Tag Archives: Georgia Water Coalition

GA HB 879 coal ash dewatering up for full Senate vote 2018-03-15

A Georgia Senate Committee Chair from the Suwannee River Basin, Tyler Harper of Ocilla, got HB 879 out of his committee and onto the full Senate floor for a vote soon. Please remind your Georgia state Senator to vote for it so we’ll get to know more about when Georgia Power (or anybody else) is dewatering a coal ash pond, planning to shop it to local landfills.

Wes Wolfe, Brunswick News, 15 March 2018, Coal ash notification bill heads to full Senate,

coal ash ponds and coal ash in landfills in Georgia

The coal ash pond dewatering bill authored by state Rep. Jeff Jones received unanimous committee approval Tuesday afternoon, moving the public notification legislation one step closer to law. By making it through the state House of Representatives before the crossover deadline, and now ready for a vote by the full Senate, puts it in a rare group of bills to be so successful this session.

Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee Chairman Tyler Harper, Continue reading

Coal ash dewatering bill HB 879 passed 169:3 on crossover day 2018-02-28

On the very last possible day, the Georgia House passed the coal ash dewatering bill, HB 879, 169:3 (with 2 not voting and 6 excused), yesterday, on crossover day (after which bills cannot move from the Georgia House to the Senate).

Thanks to every Georgia House member from the Suwannee River Basin for voting for GA 879: Patty Bentley (District 139), Buddy Harden (148), Ed Rynders (152), Clay Pirkle (155), Dominic LaRiccia (169), Penny Houston (170), Jay Powell (171), Sam Watson (172), John Corbett (174), John LaHood (175), Jason Shaw (176), Dexter Sharper (177), and Jason Spencer (180). Thanks to all the WWALS members who contacted any of them.

Plant-bowen-ash-pond,
Georgia Power Plant Bowen Ash Pond Dewatering Plan, found on GA-EPD Coal Ash Pond Dewatering Plans.

Despite the hard work of the Georgia Water Coalition, HB 880, “Solid waste management; safe disposal of coal ash in municipal and commercial solid waste landfills”, never made it out of Continue reading

Georgians Want Coal Waste Laws Fixed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Georgians Want Coal Waste Laws Fixed

Hahira, GA, February 27, 2018 — “We don’t want coal ash in our rivers or in our wells, and we don’t want any more mercury in our Alapaha River from coal plants, so we back Georgia House Bill 879 to inform Georgians what Georgia Power and others are doing with their coal ash,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. He added, “Ninety percent of Georgians agree on this, and Georgia Water Coalition has helped this bill get very close to passing. You can push it through by crossover day by getting your state legislators to vote on it today or tomorrow.”

Dewatering notification: 90%, Poll

Here is an easy way to send email to your Georgia state legislators:
http://www.protectgeorgia.org/stop-coal-waste-pollution.html#/58/

For more background on these bills, see: Continue reading

GA coal ash committee might consider more safeguards

Georgia Power (and Florida Power & Light and Jacksonville Electric Authority) created the coal ash; they can find ways to dispose of it safely on their own land. And if FPL is shutting down coal plants, how about shutting down its Unit 4 at Plant Scherer, which sends mercury into our Alapaha River. FPL bought into that unit decades ago with the same excuses it’s using for the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline now: shutting down a different generating plant, and alleged (now admitted false) need for more electricity.

Georgia Power coal ash pond at Plant Scherer
The Georgia Power coal ash pond at Plant Scherer, seen here in this undated company photo, will be closed over the next three years. Fabian, Liz – Macon Special to The [Macon] Telegraph

Kristina Torres, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, More safeguards could be considered for coal ash ponds in Georgia, Continue reading

Videos: Coal Ash meeting in Valdosta @ WWALS 2017-03-01

The Georgia legislature did nothing but appoint a study committee, but you can see why they should do more, in these WWALS videos of the coal ash meeting in Valdosta that was organized by Rev. Deacon Leeann Culbreath of Georgia Interfaith Power & Light (GIPL). Thanks to Rev. Floyd Rose for the venue at Academy of Excellence on Lee Street.

The Valdosta Daily Times covered this meeting, but did not mention the local landfill, which was a major topic of my presentation, as you can see in my slides. The Mayor of Valdosta disclaims any control over that landfill and the Lowndes County Commission expressed no interest. Nevermind both city and county governments have Continue reading

Videos: Coal ash at Valdosta City Council and Lowndes County Commission 2017-03-09-14

Continuing after the recent public meetings, WWALS and others talked about coal ash at the Valdosta City Council March 9th, with a puzzling response from the Mayor, and at the Lowndes County Commission March 14th, with an interruption by the Chairman and no other response. Both city and county have had the same members on the board of the Deep South Solid Waste Management Authority (WMA) since 2005, so presumably they have more control than they want to admit over the local privatized landfill with its coal ash, PCBs, and Superfund wastewater. Remember, that landfill is a quarter mile uphill from the Withlacoochee River and in a Floridan Aquifer recharge zone.

