Stream monitoring with only annual reporting privatized by Lowndes County Commission 2020-04-28

With only one dissenting vote, last night the Lowndes County Commission approved more than $45,000 for a sole-source contract for stream monitoring, with only annual reporting required. Since the contractor is private, it doesn’t have to answer open records requests. How does this help warn people when the rivers are clean or not?

There had never been any bids, even though the requirement for this monitoring from GA-EPD apparently came in back in June 2018. The Commissioners did not have the monitoring plan in front of them, nor the GA-EPD requirement, as near as I can tell.

[BUDGET IMPACT: $45,120.00]
BUDGET IMPACT: $45,120.00

Apparently somebody read a list of streams to the Commissioners, along with the monitoring required for each. But that list was not in the posted agenda.

[Suwannee Basin impaired waters, map]
Suwannee Basin impaired waters, map by GECAP.

We can guess it was maybe the “Not Supporting” or “Assessment Pending” streams in Lowndes County from the GA-EPD Listing of Waterbodies, Clean Water Act Section 303(d), for which see below. But we don’t know.

And what about the contamination often coming down Okapilco Creek into GAR031102030902 Withlacoochee River: Okapilco Creek to Stateline? No Commissioner thought to ask that. How will this contractor work with WWALS? Perhaps an indication came when I spoke with the County Engineer Mike Fletcher Monday morning: “I don’t know what WWALS is doing,” he said.

Did Lowndes County consult with any of the various organizations that are doing stream monitoring already, such as the cities of Valdosta or Quitman, Madison Health, FDEP, SRWMD, or SGRC? If so, they didn’t mention it in last night’s meeting.

It is not even clear that this was a public meeting. At 2:38 PM, less than three hours before the 5:30 PM voting Lowndes County Commission Regular Session, which the public was supposed to be able to listen to via teleconference, they changed the access code from 373-829-614# to 584-852-611#. It is not clear how that meets even the 24-hour notice for an emergency public meeting, and this was a regularly-scheduled meeting.

Only one Commissioner voted against; see the more detailed report in the LAKE blog.

There were no Citizens Wishing to Be Heard, not that it would have mattered, because as usual that was after the Commissioners voted. This is the only County Commission of the many counties I’ve been to in two states that does not let citizens speak either at the beginning of the session or on each agenda item as it comes up.

Listing of Waterbodies, Clean Water Act Section 303(d)

See also separate blog post about this list.

