Tag Archives: John Gayle

Videos: Florida Counties meet Valdosta about sewage in rivers and wells 2019-04-10

Update 2019-04-13: Added Task Force Resolution.

Everyone in the dozen downstream Florida counties wants to help Valdosta finish fixing its sewage problems, and all were impressed with the thoroughness of the presentations by Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse. There was even an offer to contact federal representatives and agencies from the elephant in the room, Ken Cornell of Alachua County, which contains half the population of the dozen Task Force Counties (and twice the population of Valdosta and Lowndes County),

[Ken Cornell, Alachua County, offers assistance]
Ken Cornell, Alachua County, offers assistance

Mayor John Gayle said “Valdosta is privileged to be a regional city”, serving eighteen counties and benefitting from sales taxes of all those who shop in Valdosta, and later offered assurances that Valdosta was doing everything it could.

[Assurances --Mayor John Gayle]
Assurances –Mayor John Gayle

They could answer the question from Beth Burnham of Hamilton County about reporting times: less than 24 hours to the state of Georgia.

[Hamilton County Commission District 1 Beth Burnham]
Hamilton County Commission District 1 Beth Burnham

Nonetheless Continue reading

The rest of the Valdosta wastewater story at SRWMD 2019-02-12

Valdosta Utilities naturally painted as rosy a picture as possible, and newspapers have limited space, so here is the rest of the story about Valdosta wastewater at the Suwannee River Water Management District board meeting last Tuesday. SRWMD Chair Virginia H. Johns understands the stigma, and Board Member Virginia Sanchez spelled it out:

SRWMD Chair Virginia H. Johns

“You don’t want to swim in a little sewage versus a lot of sewage either. Both of them are bad. A spill is bad.”

Featured in this post, drawing from the WWALS videos of all the relevant speakers, are Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse, who talked about the catch basin Valdosta is digging, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, who filled in many pieces omitted by Valdosta and FDEP, and Hamilton County resident Jim McBrayer, who got the attention of the SRWMD board by saying there was E. coli in his well and SRWMD should know where it came from, plus especially the very participatory SRWMD board, who made it pretty clear to FDEP they wanted data by their next meeting, and they wanted Valdosta to move along in fixing their problems in less than a hundred years.

Let’s not forget Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, who pointed out something Valdosta doesn’t want to hear: it’s the stigma of sewage spills that is the big problem they are causing. For sure we need to find out what the specific health and other effects are of Valdosta sewage and other contamination on river water and nearby wells. But the stigma of Valdosta sewage goes far beyond that.

Darryl Muse, Utilities Director, Valdosta

In the WWALS video, Continue reading

Coal Ash, Trust Funds, and Water Quality Testing at Lowndes County Bird Supper in Atlanta 2019-02-13

Last night Georgia legislators from all over the state, including numerous committee chairs, feasted on quail supplied by Lowndes County and Valdosta in the annual Bird Supper, a six-decade tradition of local lobbying in the Georgia state capitol.

Packed house, Inside

I thanked Jeff Jones (District 167) for his new coal ash bills, and reminded other legislators to vote for them this year, like they did his earlier ones last year: Continue reading

Wastewater at Valdosta City Council, Winter 2018-2019

While the Rivers Task Force of the dozen downstream Florida counties is looking for something to do to help, Valdosta clearly hasn’t yet done enough to stop its sewage spills, but they are doing more. Here’s some context that may indicate what might help. Spoiler: water quality monitoring, funding for further fixes, and enforcement if necessary. Unless raw sewage spills really are what Valdosta wants to be known for in Tallahassee and Atlanta.

Totals, Table
See Valdosta December 2018 sewage and Hamilton County, FL legislative delegation 2019-01-16″>

Also: come on up and talk to the Valdosta City Council. Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson did, and it got their attention. They keep hearing from me for years now, and it helps to see somebody directly affected downstream come up and speak.

This post is mostly about two Valdosta City Council meetings, that included much discussion of the recent Valdosta wastewater spills, on on Continue reading

Paddle Race, Film festival, Songwriting Contest, and Water Trails @ VCC 2018-04-05

The audience was amused at the thought of the Valdosta City Council racing at Reed Bingham, or of any of them writing songs. But it could happen! And any of them can come on down to the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Valdosta.

You’ve already seen the videos of the two resolutions, for the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT) and the Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT). Here are videos of three WWALS members thanking Valdosta Mayor and Council for those, plus three festivals. We call WWALS a coalition because many people are involved, from many backgrounds, doing many different things to conserve and advocate for our watersheds being swimmable, fishable, and at least our well water drinkable.

WWALS Watershed Coalition --jsq, Stills

There’s a playlist at the end.

Video: Valdosta resolution for Alapaha River Water Trail 2018-04-05

Not bad for a spring break agenda: Valdosta also passed a resolution for the Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT), introduced by City Manager Mark Barber, moved by Council Vivian Miller-Cody, seconded by Tim Carroll, and approved unanimously.

Movie: 4.c. ARWT Resolution (2.7M), 4. Resolutions

Here’s the video: Continue reading

Valdosta passed resolution for Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail 2018-04-05

As scheduled, the resolution was introduced by Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber, moved by Council Vivian Miller-Cody, seconded by Tim Carroll, and approved unanimously. Mayor John Gayle then volunteered that despite the empty seats, which he attributed to spring break, they did have a quorum with four Council members and the Mayor.

Here’s the video, followed by the resolution: Continue reading

Gornto Road, Valdosta, access to Withlacoochee River 2018-01-24

It could use some markers to keep people on it and off private property, and maybe some loaner kayak wheels, but there is public access to the Withlacoochee River off of Gornto Road in Valdosta.

Tea-colored water, 16:22:37,, Withlacoochee River
Tea-colored water, 16:22:37,, Withlacoochee River 30.8623900, -83.3224600

And a very nice blackwater river it is. Continue reading

Biggest city in Suwannee River Basin passed resolution for dedicated state fees @ VCC 2018-01-25

Hear it from the Mayor, Acting City Manager, and Council of Valdosta, Georgia, and just in time for them and the Lowndes County Chairman, Manager, and Commissioners to attend their annual Bird Supper in Atlanta to discuss it with state legislators: fees collected by the state of Georgia should be dedicated to the purposes for which they were collected. Below are LAKE videos are from the Valdosta City Council, Thursday, January 25, 2018, including a few words I said about which local governments already passed this resolution.

VDT corrects Valdosta drinking water story 2017-05-17

Congratulations City of Valdosta! You got the VDT to issue a correction for that one sentence a week ago, even though the VDT blamed it on “a source cited in the article”, and came up with yet another number of violations that doesn’t match what NRDC says nor what Valdosta says, with still no specific comparisons to other local governments. So it’s a correction that doesn’t resolve anything. And you’re not helping your credibility problem, Valdosta, by quibbling over a single digit while neglecting to mention an entire year in which you did have drinking water violations that match what’s in NRDC’s map.

Correction, red faced non-admission
Valdosta Daily Times, page 3A, 17 May 2017

CORRECTION

An article headlined “Report. Georgia 5th in drinking water violations,” published 1n the May 10 edition of The Valdosta Daily Times contained an error that originated from a source cited in the article.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division said in an email, “Valdosta had six violations: two total coliform violations (one monitoring violation and one MCL exceedance) and four haloacetic acid violations (four consecutive quarters of a running annual average MCL exceedance from one sample location). These violations have all been resolved in an old database that preceded our current database. This actual violation was resolved in 1998.”

This correction is on page 3A, below the Crime Report. It does have a big red CORRECTION header, but Continue reading