WWALS Executive Directory Gretchen Quarterman spoke at both meetings. WWALS member Bill Worstell spoke at the Valdosta City Council meeting, as did J.D. Rice. (Meanwhile, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman and one other spoke to the Valdosta City Council about sewage.)

Here are LAKE videos of each speaker, with a few notes, followed by a video playlist. Continue reading

Groups want coal ash regulation –VDT 2017-03-07

The VDT article never said “landfill” even though landfills were one of the main topics of the bills and of the discussion, including specifically the active landfill in Lowndes County, which has already received coal ash from Tennessee and Florida. Maybe you’d like to come mention that to Valdosta City Council Thursday evening.

Daniel DeMersseman, Valdosta Daily Times, 7 March 2017, Groups want coal ash regulation,

VALDOSTA — Georgia Interfaith Power & Light recently sponsored a presentation on the dangers of improperly stored coal ash.

Members of GIPL, No Ash at All, and Suwanee Riverkeeper joined together to discuss proper coal ash storage.

Gretchen videoing and photographing
Picture by John S. Quarterman for WWALS Watershed Coalition, 2017-03-01.

“Coal ash contains Continue reading

South Georgia meetings against coal ash in Tifton and Valdosta

Come learn about coal ash and bills in the Georgia legislature right now. Pile of coal ash Rev. Deacon Leeann Culbreath of Georgia Interfaith Power & Light (GIPL) has organized two meetings, in Tifton and Valdosta. WWALS will be speaking at each of these meetings.

When, Where, and Who

Continue reading

South Georgia state legislators and coal ash bills

Update 2017-02-23: Added contact information

Bills are before the Georgia legislature right now about disposing of leaking pools of toxic coal ash, and two members of the relevant committee are in south Georgia. Coal ash and landfills in Suwannee River Basin Five landfills in south Georgia already received coal ash from TVA several years ago, including the landfill in Lowndes County, which also received coal ash from Florida.

In south Georgia,

As you can see by this interactive map, Sam Watson’s District 172 includes the Tifton-Omega/Eldorado Rd landfill in Tift County, which is also in the Georgia Senate District 13 of Greg Kirk. Sen. Kirk’s district also has Crisp Co-US 41S Site 2 (Ph 4&5) MSWL (Crisp County) and Plant Crisp (Crisp County Power Commission) – Ash Pond, Warwick, Crisp County.

In Rep. Corbett’s District 174 are two landfills: Camden Co-SR110 MSWL (Camden County), and Chesser Island Road Landfill, Inc. MSWL (Charlton County). The Chesser Island Road Landfill is one of only six in the state that had told GA-EPD two weeks ago that it does plan to accept coal ash.

The Camden County landfill is also in GA Senate District 3, William T. Ligon, Jr. (Brunswick). The Charlton County landfill is also in GA Senate District 7, Tyler Harper, who also in his district Atkinson Co – SR 50 MSWL (Atkinson County) and Fitzgerald, Kiochee Church Rd, Ph.2 (Ben Hill County).

Rep. Corbett also represents the southeast part of Lowndes County, in which just outside Corbett’s district in Amy Carter’s District 175 is Advanced Disposal Services’ Evergreen Landfill, Inc., the one that has accepted coal ash before from TVA and JEA. That Lowndes County landfill is also in GA Senate District 8, Ellis Black. Sen. Black’s district also includes the Cook County Taylor Road landfill, which is also in House District 170, Penny Houston.

Only three landfills (and no coal ash ponds) are actually in WWALS watersheds (the Suwannee River Basin) in Georgia. They are: the Tifton-Omega/Eldorado Rd landfill in Tift County, Cook County Taylor Road landfill, and Advanced Disposal Services’ Evergreen Landfill, Inc. in Lowndes County. However, legislative districting leaves the same state legislators responsible for those landfills also responsible for others.

Here is contact information for all Georgia state legislators in the Suwannee River Basin:

Coal ash and landfills in Suwannee River Basin

The Bills

Three bills have been introduced this session to protect our communities from coal waste pollution:
  • HB 387 requires utilities to get the proper permits before discharging coal ash wastewater into Georgia’s waterways;
  • HB 388 ensures that landfills receiving coal ash have a good plan and take adequate precautions to prevent coal ash contamination;
  • SB 165 ensures that anyone who produces coal ash remains liable for that ash forever and that Georgians can take action against out of state producers if their water and communities are polluted

In order for these bills to pass this year, they must make it out of their respective chambers (House for HB 387/HB 388 and Senate for SB 165) by Crossover Day, March 3.

