Category Archives: Politics

Videos: Valdosta and Florida Counties about sewage 2019-07-10

Congenial yet sometimes testy, the Florida counties meeting Valdosta about sewage again last night.

The Valdosta catch basin many Floridians thought would be finished by now? Probably by December.

That report the Utilities Manager last time said explained why 8 or 10 million gallons was big enough for a catch basin? No, it doesn’t explain that. Fortunately, Georgia EPD wants to know how many gallons will be needed for how much rain, and apparently won’t issue a permit for the catch basin until there are answers, so maybe we’ll finally find out.

GA-EPD also wanted to know what if the catch basin fills up? Valdosta’s answer: tanker trucks to ship the sewage from the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant to the Mud Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Or the other direction, if needed. That sounds like a fine idea. Although it doesn’t address the question of what if the heavy rains fall directly on Valdosta and both WTPs fill up.

Meanwhile, the catch basin is just one of a combination of fixes, mostly intended to alleviate infiltration of stormwater into the sewer system, and about 25% of those are done, says Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber.

Will all these projects be finished this year? No.

Floridians offer to get national elected officials to help.

Floridians also emphasized Ecotourism, and asked me to talk about the 350 people who just came through on Paddle Georgia (#PaddleGA2019), the WWALS Boomerang paddle race from Florida to Georgia and back, and the proposed River Camp at the Little River Confluence west of Valdosta, like the ones on the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. Valdosta Mayor John Gayle wrote down the date of the WWALS Boomerang (October 26th), and afterwards both Hamilton and Madison Counties promised to help.

Tom Mirti of SRWMD described Florida water quality testing, but didn’t mention that FDEP’s monthly testing isn’t made public until four months later. He did mention that FDEP is now testing for sucralose. Merrillee Malwwitz-Jipson, who requested that, was sitting right there. Thanks to her and Jim Tatum for coming from Florida to this meeting.

Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber said Valdosta was still testing at the state line, which caused me to ask why I didn’t get any results for those locations this year in response to open records requests, then? Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse said that was because they haven’t actually tested at the state line this year. He also complained that he had staff working 100 hours a week. Which makes me wonder whether the city of Valdosta is really giving him what he needs, or whether he hasn’t asked for everything he needs.

Anyway, people were rightly impressed with how much Valdosta has done and with their current plans. However, there is still room for improvement.

Below are Continue reading

Agenda: Florida Counties meet Valdosta about sewage 2019-07-10

Here’s the agenda for tonight’s Special Called Meeting of the Valdosta City Council, with business of Valdosta Utilities presenting to the dozen Florida counties. You may wonder why you haven’t seen this City Council meeting on Valdosta’s website or in the Valdosta Daily Times. Well, Georgia Open Meetings law only requires one notice on the front of the venue and a notice to the newspaper of record 24 hours in advance.

When: 6PM, Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Where: General Purpose Room,
Valdosta City Hall Annex,
300 North Lee Street, Valdosta, GA 31601

Event: facebook

[071019-Special-Called-Meeting-Agenda-0001]
071019-Special-Called-Meeting-Agenda-0001
PDF

Maybe Valdosta should consider that elected official embarassment does not outweigh informing the public.

Thanks to Valdosta City Clerk Teresa Bolden for the agenda. See also Continue reading

Again: Florida Counties meet Valdosta about sewage in rivers and wells 2019-07-10

Update 2019-07-11: WWALS Videos.

Update 2019-07-10: The agenda.

Like three months ago, the dozen downstream Florida counties will meet with Valdosta again tomorrow. It’s a public meeting and anyone may attend. Presumably, like last time, anyone may ask questions.

When: 6PM, Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Where: General Purpose Room,
Valdosta City Hall Annex,
300 North Lee Street, Valdosta, GA 31601

Event: facebook

[Movie: 10% completion of 162 years? --Tom Mirti, SRWMD]
Movie: 10% completion of 162 years? –Tom Mirti, SRWMD

We already knew about this from Continue reading

Troupville, Little River Confluence, shoals, creeks, and Spook Bridge 2019-06-15

Update 2019-07-05:: Some WWALS videos on YouTube.

The first day of #PaddleGA2019 was a fun day, with a confluence, greetings by VIPs, creeks, small rapids, a limpkin, Valdosta’s notorious Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant Outfall, one bad water quality reading (not there), swimming, an even more notorious fracked methane pipeline, and Spook Bridge, with a pet deer across the river. Thanks to The Langdale Company for that takeout and the Port-A-Potty location, and thanks to the Battery Source for the loan of the golf cart to WWALS.

Here’s Gwyneth Moody, Georgia River Network Water Trail coordinator, getting her orange kayak in the water.

[Load 'em up, 07:51:54, 30.8515032, -83.3476099]
Load ’em up, 07:51:54, 30.8515032, -83.3476099

Somebody was flying a drone. Continue reading

Moms for Clean Water, Allen Ramp, Withlacoochee River, Hamilton Co., FL 2019-06-01

Five #MomsforCleanWater took pictures before paddling from Allen Ramp on the Withlacoochee River, past Powerline Spring, Fairy Spring, and Corbett Spring in Hamilton County, as well as four shoals, inclding the infamous Melvin Shoals, and second magnitude Suwannacoochee Spring in Madison County, all in Florida.

