Category Archives: Agriculture

Cyanobacteria infecting Florida political races

We are fortunate in the Suwannee River Basin in not having this bad a problem, but are similarities. Greg Allen, NPR, 7 September 2018, Toxic Algae Seeps Into Florida Congressional Races,

For months now, mats of algae from Lake Okeechobee have been flowing down the river, bringing toxins that can affect people and animals. In beach communities east of the lake, the algae have had a big impact on tourism and businesses.

With more toxic algae blooms on Florida’s west coast and a red tide algae bloom causing massive fish kills in the Gulf of Mexico, water quality is increasingly having a big impact on key midterm races in Florida. While Democrats tend to be more outspoken on environmental issues, Republican candidates are also speaking up because they’re feeling the heat.

Outflows from Lake Okeechobee

Seems to me all the candidates are dancing around the real issue, which is Continue reading

Florida Waterkeepers United visit FDEP 2018-08-01

Seven of the fourteen Florida Waterkeepers visited the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to express our serious concern and a sense of urgency to protect and restore Florida’s rivers, coast, bays, estuaries, lakes, springs, and aquifer, especially about resiliency after hurricanes, harmful algal blooms, BMAPs, and phosphate mines. I congratulated Noah Valenstein on his meteoric rise: only two and a half years ago he was just starting as head of the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD), and now he’s the head of FDEP.

L-R: Andy Hayslip (Tampa), Georgia Ackerman (Apalachicola), Marty Baum (Indian), Jen Lomberk (Matanzas), Drew Bartlett (FDEP), Whitney Gray (FDEP), Rick Frey (St. Marys), Lisa Rinaman (St. Johns), Noah Valenstein (Sec., FDEP), Shannon Blankinship
L-R: Andy Hayslip (Tampa Bay Waterkeeper), Georgia Ackerman (Apalachicola Riverkeeper), Marty Baum (Indian Riverkeeper), Jen Lomberk (Matanzas Riverkeeper), Drew Bartlett (Deputy Secretary for Ecosystem Restoration, FDEP), Whitney Gray (Administrator, Florida Resilient Coastlines, FDEP), Rick Frey (St. Marys Riverkeeper), Lisa Rinaman (St. Johns Riverkeeper), Noah Valenstein (Secretary, FDEP), Shannon Blankinship (Advocacy Director, St. Johns Riverkeeper), John S. Quarterman (hat, Suwannee Riverkeeper), Tom Frick (back, Director, Division of Environmental Restoration, FDEP); Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS

Press Release: Florida Waterkeepers Unite at FDEP

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Benefits must outweigh harms –WWALS to FERC Re: Pipeline Certification NOI 2018-07-25

Here’s the WWALS response to FERC’s Notice of Inquiry (NOI) about “Certification of New Interstate Natural Gas Facilities”. A few excerpts:

FERC should approve no more pipelines without comparing not just coal plants to natural gas plants, but also comparing sun and wind power. If that means no more pipelines, so be it….

In one of the most egregious cases, Sabal Trail commenced construction on the land of the Bell Brothers in Mitchell County, Georgia, and when they countersued, Continue reading

Deadline for FERC rulemaking comments 2018-07-25

In addition to probably signing onto comments by a larger entity, WWALS is preparing comments for FERC in response to its Notice of Inquiry (NOI) about “Certification of New Interstate Natural Gas Facilities”. FERC’s current deadline is this Wednesday, 25 July 2018. Please send any suggestions you may have to wwalswatershed@gmail.com. Or file your own comments. Apologies for the late request.

Here’s what FERC has asked for:

In the NOI, the Commission sought input on whether, and if so how, the Commission should adjust: (1) its methodology for determining whether there is a need for a proposed project, including the Commission’s consideration of precedent agreements and contracts for service as evidence of such need; (2) its consideration of the potential exercise of eminent domain and of landowner interests related to a proposed project; and (3) its evaluation of the environmental impact of a proposed project. The Commission also sought input on whether there are specific changes the Commission could consider implementing to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its certificate processes including pre-filing, post-filing, and post-order issuance.

South Georgia and north Florida
Sabal Trail through south Georgia and north Florida.
Map by Geology Prof. Can Denizman for WWALS.net, 17 September 2016, as part of Sabal Trail maps digitized.

Here are some relevant documents, starting with a how-to in case you want to file your own comments directly with FERC: Continue reading

Levy Co., FL, ranch invaded by Sabal Trail’s invasive weeds

A pair of ranchers report an epidemic of stillborn calves, four dead mother cows, equipment damaged by too-steep grades, invasive weeds planted as a “cover Crop” by Sabal Trail and now spreading through seeds in cow manure, hay unusable, and:

At this point we are requesting help to repair the land that was never restored. The grade and the grasses require a farmer to repair not a Sable trails employee can repair

We have waited until now for you to not answer or get back with us and still our ranch issues are growing while you look into your options.

