Author Archives: jsq

Request comment deadline extension and public hearings about titanium mine near Okefenokee Swamp –Suwannee Riverkeeper to Army Corps 2020-03-19

We urge everyone else to also send the Army Corps a comment letter asking for an extension of the comment deadline and for public hearings.

For more things you can do to oppose this bad mining application, see How to Comment.

[Map: TPM Mine, Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River]
Map: TPM Mine, Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River
in the WWALS map of All Public Landings in the Suwannee River Basin.
The TPM mine is marked in the right center by the highlighted crossed hammers,
due north of the line of four Chemours titanium mines in north Florida.

Below is the text of the letter WWALS just sent to the Corps as a PDF.

March 19, 2020

To: Col. Daniel Hibner, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District
Attention: Ms. Holly Ross, holly.a.ross@usace.army.mil,
CESAS-SpecialProjects@usace.army.mil
1104 North Westover Boulevard, Suite 9, Albany, Georgia 31707

Cc: Stephen Wiedl, Wetlands Unit, stephen.wiedl@dnr.ga.gov
Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division,
Water Protection Branch, 7 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, GA 30334

Re: Applicant: Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, Application Number: SAS-2018-00554

Dear Colonel Hibner,

Regarding permit application SAS-2018-0054 by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, of Birmingham, Alabama, Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) asks the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to extend the public comment period and to hold public hearings, as detailed at the end of this letter.

Review of the current 219-page Application and the hundreds of pages of appendices is not practicable in Continue reading

A good week in Withlacoochee River water quality 2020-03-16

Update 2020-03-20: Again: alert water quality at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2020-03-18.

These results are getting much closer to what we all like to see, yet there is something worrisome.

[Clean before rain]
Clean before rain

Most of the river results for most of a week have been below the recommended longterm average of 126 cfu/100 mL of E. coli, and all have been below the problem level of 410. None of them even approached the 1,000 alert level, much less the too-frequently-seen TNTC. See also what do these numbers mean?

Yet this is worrisome. Yesterday as Continue reading

Kayak Raffle Emotion Stealth 11 with paddle 2020-07-12

Kayak raffle tickets available!

[2020-07-12--kayak-raffle-poster-thanks-0001]
2020-07-12–kayak-raffle-poster-thanks-0001
PDF

Tickets: Get tickets anytime, online, or at a WWALS festival booth.
Suggested Donation $5.00 for one ticket; $20.00 for five tickets

Kayak Raffle Tickets

Drawing: July 12, 2020; you do not have to be present to win.

What: Emotion Stealth 11 Sit-On-Top Kayak with Carlisle Paddle, $600.00 value

Why: Support WWALS Advocacy and projects, including outings and water trails.
And you could always use another kayak.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

More testing needed to track river pollution –Suwannee Riverkeeper in Gainesville Sun 2020-03-16

Gainesville Sun, 12:01 AM, Monday, March 16, 2020, John S. Quarterman: More testing needed to track river pollution (see also PDF),

Fecal bacterial contamination from Georgia probably reached the Gulf of Mexico about March 3, 2020, according to the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD).

[Tifton to the Gulf]
Tifton to the Gulf
In the WWALS map of all public landings in the Suwannee River Basin.

The good news: we know about that, because of much more water quality monitoring being done since I wrote a column about the issue last year for The Sun.

This recent testing was provoked by a spill of 7.5 million gallons of raw sewage into Sugar Creek near Valdosta, Ga., in December. With no rain, the sewage sat there for a week, and then moved down the Withlacoochee River in about three weekly globs, at least once reaching the Suwannee.

This Valentine’s Day, Valdosta exceeded our request, testing not one but Continue reading

Supporters of the Okefenokee Swamp ready to stop new strip mine application by Twin Pines Minerals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, March 16, 2020 — The coalition of supporters of the Okefenokee Swamp against anything that would harm it stands ready to stop the new strip mine application, same as the old one.

Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) of Birmingham, Alabama, in its new application claims its proposed titanium strip mine less than three miles from the Okefenokee Swamp would be on a “reduced mining area,” which is actually 86% of what they proposed last time. They say they want to do a “demonstration” mine.

[Figure 1: Location of the Proposed Saunders Demonstration Mine]
Figure 1: Location of the Proposed Saunders Demonstration Mine
PDF

Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman says, “Let their foot in the door and it will be even harder to get rid of them later. TPM is under a Florida Consent Order along with Chemours for violations at four mines due south in north Florida. Chemours now wants a fifth Florida titanium mine on Trail Ridge. Why would we think TPM would stop with just a nibble of Trail Ridge in Georgia? Our Okefenokee Swamp with its fishing, boating, birding, and hunting nearby, is much more important than any mine, especially since it is the headwaters of the Suwannee River and the St Marys River.”

Despite TPM’s assurances, the miners have not proven their mining would not affect the groundwater, the underlying Floridan Aquifer, surface streams, or the Okefenokee Swamp.

Their application form proposes to mine 1041.7 acres, the same size tract as in their application of last year that they retracted in early January of this year. But their actual application says “TPM now wishes to conduct a demonstration mining project for a reduced mining area of approximately 898 acres.”

86% of the original acreage is not much reduced. And how is that just a demonstration?

