Tag Archives: Transparency

Letter: Lowndes County, GA, Commission supports Troupville River Camp 2019-12-30

The county of the site of the proposed Troupville River Camp supports the project.

[Lowndes County’s support for the “Troupville River Camp” project.]
Lowndes County’s support for the “Troupville River Camp” project.
PDF

On behalf of the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners, thank you for the opportunity to express Lowndes County’s support for the “Troupville River Camp” project.

Quality of life amenities are an integral component of economic development initiatives. The ability to provide a river park for citizens that could also serve as a destination for others is an amazing opportunity for our community. Further, programs proposed that will continue to protect one of South Georgia/North Florida’s most valuable natural resources should not be overlooked in the consideration of this application.

Lowndes County appreciates and admires the initiative demonstrated by WWALS Watershed Coalition. Those associated with the organization are both knowledgeable with regards to preservation and passionate about their mission.

Thank you again for the opportunity to express Lowndes County’s support of their efforts.

I had requested this letter at the last Lowndes County Commission meeting of 2019. As I mentioned, Chairman Bill Slaughter was already familiar with the site. Continue reading

Troupville River Camp at Lowndes County, GA, Commission 2019-12-10

At the last Lowndes County Commission meeting of 2019, as Suwannee Riverkeeper, I complimented Code Enforcement and asked for support for the Troupville River Camp project. 
      8. CWTBH - John S. Quarterman - Troupville River Camp
Video.

A WWALS member had called in a complaint to Lowndes County Code Enforcement back in August, about trash at the bottom of the Flying J parking lot at I-75 Exit 2.. It was a big job, involving removing many truckloads of tires, and completely rebuilding the fence, but it was almost finished when I went by there that same Tuesday morning.

About Troupville River Camp, I summarized the WWALS pre-application to the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program (GOSP) for a river camp like those on the Suwannee River, but this one at the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River, just west of Valdosta.

This method of asking had been requested Continue reading

Mining Ruined Family Field –Charles F. Arwood, 2019-10-23

Another letter in the Charlton County Herald, October 23, 2019, same issue as the letter posted previously. You can send your own letter to the editor or comment to the Army Corps or GA-EPD.

[Lawtey, FL, Highland Mine, Chemours]
Lawtey, FL, Highland Mine, Chemours, google earth.

Mining Ruined Family Field

Dear Editor,

Let me start out by saying that I have not been a part of any protests that have been going on. I don’t think anyone can foresee if the proposed strip mining will actually harm the swamp. We probably won’t know until many years have passed. Only time will truly tell.

However, I can say that the strip mining by Dupont in Bradford County did do a lot of harm to my Grandfather’s strawberry farm! My Grandfather owned a farm that joined Dupont’s Continue reading

Twin Pines: no keys to the Okefenokee –Christian Hunt 2019-10-23

Excellent letter in the Charlton County Herald, October 23, 2019. You can send your own letter to the editor or comment to the Army Corps or GA-EPD.

Twin Pines should not be given the keys to the Okefenokee

Dear Editor,

Since announcing plans to strip mine along the Trail Ridge adjacent to Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Twin Pines Minerals has held multiple hearings and meetings with political figures and the people of Charlton County to make their case and ostensibly calm fears about the miners environmental impact. Unfortunately, the company continues to display a lack of transparency and misrepresent both the nature and scale of the proposed mine, as well the costs of mining next to the swamp.

To truly understand what is at stake, here are the facts.

[Hunt]

First, Twin Pines has repeatedly claimed that operations will only Continue reading

Video: River Gauges @ Lowndes County Commission 2019-10-21

Flood Inundation Maps (FIM) are related to Lowndes County taking over funding from Valdosta of the Skipper Bridge Withlacoochee River gauge, said EMA Director Ashley Tye.

[19.7feet]
19.7feet

Joint funding of $135,000 from Valdosta and Lowndes County started work on FIM for Skipper Bridge in 2016, with completion announced 22 May 2018.

The item about joint funding with USGS and SRWMD to fund the Skipper Bridge Withlacoochee River Gauge, in addition to the Folsom Bridge Little River Gauge, was the longest item at five minutes yesterday morning. Continue reading

Lowndes County takes over Skipper Bridge Withlacoochee River Gauges with help from SRWMD 2019-10-21

Funding is shifting from Valdosta to Lowndes County for the Skipper Bridge Road Withlacoochee River gauge, adding to the county’s traditional since 2009 funding of the Folsom Bridge GA 122 Little River gauge. That’s $8,300 and $14,200, respectively, with another $5,900 for the Skipper Bridge Gauge from the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD). The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) puts in $900 towards each gauge, or $1800 total. SRWMD and USGS previously assisted Valdosta in funding the Skipper Bridge Road gauge.

