Clean Withlacoochee 2020-01-14 and Suwannee River tests 2021-01-18

Thanks to WWALS testers Jacob and Michael Bachrach, we know the Withlacoochee River at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp was finally low enough to test, and tested good. Ditto Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps, all from Thursday a week ago. This corroborated what Madison Health found at the state line and downstream that same day.

[Knights Ferry, Nankin, State Line, chart, Gibson Park, Swim Guide]
Knights Ferry, Nankin, State Line, chart, Gibson Park, Swim Guide

Meanwhile, this Monday, Suzy Hall tested Gibson Park Ramp on the Suwannee River, and found it good. The most recent results we have from Valdosta are for upstream Wednesday aweek ago, but those were good for US 41, GA 133, and US 84. I did ask Valdosta yesterday for an update, but so far nothing.

There’s been no significant rain since last week. So, as far as we know, good to go, for boating, swimming, and fishing, in the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers.

The Swim Guide map of WWALS “beaches” now includes Gibson Park Ramp, which, even though it is on the Suwannee River, is the last downstream stop on the WWALS Alapaha River Water Trail.

[Map: Swim Guide]
Map: Swim Guide

The Langdale Park and US 84 “beaches” show up yellow for historically mixed results, because those most recent Valdosta tests at US 41 and US 84 (and GA 31) are now more than a week old. Continue reading

You can sign on to ask new U.S. administration for clean water

Suwannee Riverkeeper is one of the many signatories on this Waterkeeper Alliance first 100 days plan:


With the Biden administration set to assume power next month, we’re strategizing what the next four years will mean for our movement to protect clean water and a healthy environment. We cannot celebrate until every environmental protection is restored and strengthened.

As the new administration prepares its plans for the next four years, it’s essential that key clean water and climate priorities are addressed at the outset. The first 100 days of Biden’s presidency will set the stage for the administration’s environmental policies — they must get things right from the start.

Our Climate Our Future

The last four years have posed immeasurable challenges to environmental protection — devastating more than 100 environmental safeguards and undoing decades of progress in the fight for clean water and a sustainable planet.

We have a plan to right those wrongs and chart a new course — one that puts clean water and a healthy environment front and center. And, as always, we’ll need your help to execute it.

Sign your name today to support our proposal for the Biden administration to immediately prioritize our waterways, communities, and planet in its first 100 days.

Our asks for the Biden administration’s first 100 days are:

  • Protect Public Lands and Waters from Fossil Fuel Extraction: Ban new fossil fuel leasing and permitting on publicly owned federal lands;
  • Prioritize Environmental Justice: Immediately prioritize reversing the grave systemic damage done to environmental justice policy and enforcement in the United States over the past four years and charting a new just and equitable course for the 21st century;
  • Issue a New Executive Order to Restore the Clean Water Act: Expedite the process for repairing the broken definition of “waters of the United States,” repealing the Trump Dirty Waters Rule and replacing it with science-based protections for our waterways, and reinstating state and tribal authority and public participation rights under section 401 of the Clean Water Act;
  • Restore the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Repeal Trump’s NEPA rollback and strengthen public participation in projects impacting the environment; and
  • Rescind Trump’s Most Damaging Environmental Executive Orders: Revoke executive orders that directed all federal agencies to roll back our environmental protections in favor of the outgoing administration’s pro-polluter agenda.

These are the issues that will guide our advocacy efforts as the new administration assumes leadership — the same issues that the Waterkeeper movement has been advocating for for years. It’s now on all of us to ensure they become priorities of the new administration.

Show your support today by signing on to our proposal for the Biden administration’s first 100 days. We need each and every one of you to join in the fight for drinkable, fishable, swimmable water.


Follow this link to sign on:
http://action.waterkeeper.org/landing-pages/tell-biden-its-time-to-put-clean-water-and-a-healthy-environment-front-and-center

You may also want to ask for repeal of this EO, which promotes mining at the expense of everything else, including environment and property rights:

Executive Order 13817 of December 20, 2017 (A Federal Strategy To Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals)

That EO is being used as an excuse by the Alabama company that wants to mine titanium far too near the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia, which also affects Florida directly. Continue reading

Agenda: WWALS Quarterly Board Meeting 2021-01-17

Here is the agenda for today’s 2PM WWALS Quarterly Board Meeting.

