Tag Archives: Withlacoochee River

Videos: Florida Rivers Task Force about Valdosta Wastewater 2019-02-28

Update 2019-03-17: Valdosta has agreed to meet with the dozen downstream Florida counties, elected officials to elected officials, 6PM, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, at Valdosta City Hall Annex, and “the public will have an opportunity to speak.”

A dozen downstream Florida counties want to meet with the Valdosta City Council, elected officials to elected officials, to present a resolution they passed urging the states of Florida and Georgia to do something about Valdosta’s sewage, and to discuss raising funds to help Valdosta fix its sewage infrastructure, so the Florida counties can restore their eco-tourism on the Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Suwannee, and Santa Fe Rivers. Restoring eco-tourism came up again and again. It’s not just the actual sewage, which never gets to Taylor or Alachua Counties. It’s the stigma of sewage in the rivers. Fixing Valdosta’s spills and regular testing to find other sources are needed.

Valdosta said no. So delegates from all dozen counties are going to come to the March 21, 2019, Valdosta City Council Regular Session and speak in Citizens to Be Heard, three minutes each, some time after 5:30 PM that Thursday evening.

[Movie: Approval of Resolution (115M)]
Movie: Approval of Resolution (115M) Task Force, clockwise from front: Scott R. Koons (NCFRPC), Ken Cornell (Alachua County), Anthony Adams (Lafayette County), Don Hale (Suwannee County), Gene Higginbotham (Dixie County), Kenrick Thomas (Gilchrist County), Danny Riddick (Bradford County), Thomas Demps (Taylor County), Beth Burnam (Hamilton County), Rick Davis (Chair, Madison County)

Apparently Valdosta told them that Valdosta doesn’t do workshops or joint meetings, which is curious, since Valdosta’s city council members a month earlier met with council members from all the other Lowndes County cities and the Lowndes County Commissioners about their Service Delivery Strategy, which includes wastewater. Last year, members of Valdosta Mayor and Council met with elected officials Continue reading

WWALS booth at Azalea Festival, Valdosta, GA 2019-03-09-10

Come help WWALS celebrate spring with 30,000 of our south Georgia and north Florida friends, at the Azalea Festival in Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia. We will have information about our outings and advocacy (yes, including Valdosta wastewater), and pictures for sale Gretchen took of our rivers, plus a kayak raffle.

When: 10AM-6PM Saturday 9 March 2019
10AM-5PM Sunday 10 March 2019

Volunteer: WWALS members can help at the table!

Where: Drexel Park
30.846771, -83.285066
Patterson at W. Brookwood Drive, Valdosta, GA
(across Patterson from VSU)
That’s on One Mile Branch, which flows into Sugar Creek, then the Withlacoochee River, the Suwannee, to the Gulf.
Drexel Park is upstream of Wainwright Drive, where WWALS did a cleanup in November 2017, and Valdosta spilled 218,075 gallons of raw sewage. You can help with cleanups or water quality testing.

Event: facebook, meetup

Shirley, Gretchen, pictures are a hit, Volunteers
Photo: John S. Quarterman, of Shirley Kokidko and Gretchen Quarterman at Azalea Festival 2018.

What: Our Story, Azalea Festival,

Approximately 30,000 attendees from all over the Southeast come to Valdosta to enjoy Continue reading

Second Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2019-08-24

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, February 27, 2019 — WWALS is pleased to announce the M.C. for the Second Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest will be well-known radio host Chris Beckham. Once again, the Contest will be at The Salty Snapper on Gornto Road in Valdosta, Georgia. This year it will be 1-5PM, Saturday, August 24, 2019. Submissions will open in April, for selection of half a dozen finalists by the Contest Committee, and judging of the finalists by three judges at the Contest.

Emmett Carlisle performing at the 2018 Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest
Emmett Carlisle performing at the 2018 Contest.

“August is an excellent month for this Contest, because we have inside air conditioning, and there are no competing outdoor music events in August,” said Laura D’Alisera, last year’s winner, and this year a member of the Contest Committee.

“The Salty Snapper is great for music: cozy but lots of space. Thanks to manager Justin Stephens for his enthusiastic support,” said Scotti Jay, Chair of the WWALS Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest Committee.

“Everybody had a fine time last year, and we have six more songs about the Suwannee River, or its tributaries the Withlacoochee, Little, and Alapaha. Move over Stephen C. Foster!” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

Submissions can be songs about Continue reading

Florida buys Hardee Spring on the Withlacoochee River

Florida bought second magnitude Hardee Spring, with its karst window and 1.6 miles of Withlacoochee River frontage!

