Tag Archives: Law

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

Florida Waterkeepers at PIEC 25 in Gainesville, FL 2019-02-08

Matanzas Riverkeeper Jen Lomberk, St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman, Miami Waterkeeper Staff Attorney Kelly Cox presented a panel on Keeping Watch Over Our Waters: Florida’s Riverkeepers, on the agenda for PIEC 25.

[Miami Waterkeeper attorney Kelly Cox]
Miami Waterkeeper attorney Kelly Cox

Also in the room were Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida in Gainesville, FL 2019-02-08-09

Update 2019-02-09: Pictures.

All the Waterkeepers of Florida are gathered today and tomorrow at the 25th Annual Public Interest Environmental Conference (PIEC) at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

PIEC 25 banner

On the agenda in the afternoon 2PM session today:

Keeping Watch Over Our Waters: Florida’s Riverkeepers Location: MLAC Courtroom Continue reading

Riverkeepers seek attorney’s fees for legal victory against FERC and Sabal Trail 2019-02-04

Some good news! Not only did Flint Riverkeeper, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, and Sierra Club win a historic landmark victory against Sabal Trail and FERC in August 2017, affecting all FERC pipeline and LNG export dockets ongoing: the Riverkeepers are entitled to attorneys fees!

Application and Argument, Letter

Despite FERC’s attempt to weasel out by trying to claim that case was not and “adversary adjudication.”, the Riverkeepers seek recovery of attorney’s fees in the amount of $192,437.42.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

The Riverkeepers letter

Filed with FERC 4 February 2019 as Continue reading

John S. Quarterman: Sewage spills in Georgia affecting Suwannee River basin, Gainesville Sun, 2019-01-31

Online today and in the paper Gainesville Sun this coming Sunday. To paddle the most-affected stretch of the Withlacoochee River, join us this Saturday morning.


A December upsurge of raw sewage spills from the city of Valdosta, Georgia, has a dozen downstream counties organized into a task force, demanding action from Florida state legislators. But what action?

I recommend first getting a grip on the extent of the problem, keeping that picture up to date and then funding fixes.

[Water]
Photo: John S. Quarterman of Sara Jay, Water Temperature, TGroupville Boat Ramp, Little River, 2019-01-06

Valdosta spilled not just twice, but two dozen times in December, totaling more than 6 million gallons of raw sewage. Spills also happened in Tifton, Quitman and Lowndes County, Georgia.

We know this because 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

Four months later, GA-PSC still investigating AGL pipeline Homervile explosion 2018-12-11

Two more months have passed, so I called Bill Edge to ask about progress on the GA-PSC’s investigation of the August 17, 2018, Homerville coffeeshop explosion resulting from AGL pipeline gas. Answer: still investigating, because so many parties are involved, and everyone has attorneys and disclosures to negotiate. He is quite aware many people would like to see a report.

I thanked him sincerely for his organization following up on this incident. He said it was their statutory duty. I said keep up the good work.

Meanwhile, here’s an example of the type of thing to expect:

Alleged Violation and Voluntary Contribution, Settlement Agreement

Whereas, AGL enters into this Settlement Agreement without admitting Continue reading

EPA considering abandoning Floridan Aquifer?

The new water rule EPA plans to propose may be much more about all our drinking water underground in Florida and south Georgia than about anybody’s private pond.

Stacey H. Mitchell, David H. Quigley and Bryan Williamson, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, 11 December 2018, United States: Dipping Its Toe In The Groundwater? Supreme Court Eyes Expedited Review For Clean Water Act Case,

Specifically, the Court aims to address a circuit split among the 4th, 5th and 9th Circuits in determining whether only direct discharges to “navigable waters” (rivers, lakes and other surface waters, for example) are covered or whether groundwater that is “hydrologically connected to surface water” is subject to Clean Water Act (CWA) pollution discharge requirements.2 Groundwater—that is, water held beneath the soil or in between rock structures—does not fall under CWA jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for many years, maintained that pollutants that flow with a direct and immediate hydrologic connection through groundwater into surface waters are properly regulated under the CWA.3 Environmentalists agree with EPA’s long-standing position, while many in industry say that the agency is reaching beyond its scope.

Surface water interchanges with groundwater all the time here in the southeast coastal plain, where we all drink with straws from the groundwater.


Figure from same USGS study as below.

This SCOTUS case appears to be related to the forthcoming EPA rule change proposal that has been all over the news lately. More from the same article: Continue reading

All settled with Sabal Trail without jury 2018-09-13

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Valdosta, GA, September 13, 2018 — This morning two landowners from Moultrie, Colquitt County, Georgia, and the Bell brothers of a subject property in Mitchell County, Georgia, all settled with Sabal Trail Transmission about payment for easements for a 36-inch natural gas pipeline through their land.

Defendant Jeb Bell said afterwards,

I am extremely unhappy, but such is life.

We fought as good as we could for as long as we could.

The defendants’ attorney Jonathan P. Waters had no comment on the confidential settlement of these cases.

These cases were originally filed by Sabal Trail Transmission against Georgia landowners in March 2016, invoking federal eminent domain supplied to Sabal Trail by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on February 2, 2016. The pipeline has since been built through the defendants’ land with no agreement and no payment.

Defendants Attorney Jonathan P. Waters, Attorneys
Defendants’ Attorney Jonathan P. Waters

Judge Clay D. Land, Chief U.S. District Judge, Middle District of Georgia, told the jury afterwards Continue reading