Tag Archives: Suwannee River

Clean Withlacoochee River Thursday for WWALS Boomerang Saturday 2020-10-22

You couldn’t ask for better water or weather conditions than for the WWALS Boomerang tomorrow (Saturday), from Georgia into Florida and back from State Line Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River.
wwals.net/pictures/2020-10-24–boomerang/

And for the rest of the Withlacoochee and probably the Suwannee River, too. Even the report we got of a spill Monday in Valdosta appears to have been a false alarm. All water quality test results are advisory, since conditions can change rapidly. But no significant rain is expected, so happy boating, swimming, and fishing this weekend, especially at State Line Boat Ramp!

[Chart, State Line, Boomerang, FL-6]
Chart, State Line, Boomerang, FL-6

The weather prediction at Clyattville, GA, is for 70 degrees at 9AM, and 80 at noon, partly cloudy, with little chance of rain. There’s also been little rain for a week, so nothing much has washed into the rivers.

Those pesky shoals should be easier this year. The water level yesterday at the USGS Quitman Gauge was 2.3′ (85.81 feet NAVD88). The Thursday before last year’s Boomerang, October 24, 2019, it was 1.65″ (85.15 feet NAVD88). So the Withlacoochee River is about 2/3 of a foot or 8 inches higher than it was last year.

All that plus clean river water! Continue reading

Lunch and drive by mine site near Okefenokee Swamp 2020-11-06

Since there are two weekend outings in the Okefenokee Swamp 7-8 November 2020, I suggested some paddlers may also want to drive by the proposed titanium mine site southeast of the Swamp. Kim Bednarek, Executive Director of Okefenokee Swamp Park, suggested we meet first at Lacy’s Kountry Store in Moniac, for lunch, talks, and discussion. She and Rena Ann Peck, Executive Director of Georgia River Network, will say a few words. Also saying a few words will be either Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman or WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. Possibly we will have another speaker.

[Moniac marked by green ellipse]
Moniac marked by green ellipse on the WWALS map of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail and the Okefenokee Swamp.

No doubt everybody will have plenty to discuss, considering the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers just abdicated oversight of streams near the mine site and Twin Pines Minerals says it will plow ahead yet TPM still needs five Georgia permits.

This is just a small, informal, side trip. We will only be able to see the mine site from the public highway. Yes, I did ask TPM if they would hold a tour for us, but they said they were only allowing employees and contractors on their site.

When: Noon, Friday, 6 November 2020.
Please come early so we can start at noon.

Where: Lacy’s Kountry Store, 389 GA-94, St George, GA 31562.
They have a wide selection of foods you can order.

GPS: 30.518918, -82.224829

Event: facebook

May I also recommend you read this book: Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land, by Janisse Ray. Continue reading

U.S. Army Corps abdicates at Okefenokee Swamp, but titanium miners still need Georgia permits 2020-10-19

Monday morning I heard from a mining source that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will soon announce that, due to federal rollback of the Waters of the U.S., the Corps no longer considers the streams next to the proposed mining site to be under Corps jurisdiction, even though they are far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Alligator
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp

Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) lost no time announcing the next day that they intended to plow ahead. Molly Samuel, WABE, 20 October 2020, Proposed Mine Near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp Gets A Major Hurdle Removed.

But TPM admits they still need five Georgia permits. So let’s try to stop those.

As we’ve been saying for a long time, please write to state and federal regulators, to the Georgia governor and the Georgia DNR board, and to state and federal elected officials. See below for how.

Also, there’s an election going on. As an IRS 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit, WWALS can’t tell you what candidate or party to vote for. But we can ask you to vote for the environment.

If the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers, is not protected, what is? If you live in south Georgia or north Florida, your drinking water probably comes from the Floridan Aquifer or groundwater above it, all of which can be adversely affected by strip mining or other pollution.

Please vote for the environment.

Georgians, don’t forget to vote for Amendment 1 while you’re voting.

Russ Bynum, Associated Press, 21 October 2020, Trump environmental rollback spurs mining near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp.

The Army Corps reassessed certain wetlands at Twin Pines’ request after Trump’s new clean-water rules took effect in June. The agency confirmed Tuesday that, under the rules change, the tract would no longer require a federal permit.

“This property now has Continue reading

Adel spilled ten days ago; did not show up in downstream water quality data 2020-10-10

Adel, Georgia, spilled 7,500 gallons of raw sewage from its West Ninth Street lift station ten days ago, according to GA-EPD’s Sewage Spills Report today.

The spill occured on Saturday, October 10, 2020. Apparently there were no detectable effects downstream at Valdosta and below, but we’d still prefer Adel not to spill raw sewage.

[Adel spill]
Adel spill

It’s about 34 waterway miles downstream to US 41 on the Withlacoochee River, which is the first place for which we have data. On the Monday two days after the spill, Valdosta did see elevated Fecal coliform at that North Valdosta Road location, but E. coli was within limits. Those US 41 readings were actually lower than for the Friday the day before the Adel spill. Same story farther downstream at GA 133 and US 84: lower Valdosta test results Monday than Friday.

Downstream from US 84, all results by Valdosta and Madison Health into Florida were good for Monday and the rest of that week. So apparently the Adel spill had no detectable effect downstream at Valdosta and farther. See the Continue reading

Suwannee paddle for Visit Suwannee County + FL 6 & State Line 2020-10-16

The movie extras took a side trip up Sugar Creek on a 1.5 mile paddle down the Suwannee River from Suwannee Springs, after the old 93rd Drive bridge, pursued by the Suwannee County Sheriff, to the Suwannee Canoe Outpost at the Music Park.

[Sheriff, Suwannee Riverkeeper banner, Gretchen]
Sheriff, Suwannee Riverkeeper banner, Gretchen, departing Suwannee Springs beach

Thanks to Charissa Setzer of Visit Suwannee County, Florida for the invitation for paddlers to be videoed for a tourism advertisement.

