Tag Archives: monitoring

Water quality testing grant from Georgia Power 2020-06-27

July 27, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Georgia Power grants funds to WWALS for Water Quality Testing

Hahira, GA, July 27, 2020 — Aiding our attempts to clean up the Withlacoochee River, Georgia Power Foundation has provided a substantial grant to WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (“WWALS”). WWALS will buy more water quality testing kits and supplies with the funds, as well as other expenses related to our volunteer water quality testing program.

“Please accept our most sincere thanks for your recognition and support of WWALS Watershed Coalition and our work for clean, fishable, swimmable, boatable water,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. “We look forward to a productive water quality testing program this year.”

“We’re honored to get to help,” said Joe Brownlee, Georgia Power Southwest Region Director. “One of our goals is to make sure the people of Georgia know about our great natural resources. And also that they’re safe. And y’all help do that by making awareness around water testing. And you build strong relationships I know now, coordinating with the City of Valdosta, making sure they publish their test results. Everything seems to be working and getting better. We’re on a sharp upward curve of getting better with what we do with water and getting to enjoy it. And my little girl, I’m working for her future, and Georgia Power is. Thank y’all, thank you to the volunteer testers, and the Riverkeeper.”

[Joe Brownlee, Georgia Power Southwest District Director]
Photo: WWALS, of Georgia Power Southwest District Director Joe Brownlee, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman, and WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall, at Troupville Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River, near Valdosta, Georgia.

“The response of the Georgia Power grant and Mr. Brownlee’s comments are quite touching (to me) due to the recognition of how difficult it is for a volunteer organization to do biological water testing over a huge area. The grant enables regular testing that can pinpoint multi-source pollution, which requires a varied response. It’s quite gratifying that both individuals and large companies realize this is a complex situation,” said WWALS President Tom H. Johnson, Jr.

“We have several testers already trained, waiting for testing kits. Thanks to Georgia Power, we can buy them kits and get them started testing!” said WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall. “Plus we can buy enough kits to train new testers with physical distancing even during the virus pandemic.”

“We like to think WWALS water quality testing has already done some good, helping warn people when the waterways are contaminated, helping find contamination sources, and encouraging several governmental organizations in Georgia and Florida to test more,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “With these funds from Georgia Power we can do much more. Also thanks to Valdosta Mayor Scott James for introducing us to Joe Brownlee.”

“The more testing, the more we can also check to see whether fixes such as fencing cattle away from waterways are actually working to improve the situation,” said WWALS Science Committee Chair Dr. Tom Potter. “Interested governmental, educational, or agricultural organizations please contact us about that.”

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.

WWALS Water Quality Testing is summarized here: http://wwals.net/issues/testing/ Here is a video about this grant: https://youtu.be/zy0N_kRhPfI

Contact: Gretchen Quarterman, Executive Director
WWALS Watershed Coalition
wwalswatershed@gmail.com
850-290-2350
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632

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(See also PDF.)

Suwannee Riverkeeper asks Georgia EPD to require Valdosta to do better about its record sewage spill 2019-12-17

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, December 19, 2019 — Compelled by the severity of Valdosta’s record raw sewage spill and the expenses and stigma incurred nearby and downstream, Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition has sent a letter requesting ten enforcment actions to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD). WWALS member Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Florida, summed it up: “As a person living downstream on the Withlacoochee River in Florida, I feel shat upon by Valdosta over and over. I cannot drink the water from my well. I worry about the health of the river itself and the animals that live in it and drink from it. We in Florida were patient while Valdosta was improving their wastewater plant, which apparently was not adequate since we still have spills when it rains heavily. But this time it was not a rain event. It was gross negligence. I am out of patience. I believe it is time for legal action.”

The Suwannee Riverkeeper letter notes GA-EPD already has a legal action against Valdosta, a Consent Order. WWALS asks GA-EPD to use its enforcement power to require notification, water quality testing, education, and plans and procedures not only for preventing such spills but also for tracking them as they travel down our creeks and rivers and for remediation of effects on wells and reputation.

[2019-12-17--WWALS-GA-EPD-Valdosta-sewage-0001]
2019-12-17–WWALS-GA-EPD-Valdosta-sewage-0001

“Valdosta says it does what GA-EPD tells it to do, so we’re asking GA-EPD to tell them,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Today we’re forwarding the letter to Continue reading

Nutrients and Cyanotoxins, FDEP Triennial Review Workshop, Tallahassee 2019-11-04

Water quality testing for nutrients and cyanotoxins were big topics at yesterday’s Public Workshop in Tallahassee. Apalachicola Riverkeeper Georgia Ackerman was there, but had to leave at noon. So John S. Quarterman ended up speaking as Suwannee Riverkeeper and on behalf of Waterkeepers Florida, in Florida’s Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards.

[Apalachicola Riverkeeper Georgia Ackerman]
Apalachicola Riverkeeper Georgia Ackerman

The FDEP presenters made it pretty clear they preferred putting up warning signs based on clorophyl a measurements and whenever cyanobacteria blooms are sighted, as they ask DOH to do now, to waiting for lab tests to come back to confirm, as EPA Continue reading

Tallahassee Triennial Review Public Workshop 2019-11-04

Update 2019-11-05: Workshop report.