The public is invited. We will be meeting online by zoom, so you don’t even have to go anywhere.

When: 2PM, Sunday, January 17, 2021

Where: Online: see below for the zoom parameters and the agenda.

Event: facebook

Much of the work of WWALS is done by committees of members, and many of them have some good results to report. If you’d like to join a committee, please fill out the application.

[Three-page agenda]
Three-page agenda
Agenda pages (follow the link or see below to read the agenda)

The board itself does most of its business online via email, but it’s good to have these gatherings once a quarter.

The current board members, officers, and staff are listed on the Board web page.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Agenda

See also PDF. Continue reading

Withlacoochee advisory lifted; more FDEP DNA marker and chemical tracer data 2021-01-12

Update 2021-01-21: Clean Withlacoochee 2020-01-14 and Suwannee River tests 2021-01-18.

It’s lifted: the bacterial advisory from Madison and Hamilton Health Departments, because of two successive good sets of results from Madison Health on the Withlacoochee River, the lastest for Tuesday. And Valdosta got good results upstream for Monday. All of which corroborates the Thursday Madison Health, Friday Valdosta, and Saturday WWALS results.

[Lifted, Chart, Markers, Map]
Lifted, Chart, Markers, Map

We also have more DNA marker data from FDEP, for Wednesday, January 6, 2021, which shows continued high ruminant DNA marker results on the Withlacoochee River, this time for Horn Bridge at the State Line, plus CR 150 at Sullivan Launch, and FL 6 just above Madison Blue Spring. Plus some clarifications of what I wrote in the previous blog post.

Before we get into all that, happy boating, swimming, and fishing on the Withlacoochee River! Continue reading

Okefenokee Flyover 2021-01-10

Yes, Twin Pines Minerals still has mining equipment on its site near GA 94, only a few miles from the Okefenokee Swamp. And yes, the land TPM owns still extends northwest to within a few hundred feet of the Swamp and a few thousand feet of the National Wildlife Refuge. Here are some context aerials, showing proximity to the Swamp, Moniac, St. George, and the Cherokee of Georgia Tribal Grounds.

[Twin Pines Minerals mine land, maps, Cherokee of Georgia Tribal Grounds]
Twin Pines Minerals mine land, maps, Cherokee of Georgia Tribal Grounds

You can help stop that strip mine for paint, by contacting the Georgia governor and other elected officials; see below for how.

Here’s a closeup of the current mine staging site: Continue reading

Suwannee Springs flood debris 2021-01-12

Many people have wondered when SRWMD will finish cleaning the debris out of Suwannee Springs from the flood last July. Probably in a few weeks, not months.

Yesterday at the invitation of Edwin McCook of the Suwannee River Water Management District I went to see the problem. He and I and his consultant discussed the problem.

As you can see, getting that rammed-in driftwood out of all that dirt and sand would be quite a task to do by hand. Edwin decided to start with larger equipment. The catch is how to get it in there, and what can fit. He and the consultant are working up a plan.

There will still be need for volunteers to do manual cleanup, since the big equipment can’t get everything. Stay tuned, and we’ll let you know when that will happen. It will probably be several weeks yet.

[Down the steps]
Down the steps

Continue reading

Contaminated Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Suwannee Rivers 2021-01-04; cleaner 2021-01-09

Update 2021-01-14: see clarifications and updates in Withlacoochee advisory lifted; more FDEP DNA marker and chemical tracer data 2021-01-12.

The Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Suwannee Rivers were contaminated with E. coli Monday, January 4, 2021, all the way from US 41 at North Valdosta Road to US 90 below the Withlacoochee River Confluence, and probably farther downstream, according to Valdosta, Madison Health, and FDEP data for that day. We also have preliminary DNA marker results from FDEP.

The culprit? Ruminants. The only ruminants numerous enough to cause the sky-high DNA marker results for the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers? Cattle.

This is a good example of how when testing happens upstream and down, we can all tell what is going on. Florida needs to fund frequent, regular, closely-spaced water quality testing from the state line to the Gulf. Continue reading

Training: Water Quality Testing, All, mostly online, 2021-02-13

Chemical and Bacteriological water testing training for Georgia Adopt-A-Stream standards by our local trainers.