Thanks to Bret Miller of NWXpeditions and Mylinda Greene for the mini-distanced-shuttle. Thanks to Dawn and Lisa of Madison Outpost Adventures for joining us, along with Steven E. Scott of Luxury Lawns, Gretchen Quarterman, and John S. Quarterman.

NWX and MOA along with VSU CORE are outfitter sponsors of the WWALS Boomerang paddle race from Georgia into Florida and back, coming up next Saturday, October 24, 2020, at State Line Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River.

[Third Annual WWALS Boomerang]
Third Annual WWALS Boomerang

Thanks to Steve of Suwannee Canoe Outpost for the take-out hospitality.

Also thanks to the Sheriff’s deputy for helping carry my boat up at Suwannee Canoe Outpost.

See also facebook pictures by

All us paddlers are now officially models, since we each signed a model release.

Suwannee Springs

Click on any small picture to see a larger one. Continue reading

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!

Who’s the Chair and the Board? Land purchase and toll roads @ SRWMD 2020-10-13

On tomorrow morning’s 9AM Board Consent Agenda is acquisition of ten acres on the Withlacoochee River in Hamilton County near Georgia. The toll roads (M-CORES) are on the Workshop agenda for after the board meeting, along with Water Quality Review, Poe Springs, and Rum Island Park. There’s nothing about Nestlé, but that doesn’t have to stop you talking about it in Public Comments.

News reports say seven of nine positions have been filled, but their own Current Governing Board Members web page only shows five for the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) Board. That page says Virginia H. Johns is still the Chair, but last month she handed the gavel to Richard Schwab, even though he is still listead as the Vice Chair.

[Board, Drufner Tract]
Board, Drufner Tract

You can attend tomorrow morning’s meeting from anyway. If you want to speak, you must sign up on the public comment form as well as for the webinar and the voice call-in number.

The Meeting will be conducted via GoTo Webinar for Presentations Only

GoTo Webinar Link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6241426543382591502

Separate Call-In Number for Audio

Toll Free 1-888-585-9008 – Conference Room Number: 704-019-452 #

Public Comment Form Link: www.MySuwanneeRiver.com/Comments

Who’s the Chair? Who’s the Board?

Interesting note in the minutes from the 3PM September 8, 2020, meeting: Continue reading

Quitman, GA, April 2020 spill cause of contamination in Withlacoochee River? 2020-04-24

The recent Georgia spills are now in the WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality data.

Other than the very large December 2019 Valdosta spill, none of the spills (except one) obviously correlate with high E. coli as tested.

Which one? The April 24, 2020, Quitman spill, which may have been seen four days later at Running Springs on the Suwannee River.

[Withlacoochee, Quitman spill, Running Springs, Suwannee]
Withlacoochee, Quitman spill, Running Springs, Suwannee

Continue reading

Cleanups, Testing, WWALS Boomerang on Steve Nichols radio show 2020-10-06

Steve Nichols and Suwannee Riverkeeper will ask again: does anybody want to drink dirty water? That’s 8:30 AM tomorrow, October 6, 2020, on 105.9 FM WVGA. In addition to water quality testing, we’ll also discuss the big cleanup coming up this Saturday on three rivers and many creeks, and the Third Annual WWALS Boomerang paddle race from Georgia into Florida and back. Plus some other outings.

[Water Quality Testing]
Water Quality Testing 2020-08-18

WVGA FM says:

The top rated morning talk show in south Georgia, Steve Nichols offers both sides of every story from Berrien County to the Beltway, and everywhere in between.

You can listen at 105.9 FM, on the WVGA Live apps, through ValdostaToday.com (link on front page), on Alexa devices, or you can stream in-studio video at the official Morning Drive Facebook page.

When: 8:30 AM, Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Where: 105.9 FM WVGA (see above for how to listen)

Event: facebook

Thanks to Steve Nichols for helping promote the Third Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, which went very well.

On Saturday, October 10, 2020, in conjunction with Lowndes County, WWALS will be doing a three-location cleanup at Troupville Boat Ramp on the Little River, on Sugar Creek down to the Withlacoochee River, and at Naylor Boat Ramp on the Alapaha River, plus Valdosta is organizing several creek cleanups.
http://wwals.net/?p=53557

[Flyer: Cleanup on three rivers, many creeks]
Flyer: Cleanup on three rivers, many creeks

On Saturday, October 24, 2020, there’s the Third Annual WWALS Boomerang paddle race from Georgia into Florida and back.

Tickets to the WWALS Boomerang are $20 online through Ocotber 15, then $30 at the event.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wwals-boomerang-paddle-race-2020-tickets-118844038719?aff=efbeventtix

For much more, follow this link: wwals.net/pictures/2020-10-24–boomerang/ Continue reading

Sewage spills, Suwannee River Basin, Dec. 2019 – Sept. 2020

Rochelle, Ashburn, Tifton, Adel, Moody AFB, Valdosta, and Quitman all spilled sewage into the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia from December 2019 through September 2020. But only one of those spills since December is likely to explain any contamination we’ve been seeing on the Withlacoochee River.

[Little, New, Withlacoochee, Summary, Alapaha River]
Little, New, Withlacoochee, Summary, Alapaha River

Yes, there were also some spills in Florida in the Suwannee River Basin, but those are actually harder to interpret, and they were mostly small, so they will have to wait.

At least Florida lets people sign up for pollution notices by county as they happen. Georgia has no such signup. So I’ve modified the scripts WWALS uses to display changes in the Georgia Sewage Spills Report to also send me an email alert.

Here are the Georgia spills, where, what streams they went into, and how far upstream that was: Continue reading