[Cathy and Debra #MomsforCleanWater]
Cathy and Debra #MomsforCleanWater

You can print the PDF of the form they’re holding and post your own selfie, hashtags #MomsforCleanWater #SuwanneeRiverkeeper. Waterkeepers Florida has a handy web form to send your picture on to the First Lady of Florida. Continue reading

Veto SB 7103 that would limit Florida local planning, urge 44 groups 2019-05-29

The Florida Governor should veto SB 7103, which would require local citizens to be stuck with big developers’ attorney bills, greatly limiting citizens’ ability to steer local comprehensive planning. This problem goes far beyond the Everglades, even though that’s the main subject of a letter WWALS co-signed, among 44 organizations. Governor DeSantis did not look much like Teddy Roosevelt when he signed the toll road boondoggle bill, but maybe he will veto this other egregious bill.

legal fees

Citing threat to Everglades, 44 groups ask Gov. DeSantis to veto bill, Julie Hauserman, Florida Phoenix, 29 May 2019. Continue reading

Naylor Boat Ramp, Water Trails, and Paddle Georgia: WWALS to Lowndes County Commission 2019-05-13

Thanks and invitations from WWALS to the Lowndes County Commission, delivered in a letter via email and on paper Monday morning and in Citizens Wishing To Be Heard Tuesday evening.

WWALS to Lowndes County Commission 2019-05-14

I thanked

I invited the Commissioners to pass Water Trail resolutions (see below).

And I invited them to Paddle Georgia and the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

Letter

Continue reading

Veto Roads to Ruin toll expressway bill –90 Florida organizations to Governor DeSantis 2019-05-01

Update 2019-05-02: Please remember to send your letter to FL Gov. DeSantis.

SB 7068 passed today, 76 to 36. Please call or write Florida Governor DeSantis.

Sierra Club has already published a call urging Gov. DeSantis to veto this “Roads to Ruin” toll expressway bill. WWALS is a signatory, among the six Florida Waterkeepers signed on, with 90 total organizations.

Why is Florida even considering building more toll roads while the Panhandle’s homes, businesses, and agriculture are still in ruins after Hurricane Michael?

PORT ST. JOE RESIDENT FOR PHILLYVOICE, The destruction of Hurricane Michael on Florida's Mexico Beach.
Photo: PORT ST. JOE RESIDENT FOR PHILLYVOICE, The destruction of Hurricane Michael on Florida’s Mexico Beach.

As the letter to Gov. DeSantis says: “Providing safe shelters for evacuees is a more practical and affordable response to extreme weather events than new toll expressways.”

For Immediate Release
May 1, 2019

Contact: Frank Jackalone, frank.jackalone@sierraclub.org, 727-824-8813, x302; 727-804-1317
Paul Owens, powens@1000fof.org, 850-222-6277 x102, 407-222-2301

STATEWIDE ALLIANCE URGES GOVERNOR DESANTIS TO VETO “ROADS TO RUIN” TOLL EXPRESSWAY BILL
Florida taxpayers, rural communities, the Everglades, and water quality are at risk

Tallahassee —Today 90 conservation organizations, civic groups, and businesses representing the Panhandle to the Keys sent a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis urging him to veto the Transportation Corridor bill, SB 7068, when it arrives on his desk.

The letter to the Governor follows similar letters sent to the Senate and House last week and will test the Governor’s post-inaugural declarations of dedication to protecting the Everglades, the springs, and the state’s water quality.

The letter:

Continue reading

75 organizations oppose proposed Florida toll roads: HB 7113/SB 7068 2019-04-25

Floridians, please call your Florida statehouse representative today. SB 7068 passed the Florida Senate already, so we all need to head off HB 7113 in the Florida House.

For Immediate Release (PDF)

April 25, 2019

Contact: David Cullen, cullenasea@aol.com, 941-323-2404
Diana Umpierre, diana.umpierre@sierraclub.org, 954-829-7632
John S. Quarterman, contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org, 850-290-2350

75 ORGANIZATIONS, BUSINESSES URGE HOUSE TO STOP TOLL ROADS
Transportation Corridors bills are bad deal for Florida taxpayers


Legislature’s planned road project could benefit Florida’s richest man, by Julie Hauserman, Florida Phoenix,March 21, 2019.

Tallahassee — Today 75 conservation organizations, civic groups, and businesses representing every corner of the state sent a letter to the Florida House of Representatives urging a no vote on the Transportation Corridor bills (SB 7068/HB 7113).

The letter to the House follows a similar letter sent to the Senate on Monday and will be followed by a separate letter to Governor DeSantis urging a veto of the toll road plan if the House does not put the brakes on the legislation passed by the Senate on Wednesday.

The letter: Continue reading

Georgia Water Coalition Spring Partner Meeting 2019-04-24

Naturally, what happened in the Georgia legislature is the most prevalent topic at the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC) Spring Partner Meeting, such as about coal ash and trust funds. I provoked extended discussion of the value of Capitol Conservation Day: even if it’s hard to get to see a legislator when that many people are there, the mere fact that so many people are there affected legislation.

There are also breakout sessions on the Georgia Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards. (You can sign up to help upgrade our Suwannee River Basins.) All the Riverkeepers of Georgia are involved, and Water Trails are very relevant.

Speaking: Rena Peck Stricker, E.D., Georgia River Network, Attendees
Speaking: Rena Peck Stricker, E.D., Georgia River Network
WWALS Ambassador Dave Hetzel is second row from the back, second from the right.
My Georgia Beer Co. hat is on the left (have I mentioned they are the top-level sponsor of our Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest and a sponsor of our BIG Little River Paddle Race)), two rows in front of Gordon Rogers’ Save the Flint shirt.

After Continue reading