If you’d like to get trained and do testing for WWALS, please fill out this form:
https://forms.gle/DzWvJuXqTQi12N6v7

Yes, training is difficult in this pandemic situation, but Georgia Adopt-A-Stream has worked out methods, mostly online. With last year’s generous grant from Georgia Power WWALS has purchased enough testing kits so that trainees can have one to use during the training.

[Kit]
Kit

In the form, remember to say where you can test. We need testers pretty much everywhere: Continue reading

Much better Withlacoochee River water quality 2021-01-09

Update 2021-01-12: Contaminated Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Suwannee Rivers 2021-01-04; cleaner 2021-01-09.

Friday results by Madison Health and Saturday results by WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach show much improved Withlacoochee River Water Quality, from Nankin Boat Ramp through State Line Boat Ramp and Sullivan Launch down to FL 6.

Madison and Hamilton County Health Departments will probably wait until they get another good result of their own, probably for today or tomorrow, before they lift their health advisory.

However, WWALS already sees two good results in a row, so happy boating, swimming, and fishing on the Withlacoochee River!

We have no new Alapaha River results since the clean WWALS result for Sasser Landing Wednesday, but since there’s been no significant rain since then, the Alapaha is also probably clean for swimming, fishing, and boating.

[Ramps, Plates, Chart, Map]
Ramps, Plates, Chart, Map

We have no new results from Valdosta since Monday a week ago, when all of three upstream locations were still bad. Chances are those locations have also cleared up, but we don’t know. Continue reading

History of Cone Bridge and the Cone family –Dr. Ken Sulak 2020-12-31

A Cone family member asked about the history of Cone Bridge on the Suwannee River. Dr. Ken Sulak writes:

I have been working on writing up the Cone story—on and off over recent months. What I sent is a hodge-podge from various sources. Much yet to be compared and validated and compiled in organized fashion—as best as that can be. However, feel free to send along whatever you wish to your members. But, I would add a caveat that this is a preliminary and partial.

Here is his preliminary and partial Cone Bridge story so far, with a few notes by me:

[Andrew Cone Godwin, Blount's Ferry, Piers of Old Cone Bridge, Suwannee River]
Andrew Cone Godwin, Blount’s Ferry, Piers of Old Cone Bridge, Suwannee River

Part 1

Well, I very rarely go exploring in a group—almost always solo hiking or paddling, unless I go with one or another friends. However, I have been to the old Cone Bridge site several times. I have a great deal of information on the Cone family. Here is a bit of it:

The Cone clan came to Florida in the early 1840s. They and you are descended from royalty.

The Cones were descended from Conn of the Hundred Battles, the first high king of Ireland in the second century AD. Conn was a powerful king who ruled over northern Ireland and Scotland. Variations in the family name over time are as follows:

Conn = Mac Con = MacHone = MacCone = McCone = Cone family lineage to Virginia in the early 1600s, eventually to Florida in early 1840s, 6 generations later: Conn of the Hundred Battles. Second Century AD, First High King of Ireland

Then I have not gotten into the lineage in Ireland/Scotland until Sir Archibald MacHone, Strathclyde, Scotland 1542-1583. He was the earliest direct progenitor of the Florida Cone lineage. An in that lineage Jared MacCone, Midlothian, Scotland 1675-1659.

And Neil MacCone, Scotland b1625, who immigrated to Isle of Wight, Va, d1679 — [IMMIGRANT TO BRITISH COLONIAL AMERICA] Gen 1.

The first Cone to come to Florida was William Henry Cone Jr. 1777-1857, who moved from Georgia to Blount’s Ferry, Florida, on the Suwannee River, about a mile south of the GA/FL border. He was also known as William Cone III and also Capt. William ‘Billy’ Cone. He got the Captain salutation from service in the war of 1812. He was active in the GA and FL militia during the Seminole Wars and built a blockade at Blount’s Ferry. He took over operation of the ferry in 1843 and 1844, and was postmaster there in 1845.

His descendant, William Haddock Cone 1825-1886 & his nephew Daniel Newnan Cone Jr. 1841-1919, built the original Cone Bridge—which was undoubtedly a timber wagon bridge. It was built in 1881, 17 years before the invention of Lally columns—steel cylinders filled with concrete and used to support steel bridges. Steel truss bridges began to be built in the late 1890s. Continue reading