Tag Archives: Suwannee River

Videos: WWALS Booth 2020-03-21

WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman had a great idea of setting up the WWALS booth in the woods (with gnats and mosquitos), since we can’t take it to festivals right now.


[Welcome to the booth]
Welcome to the booth

She says, “Welcome to the booth. Unfortunately because we are quarantined, we can’t have the booth out anywhere, and y’all can’t come to visit us even if we were out somewhere, but we thought we could give some information and have our educational information available for you for however long you are at home.” Stay tuned for more episodes!

Request comment deadline extension and public hearings about titanium mine near Okefenokee Swamp –Suwannee Riverkeeper to Army Corps 2020-03-19

We urge everyone else to also send the Army Corps a comment letter asking for an extension of the comment deadline and for public hearings.

For more things you can do to oppose this bad mining application, see How to Comment.

[Map: TPM Mine, Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River]
Map: TPM Mine, Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River
in the WWALS map of All Public Landings in the Suwannee River Basin.
The TPM mine is marked in the right center by the highlighted crossed hammers,
due north of the line of four Chemours titanium mines in north Florida.

Below is the text of the letter WWALS just sent to the Corps as a PDF.

March 19, 2020

To: Col. Daniel Hibner, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District
Attention: Ms. Holly Ross, holly.a.ross@usace.army.mil,
CESAS-SpecialProjects@usace.army.mil
1104 North Westover Boulevard, Suite 9, Albany, Georgia 31707

Cc: Stephen Wiedl, Wetlands Unit, stephen.wiedl@dnr.ga.gov
Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division,
Water Protection Branch, 7 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, GA 30334

Re: Applicant: Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, Application Number: SAS-2018-00554

Dear Colonel Hibner,

Regarding permit application SAS-2018-0054 by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, of Birmingham, Alabama, Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) asks the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to extend the public comment period and to hold public hearings, as detailed at the end of this letter.

Review of the current 219-page Application and the hundreds of pages of appendices is not practicable in Continue reading

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

Supporters of the Okefenokee Swamp ready to stop new strip mine application by Twin Pines Minerals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, March 16, 2020 — The coalition of supporters of the Okefenokee Swamp against anything that would harm it stands ready to stop the new strip mine application, same as the old one.

Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) of Birmingham, Alabama, in its new application claims its proposed titanium strip mine less than three miles from the Okefenokee Swamp would be on a “reduced mining area,” which is actually 86% of what they proposed last time. They say they want to do a “demonstration” mine.

[Figure 1: Location of the Proposed Saunders Demonstration Mine]
Figure 1: Location of the Proposed Saunders Demonstration Mine
PDF

Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman says, “Let their foot in the door and it will be even harder to get rid of them later. TPM is under a Florida Consent Order along with Chemours for violations at four mines due south in north Florida. Chemours now wants a fifth Florida titanium mine on Trail Ridge. Why would we think TPM would stop with just a nibble of Trail Ridge in Georgia? Our Okefenokee Swamp with its fishing, boating, birding, and hunting nearby, is much more important than any mine, especially since it is the headwaters of the Suwannee River and the St Marys River.”

Despite TPM’s assurances, the miners have not proven their mining would not affect the groundwater, the underlying Floridan Aquifer, surface streams, or the Okefenokee Swamp.

Their application form proposes to mine 1041.7 acres, the same size tract as in their application of last year that they retracted in early January of this year. But their actual application says “TPM now wishes to conduct a demonstration mining project for a reduced mining area of approximately 898 acres.”

86% of the original acreage is not much reduced. And how is that just a demonstration?

No doubt you will hear more about that and other problems with the miners’ application from the coalition supporting the Swamp and opposing anything that would harm it. That coalition includes a wide range of organizations, Continue reading

WWALS Booth at Wild Azalea Festival, White Springs, FL 2020-03-21

Update 2020-03-13: No WWALS booth at festivals rest of March 2020 due to virus. No, we will not be at Wild Azalea Festival.