Disposing of Coal Ash

For why coal ash is a problem, see this fact sheet by Georgia Water Coalition (GWC).

It is the position of GWC, of which WWALS is a member, that these bills are what is needed. WWALS is a partner of GWC and agrees that these bills are better than the current situation. WWALS has the further position that we’d prefer no more coal ash in any landfills in our watersheds, and that those companies that produced this toxic waste be responsible for disposing of it safely on their own land at their own expense.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Bad bill HB 316 SB 116 would take away stormwater permit revenue

If you want the Valdosta wastewater situation to be worse, let HB 316 SB 116 pass, taking away revenue for Valdosta or anybody upstream or down to control stormwater.

It turns out HB 316 was apparently from 2009.

The stormwater bill before the Georgia legislature this year (2017) is SB 116.

Here are the current GAWP talking points about SB 116, which you may notice also mention HB 316, which leads me to believe SB 116 is just HB 316 back again under another name.

Please Oppose Senate Bill 116
Georgia Association of Water Professionals

Senate Bill 116 would exempt “water-neutral sites”, defined as those properties designed to control runoff form a 25 year, 24-hour storm event in a manner consistent with the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual (GSMM), from paying stormwater user fees charged by local governments or authorities that have established stormwater utilities. Water-neutral sites, as defined in this bill, still discharge stormwater to the local drainage system, which the local government or authority is legally responsible for operating and maintaining.

Implications of HB 316: We ask you to consider the following far-reaching implications of the bill.

  1. Local Control. The State of Georgia should not interfere in how a local government operates a utility or charges its customers. This would be equivalent to the State saying how a local utility could charge (or not charge) for water or sewer services. If the General Assembly exempts “water-neutral properties” from paying fees for stormwater services, could they next exempt a defined class of customers from paying local water and sewer fees in the future?
  2. Economic Impact on Local Governments. This bill could have a devastating impact on local governments who are required to operate and maintain stormwater drainage systems for the public good and to protect the health, safety and welfare of their communities. “Water Neutral” properties are not actually water neutral because they still discharge stormwater runoff to the local drainage system thereby causing an impact. A local government still must bear the cost of maintaining the stormwater drainage system even if every property builds a detention pond to the 25 year, 24 hour storm event standard. The City of Griffin reports that the potential loss of revenue to their stormwater utility, should this bill pass, would be approximately 40% of their annual user fee revenue, thus crippling their stormwater utility and its ability to provide essential services.
  3. Public Safety. Stormwater utility revenues allow local governments to reduce flooding and replace failing infrastructure, including collapsing culverts under public roads. There is an unacceptable risk to public safety if local governments no longer have the ability to collect revenues to perform important and essential storm water management services.
  4. Existing Credits. Eligible properties with detention ponds are already offered user fee credits ranging from 30 — 50% from most stormwater utilities. This credit is offered in recognition of the reduced impact these properties have on the drainage system. However, the credit is not 100% because controlling the 25 year, 24-hour storm does not eliminate a property’s impact on the local drainage system; the customer still receives stormwater services.
  5. Customer Equity. Local governments are alone in their responsibility to manage stormwater drainage systems and operate stormwater management programs to protect life and property from flooding, and to protect local waterways from stormwater impacts so that the State’s waters remain fishable and swimmable for Georgians to enjoy. There is virtually no funding available from the State or Federal governments to assist local governments in carrying out this important charge. Thus, local governments have been forced to develop local financing mechanisms to provide sufficient revenue sources to carry out this responsibility. Allowing a contributor to the problem to be exempted from participating in paying a fair user fee for this service would be grossly unfair to the remainder of the paying customers and to the local government as well.

Here are all the Georgia state senators in WWALS watersheds.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

In addition to ACCG and GAWP, this bill is also opposed by the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC), including WWALS. Below are talking points from the ACCG website. Please contact your Georgia state legislators.

Please Oppose House Bill 316
Association County Commissioners of Georgia
Georgia Association of Water Professionals

House Bill 316 would exempt state government entities from paying local government stormwater utility charges. While specifically using the word “charges”, the proposed exemption appears to presume that the stormwater utility fee is a tax and not a fee for services. In presenting and promoting the bill, proponents may refer to these fees as a “rain tax”. However, in 2004, the Georgia Supreme Court specifically ruled in McLeod v. Columbia County that stormwater utility charges are, in fact, a fee for services, and not a tax. The State is exempt from taxes, but there is no legal or logical basis for the State to exempt itself from paying valid fees for actual services rendered.

Implications of HB 316: Continue reading