Author Archives: jsq

Filthy Crooked Creek, clean Okapilco Creek upstream 2020-03-20

Update 2020-03-26: Cleaner downstream with no rain 2020-03-24.

Two days after rain, Crooked Creek was still filthy Friday. Some of that probably got into the Withlacoochee River. WWALS continues testing. You can help.

[Too high]
Too high
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of all known data sources see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

This is in Brooks County, Georgia.

[Crooked Creek @ Monument Church Road]
Crooked Creek @ Monument Church Road

Crooked Creek at Monument Church Road was bad enough, 1,366 cfu/100 mL E. coli, which is above the Georgia Adopt-A Stream alert level of 1,000. See also what do these numbers mean?

[Crooked Cr @ MCR]
Crooked Cr @ MCR

The stench was mostly coming from Continue reading

Little River @ Lawson Mill Pond Road 2020-03-20

Must be spring, people are fishing on the Little River.

[Fishing]
Fishing

I took these pictures from Continue reading

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

2020-03-23: Filthy Crooked Creek, clean Okapilco Creek upstream 2020-03-20.

Yet again, over alert level of E. coli at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River, after elevated levels on Okapilco Creek. WWALS will be testing today. You can help.

[Okapilco Creek and Knights Ferry]
Okapilco Creek and Knights Ferry

Most of the week most of the numbers were green, for less than the 126 cfu/100 mL E. coli that Georgia Adopt-A-Stream, EPA, and FDEP recommend for longterm averages. This was in both Valdosta and Florida Department of Health (really Madison Health) testing. See also what do these numbers mean?

[Good week until Wednesday and Friday]
Good week until Wednesday and Friday
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of all known data sources see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Until numbers started going up on Okapilco Creek Monday, March 16, 2020. The USGS gauge at US 84 on the Withlacoochee River recorded a smidgeon of rain that day. Given the prevailing weather patterns that day, with rain coming in from the west, apparently some rain fell on Brooks County before it got to the river.

I was over at Crooked Creek on Monument Church Road in Brooks County to test on Tuesday, March 17, when rain fell in a gully-washer.

[Closeup Bucket in Crooked Creek]
Closeup Bucket in Crooked Creek

That’s the fastest I’ve seen Crooked Creek, and it Continue reading

Earth Day Cleanup Postponed due to pandemic: WWALS, Georgia Power, Valdosta, and Brooks County, GA, Madison County, FL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (PDF)

Earth Day Cleanup Postponed due to pandemic: WWALS, Georgia Power, Valdosta, and Brooks County, GA, Madison County, FL

Hahira, Georgia, March 4, 2020 — We are postponing the Earth Day Cleanup and Paddle previously scheduled for April 18, 2020, at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River. http://wwals.net/?p=51816 The organizers, WWALS, Georgia Power, Valdosta, and Brooks County, Georgia, remain committed to holding this event in the future, as does , and Madison County, Florida. Meanwhile, WWALS plans a virtual outing by livestreaming a few people at the site on the original day, six feet apart, of course.

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

“At Georgia Power our focus during this challenging time is to ensure uninterrupted power so you can keep your daily life running,” said Joe Brownlee, Southwest Region Director for Georgia Power. “We are currently taking preventive measures to keep our teams healthy as spring storm season approaches. Hopefully we’ll be past this soon and can again join in fun times on the river.”

[GA Power H Rgb]
GA Power H Rgb

“The City of Valdosta remains committed to this cleanup event and its partnership with Georgia Power and our area Suwannee Riverkeeper and will work with all to find an agreeable date down the road,” said Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson.

[City of Valdosta]
City of Valdosta

“We are looking forward to a later date for this cleanup and paddle, so we can assist with promoting the event on our Brooks County FB page, and to recruit some participation to represent us,” said Jessica J. McKinney, Brooks County, Georgia, Administrator.

[Brooks County]
Brooks County

“Madison County has postponed our river cleanup until a later date,” said Madison County, Florida, Chairman Donnie Waldrep, Sr., referring to a cleanup planned for that same day in Madison County on the Withlacoochee River. He added, “I’d love to see this be an annual event.”

Madison County, Florida, Board of County Commissioners

“Joe and Scott and I already discussed on the radio last week that we probably could not do the paddle part of this event, due to the shuttle requiring crowding people into a few vehicles. http://wwals.net/?p=51877 While a cleanup might be possible by simply keeping everybody spread out, we’d rather be safe than sorry,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Before that, we had Continue reading

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