Tag Archives: eco-tourism

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

BIG Little River Paddle Race in Lake City Reporter 2020-02-22

Thanks to Jim Tatum for sending us this very nice article by Monty Stephens, Lake City Reporter, February 22-23, 2020, Paddling for Great Cause — Clean Water in Our Rivers:

[Page0009-0001]
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The “Eighth Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race” is scheduled for Saturday, April 25, 2020. Everyone that drinks or uses water needs to support this worthwhile “Cause.” The “Cause” is clean water in our rivers. This is a [3] mile canoe, kayak, [but not paddleboard] race. It can be a leisurely float down the [Little] River to [Reed Bingham State Park Lake] or an “All out fierce race,” your choice. The [WWALS] Watershed Coalition is a non-profit organization that supports the Suwannee [Riverkeeper].

[Below the bridge (BW)]
Photo: Bret Wagenhorst, of the 2019 race start.

The [Suwannee Riverkeeper] works to protect the Suwannee River and its tributaries, the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, [Little, and Santa Fe Rivers]. These rivers join together and become the Suwannee River as they flow through North Florida and out into the Gulf.

Here is the problem, civilization in general, tends to create pollution. The traditional method of dealing with pollution is to dump it somewhere, let the wind will blow it away, or dump it in a river. In other words, “Just get rid of it.” None of these methods deal with the real problem. Dumping pollution in the river just creates issues for people downstream. Since we’re in Florida, we’re “Downstream.” This is why we need a Riverkeeper.

Our Riverkeeper is Continue reading

Troupville River Camp not on GOSP approved projects: try again this year 2020-01-22

There is a list approved by Georgia DNR for grants from the Georgia Outdoor Stewardshp Program (GOSP), but Troupville River Camp is not on it:

[GOSP Proposal of Approved Conservation Projects]
Georgia Reporter: GOSP Proposal of Approved Conservation Projects; see also PDF.

The GOSP web page says pre-applicants will be notified February 3, 2020, but the GOSP board apparently made their choices more than two weeks ago. Like everybody else, they’re making it up as they go this first year of GOSP.

Jill Nolin, Georgia Recorder, 22 January 2020, Georgia park projects axed as tax on outdoor gear comes up short, Continue reading

Clean Withlacoochee, Okapilco Creek (mostly), and Little River 2020-02-02

Update 2020-02-08: Clean Withlacoochee River; dubious Okapilco Creek; and rain 2020-02-05.

Even better news: clean everywhere WWALS tested Sunday on the Withlacoochee River, Little River, and Okapilco Creek. If this keeps up, eventually we, and presumbably Lowndes County, will remove our warning signs. We’ll make some inquiries in Quitman while waiting for Lowndes County’s data upcoming this Wednesday.

At least weekly ongoing testing is still needed. What Lowndes County keeps seeing in Okapilco Creek illustrates that while Valdosta is chronically the biggest problem, and Valdosta has some remediation to do, it’s not the only source of contamination. The only way to tell when our rivers are clean or not, so we can market eco-tourism and gradually lift the reputational stigma on our rivers, is regular, weekly, water quality testing.

You can help.

[With reference dog]
Photo: Suzy Hall, of the Withlacoochee RIver downstream of Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, With reference dog.

Suzy Hall tested the Continue reading

Lifted: Florida Withlacoochee and Suwannee Wastewater Warning; WWALS signs stay up for now 2020-01-24

Received 4:19 PM yesterday, Florida has lifted its river warning advisory. But everyone should keep testing rivers, creeks, and wells, not just after this December 2019 record-largest Valdosta raw sewage spill, but ongoing, at least weekly, to eventually lift the stigma so we can all promote eco-tourism. You can help.

[01-24-2020 Wastewater Spill Valdosta Hamilton Madison LIFTED 0001]
01-24-2020 Wastewater Spill Valdosta Hamilton Madison LIFTED 0001
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But WWALS will leave our warning signs up at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line (GA 31, Madison Highway, Mozell Spells, CR 145) Boat Ramps in Georgia for now.

This is because that 397 cfu/100 mL E. coli at Continue reading

Letter: Valdosta Mayor and Council support Troupville River Camp 2019-12-19

Well, Valdosta Mayor John Gayle sent this letter to GA-DNR week before last, although the part of DNR I talked to Monday was unaware of that. Today I got a copy from the City Clerk and forwarded it to GA-DNR.

[The initial investment for this project would be small and the long-term eco-tourism it would create would be far reaching.]
The initial investment for this project would be small and the long-term eco-tourism it would create would be far reaching.
PDF

On behalf of the Valdosta City Council, it is with great pleasure that we supply this letter of support for the WWALS Watershed Coalition’s pre-application for grant assistance for the Troupville River Camp in Lowndes County.

The Troupville River Camp would be a great asset to our community. The proposed property is in an excellent location near the Confluence of the Little River with the Withlacoochee River and not far from I-75 and GA Highway 133. The initial investment for this project would be small and the long-term eco-tourism it would create would be far reaching. Not only would the Troupville River Camp be a boon to Valdosta and Lowndes County, but also for other communities in South Georgia and North Florida,

We want to make Valdosta a place where people will want to live, work, and play and the Troupville River Camp would help us to achieve that goal. We wholeheartedly recommend and humbly ask for your consideration of the pre-application for grant assistance for the Troupville River Camp in Lowndes County.

This is the letter that Valdosta City Council Continue reading

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
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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

Videos: Florida Counties meet Valdosta about sewage in rivers and wells 2019-04-10

Update 2019-04-13: Added Task Force Resolution.

Everyone in the dozen downstream Florida counties wants to help Valdosta finish fixing its sewage problems, and all were impressed with the thoroughness of the presentations by Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse. There was even an offer to contact federal representatives and agencies from the elephant in the room, Ken Cornell of Alachua County, which contains half the population of the dozen Task Force Counties (and twice the population of Valdosta and Lowndes County),

[Ken Cornell, Alachua County, offers assistance]
Ken Cornell, Alachua County, offers assistance

Mayor John Gayle said “Valdosta is privileged to be a regional city”, serving eighteen counties and benefitting from sales taxes of all those who shop in Valdosta, and later offered assurances that Valdosta was doing everything it could.

[Assurances --Mayor John Gayle]
Assurances –Mayor John Gayle

They could answer the question from Beth Burnham of Hamilton County about reporting times: less than 24 hours to the state of Georgia.

[Hamilton County Commission District 1 Beth Burnham]
Hamilton County Commission District 1 Beth Burnham

Nonetheless Continue reading