Tag Archives: testing

Valdosta Sewage Spills Workshop at Florida Senate 2019-03-20

A Florida Senate Committee has scheduled a Workshop on Valdosta Sewage Spills.

Table, Committee

The same session this Wednesday afternoon will hear three water bills, SB 1100 about funding water well testing, which is relevant to the recent detection of E. coli in for example Hamilton County wells, SB 1758, which includes some changes to Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) requirements and requirements for wastewater treatment plants to notify customers of unlawful discharges, and SB 1552 about Red Tide mitigation.

Event: facebook, meetup

Florida Senator Bill Montford, District 3 When I went by Senator Bill Montford’s office last Wednesday, his staffer said they would be scheduling this workshop, with public input. They have done so. Senator Montford is the Chair of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. His District 3 includes Hamilton, Madison, and Taylor Counties, all of which are members of the twelve-county Florida Rivers Task Force and signatories on its Resolution asking for assistance from Florida and Georgia about Valdosta sewage spills. The Withlacoochee River, into which much of Valdosta’s raw sewage spills have gone, is the border between Madison and Hamilton Counties, and the Alapaha River, into which basin other Valdosta spills have gone, runs through Hamilton County. Taylor County is not on either of those rivers nor on the Suwannee River, yet its economy is affected by the stigma of Valdosta’s sewage spills.

The Florida Senate, COMMITTEE MEETING NOTICE,

ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Senator Montford, Chair
Senator Albritton, Vice Chair

MEETING DATE: Wednesday, March 20, 2019

TIME: 4:00—6:00 p.m.

PLACE: Mallory Horne Committee Room, 37 Senate Building [404 S. Monroe, Tallahassee, FL 32399]

AMENDMENT DEADLINE: 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

The #Trashtag Challenge: Cleanups are good, but throwaway plastic needs to be stopped

It’s great the #Trashtag Challenge is getting people to clean up litter, but remember the straw and the sea turtle. Let’s also get on with fixing the problem, which is throwaway plastic and other discardable containers and wrappers.

[A new challenge.]
A new challenge.

It’s fun and useful to clean up a creek, like we did Sunday on Onemile Branch at Azalea Festival in Valdosta.

[Scotti downstream]
Scotti downstream

WWALS does this on every outing, which is also a cleanup, plus some specific cleanups, such as two at Troupville Boat Ramp on the Little River and one at Sheboggy on the Alapaha River last year. We find the amount of trash tends to go down, as more people catch on that we need to take care of our waters.

Yet more needs to be done. Remember last year at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, the sea turtle and the straw? Continue reading

Onemile Branch Cleanup, Drexel Park, during Azalea Festival 2019-03-10

Update 2019-03-12: The #Trashtag Challenge: Cleanups are good, but throwaway plastic needs to be stopped.

Not bad for an idea from a few days before: a cleanup at Onemile Branch in Drexel Park during Azalea Festival.

[Beatriz assisting]
Beatriz assisting

Juan and Luisa from Colombia with the VSU English Language Institute waded into the stream, with Beatriz Potter holding the bucket and Tom Potter advising.

Sara Jay explained her WWALS water quality test kit.

[Sara explaining]
Sara explaining

Continue reading

WCTV on FL Counties Rivers Task Force and Valdosta Wastewater 2019-03-07

It turns out Valdosta can schedule a workshop for elected officials to meet with the Valdosta City Council, as the the dozen downstream Florida counties previously requested.

Local waterways, Protect

Emma Wheeler, WCTV, 7 March 2019, Task force looks to curb Valdosta sewage spills,

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) — Communities continue to push for more prevention of spills at Valdosta’s wastewater treatment system.

Several North Florida counties down the river from Valdosta formed a task force last year to try and protect local waterways. The group is now hoping the states can step in to help.

Priority to protect, Protect

Counties across North Florida and South Georgia are making it a priority to protect the rivers. The task force has passed a Continue reading

Monthly Valdosta WQ Data 2019-02-07

Valdosta has fallen down to only monthly water quality testing, instead of their former weekly schedule.

Graph, Withlacoochee River Basin, Withlacoochee

They’ve also dropped their two state line stations, so the GA-FL Line trace on this graph ends in December 2018.

Wide Map, Stations

Readings have risen since their January sampling, with Valdosta’s US 84 sampling station above the Georgia state limit at 265 cfu/100 ml of E. coli. Continue reading

The rest of the Valdosta wastewater story at SRWMD 2019-02-12

Valdosta Utilities naturally painted as rosy a picture as possible, and newspapers have limited space, so here is the rest of the story about Valdosta wastewater at the Suwannee River Water Management District board meeting last Tuesday. SRWMD Chair Virginia H. Johns understands the stigma, and Board Member Virginia Sanchez spelled it out:

SRWMD Chair Virginia H. Johns

“You don’t want to swim in a little sewage versus a lot of sewage either. Both of them are bad. A spill is bad.”

Featured in this post, drawing from the WWALS videos of all the relevant speakers, are Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse, who talked about the catch basin Valdosta is digging, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, who filled in many pieces omitted by Valdosta and FDEP, and Hamilton County resident Jim McBrayer, who got the attention of the SRWMD board by saying there was E. coli in his well and SRWMD should know where it came from, plus especially the very participatory SRWMD board, who made it pretty clear to FDEP they wanted data by their next meeting, and they wanted Valdosta to move along in fixing their problems in less than a hundred years.

Let’s not forget Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, who pointed out something Valdosta doesn’t want to hear: it’s the stigma of sewage spills that is the big problem they are causing. For sure we need to find out what the specific health and other effects are of Valdosta sewage and other contamination on river water and nearby wells. But the stigma of Valdosta sewage goes far beyond that.

Darryl Muse, Utilities Director, Valdosta

In the WWALS video, Continue reading

EPA kicks PFAS regulation a year down the road

Yesterday’s EPA PFAS plan does nothing except to study for a year or more what has already been studied. Where are the limits on amounts of these firefighting chemicals in water that would enable EPA or GA-EPD to test private wells, for example for the PFAS that got into groundwater from Moody Air Force Base’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, causing Moody’s report to say be careful eating fish caught in Beatty Branch or Cat Creek, upstream from the Withlacoochee River? Where are the funds and methods to remediate the problem and to stop it getting worse?

[Figure 25 Waste Water Treatment Plant (AFFF Area 8) PFBS, PFOA, and PFOS in Soil and Sediment]
Figure 25 Waste Water Treatment Plant (AFFF Area 8) PFBS, PFOA, and PFOS in Soil and Sediment

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 14 February 2018, EPA’s Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan, Continue reading

Coal Ash, Trust Funds, and Water Quality Testing at Lowndes County Bird Supper in Atlanta 2019-02-13

Last night Georgia legislators from all over the state, including numerous committee chairs, feasted on quail supplied by Lowndes County and Valdosta in the annual Bird Supper, a six-decade tradition of local lobbying in the Georgia state capitol.

Packed house, Inside

I thanked Jeff Jones (District 167) for his new coal ash bills, and reminded other legislators to vote for them this year, like they did his earlier ones last year: Continue reading