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:

I also urged legislators to vote for this year’s resolution by Jay Powell (District 171) to stop the state from diverting funds from tax trust funds. Actually stopping it will require a state constitutional amendment, but his resolution would cause one to get put on the ballot.

Last year, both Valdosta and Lowndes County passed resolutions supporting Jay Powell’s resolution of that year, as did Hahira, Adel, Lanier County, and Atkinson County. We got more local resolutions passed about this in the Suwannee River Basin than anywhere else in the entire state last year.

Feel free to go ahead and contact your Georgia House member or Georgia state Senator about these bills.

Water Quality Testing

Last night I also discussed with various legislators the idea of allocating funds to GA-EPD for water quality testing, so as to find out what is in our waters. It’s great that GA-EPD is now publishing its Sewage Spill Report each business day. Which leads to further questions.

Valdosta’s water quality testing demonstrated something is getting in our rivers when there are no spills. Don’t we all want to know what, when, where, so we can find out what we can do about it?

Graph, Withlacoochee River Basin, Withlacoochee

And how far downstream do Valdosta’s spills go? Sure, Florida needs to help with that, as discussed at the SRWMD Board meeting Tuesday. But since Valdosta is reducing its testing frequency from weekly to monthly, there are gaps to be covered.

WWALS is doing what we can.

[Plating a sample]
Plating a sample

But at $6 per bacterial sample just for the petrifilms, not counting the rest of the equipment, we could use some funding. Or the states could do it themselves. Compared to the cost of a sewer main or lift station, testing costs are pocket change to a state such as Georgia or Florida.

It would be nice to get a grip on the water quality situation before 300 of our closest friends paddle down the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Riversthis summer in Paddle Georgia.

Also last evening I spoke with Valdosta Mayor John Gayle.

Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter, Valdosta Mayor John Gayle, Inside
Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter, Valdosta Mayor John Gayle

I wanted him to hear first from me that I had Tuesday at SRWMD referred to the Mayor John Gayle Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant. He says he likes that name, because he’s proud of that plant.

More about SRWMD and water quality testing in a later post.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

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

  1. Loretta Tennant Whelpton

    The connection between coal ash and fecal coliform testing is unclear to me (apples and oranges kind of thing). The State of Florida has a dedicated state microbiological and chemical testing laboratory in Jacksonville, so the overhead costs, salaries, supplies, etc, should already be budgeted and allocated for any needed coal ash contamination of Florida waters, or for any fecal contamination of Florida waters. It’s a done deal, and anybody who says otherwise is blowing smoke up our you-know-wheres. I worked for 32 years as a research USDA and State of Florida chemist and microbiologist myself (now retired), so I’m ready if needed to consult for the group on a scientific level with any Georgia or Florida state scientists/administrators, who need to hear our voices loud of clear on this issue. Thanks JSQ, for this post, and the information it provides.

    1. jsq Post author

      They are all things the states of Florida and Georgia need to test for.
      Yes, there are fully-equiped labs in Florida,
      but there are no fully-funded state programs to collect the samples
      and to pay for the analysis, especially not on the regular
      basis that is needed: weekly, at numerous points up and down
      the rivers. -jsq

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