  1. GAR031102021203 Alapaha River: Willacoochee River to Stateline; 94 Miles in Atkinson, Berrien, Lanier, Lowndes, Echols Counties
    Not Supporting; Category 4a; Cause Fish Tissue (Mercury); Source NP; Data Provider 1,9,55; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes TMDL completed Fish Tissue (Mercury) (2002).
  2. GAR031102030306 Beatty Branch: Headwaters to Cat Creek; 3 Miles in Lowndes County
    Assessment Pending; Category 3; Cause ; Source ; Data Provider 1; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes “EPD needs to determine the “”natural DO”” for the area before it can be determined whether the dissolved oxygen criteria are being met.”
  3. GAR031102030305 Cat Creek: Beaverdam Creek downstream SR 37 to Beatty Mill Creek; 4 Miles in Berrien, Lowndes Counties
    Not Supporting; Category 4a; Cause DO; Source NP; Data Provider 1,62; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes TMDL completed DO 2001.
  4. GAR031102030304 Cat Creek: Beatty Mill Creek to Withlacoochee River near Ray City; 4 Miles in Lowndes County
    Not Supporting; Category 4a; Cause DO; Source NP; Data Provider 10,62; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes TMDL completed DO 2001.
  5. GAR031102030802 Clyatt Mill Creek: Headwaters to Withlacoochee River; 6 Miles in Lowndes County
    Supporting; Category 1; Cause ; Source ; Data Provider 59; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes
  6. GAR031102040503 Franks Creek: State Route S1780 to Little River near Hahira; 9 Miles in Lowndes County
    Not Supporting; Category 4a; Cause FC; Source UR; Data Provider 10; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes TMDLs completed FC (2000 & 2006) & DO (2001).
  7. GAR031102020908 Grand Bay Creek: Grand Bay to Alapahoochee River; 18 Miles in Lanier, Lowndes Counties
    Supporting; Category 1; Cause ; Source ; Data Provider 1; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes
  8. GAR031102030903 Jumping Gully Creek: Bevel Creek to State Line; 1 Miles in Lowndes County
    Not Supporting; Category 4a; Cause FC; Source NP; Data Provider 1; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes TMDL completed FC 2016.
  9. GAR031102040502 Little River: Wells Mill Creek to Slaughter Creek; 16 Miles in Brooks, Lowndes Counties
    Supporting; Category 1; Cause ; Source ; Data Provider 1; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes
  10. GAR031102040505 Little River: Franks Creek to the Withlacoochee River; 4 Miles in Lowndes, Brooks Counties
    Supporting; Category 1; Cause ; Source ; Data Provider 1; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes
  11. GAR031102021102 Mud Creek (also known as Mud Swamp Creek): Downstream Valdosta Mud Creek WPCP to Alapahoochee River; 9 Miles in Lowndes County
    Not Supporting; Category 4a; Cause FC; Source UR; Data Provider 2,10; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes TMDL completed FC (2000 & 2006).
  12. GAR031102030803 Redland Creek: Headwaters to Withlacoochee River; 4 Miles in Lowndes County
    Supporting; Category 1; Cause ; Source ; Data Provider 59; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes
  13. GAR031102030408 Sugar Creek: One Mile Branch to Withlacoochee River; 2 Miles in Lowndes County
    Supporting; Category 1; Cause ; Source ; Data Provider 1; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes
  14. GAR031102030407 Sugar Creek: Headwaters to One Mile Branch; 2 Miles in Lowndes County
    Not Supporting; Category 5; Cause pH; Source UR; Data Provider 1,59; Priority TMDL Year 2026.
    Notes
  15. GAR031102030410 Tributary to Cherry Creek: Oak Street Subdivision WPCP to unnamed tributary 0.4 miles downstream Lake Laurie Drive; 0.3 Miles in Lowndes County
    Not Supporting; Category 5; Cause DO, Ammonia Toxicity; Source NP, M; Data Provider 1; Priority TMDL Year 2026, 2030.
    Notes Ammonia toxicity will be addressed through an NPDES Permit. The TMDL for DO is to be drafted by 2026.
  16. GAR031102040504 Tributary to Franks Creek: Pond 780 feet upstream of Union Road to Franks Creek; 1 Miles in Lowndes County
    Not Supporting; Category 5; Cause DO, Ammonia Toxicity; Source NP, M; Data Provider 1; Priority TMDL Year 2026, 2030.
    Notes Ammonia toxicity will be addressed through an NPDES Permit. TMDL for DO to be drafted by 2026.
  17. GAR031102030801 Tributary to Withlacoochee River #1: Headwaters to Withlacoochee River; 2 Miles in Brooks, Lowndes Counties
    Assessment Pending; Category 3; Cause ; Source ; Data Provider 59; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes This site has a narrative rank of fair for macroinvertebrates. Waters with a narrative rank of fair will remain in Category 3 until EPD completes the reevaluation of the metrics used to assess macroinvertebrate data.
  18. GAR031102030804 Tributary to Withlacoochee River #2: Headwaters to Withlacoochee River; 5 Miles in Lowndes County
    Not Supporting; Category 4a; Cause FC; Source NP; Data Provider 1,59; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes “TMDL completed FC 2015. This site has a narrative rank of fair for macroinvertebrates. When EPD completes the reevaluation of the metrics used to assess macroinvertebrate data it will be determined if the macroinvertebrate criteria are being met. EPD needs to determine the “”natural DO”” for the area before it can be determined whether the dissolved oxygen criteria are being met.”
  19. GAR031102030402 Two Mile Branch: Headwaters to Sugar Creek, Valdosta; 2 Miles in Lowndes County
    Not Supporting; Category 4a; Cause FC; Source UR; Data Provider 2,62; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes TMDL completed FC (1998 & 2006).
  20. GAR031102030902 Withlacoochee River: Okapilco Creek to Stateline; 14 Miles in Brooks, Lowndes Counties
    Not Supporting; Category 4a; Cause Fish Tissue (Mercury); Source NP; Data Provider 10; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes TMDL completed Fish Tissue (Mercury) 2002.
  21. GAR031102030806 Withlacoochee River: Little River to Okapilco Creek; 15 Miles in Brooks, Lowndes Counties
    Not Supporting; Category 4a; Cause Fish Tissue (Mercury), FC, Pb; Source NP; Data Provider 1,10; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes TMDL completed Fish Tissue (Mercury) 2002, FC 2016 & Pb 2017.
  22. GAR031102030403 Withlacoochee River: New River to Bay Branch; 23 Miles in Cook, Berrien, Lowndes Counties
    Not Supporting; Category 4a; Cause Fish Tissue (Mercury), FC; Source NP; Data Provider 1,9; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes “TMDL completed Fish Tissue (Mercury) 2002 & FC 2016. EPD needs to determine the “”natural DO”” for the area before it can be determined whether the dissolved oxygen criteria are being met.”
  23. GAR031102030904 Withlacoochee River: Stateline to Stateline near GA Hwy 31; 3 Miles in Lowndes County
    Supporting; Category 1; Cause ; Source ; Data Provider 1; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes
  24. GAR031102030401 Withlacoochee River: Bay Branch to Little River; 9 Miles in Lowndes County
    Not Supporting; Category 4a; Cause Fish Tissue (Mercury), FC; Source NP; Data Provider 1,9,10; Priority TMDL Year .
    Notes TMDLs completed FC (2000 & 2006), Fish Tissue (Mercury) (2002).

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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