Map: River Error Farms Inc., Hardee Spring, Hamilton County, FL
Map from SRWMD PARCEL ASSESSMENT SUMMARY.

The new Florida state administration has done some surprising things, such as revoking dozens of appointments by the previous governor, but this one is really surprising. I’m pretty sure I’ve recommended this purchase to the Suwannee River Water Management (SRWMD) Board. SRWMD had written up a property assessment on it years ago, but I thought the asking price of $8.5 million for River Error Farm was prohibitive. Apparently the state got Hardee Spring for less than a quarter of that price.

DeSantis, Florida Cabinet approve $2.54 million in Florida Forever land acquisition, Samantha J. Gross, Tampa Bay Times, 26 February 2019,

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Cabinet Tuesday voted to spend Continue reading

Resolution pending by Rivers Task Force in Lake City meeting 2019-02-28

Received Thursday. The Rivers Task Force of the dozen downstream Florida counties will be voting next Thursday on a resolution asking the State of Florida (FDEP, SRWMD, etc.) to do something about Valdosta’s sewage spills.

[4PM Thu 28 Feb 2019, Holiday Inn, Lake City, FL]
4PM Thu 28 Feb 2019, Holiday Inn, Lake City, FL

When: 4PM, Thursday, February 28, 2019

Where: Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites, 213 Southwest Commerce Boulevard, Lake City, Florida

What: A meeting of the Middle and Lower Suwannee River and Withlacoochee River Task Force

Directions: From the intersection of Interstate 75 and U.S. Highway 90 (exit 427) in the City of Lake City turn, East onto U.S. Highway 90, travel approximately 450 feet to SW Commerce Blvd, turn right (South) onto SW Commerce Blvd, travel approximately 720 feet and the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites is on the left.

The agenda, after the customary introductory items, has only a resolution and Next Steps.

[Resolution and Next Steps]
Resolution and Next Steps

Not on the agenda, but mentioned in the minutes of the previous meeting:

The Task Force agreed that the next steps should be to request a meeting with the Governor and Commissioner of Agriculture. Chair Davis informed the Task Force that the next meeting will be held on Continue reading

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

Monthly Valdosta WQ Data 2019-02-07

Valdosta has fallen down to only monthly water quality testing, instead of their former weekly schedule.

Graph, Withlacoochee River Basin, Withlacoochee

They’ve also dropped their two state line stations, so the GA-FL Line trace on this graph ends in December 2018.

Wide Map, Stations

Readings have risen since their January sampling, with Valdosta’s US 84 sampling station above the Georgia state limit at 265 cfu/100 ml of E. coli. 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

EPA kicks PFAS regulation a year down the road

Yesterday’s EPA PFAS plan does nothing except to study for a year or more what has already been studied. Where are the limits on amounts of these firefighting chemicals in water that would enable EPA or GA-EPD to test private wells, for example for the PFAS that got into groundwater from Moody Air Force Base’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, causing Moody’s report to say be careful eating fish caught in Beatty Branch or Cat Creek, upstream from the Withlacoochee River? Where are the funds and methods to remediate the problem and to stop it getting worse?

[Figure 25 Waste Water Treatment Plant (AFFF Area 8) PFBS, PFOA, and PFOS in Soil and Sediment]
Figure 25 Waste Water Treatment Plant (AFFF Area 8) PFBS, PFOA, and PFOS in Soil and Sediment

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 14 February 2018, EPA’s Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan, Continue reading

Paddle Race, Paddle Georgia, and Songwriting Contest on Scott James Radio 8:00AM 2019-02-15 2019-02-22

Update 2019-02-15: Actually, Friday, February 22, 2019. Also, we’ll be broadcasting from Valdosta Airport.

Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman will be on the radio 8:00 AM this Friday, February 15, 22, 2019, with Scott James on his Talk 92.1 drive-time radio show, out of Valdosta, Georgia, talking about WWALS paddle outings and events, including the BIG Little River Paddle Race Saturday, April 27, 2019, Paddle Georgia, June 15-21, 2019, and the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, Saturday, August 24, 2019.

Scott James Talk 92.1 drive-time radio show

When: 8:00 AM, Friday, February 22, 2019

Where: You can listen on the air, or through the radio show’s own website, or through several online listening services.

Event: facebook.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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