Music, dance, arts and crafts, foods and contests, in historic White Springs, Florida. You can volunteer to help WWALS talk about our outings and advocacy, including, yes, E. coli in the rivers, plus the Earth Day Cleanup on the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers, the Eighth Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race on Georgia’s Little River end of April, and the Third Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest coming up in August in Valdosta. We’ll have the froggy toss game, the EnviroScape, and a kayak raffle.

People, Talking
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS of WWALS at Wild Azalea Festival 2019.

When: 10AM-4PM, Saturday, March 21, 2019

Where: Bailey F Ogburn Recreational Facility
Adams Memorial Circle, White Springs, Florida 32096

Event: facebook by the festival

What: Continue reading

Bad Withlacoochee Friday, Worse Crooked Creek Saturday 2020-03-07

Update 2020-03-13: Video: Earth Day Cleanup and Paddle –Suwannee Riverkeeper & Georgia Power on Scott James Radio 2020-03-12.

Valdosta’s Friday Withlacoochee River Knights Ferry results were bad enough, but the WWALS Crooked Creek Sunday results were even worse. Crooked Creek is upstream of Okapilco Creek and Knights Ferry.

[Withlacoochee, Okapilco, Crooked Creek 2020-03-07]
Withlacoochee, Okapilco, Crooked Creek 2020-03-07
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of data from Georgia and Florida sources, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

We have no new results from Florida since the Madison Health TNTC Thursday results.

A useful thing about the Valdosta results is you can see that the E. coli readings are very high starting at Knights Ferry, but not upstream. So this is not coming from Valdosta. WWALS continues testing and nwrrowing the sources of this contamination. You can help.

Continue reading

Cleaner Withlacoochee Monday, Tuesday; Suwannee unknown 2020-03-03

Update 2020-03-06: Special meeting to approve an RFP for an environmental attorney –Madison BOCC 2020-03-06

Tuesday data from Lowndes County, Georgia, shows much better water quality in Okapilco Creek upstream from Quitman and in the Withlacoochee River downstream. Remember, Lowndes County has its own sewer system, which did not spill. And one of Lowndes County’s results for the previous week is very interesting.

All the maps and charts in this post are on the WWALS website in a PDF for printing. They’re also on facebook.

The most recent data we have from Valdosta and Florida is for Monday. WWALS has not tested this week because of rain, but soon. You can help.

Yesterday and today, five inches of rain fell on Tifton, and all that water is washing downstream, with the Withlacoochee already in flood at Pinetta.

[Quitman to Withlacoochee River]
Map: Quitman to Withlacoochee River.
In the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

In the above map, northeast of Quitman near Okapilco Creek, are the Quitman sewage settling ponds, which Continue reading

Suwannee River contamination running downstream to the Gulf 2020-03-01

Update 2020-03-05: Cleaner Withlacoochee Monday, Tuesday; Suwannee unknown 2020-03-03

Whatever the Saturday contamination is, by Monday it had apparently moved downstream from FL 51 (Hal W. Adams bridge between Mayo and Luraville). Unfortunately, it is not expected to dilute or dissipate. More likely it will be unhealthy all the way to the Gulf. You can help.

[2020-03-01 Suwannee river downstream]
2020-03-01 Suwannee river downstream
The entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of all known data sources is on the WWALS google drive.
For context, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Katelyn Potter of SRWMD forwarded a message from SRWMD Water Resources Chief Darlene Velez, saying “results below from samples collected Sunday 3/1/2020.”

Suwannee at US90: Fecal – 98 mpn/100ml; E. coli – 172 mpn/100ml
Suwannee at CR250: Fecal – 131 mpn/100ml; E. coli – 116 mpn/100ml
Suwannee at SR51: Fecal – 187 mpn/100ml; E. coli – 114 mpn/100ml

She depicted all those numbers as green. By our color scheme, the 172 E. coli is orange, because it’s higher than the 126 cfu/100 mL that is what longterm averages should be below. See also what do these numbers mean?

