Tag Archives: GA DNR

Send your comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order –Albany Herald

In the Albany Herald, May 9, 2020, Deadline set to comment on Valdosta EPD Enforcement Order,

The Enforcement Order includes a fine, plus many requirements for management and technology.

“Well, I’m glad they are doing the enforcement order, requiring them to get the fixes in place,” said Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Fla., who was among the WWALS members who met with the city of Valdosta back in 2015 about these same sewage issues. “I’m not sure what the $122,000 will be used for, but the fine seems small. I just want the problem fixed for good if possible.”

The rest of the article is from the WWALS press release.

Send your comments by Wednesday, May 27, 2020, to:
   Mr. Lewis Hays
   Manager, Watershed Compliance
   Environmental Protection Division
   2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Suite 1152 East
   Atlanta, GA 30334
   Lewis.Hays@dnr.ga.gov
   404-463-4953

This is not the kind of black water we want:

[Photo 4: Confluence of Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River.]
Photo 4: Confluence of Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River. By Tim Bonvechio.

The entire 93-page Order is on the WWALS website, here:
http://wwals.net/pictures/2020-04-13–ga-epd-vld-enforcement-order

“This Order has been a long time coming. It includes an outline of a sad history of mistakes and neglect. I hope the Order Continue reading

Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (see also PDF)

Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order

Hahira, GA, May 4, 2020 — May 27th is the deadline to comment on the Enforcement Order the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) finally issued on Valdosta for sewage spills. For decades, Valdosta has spilled wastewater into the Withlacoochee River. People downstream, even on the Suwannee River all the way to the Gulf, worry about fishing, swimming, or even boating and some even say their wells are contaminated by fecal bacteria from these spills. Many had hoped that Valdosta’s big spills were over in 2016 with the new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant uphill out of the flood plain, plus a Force Main with two Pump Stations. Valdosta says it has spent about $80 million on water system improvements. Yet the spills continued. The Order also reveals a massive fish kill.

[Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.]
Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.

“The December 2019 spill was the biggest yet, with no rain, and nothing actually broke. It was a massive failure of supervision,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Citizens and elected and appointed officials in Georgia and a dozen counties in Florida demanded something be done.”

This Enforcement Order includes the most popular request, a fine, plus many requirements for management and technology.

“Well, I’m glad they are doing the enforcement order, requiring them to get the fixes in place,” said Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Florida, who was among the WWALS members who met with the City of Valdosta back in 2015 about these same sewage issues. She added, “I’m not sure what the $122,000 will be used for, but the fine seems small. I just want the problem fixed for good if possible.”

The Order addresses much (but not all) of what Suwannee Riverkeeper asked GA-EPD to do: http://wwals.net/?p=50979 For example, it requires the City to test water quality all the way down to the state line. One thing it does not include is any requirements for reimbursing downstream well and river testing expenses.

“It’s good to see that the EPD is FINALLY taking this issue seriously!” said Suzy Hall, WWALS Testing Committee Chair. “I can’t help but feel WWALS’ diligence in testing has been a big part of this action, and must continue regardless of any order for the City to conduct testing.”

The entire 93-page Order is on the WWALS website, here:
http://wwals.net/pictures/2020-04-13–ga-epd-vld-enforcement-order

“This Order has been a long time coming. It includes an outline of a sad history of mistakes and neglect. I hope the Order will finally get the City’s attention,” said Dr. Tom Potter, WWALS Science Committee Chair and taxpayer of the City of Valdosta.

Send your comments by Wednesday, May 27, 2020, to:
   Mr. Lewis Hays
   Manager, Watershed Compliance
   Environmental Protection Division
   2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Suite 1152 East
   Atlanta, GA 30334
   Lewis.Hays@dnr.ga.gov
   404-463-4953

About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.

Contact: John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org
WWALS Watershed Coalition
850-290-2350, 229-242-0102
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632

===

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

GA-EPD Enforcement Order for Valdosta wastewater with fine 2020-04-13

Update 2020-05-04: Press Release, Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order.

Much of what many people requested is in this Enforcement Order EPD-WP-8904 of the Public Notice of April 27, 2020.

[Photo 1: Site where sewage flowed out of manhole into Sugar Creek.]
Photo 1: Site where sewage flowed out of manhole into Sugar Creek.

Perhaps the most popular request, a fine, is included. As a Project In-Lieu of Penalty (PIP) stream testing is required, three times a week, down to the state line. Plus: “The Respondent shall post all the results of biological monitoring required after major spills to its website and to the Georgia EPD Adopt-A-Stream website within one business day of receipt of the results.”

All 250 sewer line creek crossings must be inspected by drone crews.

Valdosta must notify many Florida agencies, plus in Georgia Lowndes Health and Brooks EMA.

Other things are missing. WWALS is not on that notification list, for example.

[Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.]
Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.

