Tag Archives: quality

Better bacterial levels in Valdosta WQ data 2019-04-02

All of Valdosta’s water quality sampling stations were below the Georgia state limit for E. coli for the first week of April. Valdosta no longer samples weekly, only once a month. It also no longer samples at the state line.

Graph, Withlacoochee River Basin, Withlacoochee

We got this monthly Valdosta WQ data via open records request, as usual. As I said at the April 10, 2019 meeting between Valdosta and the dozen Florida counties, I also filed the next day open records requests for Valdosta’s permit-required spill-followup test data, and for the engineering study they said they had related to how big the new catch basin needs to be. Yesterday I got the latest monthly data a day late, but only a “working on it” about the other two requests. I will now Continue reading

Excluding groundwater makes no sense above the Florida Aquifer –WWALS to EPA 2019-04-15

Approved at the Sunday WWALS board meeting and filed last night via regulations.gov as PDF.


April 15, 2019

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Docket Center
Office of Water Docket
Mail Code 28221T
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Re: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149,
       Revised Definition of Waters of United States

To Whom it May Concern:

WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS), also known as Suwannee Riverkeeper, submits the following comments on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) proposed rule entitled “Revised Definition of Waters of United States,” 84 Federal Register 4154-01 (February 14, 2019) (hereinafter “Proposed Rule”).

In addition to supporting the comments of Waterkeeper Alliance and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), WWALS adds these comments on groundwater.

The Proposed Rule’s categorical exclusion of groundwater makes no sense here above the Floridan Aquifer where surface water and groundwater constantly interchange, and pollutants travelling through groundwater are a frequent source of health, environmental, and economic problems.

[2019-04-15--WWALS-to-EPA-0001]
2019-04-15–WWALS-to-EPA-0001

This proposed exclusion of groundwater is called out repeatedly in the Proposed Rule, starting with this:

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

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

Florida Water Conservation Month and Waterkeepers Florida 2019-04-02

Yesterday, the Chair of Waterkeepers Florida received a resolution sponsored by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried and “signed by Governor DeSantis and the full Cabinet, recognizing the month of April as Water Conservation Month in Florida.” This is a good thing, but we should keep our eyes open about Florida’s current cabinet.

[WKA FL Chair, Governor, Cabinet]
Left to right: Lisa Rinaman for WKA FL, unknown, Gov. Ron DeSantis, FDEP Secretary Noah Valenstein, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, unknown, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Chief Financial Office Jimmy Patronis.

Commissioner Fried presented the resolution to Lisa Rinaman, the St. Johns Riverkeeper and Chair of Waterkeepers Florida. Read the resolution declaring April as Water Conservation Month here.

“On behalf of Waterkeepers Florida, we thank Commissioner Fried, Governor DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet for designating April as Water Conservation Month. Water conservation is critical to the work we do to protect and restore Florida’s waters. We applaud this resolution and the Cabinet’s commitment to conserving Florida’s waters and the opportunity to partner with our leaders to protect our waters for future generations,” said Lisa Rinaman, St. Johns Riverkeeper.

On St. Johns Riverkeeper’s facebook page, yesterday: Continue reading

Georgia legislature passed a firefighting foam regulation bill 2019-03-28

Both houses of the Georgia General Assembly have passed a bill to regulate PFAS fluorinated firefighting chemicals, such as spilled at Moody Air Force Base and the other two Georgia AF bases. If the governor signs it, this bill will become law.

Passed both House and Senate, HB 458

The bill is rather limited in scope, basically only Continue reading

Public Meetings, Revisions, GA Nonpoint Source Management Plan 2019-03-29

As usual, the closest public meeting to the biggest city in the Suwannee River Basin is two hours away, this time in Dawson, Georgia. Received Monday via email. The documents attached are on the WWALS website.

When: Friday, March 29, 2019 from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm

Where: 152 N. Main Street, Dawson, GA

Event: facebook, meetup

[Meeting locations]
Meeting locations
google map

EPD Watershed Protection Branch

Notice of Public Meetings for the Revisions to Georgia’s
Statewide Nonpoint Source Management Plan
Continue reading

E. coli at GA 133 Withlacoochee 2019-03-05

Valdosta’s monthly water quality testing data shows E. coli down at three out of their six remaining stations, and up at the other three, highest at US 41 on the Withlacoochee River, upstream of most of Valdosta and its Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant. This data is for Tuesday, March 5, 2019, and was obtained as usual by an open records request from WWALS.

Graph, Withlacoochee River Basin, Withlacoochee

Even that 265 cfu/100 ml E. coli is barely above the Georgia limit of 200, and far below the alert line of 1,000.

US 41, Withlacochee River, Withlacoochee

GA 133, Withlacochee River, Withlacoochee

At the next station downstream from US 41, at GA 133, the Withlacoochee River still showed Continue reading

Help upgrade our Suwannee River Basins in Georgia

We asked the state of Georgia to upgrede our main Suwannee River Basin rivers (and some lakes and swamps) from their current lowest water quality classification as Fishing to what they really are: Recreational Use. You can help!

[Georgia landings in Suwannee River Basin]

Every three years, federal law requires each state to review its water quality standards. 2019 is such a year for Georgia, so the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) is conducting a Triennial Review. The request WWALS sent to GA-EPD, background, and their response are all on the WWALS website. Our request was rather long, with 23 pages asking for reclassification of the Suwannee River, the Okefenokee Swamp, the Alapaha River, Lake Irma, Banks Lake, Grand Bay, the Withlacoochee River, the Little River, and Reed Bingham State Park Lake, all from Fishing to Recreational Use. The WWALS cover letter is included at the end of this blog post. For the rest, see the WWALS website.

The response thus far from GA-EPD has some good news: Continue reading

Elected officials from Valdosta and 12 downstream Florida Counties 2019-04-10

Update 2019-04-12: Videos.

Update 2019-03-14: The Valdosta City Clerk says the Valdosta City Manager says “the public will have an opportunity to speak.”

As discussed in Lake City when the dozen downstream Florida counties passed their resolution, and as foreshadowed by Emma Wheeler on WCTV, and now confirmed by Valdosta City Clerk Teresa Bolden, elected officials from Valdosta and twelve Florida counties will meet to discuss Valdosta wastewater spills and how to stop them. She also confirmed that since there will be a quorum of the Valdosta City Council there, this will be a public meeting.

When: 6PM, Wednesday, April 10, 2019

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

Event: facebook, meetup

Valdosta City Hall Annex
Photo: Ellis, Ricket & Associates.

It’s not clear the public will be able to speak, but you can come and see for yourself. As I told the Valdosta City Clerk, this afternoon I already invited the Suwannee River Water Management District and everybody else who was in their meeting. Valdosta will probably publish an announcement soon, but so far we at least know the meeting will happen and it will be public. Y’all come.

Back on Continue reading