FDEP is holding a Triennial Review workshop in Tallahassee Monday (tomorrow) morning.

When: 9AM, Monday, November 4, 2019

Where: Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Bob Martinez Center, Room 609, 2600 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, Florida

Announcement: on the FDEP website, along with the agenda.

Teleconference Call-in: 1-888-585-9008,

Conference Room Number: 125-938-245#

Teleconference participants will be in “listen only” mode (muted) throughout most of the meeting, but will be given an opportunity to provide verbal comments during the public comment period (after in-person attendees).

2600 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, FL, Map

If you can’t go to this one, three more are scheduled, but they will not have teleconference participation. They are: Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida met FDEP in Orlando about Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards 2019-04-15

FDEP is analyzing DNA and human tracers such as sucralose monthly at at least three stations: on the Withlacoochee and Alapahoochee Rivers at the Georgia-Florida line, and at the Withlacoochee River Confluence with the Suwannee River at Ellaville. This is what Waterkeepers Florida (WKFL) heard in Orlando on April 15th from FDEP’s Tom Frick. I think he may have also said at the Alapaha Confluence with the Suwannee River.

Tom Frick (DEAR), Ken Weaver (Standards), Dave Whiting (Laboratory), Darryl Joyner (WQSP), FDEP
FDEP, left to right: Tom Frick (DEAR), Ken Weaver (Standards), Dave Whiting (Laboratory), Darryl Joyner (WQSP).

I asked Tom Frick about that at the meeting FDEP requested with Waterkeepers Florida (WKFL) about the Florida Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards,

Unlike in Georgia, Continue reading

Tallahassee Triennial Review Public Workshop 2019-05-14

As previously noted, FDEP is holding a Triennial Review workshop in Tallahassee Tuesday. Apparently they didn’t notice that that’s the same day as the SRWMD meeting in Live Oak with the Valdosta wastewater agenda item.

When: 9AM, Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Where: Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Bob Martinez Center, Room 609, 2600 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, Florida

2600 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, FL, Map
Map: Google street view. At least there may be parking.

Announcement: on the FDEP website.

It is probably worth going, to recommend FDEP should not raise any limits on any contaminants in any waters.

If you can’t go to this one, Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida meets FDEP in Orlando: Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards 2019-04-15

This Monday, April 15, 2019, Waterkeepers Florida (WKFL) will meet with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) about the federally-required Triennial Review of state Water Quality Standards. As Suwannee Riverkeeper, I ask you our members of WWALS and the public what you think I should ask FDEP in that meeting.

[WKFL meets FDEP]
WKFL meets FDEP

FYI, so far I mainly plan to ask about water quality monitoring: the need for more of it, more frequently, and published more quickly, so as to find out Continue reading

Monthly Florida bacterial monitoring 2019-02-21

Two weeks ago, WWALS member Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson asked the state of Florida what baseline water quality testing had been done downstream of Valdota, and:

Please begin water samplings for the isotope for sucralose, fecal coliform testing and any other water testing establishing what or who is culpable of contamination in our protected, Outstanding Florida Waterways.

Yesterday she got an answer. She agrees with my assessment of the data supplied: “Sparse locations and only monthly, but better than nothing.”

[DEAR bacterial monthly sampling stations]
DEAR bacterial monthly sampling stations

However, how can the state of Florida be “committed to monitoring and stopping this recurring problem.” when they “do not allow for enforcement actions directed at the source of sanitary sewer overflows, nor for routine water quality surveillance for sources of river water contamination”?

Now it’s true that last restriction was only cited as applying to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), not the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration (DEAR), and not to the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD). But which of this alphabet soup of agencies should be doing “routine water quality surveillance for sources of river water contamination”?

The beginning of the final paragraph of the response does not indicate any intention Continue reading

Video: Valdosta explains Mud Creek WTP spill 2018-08-21

Kenneth Lowe, Assistant Plant Superintendent of the Mud Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, explained that plant’s that recent spill to the organizational meeting of the WWALS Water Quality Testing Committee.

Tom Potter, Kenneth Lowe, Ronnie Thomas, Erica McLelland, Shirley Kokidko, student, Effluents
Tom Potter, Kenneth Lowe, Ronnie Thomas, Erica McLelland, Shirley Kokidko, student

He apologized profusely several times for the spill. Continue reading

CR/T Class 3 Permit Change Meeting Report 2016-06-22

A small but inquisitive group attended the CRT Class 3 Permit Change Public meeting on Wednesday June 22nd at the Public Library on Woodrow Wilson Drive in Valdosta.

The representatives of the company included Ramesh Mulani (Operations Manager for CR/T), Brian Jones from International Paper (apparently International Paper is responsible for the monitoring of the wells), Carol Northern from EarthCon Consultants, a subcontractor to International Paper and a gentleman whose name I failed to record. Ms. Northern gave a detailed overview of the reasons for the two permit change requests.

  1. The first permit change was to Continue reading