No doubt you will hear more about that and other problems with the miners’ application from the coalition supporting the Swamp and opposing anything that would harm it. That coalition includes a wide range of organizations, Continue reading

Much better water quality: Withlacoochee River, Okapilco Creek 2020-03-11

Update 2020-03-16: More testing needed to track river pollution –Suwannee Riverkeeper in Gainesville Sun 2020-03-16.

No rain for a week (since March 5th) meant not much E. coli washed into creeks and rivers.

WWALS is testing upstream this weekend. You can help.

[Composite table]
WWALS Composite table
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of data from Georgia and Florida sources, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Apparently the high numbers WWALS saw on Crooked Creek Saturday a week ago (March 7th) washed on down through Okapilco Creek and Brooks County to the Withlacoochee River by Monday. Apparently that contamination got diluted pretty quickly by all that rainwater coming down from as far north as Tifton.

The most recent numbers we have are Valdosta’s for Wednesday, March 11, 2020, with Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps only slightly above the longterm desired limit of 126 cfu/100 mL E. coli, and below that upstream.

Madison Health tested Tuesday, and got actually slightly lower (135.4) at State Line, and below 126 at CR 150 (Sullivan Launch) and FL 6 (upstream from Madison Blue Spring).

Nobody tested downstream from there in the past week. Nobody knows whether any of the most recent contamination reached the Suwannee River.

[Quitman and Valdosta to Suwannee River]
Quitman and Valdosta to Suwannee River
In the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

The USGS gauges upstream from US 84 peaked days ago, and the US 84 (Quitman) gauge is coming down now, soon to be Continue reading

No WWALS booth at festivals rest of March 2020 due to virus

Due to the many health considerations of our volunteers and their families, WWALS, exercising an abundance of caution, will not send the information booth to festivals for the rest of March 2020.

Preparing for Community Mass Gatherings --GA-DPH

This means we are cancelling our appearances at:

While we are sorry to have to do that, the risk is beyond simple infection of our booth volunteers, which would be bad enough. The novel coronavirus is airborne, causes a disease that Continue reading

Video: Earth Day Cleanup and Paddle –Suwannee Riverkeeper & Georgia Power on Scott James Radio 2020-03-12

Update 2020-03-19: Earth Day Cleanup Postponed due to pandemic: WWALS, Georgia Power, Valdosta, and Brooks County, GA, Madison County, FL.

Update 2020-03-14: Much better water quality: Withlacoochee River, Okapilco Creek 2020-03-11.

Joe Brownlee is bringing Georgia Power people and a grill to the Earth Day Cleanup, 8AM, Saturday, April 18, 2020, at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp. This WWALS cleanup is co-sponsored by Georgia Power, the City of Valdosta, and Brooks County, Georgia. Madison and Suwannee Counties, Florida, will be holding Earth Day cleanups that same day downstream on the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers. The cleanups are free. The paddle is $10 per person, or free for WWALS members. No reservation necessary, but please check Going on the facebook event to encourage others to come.

[On Air]
On Air

We also discussed fecal bacteria in the river and the novel coronavirus. But first, we reminded people not to go on the Withlacoochee right now, because it’s Continue reading

Earth Day Cleanup and BIG Little River Paddle Race on Scott James Talk 92.1 FM Radio 2020-03-12

Update 2020-03-13: Video.

8AM this Thursday morning, Georgia Power Southwest District Director Joe Brownlee and Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman will visit Scott James on his Talk 92.1 FM radio, to talk about an Earth Day Cleanup on the Withlacoochee River co-sponsored by WWALS, Georgia Power, the City of Valdosta, and Brooks County, Georgia.

When: 8AM, Thursday, March 12, 2020

Where: Talk 92.1 FM Scott James drive-time radio show.
You can listen on the air, or through the radio show’s own website, or through several online listening services.

Event: facebook

[WWALS and Lowndes County]
WWALS and Lowndes County signs at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp.

All about the WWALS Earth Day Cleanup and optional paddle, which is co-hosted by Georgia Power, the City of Valdosta, and Brooks County, Georgia, at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River southwest of Clyattville, April 18, 2020.

And all about the Eighth Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race (BLRPR) at Reed Bingham State Park, between Adel and Moultrie, Georgia, April 25, 2020.

For more WWALS outings and events as they are posted, see the WWALS calendar or the WWALS outings and events web page. WWALS members also get an upcoming list in the Tannin Times newsletter.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

WWALS Booth at Wild Azalea Festival, White Springs, FL 2020-03-21

Update 2020-03-13: No WWALS booth at festivals rest of March 2020 due to virus. No, we will not be at Wild Azalea Festival.

Music, dance, arts and crafts, foods and contests, in historic White Springs, Florida. You can volunteer to help WWALS talk about our outings and advocacy, including, yes, E. coli in the rivers, plus the Earth Day Cleanup on the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers, the Eighth Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race on Georgia’s Little River end of April, and the Third Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest coming up in August in Valdosta. We’ll have the froggy toss game, the EnviroScape, and a kayak raffle.

People, Talking
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS of WWALS at Wild Azalea Festival 2019.

When: 10AM-4PM, Saturday, March 21, 2019

Where: Bailey F Ogburn Recreational Facility
Adams Memorial Circle, White Springs, Florida 32096

Event: facebook by the festival

What: Continue reading