WWALS Digitized Pipeline Path, Google Maps, Maps
WWALS Digitized Pipeline Path

Maybe FERC didn’t want the public to see this. FERC’s elibrary shows Accession Number 20180716-5129, Report / Form of alexander cochrane under CP15-17,, but attempts to retrieve the files listed get:

The requested URL was rejected. Please consult with your administrator.

Your support ID is: 7429593144853677013

As so often, FERC’s backup elibrary Continue reading

Nutrien (PCS) mining phosphate and water in Hamilton County and soon in Columbia County? 2018-07-11

Thanks to Jim Tatum of OSFR for spotting this op-ed in the Lake City Reporter yesterday by WWALS member and Practicing Geologist Dennis J. Price of Hamilton County, Florida about Nutrien (PCS) mining phosphate and water in Hamilton County and likely planning to expand to Columbia County.

Dennis Price explains, Down to a sunless sea
Photo by John S. Quarterman of Dennis J. Price at the Dead River of the Alapaha River, 2018-01-27.

To the Editor:

Much has been written in the last year about Sam Oosterhoudt’s mitigation bank. I was involved in permitting the bank through the Army Corps (ACOE) and The Florida Department of Environmental Regulation. It took about 5 years to get all the permits. Now, 9 years after work began on the project, the phosphate company (then PCS now Nutrien) petitioned the state to shut down the mitigation bank.

I do not know for sure, but, Nutrien may tell you that during the recent sale of PCS and the review of mineral interests owned, they discovered that the mitigation bank had snuck in there and set up shop over their minerals. This probably has some truth to it but I think there is a much more involved reason.

In Hamilton County, Nurtrien/PCS is planning to run out of phosphate to mine in about 10 years, give or take a few years either way. I do not believe they are planning on shutting the doors and leaving. Occidental Chemical Company started mining in Hamilton County Continue reading

Landowner wins over Sabal Trail in jury trial, jsq on Scott James radio 2018-06-29

The just compensation for property takings required by the Fifth Amendment is not “just” compensation, said Scott James. And a jury of peers of a landowner told Sabal Trail to pay up five times what it offered for an easement for its fracked gas pipeline.

“…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
—Fifth Amendment, U.S. Constitution

Scott said this jury award was big news and asked if it was just compensation. I said yes, front page in the Valdosta Daily Times.


VDT front page

And five times is more just than before. But how is a one-time payment Continue reading

Pictures: WWALS at A Day in the Woods 2018-04-21

Here are Gretchen Quarterman and Dave Hetzel at Heather Brasell’s annual A Day in the Woods at the Gaskins Forest Education Center near Alapaha, Berrien County, Georgia.

Gretchen Quarterman, Volunteers

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Farmer Randy Dowdy objects to Sabal Trail’s soil mixing evaluation plan 2018-03-13

How can there be soil mixing yet zero noncompliance incidents? FERC saw soil mixing first visit without digging, Dowdy to FERC Randy Dowdy asked directly to FERC, following up his call in AgWeb for an independent investigation of Sabal Trail’s destruction of his world-record-holding soybean fields in Brooks County, Georgia.

Dowdy doesn’t trust Sabal Trail or anybody it sends to investigate that soil mixing. He’s hardly the first to say Sabal Trail’s inspectors don’t; see for example FERC’s Moultrie Scoping Meeting 2015-09-29 where James Bell said pipeline inspectors stood around until they noticed him watching, Sandra Jones said the surveyors were not qualified, and Attorney Daniel Dunn said Sabal Trail operates under darkness of misinformation. Dowdy may be late to the opposition, but he is determined.

Sabal Trail is still a stagecoach line in an electric car world, except stagecoaches didn’t destroy farmers’ fields.

Letter from Randy Dowdy to FERC

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WWALS at A Day in the Woods 2018-04-21

At Heather Brasell’s annual outdoor event at the Gaskins Forest Education Center, WWALS will have a table as usual, thanks to WWALS Ambassador Dave Hetzel.

When: 1PM-5PM Saturday, April 21, 2018

Where: Gaskins Forest Education Center
3359 Moore Sawmill Rd., Alapaha

What: A Day in the Woods:
FREE Community Event Activities for all the family

Event: facebook, meetup


Photo: WG Bailey of Dave Hetzel at WWALS table, 2015-04-18.

The GFEC backs up to several miles of the Alapaha River on the Alapaha River Water Trail, and is itself an excellent example of native longleaf and riparian forest.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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