for its investors to get more profit at the expense of its customers.

[Urge reject connection fee raise]
Urge reject connection fee raise

It is not surprising that Georgia Power is in need of funds, due to Southern Company’s failing Big Bet on Continue reading