She continued:

I also ran some calculations:

From Withlacoochee (Pinetta) to Suwannee (Ellaville) the dilution factor is 0.49

From Suwannee above Santa Fe River (Luraville) to Suwannee below Santa Fe River (Rock Bluff) the dilution factor is 0.78

We have several springs backflowing now with river levels up, and we are losing approximately 1000cfs to the aquifer between Ellaville and Luraville gages.

On the Suwannee the water velocities are between 1 and 1.5 mph, so the high bacteria we got at SR51 on Saturday morning should be near Manatee Springs tomorrow (Tuesday 3/3) morning and to the Gulf of Mexico sometime Wed (3/4). Based on the dilution factors above the 980 E. coli we got at SR51 is unlikely to be diluted below health threshold below the Santa Fe River.

Please let me know if you have questions. Continue reading

Still bad Saturday: Withlacoochee and Suwannee River to Mayo and Luraville 2020-02-29

Update 2020-03-02: Suwannee River contamination running downstream to the Gulf 2020-03-01.

Still bad water quality all the way to Luraville and Mayo, according to FDOH Friday for the Withlacoochee River and SRWMD Saturday for the Suwannee River.

A catalog of WWALS, Valdosta, Lowndes County, FDEP, FDOH, and SRWMD results is at wwals.net/issues/testing/. You can help.

[2020-02-29--excerpt-WWALS-composite-wq-results]
2020-02-29–excerpt-WWALS-composite-wq-results
Extract from WWALS composite water quality test results from Georgia and Florida.

A couple days ago I remarked that nobody knew the water quality of the Suwannee River downstream from Dowling Park, because nobody had tested that. Saturday SRWMD did test down at the Hal W. Adams Bridge on FL 51, between Mayo and Luraville, and the result was above the alert level of 1,000, while at Dowling Park it was back below the too-high level of 410. Apparently something was moving down the Suwannee River.

We still don’t know what’s going on downstream of FL 51, for example at US 27 (Branford) or CR 340 (Rock Bluff Ramp). This is more evidence that we need regular, frequent, testing at all these locations, not just after a spill or other upstream alert.

Thanks to Katelyn Potter of the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) for forwarding the Florida updates late Sunday evening. Thanks to SRWMD and Madison Health for testing on a weekend, and to Florida Department of Health (FDOH) for helping. Thanks to Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and Julie Espy for posting results on an FDEP web page. No update on Valdosta’s results website for Friday yet.

WWALS testers Conn and Trudy Cole got Continue reading

Avoid Withlacoochee River Knights Ferry to Suwannee River Dowling Park 2020-02-27

The good news: both Valdosta and FDEP are posting testing results on their websites. There’s a catalog of those and WWALS’ results at wwals.net/issues/testing/.

The better news: Valdosta is testing three times a week, FDOH once a week, and FDEP is testing again, after saying it wouldn’t.

The really bad news: Thursday test results say stay off the Withlacoochee River at least from Knights Ferry on down, and the Suwannee River from the Withlacoochee Confluence at least down to Dowling Park.

The WWALS results from my Monday samples may help explain this contamination, and it looks like you can see it flow from Crooked Creek through Okapilco Creek to the Withlacoochee and the Suwannee. You can help.

[Rain driving contamination down 2020-02-27]
Rain driving contamination down 2020-02-27.
Extract from WWALS composite water quality test results from Georgia and Florida.

But Valdosta’s Wednesday results also show contamination at US 41, upstream of Valdosta. And FDEP shows a spike at Dowling Park again. So there are multiple sources, not only in Brooks County, Georgia, but also elsewhere. The good news for Valdosta is it doesn’t seem to be coming from Valdosta.

WWALS continues to work on locating sources of contamination. For example, two of us visited the Quitman Land Application Site Wednesday. More on that in another blog post. WWALS testers will be sampling this weekend.

I took samples on Crooked Creek again Continue reading