Skipper Bridge Road Withlacoochee River Gauge NWS graph

This change will be discussed this morning at 8:30 AM and voted on at 5:30 PM Tuesday, October 22, 2019, by the Lowndes County Commission. The reason for this change is: Continue reading

Posted: Valdosta Country Club Sewage Spill, six days afterwards 2019-08-27

The GA-EPD person who enters the data was on vacation, but eventually the Valdosta Country Club sewage spill appeared in GA-EPD’s online reports, on August 27, 2019, with this:

“Note: Initial 24-hour spill notification received by EPD 8/21, via phone. Entered 8/26 due to employee vacation.”

As I noted to GA-EPD, this is a good example of a case where an automated email alert could have let them and us all know when it appeared. Alabama has been doing that for two years now, and Florida for almost as long.

3353 Plantation Drive is not the spill location, Google Map
Red marker: 3353 Plantation Drive. Yellow diamond sign: actual spill location.

That entry included a more precise address than Valdosta had previously reported: 3353 Plantation Drive. Unfortunately, that address is still incorrect. As I have pointed out to GA-EPD, the spill was Continue reading

Valdosta sewage sign, golf course, Valdosta Country Club, Stillhouse Branch 2019-08-23

Friday we found the warning sign on the Valdosta Country Club green for the Wednesday force main sewage spill, thanks to Valdosta Utilities Environmental Manager Scott Fowler, who told me where it was. Sara Jay has tested downstream for WWALS, and maybe we can get the Valdosta water quality testing data, as well. Although there is some ambiguity as to which way downstream is.

[Sewage Spill]
Sewage Spill

“It stinks,” said a man on a golf cart on the green, as I was taking pictures. Continue reading

Valdosta Sewage spill into Stillhouse Branch, Withlacoochee River 2019-08-21

Credit for telling the public, but no credit for a very vague report, in the latest sewage spill in the City of Valdosta.

Every address on Plantation Drive is in the 3300 block, so that locates the spill only within 4,000 feet. Valdosta does know the name of that “local stream,” which is Stillhouse Branch, and where it goes, which is into the Withlacoochee River, upstream from US 41 and Langdale Park.

[Plantation Drive]
Plantation Drive

By “on a golf course” we can deduce the spill must have been Continue reading

Videos: Valdosta and Florida Counties about sewage 2019-07-10

Congenial yet sometimes testy, the Florida counties meeting Valdosta about sewage again last night.

The Valdosta catch basin many Floridians thought would be finished by now? Probably by December.

That report the Utilities Manager last time said explained why 8 or 10 million gallons was big enough for a catch basin? No, it doesn’t explain that. Fortunately, Georgia EPD wants to know how many gallons will be needed for how much rain, and apparently won’t issue a permit for the catch basin until there are answers, so maybe we’ll finally find out.

GA-EPD also wanted to know what if the catch basin fills up? Valdosta’s answer: tanker trucks to ship the sewage from the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant to the Mud Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Or the other direction, if needed. That sounds like a fine idea. Although it doesn’t address the question of what if the heavy rains fall directly on Valdosta and both WTPs fill up.

Meanwhile, the catch basin is just one of a combination of fixes, mostly intended to alleviate infiltration of stormwater into the sewer system, and about 25% of those are done, says Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber.

Will all these projects be finished this year? No.

Floridians offer to get national elected officials to help.

Floridians also emphasized Ecotourism, and asked me to talk about the 350 people who just came through on Paddle Georgia (#PaddleGA2019), the WWALS Boomerang paddle race from Florida to Georgia and back, and the proposed River Camp at the Little River Confluence west of Valdosta, like the ones on the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. Valdosta Mayor John Gayle wrote down the date of the WWALS Boomerang (October 26th), and afterwards both Hamilton and Madison Counties promised to help.

Tom Mirti of SRWMD described Florida water quality testing, but didn’t mention that FDEP’s monthly testing isn’t made public until four months later. He did mention that FDEP is now testing for sucralose. Merrillee Malwwitz-Jipson, who requested that, was sitting right there. Thanks to her and Jim Tatum for coming from Florida to this meeting.

Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber said Valdosta was still testing at the state line, which caused me to ask why I didn’t get any results for those locations this year in response to open records requests, then? Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse said that was because they haven’t actually tested at the state line this year. He also complained that he had staff working 100 hours a week. Which makes me wonder whether the city of Valdosta is really giving him what he needs, or whether he hasn’t asked for everything he needs.

Anyway, people were rightly impressed with how much Valdosta has done and with their current plans. However, there is still room for improvement.

Below are Continue reading