And the Order reveals some Valdosta violations the public never knew about, such as a massive fish kill in December 2019. The cost of that calculated by GA-DNR Wildlife Division seems inadequate, since it doesn’t take into account people being unwilling to fish on the Withlacoochee River, for example.

If you think there should be more or changed requirements, the Public Comment period ends May 27, 2020.

Send comments to: Continue reading

Florida and Georgia Boat Ramps Status 2020-04-09

Yes, you can boat, fish, and swim on rivers and lakes during the stay-home period, in both Florida and Georgia, as long as you keep your distance. Don’t gather in large groups unless you want your favorite river or lake access to get closed, not to mention unless you want to get or transmit the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, for which there is no vaccine. Stay six feet apart, no large groups (usually no more than 10), and on the water stay at least 10 feet apart or 50 feet apart in Florida.

Below is a snapshot of conditions today. Check on your local park or ramp or launch before going for current conditions.

Also check on bacterial conditions, especially since last night’s rain.

Florida

Here’s a handy map that shows status of Florida boat ramps and launches. Red means closed. Blue means open.

[Florida]
Florida

Tony Acevedo, SaltStrong, 31 March 2020, This Map Shows Which Boat Ramps Are Closed & Which Are Open, 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

U.S. EPA still says mine would have substantial and unacceptable impact –Suwannee Riverkeeper 2019-12-31

In the Charlton County Herald, December 31, 2019:


Dear Editor,

The burden of proof is still on the miners to show their mine would not damage the Swamp or the Rivers, and they have not met that burden.

U.S. EPA still finds that “the proposed project will have a substantial and unacceptable impact on aquatic resources of national importance.”

[Distant 2019-11-23]
Anonymous drone aerial of heavy equipment on the mining site 2019-11-23.
River Styx is in the background, Okefenokee Swamp is on the horizon.
St. Marys River flows out top left horizon. Suwannee River flows out far side of Swamp.

That’s about “the permit application submitted by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC” for a titanium strip mine. “The proposed 2,414-acre mine area lies in proximity to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), and the potential secondary effects of the mine on the NWR have not been demonstrated by the permit applicant.”

This is the second letter EPA has sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers saying the mining application is deficient. We obtained a copy through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The entire letter is here: http://wwals.net/?p=50931.

You, too, can still comment to the USACE, and all comments they receive before the Corps announces a decision can be used in any potential lawsuits. The addresses are: Continue reading

Deadline Extended to September 14 12 on mining proposal near Okefenokee NWR 2019-07-19

Update 2019-07-22: Corrected headline to match extension date in GPB story. See also Charlton County, GA, BOCC 2019-07-18.

I asked the Charlton County Commission just yesterday to ask the Corps for an extension, and numerous other people and organizations have done so. The Corps has already responded.

Emily Jones, Georgia Public Broadcasting, 19 July 2019, Army Corps Extends Comment Deadline On Mining Near Okefenokee,

The Army Corps of Engineers is extending the deadline for public comments on a proposal to mine for minerals near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

The new deadline is September 12, an additional 30 days from the original deadline of August 13.

Environmental groups were calling for the deadline extension.

Since there’s nothing on the Corps’ Public Notices website about that, I asked her how she knew. She said Senior USACE Public Affairs Officer Billy Birdwell, 912-652-5014. So I called him.

Billy Birdwell received a Certificate of Appreciation
Photo: USACE. Continue reading

Complete permit application, Twin Pines Minerals 2019-07-17

The complete 565-page permit application by Twin Pines Minerals, SAS-2018-00554, is now on the WWALS website.

News about it is all over North America, with more coming out daily.

You can go ahead and send in comments to the Army Corps of Engineers or to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

[Twin-Pines-Individual-Permit-Application--complete-0006]
Twin-Pines-Individual-Permit-Application–complete-0006

You can retrieve the complete application from Continue reading

GPB on mining proposal near Okefenokee NWR 2019-07-15

My vegetable buyer from St. Mary’s, GA, said “I heard you on the radio this morning.” Notice the map Georgia Public Broadcasting posted says “Phase I” in U.S Army Corps of Engineers Application SAS-2018-00554. The company actually owns land northwards all the way up next to the swamp.

[Phase I location Map]
Phase I location Map

Emily Jones, GPB Radio News, 15 July 2019, Mining Proposed Near Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge,

An Alabama company wants to mine for heavy minerals near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Georgia.

The proposal from Twin Pines Minerals called for Continue reading

Titanium mine near Okefenokee NWR 2019-07-12

Update 2019-07-18: The complete application is now on the WWALS website; you can comment now.

Friday, July 12, 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published a Public Notice for Application SAS-2018-00554 for a titanium mine southeast of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Thursday I attended a meeting at the Okefenokee NWR near Folkston about that, and I met with agents of the miners back in April. The application is about the little purple area on this map they showed us at the end of April:

[Context]
Context

But that’s not the whole story; see below. Today this mine proposal is on the agenda for the WWALS board meeting.

Here are some things the application doesn’t tell you: Continue reading